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The city ran a public consultation on June 10 about the plans to bridge the gap in the Humber River Trail north of Lawrence. As an update to my previous post, I have a few notes on what happened at the meeting.

Firstly, just a reminder that the slides that were presented are still available here, and there is still the opportunity to provide written input until June 21.

The overview of the three alternatives:

All but one of the public comments strongly favoured Option 1A, which was the only alignment that did not climb out of the valley and back down.

The only person that spoke against 1A was the superintendent of the Weston Golf and Country Club, which is the golf course on the West Bank where part of the trail would run. He made the following points.

  • Current land use has been over 100 years.
  • Path is within 3m of the green?
  • Analysis of safety only talks about traffic, and doesn’t take into account golf balls striking people.
  • Habitat impact along the bank
  • Serious flooding in that location
  • Vandalism having occurred to the course, even in the presence of existing barrier fencing.

Several questioners asked city staff directly if the golf course would be in the position to block option 1A. The only answer given was that negotiations were underway.

A few notes on option 2a:

  • Starting from south to north, this option has a ramp that brings the trail up to road level south of the tracks.
  • It then has a bidirectional bike lane plus sidewalk
  • North of the tracks it goes back down into the valley where there is a walkway built along the east bank.
  • It was noted that the ground on the east bank is rather unstable.
  • I raised a question about the narrow width of the walkway shown in the diagram, saying that it looked similar in width to the bridge across the Humber under Dundas St W. This would imply that cyclists would have to walk their bikes along this path. They responded that the rendering was generic and perhaps copied from another project, and that the path would have sufficient width.
  • It was noted that the construction costs of 2A was estimated to be higher than that for option 1A.

A few notes of option 3A:

  • This configuration has a bidirectional cycle track adjacent to the sidewalk on the west side of Weston Rd, north of the bridge.
  • Under the bridge is a pinch point, and so there is only enough width to have a multi use trail at this point: i.e. pedestrians and cyclists would mix. This would result in more pictures like this picture taken just north of the bridge:

Despite issues having to do with the golf course, there was strong support for option 1A. Once again, you have the opportunity to provide further feedback to the city before June 21, using this form.

An eleven year old boy was struck and killed yesterday while riding his bike near the on ramp from northbound Warden to eastbound 407. After a quick consultation among the usual suspects, a snap decision was made to install a ghost bike in his memory today.

We meet up in Milliken Mills Park, which is close to the crash site.

Heading west on 14th Ave towards Warden.

You get a sense of how dangerous it is to bike on Warden in the vicinity of the 407.

We are at the crash site. We are met by Peter, a local cyclist.

Keenan assembles the ghost bike.

Locking it up.

The bike after decorations. You can see the on ramp in the background. While we were there we saw someone on a mobility scooter cross the onramp. It was hair raising watching this in the midst of approaching high speed traffic.

A picture of all in attendance.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim. Thanks to Keenan for providing the ghost bike.


On the ride back downtown, Joey and I pass the ghost bike for Edouard Le Blanc on the Gatineau Hydro Corridor. We assume he is happy in heaven with how the Habs are doing.

Riding along the Danforth with the CafeTO installations. Note that there are spots where umbrellas intrude on the bike lane right at head height. On the plus side, the chicanes to accommodate the on the road seating seem less abrupt than last year.

A peek at the bike lanes on Bloor between Sherbourne and Avenue which were recently reconfigured to place the bike lane adjacent to the curb.

The section west of Bay has planters now interspersed with curbs which is a definite improvement. What was crazy was the number of people lined up to get into various shops.

Ride safe, everyone!

There was an annular solar eclipse that was partially visible from Toronto at sunrise this morning. I decided to get up early to see if I could get a photo. Here I am headed down to the lake.

On the way, I passed a couple that was also headed to Humber Bay shores to do the same thing. Actually, the wife was going to do one better by swimming during the eclipse.

Set up at lookout point.

This was the view through the camera.

After some discussion with someone who was already there, I decided that since the sun was likely to come up just where the tree was, I decided to move to the point that is visible in the foreground.

Lots of people here.

Got some nice pre sunrise pictures.

However, as soon as the sun actually rose into view, I was not able to get a good photo since I couldn’t get the sun into the exposure range of my camera.

Ironically, the best photo I got was from my iPhone, where you can see the crescent shape of the sun in a lens flare internal reflection.

