Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

Doug Fritz was an 81 year old former police officer and grandfather who was killed by a driver who did a hit and run on North Shore Blvd at the intersection with the QEW offramp.

Today was a memorial ride and ghost bike ride in his memory.

We started off at the Burlington GO station. Many of the usual suspects in attendance.

The ghost bike was provided by Safe Streets Halton.

Rolling out.

On Plains Rd.

Gru and Joey in the lead, taking the lane.

This underpass on Plains Rd is just as dangerous as the crash site, but for the moment, there is safety in numbers. One driver yelled at us to stay in the bike lane.

Turning south on King.

A little detour to pass by the family home.

A video of all the riders riding by their home in a cul de sac. There were about 50 people on the ride.

Now riding onwards towards the crash site.

Approaching the crash site.

Installation of the ghost bike.

A minute of silence for the deceased.

Doug’s daughter Nicole was extraordinarily kind to thanks us for turning out in memory of her father. She said that as her father got older, cycling remained as one of the activities that he liked to keep active. She also was struck by the gathering of strangers that did not know her dad.

One of our mottos is that “you never ride alone”, and as a cyclist, Doug was a member of our community.

Afterwards one group rode back west towards the family home.

Back towards home on the GO train.

This tragedy is one of many that points out the need for vulnerable road user legislation. At a minimum, the penalties for hit and run should be as severe as those for DUI. The driver was apprehended in North York, and we will wait for proper justice to be served.

At the same time, it is deeply frustrating that the intersection where the crash happened was recently repaved, and yet no adjustments were made to the design to take into account the safely of cyclists and pedestrians.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.

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On my way to work this AM I came upon a large group of parents with kids on bikes forming a bike parade, with police escort. The officer to the left told me that this had to do with bike to school week (although I thought that week fell in late May).

The group was being directed down this laneway towards their eventual destination of Lord Lansdowne Public School.

Although it was great to see so many kids biking to school with their parents, I found it a bit sad that such a big crowd was only enabled by a police escort that was also corking intersections.

Citizen led initiatives such as bike buses strike me as being more appropriate and sustainable.

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It was recently announced that a good deal of Ontario place will be closed to the public as part of ongoing construction and revitalization of the site. Most of the access to West Island closes off May 1. I decided to bike down to take a last look.

Here are some installations that are part of Lumiere at Trillium Park.

This is the point at which access from the east will be gated off.

Not a fan of a lot of what this sign says: “including a commercial recreational facility in the first phase”….”below and at-grade parking on the mainland”

This sign gives a bit more information, indicating that what is going on now has to do with repairing facilities such as the pods and the Cinesphere, so it is not immediately linked to the proposed spa.

I had never been on this breakwater, part of which that was made out of an old laker.

Sad to see the marina closed. This has caused some hardship for boat owners.

Another view from the breakwater.

I certainly wasn’t the only one exploring the nooks and crannies of the West Island today.

I had a nice chat with a fellow cyclist who said that she often came down to Ontario Place, and that she would miss even things as cheesy as the fake rocks.

I had forgotten that this bell was put up to mark a centennial for the Japanese Canadian community.

Some tree limbs were left here so that people could ring the bell.

An appropriately mourning tone for the day.

One last look at the pods, with a crane lurking to the right.

Access will be maintained to portions of the perimeter of West Island via this bridge.

On the way home, I see that the sakura are still in OK shape, with the threat of rain keeping the crowds fairly light today.

Many in the community are figuring out if the proposed development of a huge private spa, and the even more recent announcement about moving the Science Centre to the pods can be fought.

Ontario Place for All is a website that has more information on this.

Also, here are some picture from what was billed as the last public event on West Island before access restrictions, which was held last night.

This is not to be confused with anything linked to the twitter account “Ontario Place for Everyone” which is set up by the corporation that intends to build a monstrous nine story high private spa. They have signed a 99 year lease with the provincial government for the land where the spa will be sited, and the terms of the lease are being kept secret.

There are also many issues with the idea of moving the Science Centre. It is not clear how much thinking went into these ideas before they were proposed, and there was certainly no sign of public consultation beforehand.

Certainly this has become be a hot button issue for the current mayoral election, but even so it is not clear what power the city has to stop this project from going forward.

