Elevated bike lanes will abound in Utopia

don valley parkway
CC BY 2.0 Don Valley Parkway/ Lloyd Alter

In his 1905 book A modern Utopia, H.G. Wells predicted that Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia. (he also said that "there is no meat. There used to be. But now we cannot stand the thought of slaughter-houses" but that is another post.)

In Toronto, two major highways serve the downtown: the Don Valley Parkway, destroying the city's most beautiful geographical feature since the 50s, and the Gardiner Expressway, built on stilts in the 60s, flying over what was then an unattractive industrial waterfront stolen from the city by the railways. For 28 years now it has been closed annually for the Becel Ride for the Heart, a relic of the days when people thought Becel margarine was better for your heart than butter, with revenue going to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Gardiner ExpresswayGardiner Expressway/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0
This particular section of the highway is the center of controversy right now; it is in serious need of repair. Almost all the experts, including former mayors, the Chief Planner, the past chief planner and according to the polls, the majority of the citizens of Toronto, want it removed, rather than spend half a billion dollars to keep it up for the 5200 people who commute on it every day and might be in their cars for three extra minutes. The Mayor and the "real people" of Toronto want to keep it up.

But riding it on a bike yesterday, it becomes clear that there should be a third alternative: Convert it to bikes and transit. Thousands of people could zip downtown without any of the usual conflicts between cars and cyclists. Steven M. Johnson thought of this years ago: He proposed building elevated separated highways for bikes and lightweight solar cars. Think of the money Toronto would save if they converted the highway to this, and the fun we would all have when it wasn't pouring and freezing.

Elevated bike lanes will abound in Utopia
An annual Toronto event is pretty utopian, as two major highways are closed to cars and given over to cyclists.

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