On the way back I was chatting with a CityTV cameraman, and he kindly lent me a pair of plastic eclipse glasses. This is what a photo looks like with the glasses in front of the lens.

Next time I’ll try to be better prepared. The next big one that will be visible locally will be in 2024.

and as per the comment below, I can hardly complain about a nice early morning bike ride in glorious weather.

Black creek trail

On my last couple of rides that passed through Downsview park, I kept seeing some signage pointing to the Black Creek Trail. This past week I decided to ride up there to specifically check it out. Here is my route, starting from Runnymede and Annette. You can download it here.

The first part of the route is very similar to the ride that I did up to Downsview Park, going up the Humber River trail a little past Lawrence, and then cutting over on Church/Maple Leaf to cross the Black Creek expressway, and then up Jane to cross the 401. Jane is still one of the safer ways to cross the 401 since there isn’t a highway interchange.

Here I am approaching Langhorn Drive where there is signage telling me to turn left to get to the trail.

Trail entrance at the end of the street. There is a downhill section into the valley.

Once you are down in the valley, this section of the “trail” is actually a roadway through parkland.

Here is the crossing at Sheppard.

A little further north, the road ends in a parking lot, and you should take the path off to the left.

This becomes a MUP through groomed parkland.

Then finally you go into the woods and things are more interesting. This section between Sheppard and Finch where you are biking beside the creek was my favourite part of the ride.

Approaching Finch.

Normally you could cross Finch and the trail would continue a little off to the east. However, with the Finch LRT construction I ended up having to ride the sidewalk east to Sentinel, and then back on the other side.

Now you can see the trail that continues to the north.

The left branch of this fork leads to the Finch Hydro Corridor trail. I stayed to the right.

The trail ends at this point, which is a service entrance to Black Creek Pioneer Village.

I decided to ride back south through the York U campus, and down Sentinel to avoid the construction that I had passed on the way up. Just south of Finch, you turn right on Derrydown Road, and there is an entrance to the trail off to the right opposite Conamore Crescent. (note that is is a deviation from the route that I posted in ridewithgps).

Doesn’t look like much.

A steep section of gravel. However, it is very short.

Turn left after the bridge and you are headed south on the trail again.

Back south of Sheppard, make sure you turn left at this parking lot to continue on the trail.

This leads to the climb out of the valley that leads to Langholm Drive.

The other thing I decided to do on the way back was to take a little detour through Giovanni Caboto Park. Here is the unmarked entrance off Exbury Rd.

This was another pleasant surprise: a quiet ravine ride that was downhill all the way.

Crossing the 401 on Jane southbound was not as much fun. In retrospect what I would recommend is to use the Black Creek Trail northbound as yet another way to connect to the Finch Hydro Corridor. One can even imagine a short loop that would incorporate the Black Creek Trail, the Finch corridor, and a ride through Downsview Park.

Something like this 23 km loop. Note that it crosses Finch at Sentinel to avoid construction, and that it should be run counterclockwise so that you go down the steep trail off of Derrydown Road.

It is amazing to explore more of these ravines that run all the way through different neighbourhoods.

A section of the Allen expressway between Eglinton and Lawrence was closed today as part of ActiveTO. The occasion was to mark the 50th anniversary of the cancelling of the Spadina Expressway that would have extended further south past Eglinton down the Cedarvale Ravine, and would have also obliterated a large part of the Annex Neighbourhood (where Jane Jacobs lived).

The only entrance to the closure area was just east of the Allen on the south side of Lawrence. Although everything I heard was that this was a one time only event, in case they do it again, if you are approaching from the south, you should bike up Shermount from the belt line and then turn left on the last street before Lawrence. There is a pathway at the end of the street that takes you right to the entrance of the closure. Marlee Ave is not a good alternative since it had much more traffic than usual, probably due to the closure.

Heading south towards Glencairn.

Nice to see Keagan (executive director of CycleTO), Sam and their daughter.

The south end of the closure. People were taking full advantage of the shade provided by the many overpasses.

Racing the subway back north.

Approaching the north end.

CycleTO had a tent set up under the northernmost bridge.

There were also plenty of these “slow down” signs on Shermount, but signs do nothing. Shermount is a straight, wide street, and if the city wanted cars to slow down, they would actually change the configuration with traffic calming measures like features to narrow the roadway. Wait a minute: what about a protected bike lane?

