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Today was one of two public consultations on the westward extension of the Bloor bike lanes to Runnymede. This was the first opportunity for people to see the details of what is being proposed. A general description of the meeting was posted to bellsonbloor.org, but here is some discussion that is specific to Ward 4, i.e. the section between Runnymede and Keele.

This first meeting was at St. Wenceslas, just behind the Gladstone Library.

The information panels around the room are available here.

Maps of the different sections of the bike lane were on tables. The general design of the bike lanes have some similarity with what has already been done between Shaw St. and Avenue Rd. Car traffic has been reduced to one lane in each direction, with some left and right turn lanes retained. The good news is that there is sufficient road width along the entire length of the extension to provide some degree of protection over and above a painted line.

The protection that is proposed for most of the extension is bollards on concrete curbs. At the same time, there is an emphasis on putting the bike lanes by the curb, with spaces for car parking providing a buffer.

Here are some comments on some of the features that were revealed today, starting from west to east. This is the intersection with Runnymede.

Some of the parking along both sides of Bloor have been removed to accommodate the bike lanes, but about 70% has been retained along this stretch. At the intersection itself, there are new bus stop markings for the night bus. I also put a sticky note asking for bollards on the short section of bike lane just north of Runnymede, but this will probably be ruled out of scope.

Here is an artist’s rendering of the downhill section travelling east just past the Runnymede Library.

This is what it actually looks like on the map. It is not clear in the rendering, but this section of Bloor has curb insets for car parking. What they are proposing is that the bike lane swerves into this space, and the car parking is moved away from the curb.

This could be an issue for cyclists moving fast downhill to have to swerve in and out of a straight line path, but I suppose it is preferable to having a straight line bike lane that is in the door zone. However, near the bottom of the hill by Ellis Park, there is another such chicane that I believe will be problematic. They should just remove the two parking spaces.

Cycling up the hill towards High Park.

The next issue is the intersection with Keele. In the eastbound direction, there is currently a right turn lane for cars turning south on Parkside. The new design preserves the right turn lane, meaning that bikes and cars have to cross (as they do in practice right now). This is a potential conflict zone.

Here is Rob leaving a note to this effect.

There is another public consultation on Thursday, January 30 from 4-8 at Lithuanian House, 1573 Bloor Street West, if you want to see all of these materials in person.

The city is also collecting online feedback on this project until February 14.

This is a high priority project for the city’s cycling transportation unit. Hopefully things will go smoothly, and we can look forward to installation in August of this year.

Ever had one of those days when you want to take a sledgehammer to the nearest motor vehicle?

Photo credit: Darsh Jain. Image source.

Also video.

January 2020 Ward 4 Meeting

We had a record turnout at our Parkdale High Park Bikes meeting at Bar Lokys.

Left to right: Helen, John, Jun, Rob, Robyn, Tara, Ben, Phillipp, and David

It was a mix of familiar faces and some new ones.

There were two main items on the agenda. The first was to organize handing out postcards at both the Runnymede and Gladstone Libraries this weekend in order to encourage people to go to the upcoming public consultations on the westward expansion of the Bloor bike lanes.

There will be a couple of us handing out postcards at the Gladstone Library on Saturday, January 25 from about 11-1 and possibly a little later, as well as at the Runnymede Library the same day from about 11-noon and 1:30-3.

BTW those two consultations will be:

  • Monday, Jan 27, 4-8 pm at St Wenceslaus Church, 496 Gladstone Ave Toronto ON M6H 3H9, Canada
  • Thursday Jan 30, 4-8 pm at Lithuanian House, 1573 Bloor St W

These consultations will be the first time that detailed designs of what is being proposed will be shown to the public. After this consultation, city staff will take into account public comment, and modify the design before it gets presented to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee on May 5. From that point, it will get voted on by City Council for potential installation in August 2020. This westward expansion to Runnymede Ave would add 4.5 km to the current 2.4 km section between Avenue Rd and Shaw St.

The second item on the agenda was to discuss how to handle communications within the ward group. At the present time, there is a google group. Any member of this group will be able to send a message to all members by using the email address ward4core@gmail.com If you would like to be added to this google group, please send a message to php@cycleto.ca, and the ward captain will add you to the group.

At the same time, the group has the following:

  • a facebook group: Parkdale High Park Bikes This is the most active place to find out about upcoming events, post things relevant to biking in the ward, etc.
  • a twitter account
  • For the moment, updates about the ward group will be also posted on this blog.

