a stolen comment on this post: http://avidcyclistblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/is-toronto-city-hall-spinning-its.html about bike lanes in toronto. for the record: car free, designated bike lanes in this city is the best idea ever. for all of the reasons outlined below, bike lanes are good for everyone--mainly, they're good for me because i don't risk getting smoked by a goddamned hummer every time i make a turn and some douche bag is on his iphone(or.. his ipad).
"Elsewhere in the world, major cities haven't been designed to accommodate everyone driving everywhere. Why? Because owning a car and using it to go everywhere isn't considered a god-given right in those places. Here in North America, we treat it as such.
We need to change this culture. For the environment and simply to make our cities more livable. Toronto will never be a world class city until we do so. Unfortunately, the driving population will never make the change willingly. They have numbers (most boomers drive cars, but other demos have the same sense of entitlement), they have lobbying power (auto manufacturers, petroleum companies) and they have traditional thinking on their side.The only way these people will ever change is if they're forced to. Only when driving a car in the city becomes too expensive and too inconvenient to possibly justify it, will people finally change their lifestyles to include alternative modes of transportation. Even then, most people alive today won't change, but future generations will understand and adapt.
I've lived in London, England where the streets were originally arranged for travel on horses and drivers have to pay a congestion fee to drive in the city centre - their culture is changing because it has to. I've been to Barcelona, Spain where major streets have been converted to gorgeous pedestrian-only walkways with grass in the centre and electric transit vehicles humming along - the culture is changing. I've been to Amsterdam where parking garages are jammed full of bikes, not cars and a person on foot can walk down the middle of every street and the biggest risk is a collision with a cyclist - They never had a car culture to begin with. There are countless other examples, those are just the ones I've seen.
I live in Toronto and I hate the car culture. I hate the stinking air, the road rage, the honking horns and revving engines. After seeing the places I've seen, I'm deeply saddened that we've allowed our city to be designed to cater to people driving everywhere. It's unhealthy, unsightly and completely impractical.
I see bike lanes as a not only dedicated space for cycling, but as a place where cars CAN'T go, and the more of these the better. As more people bike and more bike lanes are established there will be less room for cars and that's just fine with me. Bike lanes aren't just for people on bikes, they make the city better for everyone."