As many cyclists know there is a gap in the Humber river trail in Weston between roughly north of Lawrence to Cardell Ave. Many cyclists use the sidewalk along Weston Rd, but this can lead to crowding and unsafe conditions, particularly under the railway bridge. I took these photos last week while southbound on Weston. No other cyclists joined me on the roadway behind the bus.

Furthermore, I found descending the stairs at Mallaby Park really unpleasant and crowded.

The city is in the middle of a study to see how to close this gap. There will be a public consultation on June 10 to discuss which of three alternatives are preferred. Please register for this meeting, or submit your feedback to the city before June 21, 2021.

There are three alternatives on the table.

Option 1A provides the safest route for both pedestrians and cyclists, and it is the only one that stays in the river valley. However it involves two bridges and intrudes on a private golf course.

Here is a picture of the West Bank of the Humber by the railway bridge on the golf course lands. Seems like there would be plenty of room for a path, don’t you think?

Option 2A has a cantilevered walkway on the east side of the river up until the railway, and then crosses under the rail bridge and connects further south.

Option 3 seems like a bad joke. It runs along Weston Rd and has some improvements for pedestrians but does very little for cyclists.

The timeline for the study shows that whatever is done isn’t going to happen until well after 2022.


So what is one to do in the meantime?

Here is a route that I learned from the Toronto Bicycling Network. On paper, it goes like this: south of Lawrence, get on Hickory Tree, then Little Ave. Turn left on Weston and then immediately right on King. Left on Rosemount to Queenslea, to Yelland and Oak. Then there is a trick, so it is better to show you pictures.

Leave the Humber Trail just past the tennis courts south of Lawrence.

Cross Lawrence at Little Ave.

Little curves right to meet Weston. You will turn left here at the light but immediately right again on King.

Follow the route as described above to Oak. (King->L on Rosemount->L on Queenslea->Yelland->L on Oak. Here is a map.

Here is the trick: on Oak, you turn right at the light (Knob Hill) before you reach Weston, into the driveway for a shopping centre.

Take the first left into the parking lot.

Immediately turn right into the parking garage.

Turn left in the parking garage just past that speed bump.

Like magic, the garage exits at a light that will take you across Weston to Cardell Ave, where you can rejoin the Humber River Trail.

Southbound, you can reverse these directions.

I’ve found that even in pre-pandemic times, this route feels much safer than going along Weston Rd. YMMV.

In any case, ride safe everyone!

Also, make sure you express your opinion on what the city should do in the long run to close this gap.

biking to Kleinburg

Back in mid May, a fellow named Stephen posted a nice route on Facebook from downtown to Kleinburg that wended its way along the William Granger Greenway through both the Boyd Conservation Area and the Kortright Centre for Conservation.

His route took a faster route home along Islington. I decided to modify the route slightly so that once you crossed the 407, you joined the Humber River trail on the return leg. My version starts from Runnymede and Annette and is about 67 km round trip.

Islington is a good choice to cross the 407 since it is just a bridge with no interchange. If you pick a day and time when the traffic is not too bad, Islington is OK for biking.

Once you reach Langstaff, there is a MUP on the east side that you can use to the park entrance.

Here’s the entrance to Boyd Conservation Area.

I was not excited to see the entrance fee. However, if you bike in, it is free!

Pavement gives way to gravel.

Winding through the woods.

The trail has ups and downs, with some of the steeper sections being paved (one presumes to avoid erosion). After one of the steeper gravel climbs, you are rewarded with this view. It being a weekend, the trail was pretty busy.

More scenery. This is actually the Humber River Trail at this point.

Exiting the trail at the north end, I see signage that the trail is closed at Major Mac. The fencing was down and plenty of people were walking through, but I do not know if that was just because this was a weekend.

Looking 180° from the previous photo, you can see that we are back in civilization with the fight for parking.

At the park entrance. At this point, you are about a five minute bike ride from downtown Kleinburg.

Coming south out of Kleinburg, there is a MUP along Islington.

The route jogs one block over to Clarence St which has much less traffic.

This lasts until Woodbridge at which point you have to bike along Islington again to cross the 407.

Lots of wildflowers along the Humber River Trail.