Finally, it was decided that the next group meeting will be Tuesday, March 10, 7-8:30 pm at Bar Lokys. The main item on the agenda will be to look over a cycling map of the ward and to list infrastructure changes that we would like to see in the ward. It will also be an opportunity to inform our new members about some of the things that have already been worked on in past years. Everyone is welcome.

A while ago, I had dynamo lighting installed on my winter bike. I used an old light that I had in a drawer for years, and it was a little heavier than the current ones. It also had a plastic mounting bracket.

Plastic can get brittle when it is cold. It was cold last night, and my bike fell over while locked to a bike ring, and the mount broke.

You can see that it actually broke into several pieces, and some of the smaller pieces were missing.

Fortunately, my good friends at Hoopdriver Bicycles had a metal headlight mount from B&M. (they are a great source for high quality bike lighting and many other things).

All ready to go again. Metal also has a ductile to brittle transition, but for steel it is about -30°C or lower, so I should be OK. The steel mount is also much more sturdy to begin with.

Thanks David and Martin @ Hoopdriver!

My Year on Bikes 2019

January:

Started the year off right with a bike ride down to the lakefront.

DSC03605

February:

Coldest day of the year ride

DSC03643

March:

I had dynamo lighting installed on both the Garneau winter bike, and the Haul a Day.

April

The Human Powered Vehicle Design Team made their annual appearance at the ASME HPV Challenge. After considering the rule changes over the past decade that de-emphasized speed in favour of “ultility”, the team decided that a rider with an ordinary bike would be competitive, so they built an upright with a custom carbon fiber frame, and some supplemental fairings. They did very well, and came second overall, winning both mens’ and womens’ sprints as well as the endurance race.

Day 1 covers inspection and safety, Day 2 the sprints, and Day 3 the enduro.

Check out this photo finish during the men’s sprints

Since the competition was held at my old stomping grounds in East Lansing, I also took the opportunity to ride with some old friends during the Lansing Bike Party.

May:

Toronto Ride of Silence. A bit lighter turnout than usual due to rainy weather.

Bike!bike! Northeast 2019, a bike event that is run by community bike shops. This time it was Toronto’s turn to host, and the lion’s share of the work was done by Bike Pirates, Bikechain, and Charlie’s Freewheels, with a side visit to Bike Sauce.

The annual City of Toronto Group Commute

the reason that we are dressed as turtles is because of this video.

June

Heart for Heart 2019. Did rider support as per usual, this time with good friend Tim Potter.

Got to ride a penny farthing at a bike event at Henderson’s Brewing.

July

Rode a section of the Banff Legacy Trail, from Banff to Canmore.

Visited Sam Whittingham of Naked Bicycles and WHPSC fame.

On the same trip, I met Morgan and Stephanie, and I hope to ride with them next summer on one of their Friday morning rides in the Vancouver area.

August

Brantford to Port Dover by rail trail. The first of a series of gravel rides I ended up doing this year.

A group ride with local Brompton owners.

A ride to replace or refurbish several of the ghost bikes in the downtown area.

Riding from Seattle to Vancouver at least 61% of the total distance.

Doing a little exploration of the lands around YVR by bike.

September

My annual trip to the WHPSC, my tenth year doing this.

It was a tight competition this year, particularly for the european mens’ record, and the absolute womens’ record. HPVDT also set a new world record for multi rider vehicles at 74.73 mph.

A critical mass ride to protest climate change.

October

I had the opportunity to spend a week in the Halifax area. I rode the Rum Runners’ Trail in sections from Halifax to Mahone Bay.

Also dropped by Cyclesmith in Halifax to chat with Mark Beaver, who built my Tamarack back in 2000.

Memorial Ride for Elder de Oliveira Bueno, the first ghost bike ride I went on this year. He and his wife were visiting Brampton to help their son and daughter in law with a new child.

A Sunday ride with some folks from Urbane Cyclist.

A rail trail ride from Tottenham to Caledon.

November

Ancaster to Brantford by rail trail. This ride joins onto the ride to Port Dover that I did earlier this year.

Commuting in snow started early this year.

Rebranding the Ward4 bike advocacy group to Parkdale High Park Bikes.

Lots going on in the ward, including a potential extension of the Bloor bike lanes westward to Runnymede, and revisions to the intersection between College and Dundas St W.

Memorial walk for road traffic victims. This time, the focus was on Yonge St. in North York.

