Oct 27 Harbord Update

Today was a red letter day for biking in Toronto, not so much because of the election, but because a new section of bike lane went in between Borden and Spadina sometime over the weekend. This completes a continuous bike lane from Ossington to Queen’s Park and beyond.

Here are some before and after pictures, with the before pictures taken last Thursday.

Approaching Brunswick, eastbound.
near brunswick

Right by the Harbord Bakery, which led the fight to block this section of bike lane for over a decade. Last week, the sharrows were scrubbed out.

Now the bike lane is in, while preserving almost all the parking for this business.

To put in bike lanes in this section, they did have to remove parking from one side of the street. Across from the bakery, you can see that this van is blocking the new bike lane in a spot that used to be parking.

The city is getting smarter about the installation of these bike lanes. This time, the parking signs were removed or covered over at the same time that parking was removed. You can see a covered parking permit machine on this new section of bike lane.
Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 11.22.03 PM

Equally exciting is the activation of the new bicycle traffic lights at the Hoskins/Queen’s Park intersection. You can see the two phase crossing in the video below. This traffic light fixes the car/bike conflict that was noted in a video linked in this earlier post.

Quite a bit of progress since two weeks ago.

A ride in memory of Jim Carr

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 10.52.35 AMJim Carr was a bike advocate in South Etobicoke who passed away entirely too young in June of this year. There was a ceremony in his memory at John English Middle School on Saturday.

Pamela Gough, the local school trustee, had these words to say on the invitation:
“It was really due to Jim Carr’s efforts that the TDSB has started a Bike to School Day. Jim first introduced me to Safe Routes to School in Etobicoke Lakeshore and facilitated my understanding of the issues of active transportation. My involvement in developing the Charter for Active Transportation and Bike to School Day at the TDSB was a direct result of that early gesture on Jim’s part. I have dedicated my latest enewsletter, which contains a report on operationalizing Safe and Sustainable Active Transportation to 586 TDSB schools in Toronto, to Jim’s memory. He has shown us the power of one to change an entire city.”

Thomas Hasan of Canada Bikes organized a ride to deliver the memorial bike rack by human power. Here is the group at the start.

Riding along the Lakefront Trail in Mimico.

Arriving at the School.

Now around to the back.

The plaque on the rack.

The family admiring the plaque, along with Thomas, and Dave from the South Etobicoke Cycling Committee.

Pamela Gough recounts how a chance first meeting with Jim lead to her interest in developing an Active Transportation Charter for the TDSB that has started to be rolled out. There will be over 500 new bike racks installed at TDSB schools over the next year or so.

Principal Howe describes how Jim was a very active parent volunteer at the school, and how one lonely “wheel bender” bike rack was replaced with these existing bike racks with Jim’s urging.
racks He couldn’t imagine a more fitting tribute than another bike rack.

An account of the first TDSB Bike to School Day at John English:
“More than 100 students, parents and staff at John English Junior Middle School celebrated Bike to School Day on May 26. The bike racks were filled beyond capacity. Safe biking to school continues to be a wonderful form of exercise and healthy activity that is encouraged for all students. During the week leading up to the Bike to School day students had an opportunity to learn about safe biking techniques and how to ensure that their bikes were safe for the road. Students without a bike also had the chance win a bike by submitting an essay stating why they need a bike and the benefits of biking. Thanks to the wonderful support of an anonymous donor and the Canadian Tire on the Queensway, three lucky students were given a bike to enjoy during the warm weather of the summer months to come.”

Two other people spoke about Jim’s work at the sailing club, and the Friends of Sam Smith park. All noted his energy and enthusiasm to contribute to the community at large, and of his devotion to his family.

I’m sorry not to have ever met Jim. I hope that in his memory, we will be able to follow through with safe routes to school and better biking facilities for kids in our own ward.

The last ascent of Atlas

Every since the Sikorsky Prize, Aerovelo has been trying to find a home for their human powered helicopter, Atlas. Their first choice was to find a place where the whole aircraft could be displayed. Regrettably, this turned out to be impossible, and so an agreement was worked out for it to be hung up at the Ontario Science Centre. Today was the day for it to be put together for display.

I thought that it would be appropriate to show up under human power, so I plotted a route using Google Maps. I noticed that on the last section, I was being routed along Eglinton, but in the reverse direction, it was taking me down into the valley, so I decided on the valley route.

Here are some fall colours on the way across town: Yonge St. as seen from the Beltline.

Here is what Google Maps is telling me; the trail comes off the end of a small stub of Leslie St.
Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 10.15.24 PM

Here’s what the entrance to the trail looks like.

