Cycling interest and spendingThe city’s first car-free cycling and pedestrian street fair brought on Sunday was a success despite iffy weather and little media attention. Coincidentally, a report released this week calculates that city spending on expanding cycling has been only a tiny fraction of the roads allocation over the last decade.Sunday’s Open Streets event won praise from Mayor Eisenberger who opened Monday’s meeting of committee of the whole by telling councillors that it was “really a spectacular effort in giving people the opportunity to enjoy the street.” Bob Bratina followed up at Wednesday’s council meeting on a “delightful afternoon” where “4500 people walked, biked and wandered down James Street North”.The event repeats on Sunday September 26 when cars will again be barred from James North between Cannon Street and Burlington Street.The cycling infrastructure report, asked for a year ago by councillors, says $7.1 million was spent from 2001 to 2008. Multi-use trails, such as those reconstructed in Red Hill Valley post-expressway, accounted for the majority of the spending at $4.4 million. Fifty percent of monies uses for this work is allocated to cycling in the report.Special bike lane projects, such as those on York Boulevard and Sterling Street, added $1.7 million to the spending, while $1 million was the estimated allocation as part of road reconstruction work “based on the proportion of the surface area of each project that was dedicated for bike lanes” on those roads.“The $890,000 average annual expenditure provides a comparison to what is recommended in Shifting Gears 2009 which suggests cycling investment of $2.5 million annually to complete the full network in 20 years, or $1.25 million each year, if system development is focused only urban infrastructure,” explains the report.The totals don’t include 2009 outlays, or projects now underway including the multi-use bridges over the QEW and the Lincoln Alexander Parkway that are being funded by the provincial government. Bus bike racks and secure bike parking financed by Metrolinx are also excluded.The city’s capital budget for 2010 is $275 million, with roads accounting for a little over $75 million, of which about half is being funded by development charges or other non-tax sources.For cycling, the city allocated spending of $1.3 million this year to complete eight bike lane projects. But the projected expenditures over the rest of the decade average just $950,000 a year for new cycling infrastructure.
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