Mark Saunders Will Prioritize Safety, Mental Health and Affordable Housing Over Bike Lanes

“Our streets and sidewalks are for everyone, not just bicycles. As a city, we need to listen to all voices, not just the loudest voices” – Mark Saunders

Toronto - Today, Mark Saunders announced that as Mayor, he would reverse the decision on bike lanes for Toronto’s busiest streets, including University Avenue, Yonge Street and Bloor Street West in Etobicoke, to help ease congestion. Saunders would create a pro-common sense, pro-data and pro-transparency process to support making bike lanes permanent, along with where they are located.

“People are sleeping on the street. Riders don’t feel safe on the TTC. Families are stepping over used needles at the park. Residents can’t find a home that they can afford,” said Saunders. “Yet the career politicians at City Hall spent over $75 million on bike lanes from 2019 to 2021 with another $30 million on deck for this year. Some Councillors, including politician Brad Bradford, even voted in favour of heated bike lanes- in the middle of a pandemic! We don’t have our priorities straight anymore.”

All Torontonians should be able to move around the city in a safe and timely way. This means acknowledging that there are many residents who choose to drive through the city, take transit, along with other forms of active transportation – in addition to riding a bike. The pendulum has swung too quickly in terms of creating bike lanes without listening to the concerns of many Torontonians who are impacted by unintended consequences.

Take the Yonge Street bike lane, for example. The career politicians at City Hall decided that the busiest street in Canada is the right place to move to single-lane traffic. During rush hour, residents on the surrounding side streets feel like their previously quiet and safe streets have become a high-speed racetrack. Frustrated drivers are speeding through residential feeder routes during rush hour – at the exact same time when kids are coming home from school.

As Mayor, Saunders would:

  • Remove the bike lanes on University Avenue.
  • Reverse the decision to make the Yonge Street bike lanes permanent pending a review of the data and consultation process.
  • Deprioritize the Bloor Street West bike lane expansion.
  • Immediately suspend all bike lane expansions pending a renewed approach to accountability and community consultation for both residents, local businesses and business improvement areas.
  • Establish an accessibility and disability rights group to ensure people with disabilities can get around their own city.
  • Explore the impact of bike lanes on snow clearing around residential and business areas.

“This isn’t about being anti-bike lane. I’m not against bike lanes, but what I won’t stand for is putting them on major arteries that are already paralyzed by congestion. Bike lane installations must make sense for the communities they’re in,” said Saunders.

Yesterday, Saunders announced that he would limit weekend road closures.

This week Saunders will announce more details of his plan to help people get around more easily.