It turned out that running this trail downhill on a road bike was a bit hairy. A bit steep and muddy was OK, but I didn’t expect this:
trail2 The first ramp was OK, but I had to bail on the second one because of a low hanging branch.

Of course, once I was down in the river valley, the trail was paved, and the fall colours were a wonderful bonus.

Interesting looking bike racks on the back of the Science Centre.

This section is closed.

Here’s the crew.

Here’s a top view of the plan. Two sections of the truss and two rotors are all that will fit.

By the time I got there, two sections of truss had been lifted into place, although there was more fiddling to be done.

Todd working near the central joint.

Preparing to mount one of the drive spools.

Cam keeps an eye on things.

Final adjustments.

Working a bit on the bike.

I’ll never stop marveling at this 8 spoke wheel.
Maybe that’s why they thought 20 spokes was plenty for Eta.

Here comes the first rotor blade.

Waiting for the lifts.

The blade lifted and being secured.

First blade done. The position of the whole truss was different from the original plan, so this blade protrudes into the entrance way.

Lifting the next blade.

Securing the next blade.

First rotor complete.

This is what it looks like from the entrance.

At this point, I had to leave, but thing were going pretty smoothly. You can see from this figure the plan for hanging the bike, and what a side view of the complete installation will look like.

Checking out more fall colours on the way back to work.

This intersection where Kilbarry crosses Oriole Parkway is the only signalized crossing for bikes that I’ve seen in Toronto that is comparable to what I’ve seen in Vancouver.

Sad to see Atlas hung up incomplete, but I can’t imagine a better home for it.

Update: this picture came across the Aerovelo twitter feed this morning.


Bicycle Therapy

I managed to carve out some time this afternoon to work on bikes, which is something that I find to be very relaxing, to the point of being therapeutic.

First up: finishing up a job that dates from a couple of years back when I entered a parking garage with my wife’s recumbent on the roof. Bad move.

Here is the tiller, massively bent and broken. Unfortunately, this is from a Rans Wave, which hasn’t been produced for a good number of years, and Rans also stopped making parts that were compatible with a 1″ steerer fork.

Fortunately, I could get compatible parts from Terracycle, which were expensive but beautifully made. Here is the new tiller and stem assembly, all installed and ready to go.
tiller The addition of the flip it makes it much easier to get on and off the bike.

Next up: installing a Japanese kickstand on my winter bike. This involved quite a bit of modification of the kickstand mounting plates to fit the dropouts on this bike. After about 7 cut off wheels on the Dremel, this is the result. It was a bit tricky since the kickstand was designed to fit on a bike with horizontal dropouts, whereas the Sub Zero has angled dropouts. This is why you see the weird little cutout that accommodates the keyed washer that keeps the internally geared hub happy.
dropout Sharp eyed readers will note the massive amount of rust on the chain in the background. I regret that I put this bike away wet at the end of last winter, and the chain was almost rusted solid. I’ve put some Chain-L on it, and we’ll see how it does, but I might have to replace it with one of those galvanized chains that I put on my other winter beater.

Here are some pictures of the kickstand in the down position, and the stowed position.

Next up, installing some election signs on the Xtracycle. On one side, Albert Koehl, environmental lawyer and bike activist, who is running for City Councillor in Ward20.
albert I actually installed this sign a week ago, but I was saving the other side for….

Sarah Doucette, running for reelection in Ward 13 where we live. She has been supportive of our efforts to get better bicycle infrastructure in the Ward. She has also been working hard against some of the ridiculous proposals for condo developments in Bloor West Village, proposals that are massively out of scale with respect to the current building heights in the area.

Finally, I’ve wanted to put some new handlebars on the Tamarack. The builder was adamant that I would like Cinelli deep drops, but I was finding the sloped ramps to be annoying and when I rotated the bars so that the ramp was close to horizontal, the bar end shifters were in a ridiculous position.old

Here is the noodle bar that will replace the existing bars. I got a good deal from Martin at Hoopdriver Bicycles.

And this is as far as I got before I ran out of time for today. Just some handlebar tape, and I’ll be good to go.

I’ve been enjoying putting some miles on the Tamarack. It has become my “go fast in the city” choice, faster than the pink bike. I just can’t carry as much with it, but it is a sweet ride, and it tracks dead straight with no hands. I’ll try to get some more miles on it before winter comes.

A week ago today, Edouard Le Blanc was killed while riding his bike on the Gatineau Hydro Corridor. Here is an image of his obituary.
obit To quote the obit: “Passed away at the age of 63 years doing what he loved.”