My route takes a bit of a detour on the northbound leg in order to bridge the gap in the Humber River Trail. However, when I returned south, I went along Weston Rd. The city really needs to close this gap as you can see that many people use the sidewalk along this section.

Thanks to Stephen for posting the original version of the route. It was nice way to get up to Kleinberg, with some gravel riding thrown in for good measure. There were a few sections where there was loose gravel due to trail maintenance, but I saw plenty of people on hybrid bikes on the trail. Road bikes with skinny tires would struggle a bit.

So we have reached the point where half of all Canadians have had at least one shot of a COVID vaccine. This is good news, but it is just one more step in a long battle with the pandemic. Leading up to this point, there were a couple of ridiculous news articles that said we were “out vaccinating” the US, but this is far from the truth.

What was being pointed out was that the rate of vaccinations per capita for Canada recently passed that of the US, as shown in this chart.

However, if you look at the cumulative number of shots over time, you see that we are far behind the US in reality.

A quick look at the data from the New York Times shows that although only 49% of Americans have had one shot, 38% have had both shots. This would indicate that those who want the vaccine have ready access to both shots, unlike the current situation in Canada.

It is still too early to judge the effect of vaccine hesitancy in the US versus Canada, although polls have shown that about 50% of Republicans don’t want the shot. This was also borne out when Republicans in the House wanted to ditch the masks in the chamber and Speaker Pelosi said no since only 75% of the total had been vaccinated. (Every member of the House has had access to vaccines since January). It is too bad that the pandemic response has been such a political issue in the US, and one hopes that Canadians will be more reasonable.

Despite the vaccine hesitancy in the US, ironically their march towards herd immunity is helped by the fact that about 10% of the population has already had COVID, versus less than 4% in Canada.

At any rate, here’s hoping that the recently announced reopening plans in Ontario do not drive the numbers back up, and that we can return to some degree of normalcy by a year from now. Looking forward to the point this summer when small group organized group bike rides will be allowed. Looks like the middle of June is the earliest possible date for groups of up to 10. At least this time, the plan has some clear metrics that indicate when further reopenings can occur.

Once again this year, due to the pandemic, we were not able to have an in person event. However, the following notice was put on the ARC Facebook page, and there were many responses.


“Hi everyone. The Ride of Silence is a world wide event where cyclists ride to remember all those fellow cyclists who died while riding. It is always the third Wednesday in May at 7 pm local time.However, it is apparent that once again we will not be able to run the Ride of Silence in person this year. What I would ask is that everyone ride to a ghost bike during the week of May 17, and then to post a photo of the ghost bike or a selfie with the ghost bike to this page. Alternatively, on Wednesday May 19 at 7 pm, if you find yourself on a ride, pause for a moment to remember all the cyclists who have died on the mean streets of the GTA.”


What follows are copies of the posts to that page.

Ingrid B:

I have rode by these bikes for years and am always reminded of how fragile we are. Today I stopped. 

Jonas and Xavier’s lives were taken from them and them from the fabric of many others lives. How do we as people lose respect for another person? How do people forget in the that split moment of time they are putting a father, sister, friend, child, a spirit in danger? How does a person in a car somehow have more rights and protection than one outside of it? 

Cayla C

This is my best friends bike – Alex Amaro. For the #RideofSilence2021 we biked to her bike. It was actually the first time that I hopped on a bike since she passed, in December 2, 2020. It’s frustrating, because the thing that we loved to do together the most I am now the most afraid to do. The thing she loved to do killed her because of how unfair and unsafe the streets of Toronto are. 

When we got here, we actually saw a fellow cyclist take a photo with Alex’s bike as he was on the Ride of Silence as well. Thank you to everyone who took a moment to respect Alex and the other cyclists who died on our streets. 

I miss her every day.

Michael L

My #rideofsilence2021 I visited Alex, Jonas, John, and Xavier. It was an honour meeting Cayla C and her friends tending to Alex’s memorial.

Janet Joy

I visited Xavier’s Way on Sunday so I could weave some yarn around the sadly rusty bicycle leaving the ends hanging so they would blow in the breeze. The colourful kids’ yarn will never keep him warm. 

Today I rode past the ghost bike on Spadina south of Dundas & then the more recent one (Sept 2020) on Dundas at Denison. 

David N

To Colin and Safet, never knew either of you but think of you, your families and loved ones each time I pass by your memorial bikes. These sites are within 6 km of each other, one rural and the other on an urban street. Tragedies that could have been averted and sadly there is often  little justice for those left behind.