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TBN Tourist ride

Today was the first TBN Sunday Tourist ride where the riders sorted themselves into three groups. Here Danny is explaining how everything was going to happen. Group A was the fast group. Group B was to be slower, and Group C was to stick together. It was a bit confusing since people in each group might also have been planning to do different distances. What helped a bit was that all the routes leading to and from Unionville were very familiar to many riders.

This was group A at the start, perhaps not realizing that leader Paul was also planning to do the 101 km route.

Here’s a picture with everyone, just before we started riding off.

Here is the lead group with a mix of groups A and B.

Here are the leaders of Group A about to turn north on Leslie. This is pretty much the last I saw of the three fastest riders. I’m looking at you Anthony 😉

My usual MO on these rides was to go off with the fast group, get dropped after about 20 km, and then ride the rest of the way alone. I managed to stay with the second fastest group to this point where I turned right on 19th Ave as part of the 60 km route.

On the way back, I took this picture simply as a reference for the future. This is on Kennedy, just south of Stouffville Rd. It will be subdivisions by next year.

As per usual when I ride through Unionville, I pause at the site where cyclist Safet Tairoski was killed. The ghost bike is long gone, but there is a bench across the street that serves as a memorial.

It was upwards of 22°C, and I was definitely too warm in a wool jersey.

Thanks to Danny for organizing. A beautiful, sunny day.

Jane has posted some pictures on Facebook.

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Today was the first of two public consultations on the westward extension of the Bloor bike lanes, planned to extend to six points in two phases over the next two or three years. Rob has an excellent summary on his blog. It was hard to gauge how much opposition there was to the proposal. Certainly there was one gentleman who was talking about going to court to block the project. A few others raised the usual objections and suggested that bike lanes keep to side streets. Apparently some people just can’t get their head around the concept of people wanting to shop by walking or biking.

Today’s meeting was at Swansea PS Community Centre. Not quite as crowded as last week’s High Park discussion.

Some of the usual suspects. Nice to see David of the South Etobicoke cycling committee.

I’ll confine my comments to what is happening in Bloor West Village. The current plan is to have the east bound bike lane darting into existing lay-bys, much like this current treatment in front of No Frills.

On the north side, the bike lanes will be straight, and also protected by curbs and bollards.

There are a couple of curious features in the plan. For instance, just west of Runnymede (where the current lanes end), there is a section marked “informal loading zone” which sounds like an invitation to stop a vehicle at will. It is particularly problematic since it is right at the corner. Additionally there is a large cross hatched area (marked with a red arrow) that could just as easily be additional parking.

Note that there is a fairly large decrease in the amount of on street parking according to this panel.

The most active area of discussion appeared to be around the junction of Bloor and South Kingsway. There are some fairly significant changes proposed for this intersection,

I had an extended conversation with a staff member about the raised platforms for loading and the TTC. I pointed out the hazards posed by snow plow damage to the prebuilt ramps that have been appearing in various locations. She was aware of the issue, and she said that staff are working hard to come up with a solution that also allows for adequate drainage. I had assumed that anything made with asphalt would be more expensive than the pre fab platforms, but I was surprised to hear that even a smaller model of the platform costs more than $30K.

At any rate, it looks like a design for phase 1 (as far west as just across Mimico Creek, a little past Montgomery) will go to committee this June, and if approved, construction will start this year.

As Rob and others have pointed out, if we can get as far as Six Points, it is actually easier to install bike lanes further west since that section of Bloor is mostly residential. Pushing all the way to the border with Mississauga will allow a continuous link to what is being planned in that neighbouring city.

One step at a time though. A couple of years ago, it seemed unlikely that we’d be able to get bike lanes through the Kingsway, and now there are plans laid out in black and white.

The city’s materials on this project are here. There is a link to a feedback form in order to comment on the project until April 27.

And there is a second public consultation tomorrow (April 13) at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute (AKA the Mean Girls School) from 6-8.

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Today was the open house that revealed the city’s preferred future plan for High Park. As you can see, there were many people eager to attend.

Here’s the crowd at 4:45, shortly after people were let in.

These fine gentlemen were present.

Gord Perks made a brief speech. His emphasis was very much on High Park being a park for all users. He also said that what was being presented was a first draft, but given the amount of effort apparent in the materials presented, and the fact that the proposal is to go in front of IEC and the City Council fairly soon, I’d be surprised if there were significant changes to the proposal as it now stands.

