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A 66 year old female cyclist was struck down at the intersection of McCowan Road and Sandhurst Circle on November 21, and passed away of her injuries on December 4. Today was the ghost bike ride in her memory. In view of the inclement weather, it was decided to start the ride at the McCowan SRT station, rather than riding all the way from downtown.

These Google street view maps of the intersection indicate some of the issues that could arise at this intersection. McCowan is an arterial with high speed traffic, and so it is not surprising that cyclists take the sidewalks here.

Here are Albert and Geoffrey at Kennedy Station.

The SRT driver squeezes by our bikes.

The escalators at McCowan are quite narrow.

Upon our arrival, several of us were interviewed by City News. Unfortunately, they didn’t show up at the ghost bike placement when we were there, but they did a nice of covering our ride.

Here are the nine who rode today.

Getting ready to depart.

Joey led us on a route that took us over to Brimley and then across the 401 and back to McCowan.

Dave and Rick

The weather was colder and snowier than what we expected.

Arriving at the crash site.

Back at McCowan, and digging through our clothes to get our Presto cards.

Thanks to everyone who rode with us today.

It has been an anomalous year for memorial rides, as this was only the first in memory of a cyclist who was killed in Toronto. There were three other ghost bike rides in the region this year: one to refurbish several ghost bikes in the downtown area, another organized by cyclists in Brampton in memory of Elder de Olivera Bueno, and a third in memory of Christye Tingey in Oshawa.

It is important to remember that even though only one Toronto cyclist was killed this year, there have been more than 35 pedestrians killed by drivers. The streets of Toronto remain deadly for vulnerable road users, and the city needs to get serious, something beyond the rather timid proposals that they have put forward. Finally, the Toronto Police Service needs to get back to enforcing traffic safety. It is terrible that to see the recent data showing the rise in collisions that is attributable to the lack of enforcement since 2013.

Joey’s video from today

City News coverage

I’ve loved my Proviz Reflect 360+ jacket for how reflective it is. However a couple of weeks ago, after almost four years of hard use, the front zipper failed, and so it was time to shop for a replacement.

Naturally I wanted to get another Proviz jacket, but the question was which one. Originally I chose the 360+ over the 360 since it was advertised as being more breathable. Since that time, Proviz also released a series of coloured jackets that were also reflective, called CRS. To make things even more confusing, CRS was now available in both 360 and 360+ versions.

I would have defaulted to a yellow 360+ CRS jacket, but for whatever reason, they didn’t make the 360+ version in yellow. So I spent a little more time looking at the various choices.

Looking at my old jacket, the most worn section was the back of the collar where the coat was often hung over a hook. You can see the reflective coating has worn off.

That’s when I noticed that some of the black dots were also worn off, leaving actual holes in the fabric. I surmise that the breathability of the 360+ fabric has something to do with the dots, since the 360 fabric doesn’t have dots.

Because of this discovery, I decided to go for the non 360+ version, and I chose a yellow CRS jacket. It arrived today. The cut is similar to the old jacket, but the body is definitely longer, and the sleeves might be a bit longer.

You can see that the yellow fabric does not have the dots. I’m hoping that this will make the jacket a little more durable. The yellow fabric is thinner than the Reflect 360+ fabric; this is borne out in the weights of the jackets: the yellow one is 503 g, versus 603 g for the older one. (both size men’s M)

So what about reflectivity?

You can see that the old jacket is more reflective.

Here is a comparison of from left to right, reflect 360+, reflect 360+ CRS in green, reflect 360 CRS in yellow, and a dog coat across the top in reflect 360. This represents the full range of fabrics offered by Proviz (I think that I’ve given them enough business).

Now the same picture with flash:

It is clear that the non coloured fabrics are considerably more reflective than the CRS fabrics. Interestingly, the yellow CRS jacket is more reflective than the green vest in the 360+ fabric. The green vest looks dark, but you can see that it is still brighter than the white envelope to the upper right. Therefore, if you want the maximum reflectivity, you have to live with the grey daytime colour. If you want colour during the day, then you can go for one of the CRS products, or Proviz also makes some jackets with a combination of bright yellow and reflective fabrics.

This video posted by someone else in 2017 shows that the difference between the CRS and non CRS fabric is less at a distance.

I’ll report on how the new yellow jacket performs. I anticipate that it will be less breathable than my old jacket, but that is not going to be a big deal during the winter.

Tonight was the public consultation meeting about proposed bike lanes along Douro and Wellington, between King St W and Niagara.

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The bike lanes would improve safety for cyclists along this short stretch, and the importance of this connection in the bike network would grow with the recent installation of the bridge to Fort York, as well as the pedestrian and bike bridge to Liberty Village that is currently under construction.

I got there a little late, so there were more city staff there than visitors. If you want to see the information panels, they are posted here.

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I was told that there wasn’t much concern expressed about the removal of parking along this stretch, which was good news. Basically there were two options on the table in terms of the configuration of the bike lanes. Option 1 was using parked cars as buffers with the bike lanes curbside, and option 2 was with cars parked by the curb and the bike lanes by the traffic lane.

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I expressed my strong support for option 1. I was also told that bollards will be installed in the 0.5 m wide buffer zone between the parked cars and the bike lane, similar to how Harbord St. is between Queen’s Park and St. George.

I also asked if it was possible to put green paint with the sharrows across major intersections, similar to the Dundas/Annette intersection.

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I was told that they would put patches of green paint between the sharrows, similar to what was recently done at Bloor and Bathurst (see below).

