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Moving the Richmond bike lane for Saks Fifth Avenue parking? Not on our watch, say Toronto cyclists

According to an interview on CBC's Metro Morning, a new, high-end arrival to the city's boutique shopping scene might want to move the celebrated Richmond Street bike lane.

The Richmond Street bike lane has been described as a "game changer" for Toronto cycling. (Image: Cycle Toronto/Facebook)
The Richmond Street bike lane has been described as a “game changer” for Toronto cycling. (Image: Cycle Toronto/Facebook)

In Toronto, where calls for a “minimum grid” of bike lanes—some 100 km in all—have been resounding, there has been progress in making the city more cycling-friendly. One of the most notable achievements on that front was the installation of the Richmond Street bike lane, giving riders a dedicated, protected route across the city through the busy and traffic-dense downtown core.

According to an interview on CBC’s Metro Morning, though, a new arrival to the city’s boutique shopping scene might want to move that bike lane—in order to make room for valet parking.

This week, Saks Fifth Avenue, one of the biggest names in luxury, high-end retail, opened its doors in Toronto, its store located in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s flagship store between Queen Street and Richmond Street. Speaking with Helen Mann of Metro Morning, Armine Yalnizyan, a business commentator with the CBC, outlined some of the business’s likely priorities in making the new operation a successful one for Canadian consumers. And in a way that rang every alarm bell possible for the city’s cyclists, the interview included disturbing details about how the business might plan to be more accessible to its clients.

“We’re looking at product that is from a $1,000 pair of pumps to a $40,000 necklace in posh surroundings,” Yalnizyan said, describing what Saks Fifth Avenue offers. “You can get caviar and foie gras at the food court. They’re looking for valet parking on Richmond if they can bump the bike lane out of the way.

The response on social media was immediate, troubled, and in some cases, heated:

As of press time, it’s uncertain where the unfolding controversy stands, and whether or not Saks Fifth Avenue will, in fact, press for the bike lane’s removal or re-routing. Judging from the response on social media, though, it’s obvious that the city’s cyclists won’t take it lightly if it happens.