The riders gather at Bloor and Spadina.

Doug’s shirt is a somber reminder of earlier tragedies.
mduffeyshirt (photo by Michael Duffey)

And off we go, up Spadina.

Mixing it up with traffic on Davenport.

Making the left towards Rosedale Valley Rd.

Regrouping at Bayview, then up the Don.
We meet up with two TBN riders at the elephants, and they advise us that our original route along Taylor Creek won’t work.

One wishes that we were enjoying the fall colours under other circumstances.

Seeing part of the hydro corridor at Dentonia Park.

On Pharmacy. Boy this road could really use a bike lane.

Arriving at the crash site.

It was particularly painful to be at this spot since the last two memorial rides to Scarborough passed this way, and this hydro corridor seemed to be a peaceful respite from traffic.

So much fast traffic.

Setting up the ghost bike.

Paying our respects.

Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Here is a photo from the Toronto Sun coverage.

The police investigation has started. Hopefully justice will be fully served. Evidently this green light is no guarantee of safe passage here.

Harbord Bike Lanes Update

Since mid September, on my regular commuting route, I’ve been following the day to day changes as the Harbord Bike Lane upgrades have gradually been installed. The first sign of any change that I noticed was the start of the painted buffered bike lanes at the west end of Harbord, nearest Ossington. Here is a photo from Sept 17 showing the first finished section past Shaw St, headed west.
Sadly, for most of Harbord, this is what passes as an enhanced bike lane: roughly a foot wide buffer between two painted lines. You can see the mockup of the road cross section from the original plan below:

From that day, there was visible progress on a daily basis, with old bike lanes being erased in sections gradually moving east, followed by painting within a day or so. Here is the west most part of Harbord again, this time looking east.
sept18-1 In this particular section, you can see the erasure of the old bike lane marking, and it seems that the buffer has been added by narrowing the old bike lane. At other points, the position of the buffer more or less straddles the old bike lane marking.

At the same time, there was quite a bit of roadwork at the intersection of Hoskins and Queen’s Park Crescent, with the conversion of that intersection to a “T” configuration so that the triangular island that facilitated high speed right turns was taken out.sept18-2

Here is what the intersection looked like before construction.
Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 8.51.31 PM

More significantly, work had started on short segment of bidirectional separated bike lane that connects this intersection with Wellesley.

By Sept. 23, the eastward progress of new bike lane markings had reached Montrose.

This was the first time that I noticed that they were going to do something different at the intersection: note the total erasure of all markings (which makes the road a little rough) and the word “Green”.sept23-2

At the same time, there as some more progress on the connector at Queen’s Park Crescent, with the first section of the bike lane being paved.

Further south, there is a gap in the separator.

This shows the nature of the intersection with Wellesley. You can see that the bike lane directs bike traffic down the connector and then east, whereas car traffic is brought to a right angle stop. The gap in the previous picture is meant to allow southbound bikes to cross into the traffic lane so that bikes can then turn right into U of T.

Around the same time, someone posted this video of the Hoskins / Queens’ Park Crescent intersection in its present state, showing that it puts bikes in conflict with right turning cars.

However, it was pointed out that there will be separate bike crossing lights here with appropriate phasing so that this sort of bike/car conflict will be reduced.

We are hoping that this intersection design works out, since we are proposing a similar fix for the elimination of a right turn lane from Ellis to Lakeshore.

October marked the appearance of the promised green lane markings, with the first one just before Ossington.oct7

It was extended back to the previously painted bike lane on the evening before Oct. 9.

This provides a clear indication to motorists that the bike lane continues right up to the intersection. You can compare this to what we had before, with the bike lane tapering to nothing at the bus stop before the intersection, and just some sharrows beyond that point.
Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 9.01.46 PM

Things seem to have slowed down now, with the steady eastward progress of the bike lane markings stopping dead at Borden.

I hope that this is not a bad sign, since the section of Harbord between Borden and Spadina has only sharrows now, and so the addition of a bike lane along this section to provide continuity past Spadina is one of the most significant parts of the whole project. Adding bike lanes on both sides of this section entails removal of parking from one side of the street, which is why it was opposed by several local businesses, most notably the Harbord Bakery.

I posted this picture of another green box on FB
which led to a very long discussion thread. One interesting bit of information from City Staff was that similar green boxes are planned for:
st george2
most will be north and south side
-ones with a 2 will be advanced left lane for bikes”

Looking forward to these enhancements!

Changes along Annette

Sad to see this for sale sign.

Because what this neighbourhood is really crying out for is more church to condo conversions.



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