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The city is still accepting input online until December 31. Feedback would be particularly valuable from Ward 10 cyclists.

 

 

I’ve been using a pair of pogies on my winter bike for a couple of seasons now. They were designed by someone in Toronto under the original name “Handlebar Booties” but at some point the production was moved offshore, and the company name was changed to “Metal Tiger”. They are still available at Urbane Cyclist.

IMG_3588Overall I’ve been satisfied with them, but they’ve never worked very well with the swept back bars on my Garneau. This picture illustrates the problem:

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These pogies are really designed for straight bars, and they don’t provide a lot of hand coverage with my setup.I had admired a bigger set of pogies that I saw on a group ride a couple of years back by Dogwood Designs.DSC01985However, I recently saw a tweet from my favourite bike shop in Calgary that there was an alternative that was made in Canada, and so I discovered the Coldbike pogie. These are made by Doug in his basement, and by the way he has an awesome blog as well. His most recent post is all about keeping your hands warm while winter biking. (they come in black as well, BTW)IMG_3586IMG_3587The grey hems are made out of reflective material. Here is the comparison with the handlebar booties. Which one looks warmer?IMG_3592Each one has an integrated bar end that is meant for a straight bar.IMG_3585Here is a test fitting on the bike.IMG_3590IMG_3591Interestingly enough, the bar ends appear to have been 3D printed.IMG_3593Given that I have swept back bars, I decided to relocate the bar ends closer to where my handlebars actually end.  I put them on the underside of the pogie, and here you can see what the installation looks like with it turned partially inside out.IMG_3627The pogies have a stiffening rib that runs close to the original location of the bar ends (where you can now see a little hole). I bet this works really well if you have a straight bar.IMG_3628These pogies do a much better job of keeping my hands warm. Ironically, I installed them just as the weather turned warmer, and so I won’t be able to report on how they do down at -20°C for a while. I will say that when it is warm, the shell and pile lining are flexible enough that I can just grip my bars outside of the pogies, and I have no issues with braking or even using the grip shifter on the right hand side.IMG_3625I’ll report back again when it gets seriously cold, but for the moment I am very happy with my new purchase. Doug has recently released another version of the pogies that are compatible with drop bars. In the meantime, my Handlebar Booties have migrated to my cargo bike.IMG_3636

Messy Monday commute

Monday after about 24 hours of snow is always a bit of a mess, but the situation was significantly aggravated in the west end by the fact that the Bloor subway was down between Keele and Ossington for the entire morning rush. This was probably why more people than usual elected to drive, and as a result, Annette was a parking lot.

Still I see one track from a cyclist preceding me.

Lots of foot traffic on Bloor. I could have taken pictures of the hordes waiting for overcrowded buses, but I felt that would be unkind.

Plowing on the new section of the Bloor bike lanes was no better or worse than usual. The roadway gets plowed more frequently than the bike lane, and as a result, snow gets pushed into the bike lane. Still very passable, though. . Since it was not that cold, fortunately things were not icy at all.

You can’t really tell from the pictures, but these are the new, raised sections of the bike lane.

On a morning like this, I can still pull up to work on my bike with a smile on my face, and a feeling of accomplishment.

Christye “Pink” Tingey was struck and killed in Oshawa, early in the morning on November 22. This was another hit and run, and what makes it even worse was that several motorists drove around her as she lay on the road, until someone finally stopped and called 911. Today was the memorial ride in her memory.

We started from the Oshawa GO station. Most of us were from Toronto, but we were joined by two local riders.

Off we go.

This is Bloor St. W in Oshawa.

Laval Dr. just a few blocks from the crash site.

At the crash site, as we decide where to place the ghost bike. We were met by friends and family of the deceased, along with a few more cyclists from the area. Friends had already made a small memorial, and had placed a bike across the street.

The banner says it all. We elected not to try to block even a single lane of the crazy amount of traffic on Stevenson Rd.

Geoffrey installs the ghost bike.

Family members decorate the bike.

A minute of silence. We were told that Christye’s daughter lives just a block or two from this intersection, and that on the morning of the crash, the sound of sirens woke her up.

Two folks from the Durham Region Cycling Coalition. We were told that even at 4 am, there are many cars speeding northbound on Stevenson to the 401 as people rush to beat inbound traffic.

Heading back now.

As we pull away, you can get an idea of the huge amount of traffic at the fatal intersection. In the 30 minutes or so that we were there, we saw several cars get almost rear ended. SLOW DOWN PEOPLE.

Some of the Toronto folks on the GO train. Ironically, being on the train, we got more of a chance to chat than during one of our regular ghost bike rides. Hopefully we won’t see each other for a while, if you know what I mean.

Deepest condolences to family and friends. Thanks to everyone who rode with us, and those who met us at the crash site in memory of Ms. Tingey.

The construction on the permanent part of the Bloor bike lanes between Spadina and Bathurst is done. Here are a few pictures taken this morning in the east bound direction.

The parkette at Brunswick is still being worked on.

I can’t remember if we had bollards on this bit by Trinity St. Pauls.

The parkette at Robert St. is done.

As others have noted, the bike parking has been moved away from the corner.

The new racks have a very industrial look. At least they are better than what was there before.

As was noted before, the pavement on the raised sections of the bike lane is wavy compared to the adjacent areas of the street. This is because they had to use a very small steam roller. (picture from Nov 6)

On the other side, there is a bit of protection between Spadina and Robert.

They’ve also added some green paint here and there.

(at Bathurst)

By the end of the weekend, we’ll get to see what winter maintenance will look like on the reconstructed section. Ride safe, everyone!