The materials are now available on the city’s page. Scroll down to “Get Involved” and you will see the information about the open house and links to the poster presentations.

There is a lot to unpack here.

  • Motor Vehicles enter from High Park Blvd, and can drive to the zoo area, or up Centre Rd to the Grenadier. They can proceed up Colborne Lodge to Bloor, which would be the exit.
  • The west branch of the loop and Colborne Lodge south from the Grenadier are permanently closed to motor vehicles. This eliminates the southbound through traffic that has been an issue.
  • There will be a wide bike lane northbound from the Grenadier to Bloor, along with a section of the Grenadier parking lot repurposed as a cut through for cyclists.
  • Dedicated “sport cycling times” TBD. Perks mentioned that speed limits would not be enforced on cyclists during those hours, and that they would probably be two or three early morning weekdays.
  • The park would remain car free on Sundays, but it will be open to cars on Saturdays.
  • There will be significant reduction of parking between the Grenadier and Bloor, with all spaces reconfigured to parallel parking.
  • All public parking will be pay parking.

This is what cyclists northbound from the Grenadier would see. I was told that there would be a fast and a slow lane.

This is what the car free west branch would look like, with clear separation between pedestrians and cyclists, and again, some indicated of separate lanes for slow and fast cyclists.

There are promises of a new shuttle service, but there were no details. I fear that if this is dependent on the TTC, given their budgetary situation, I can’t imaging this service would be very frequent.

What comes next?

Take particular note of the second column: the immediate improvements (pending council approval)

  • cycling infrastructure implementation using paint and quick build items.
  • temporary traffic control features for road closures
  • opening the park to cars on Saturdays
  • dedicated sport cycling pilot.

I hope that these half measures aren’t put into place and then just allowed to decay (like the King St. pilot)

Subsequent improvements will include permanent changes to parking spaces, new sidewalks, etc and I imagine that they will be years away.

One poster did include the following statement: “The option of full road closures also performed well in the evaluation process, and many park users expressed support for a car-free High Park. This approach can be upheld as a long-term goal; key conditions should first be met, specifically implementation of a new shuttle service and expanded transit service.”

Overall, my impression was that the proposal is better than the initial impression given by the Star story. Obviously there has been lot of staff time put into this.

I asked why the section of Colborne Lodge with cars couldn’t have bi directional car traffic, with the High Park Blvd entrance only accessing the zoo area. I was told that there wasn’t enough road width, and that traffic flow would be chaotic. I asked about the concerns of Parkside residents about traffic build up if High Park Blvd was the main entrance to the park (I suggested that perhaps the traffic could flow south from Bloor and out High Park). I was told that a southbound flow would result in some awkward crossings and conflict, and that the traffic into the park should be less than before due to the reduction of available parking.

I feel that the concerns of the Safe Parkside group have been given short shrift.

At the same time, there are many more features that will upset the motorists would wanted to regain full access to the park. In particular, the road closures, the reduction in parking, the lack of free parking, etc.

One addition point that I’d like to make; given all the concerns expressed about accessibility, they had better make a sizeable fraction of the available parking handicap spots. The proposed scheme of pick up and drop off zones does not feel very well thought out.

In summary, a typical Toronto compromise: a pilot study that will inform permanent changes in the future. Given the budgetary situation for the city, I fear that future might be very far away.

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Today was the first Urban Roller ride of the year with TBN. We met up at High Park. All wishing that the ride was yesterday, when it was +12°C, but at least it’s sunny!

Dave Middleton is our ride leader.

The other Dave leads us down the hill to the lakeshore.

Taking full advantage of the extra space for southbound cyclists defined by paint and bollards at Colborne Lodge and Lakeshore. Note the ghost bike for Jonas Mitchell.

Along the MGT.

Nice sunny day.

Regroup at 1st and Lakeshore.

The bathrooms along the Waterfront Trail in Mississauga are already open (unlike the ones in TO), and this one is heated.

I elected to ride back in advance to get back early.

The water from the Humber is muddy and brown.

Thanks to Dave for leading the ride and arranging the route. Nice to see so many of the usual suspects. Looking forward to a good riding season with TBN.

I’ll also note that the open house for the High Park Movement Strategy is tomorrow, April 3, from 4:30-7:30 at Lithuanian House 1573 Bloor Street West.