Melissa D

Helen Xiang, June 23, 2020 QEW & Third Line, Oakville

Rest In Peace 

Patrick B

My #rideofsilence2021 with Mike Duffy and Jim Davidson. We picked up flowers and visited memorials for Alexandra Amaro (Dufferin and Sylvan); Adam Excell (Davenport and Avenue); and Doug Crosbie (Dundas and Jones). A placement of flowers and a moment of silence was given at each.  Alex was 23. Adam was 26. Doug was 54.  Lives taken far too early.

These were not “accidents”. These were not “one of those things that happen”. These deaths were preventable. We ride in silence this week, but we will not remain silent until meaningful steps are taken to change our laws, our infrastructure, and our car culture.

Julia_M 

Today we did our Ride of Silence to remember all of our fellow cyclists. We visited Xavier’s ghost bike and decorated it with this beautiful flower garland my mom Janet Armstrong made. We also visited Jonas Mitchell’s memorial, which is so beautiful thanks to his loved ones. It was an emotional ride to say the least. Today we are thinking about all of the families that have lost a loved one cycling. 

 Building safer cycling infrastructure in this city is 100% possible and I’m hopeful things will get better so that no more families have to lose a loved one.

Dafydd H

Ron C

these people lived so close to us, they could have been our neighbours.

In the morning, I rode by the ghost bike for John Offutt. Ironically, just as I took the picture, one of the green cement mixers from the company that killed John drove by.

At 7 pm, Joey and I met at the Peace Garden to read out the names of the cyclists who have died since 2018.

Joey’s video is here.


This list that was read is as follows:

2021

May 4   Rayyan Ali                                         

2020

Dec 2     Alexandra Amaro                       

Nov 20    John Offutt                                 

Sept 24   Inus                            

Sept 4    Giuseppe (Joe) Pellerito               

Sept 1      Nicholas Ramdeyall                   

August 6   Ahmed Kamal                                            

August 5  Pasquale Alonzi                           

July 24  Daniel Bertini           

July 9  Robert Bragg           

July 7   Geoffrey Mitchell            

June 23   Helen Xiang          

June 15  Safet Tairovski                    

May 2     Colin Fisher                       

Jan 21   Eric King  

2019        

Nov   Female cyclist                  

Sept    Elder de Oliveira Bueno            

May      Female cyclist                                            

April  Male cyclist                                                

2018

October   Male cyclist                                                

October    Clint             

June   Colin Patrick Sztronga                            

June  Dalia Chako                                                

June  Aaron Rankine-Wright                           

June   Jonas Mitchell                                           

May    Daunte Thompson-Bruce                     

May   Douglas Crosbie


If you would like to visit a tree planted at the lakefront in memory of cyclists who have died, it is just off the MGT just a little west of the memorial between Colborne Lodge and Ellis.

Thanks to all who rode and posted pictures.

As part of a city program to encourage outdoor activity while remaining socially distanced, the city relaunched ActiveTO. However, the original proposal did not include Lakeshore West. The reason was that there was going to be construction at the intersection of Roncesvalles and Queen/King, and there were some concerns about closing the eastbound lanes of Lakeshore. However, after a huge volume of citizen input at a city council meeting, the city announced that it would open Lakeshore West on select weekends after all. This was the first such weekend.

Here is a picture of traffic moving smoothly through the construction site at Roncesvalles and Queen. No apparent traffic jam.

Lots of bikes headed down to the lake on Ellis Ave this morning.

People riding by the Xavier Morgan ghost bike. This coming Monday (Victoria Day) will be the four year anniversary of his death. The fence along this sloped section of Lakeshore was installed as a result of his death.

I don’t think there is any doubt that this closure is highly popular. Note that you can see the eastbound Gardiner jammed with traffic off to the right, but this is because there was an accident just a little east of this point.

This doggo was keeping a very close eye on what I was going.

Nice to see so many people, including families with small children, out enjoying a bike ride along the lake.

There are plans to add a closure of the Allen Expressway starting on June 6 as part of ActiveTO. I’ll definitely have to check that out, as the Allen is the northernmost section of what was supposed to become the Spadina Expressway.

Apparently Black Creek is also under consideration. It is great to see the city considering road closures spread out over more of the city.