Laneways as Bikeways is a collaborative project designed to explore opportunities for using laneways to address gaps in Toronto's cycling network.
Laneways as Bikeways was created by the Canadian Urban Institute, The Laneway Project and the Community Bicycle Network to explore opportunities for using laneways to address current gaps in the Toronto cycling network. The project included research and consultation with cyclists, noncyclists and stakeholders to assess whether laneways could be used safely by cyclists to move around the city.
The rationale for undertaking the project was that, despite significant process and on-going investment in cycling infrastructure, Toronto’s cycling network is still fragmented. Laneways, which are separated from the roads and run throughout the downtown and surrounding neighbourhoods, could potentially provide a way for cyclists to avoid busy streets and intersections, while the city builds out its cycling network.
The recently released Opportunities Report presents the key findings of our research and consultation and outlines the potential roles that laneways can play in Toronto’s cycling network.
Toronto has a dense network of more than 2400 public laneways, spanning over 300 linear kilometers and running throughout our most built-up downtown and midtown neighbourhoods. The Laneway Project’s research over the past two years has demonstrated that laneways are largely underutilized and are an “untapped” resource of public space.
Laneways are already separated from the main roads, and by their very nature (narrow widths, multiple users) require lower traffic speeds. People tend not to drive in laneways unless absolutely necessary. Laneways also provide an opportunity to introduce new design or safety measures - traffic calming, wayfinding, pavement painting, bollards - without having a significant impact on the of the functionality of the local transportation network, or causing conflict among local businesses. They could provide an opportunity for a “lighter, quicker, cheaper” solution, meaning that they can offer more immediate, temporary and lower-cost solutions.
More research and feedback from cyclists and stakeholders is needed to better understand the feasibility of using laneways as bikeways.
For additional iresearch, you can download the Full Background Research Report.