The section of the Bloor bike lanes between Spadina and Bathurst was redone in conjunction with sewer work. The installation of the permanent bike lane infrastructure was done at the end of November.

Memorial ride for Christey Tingey, a ghost bike installation in Oshawa.

December

We couldn’t end the year without a cyclist fatality in Toronto. This memorial ride was for an unknown cyclist in the northern reaches of Scarborough.

A little bike ride in the San Francisco bay area.

Also biking the 17 mile drive in Pebble Beach.

In terms of distance logged, I did 7579 km in 2019, which is slightly more than last year.

The mileage does not quite square with veloviewer, since there is a bit of double counting on my strava data from when I’ve used both cyclemeter and my garmin and uploaded the ride from both in error.

I also had a continuous streak of 186 days from Jan 1 to July 5. As per usual, most of my riding was commuting, with my most ridden bikes being the Rock Lobster (2268 km), followed by the Sub Zero (1336), the cargo bike (1127), the Tamarack (1101) and the Brompton (898).

I did manage to cover a little more ground this year. Here is the blob of connected bike rides around the GTA that I’ve accumulated since starting to collect tiles on veloviewer about two years ago.

Here’s wishing all of you safe riding in 2020, no ghost bike rides, and more bicycle infrastructure in the decade to come.

San Francisco Bay Shoreline

I’m spending a few days in the Bay Area, visiting some old haunts, and also covering some new ground by bike.

Today I wanted to check out the shoreline area of Mountain View, and I saw from a map of bike friendly routes that it was possible to follow some trails on levees on the edges of the the bay itself.

Leaving Mountain View along Evelyn, and crossing towards Sunnyvale, you have to cross the Mountain View – Winchester light rail line. Here is a bike and pedestrian only crossing.

Maude Ave is a bike friendly road, but the crossing underneath HWY 237 could use some work.

I headed towards the bay on Borregas, and as you can see from the map below, there are two bike bridges that cross 101 and 237.

Here is the ramp up the bridge across 101.

The north end of Borregas terminates at this point, and there are signs directing you to the Bay Trail.

Turning left, here is the entrance to the Bay Trail.

Rather than heading straight onto the Bay Trail, I decided to follow a loop on one of the levees. The surface was packed gravel of varying quality, but still perfectly passable on the Brompton.

Wearing an appropriate wool jersey for the occasion.

After the loop, I started on the Bay Trail proper. It had finer gravel of a different colour, and it was a better surface than the levee trails, some of which had been torn up by motor vehicle traffic.

Brompton portrait, with NASA Ames and the Google domes in the background (picture location shown on the earlier Strava map above.)

A closer picture of the new Google complex under construction.

This section of the Bay trail intersects the north end of the Stevens Creek trail. This is the point at which I headed back towards Mountain View.

Another shot of the Google site. Interesting that the Googleplex is on land that will almost surely be under water by the end of this century.

The Steven’s Creek trail has a whole series of bridges that cross the various highways and rail lines, making it a very easy way to get back to the downtown Mountain View area. Here is the underpass under HWY 101.

Here are some pictures of the bridges across Central Expressway.

Crossing this bridge, you see also see the Caltrans rail line, and HWY 85 running parallel off to the left.

The fact that the Stevens Creek Trail runs along a (domesticated) river bed makes it somewhat analogous to one of the ravine trails in Toronto (such as the Don River trail network), but the urban density of the Bay Area is high enough that there are many connections to this trail to various city streets, making it a valuable commuter corridor.

The ride was a nice way to spend the afternoon before Christmas, on what will probably be the last longer bike ride that I’ll have this year.

I’ve been happy with the two jackets that I’ve ordered from Proviz. Recently I bought a pair of their highly reflective cycling gloves, which were billed to be waterproof and good for colder weather, as mentioned in the nine reviews on their website.

This is what they look like in real life.

First impressions were not positive. I picked the size according to their directions, and they fit in terms of width, but the fingers are very stubby and too short for me. The cuffs are also very short.

In addition, each glove has a pair of fairly stiff pads that make gripping things rather awkward.

Finally, I wore these gloves on a recent rainy/snowy ride, and after only about 15 minutes, they were soaked through. Once my hands were wet, the loose lining made it extremely difficult to the gloves back on.

In terms of warmth, I’d say that in dry conditions, they’d be good down to about 5°C.

So this is the first article from Proviz that I absolutely cannot recommend. I wrote a more measured review and submitted it to their website, but somewhat unsurprisingly, it was not posted.