Survey shows shoppers & businesses support bike lanes
Study indicates even if parking removed, support is strong
Some local businesses not a fan of losing parking
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier March 19)
A controversial new survey of businesses and shoppers in Toronto’s Bloor West Village shows a willingness to sacrifice street parking to make room for bike lanes or expanded sidewalks.
The study, undertaken by bike lane supporters the Clean Air Partnership, indicates the majority of the 510 visitors surveyed either walk or take transit to shop in the busy commercial hub on Bloor Street West, between Kennedy Avenue and Jane Street. In total 47 percent of shoppers in the area walk to their destination while 24 percent said they take transit, 21 percent drive and five percent cycle.
The study found that over half of the shoppers polled supported removing up to half the on-street parking in favour of a bike lane or wider sidewalks.
Of the 96 storefront merchants polled in the study, more than 50 percent said reducing street parking by half, and adding a bike lane or widened sidewalks, would either increase or have no impact on their daily volume of customers.
The support for more cycle-friendly streets came as a surprise to the Clean Air Partnership, said spokesperson Nancy Smith Lea.
“The majority were in favour of some kind of change to the street,” she said. “It was a bit surprising to us as cycling activity there isn’t as great as in the downtown core.”
However, the study’s conclusions aren’t supported by all Bloor West Village business owners says Alex Ling, owner of Ling’s Importers.
“Why take away parking spaces when 20 percent (of shoppers) drive and only five percent cycle?” he asks. “You want to put in a bike lane and take away parking spots. How will that not impact on business?”
Diaper-Eez owner Susan Tomaszewski agrees with Ling. Though she sees the benefit of Bloor being more cyclist-friendly, she said reducing on-street parking in front of her maternity and infant product store would inconvenience her clients. She said most drive in from all over the city to shop in her specialty store.
“They shop, they keep our business going and if they have to walk up two streets to park the car and they only have an hour parking, it takes a little bit of time for them to walk up and move their car,” said Tomaszewski.
Local councillor Bill Saundercook said the idea of removing parking on Bloor would need careful consideration, especially in sections of Bloor West that intersect with other cycling routes where street parking has already been removed.
—With files from Karolyn Coorsh