There was a prior public survey that indicated that the most popular option of four was one where the park would be car free. The report on the survey is here.

However, subsequent to the survey, there was a stakeholder meeting in February that was not open to the public. As a result of that meeting, the city is proposing that the park remain partially open to motor traffic, but many are still hoping that we can keep the park car free. I’ll post about that meeting tomorrow.

For more details, I would recommend reading the coverage by Rob Z on his excellent blog.

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On Thursday March 9, a cyclist was stuck and killed on Upper Middle Rd in Oakville. Today was the ghost bike ride in his memory.

The riders gathered at the Oakville GO station.

Photo: Geoffrey Bercarich

Councillor Tom Adams was there to express his condolences. He has been one of the local councillors engaged with Vision Zero and the active transportation file. He said that there are a series of environment assessments planned as part of a process to roll out safer street design, including along Upper Middle Rd.

David Shellnut’s bike had a stripped skewer, and the fellow to the right kindly made a quick trip home to get him a spare.

Joey describes the route shortly before we depart.

Doing a quick ride by for the CBC cameraman.

Departing the GO station parking lot.

Approaching the underpass at the end of Lyons Lane.

Geoffrey through the P gates.

Riding north on Sixth Line.

Just after the turn on Upper Middle Rd. This is not a bike friendly street.

Approaching the crash site.

There were some candles, fruit offerings, and flowers already here.

Chaining up the bike.

Unfurling the banner.

A minute of silence for the deceased.

Photo: David Shellnut
Photo: David Shellnut

Geoffrey talks to the CBC.

Mark Anderson from Cycle Hamilton rode all the way out, and was planning to ride home as well.

An eyewitness to the crash happened to walk by. She said that the driver suddenly changed into the curb lane in preparation for a right turn onto Eight Line, hitting the cyclist from behind.

At Trafalgar and Iroquois Shore Rd on the way back.

On the GO train.

Thanks to everyone who rode with us on a cold, windy day. This was the third ghost bike installation in Oakville by ARC over the past few years, following Helen Xiang in 2020, and Ignacio Viana in 2021.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends of the departed.

Update: CBC video coverage.

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It has been noted by many that although the city is very fast at clearing roads after a storm, and that sidewalk and bike lane clearance is also improving, such plowing can form piles of snow or windrows that create problems for those with mobility issues. Certainly there are high snow banks all over the city that create a barrier at most curbs.

Today, a group of volunteers was organized to clear snow around the streetcar stops on Dundas St W between River St and Bathurst. One crew started at River St working their way west, and the other at Bathurst going east. I joined the Bathurst crew.

On my way to the start point, I saw plowing had created some new obstacles on the Bloor bike lanes, like this one at Havelock.

When I arrived, the crew had already done some work at Bathurst.

All done.

One of my shovels was an early casualty.

There were places with very thick ice even on the sidewalk.

Much better now.

The ghost bike for Inus.

Working at Spadina.

Headed to the next stop.

Dundas and Huron before clearing.

After clearing a path for streetcar offloading, we’re doing some additional digging to get to a sewer grate for drainage.

In front of the AGO.

Again, much better.

At Chestnut, we meet up with the westbound group, and we all set to work on the south side snow bank.

A fellow in a wheelchair happened to pass by and he expressed his appreciation for what we were doing. He recounted many instances of being blocked from safe passage by snowbanks.

One group picture of the entire crew before we split up to continue our work.

Three of us turned back west to work on the north side. By the time we get to Beverly, a city Bobcat was doing snow clearance and we were treated to a virtuoso performance. He cleared snow from the curb, and followed that up with a quick pass to clear part of the roadway.

Thanks to Gru for organizing, and it was a pleasure to meet all of my fellow workers.

update: CTV news coverage: ‘Why isn’t the city doing this?’ Volunteers shovel snow from 30 streetcar stops in Toronto

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Update: Rob’s much more detailed coverage is here.

Tonight was the first of two public consultations on the eglintonTOday complete street project that would install bike lanes and other streetscape improvements between Keele and Mt. Pleasant. It was quite well attended.

I’ll leave the detailed reporting to Rob on his blog. There were many of the usual suspects in attendance.

Most of the activity seemed to be around the map covering the intersections with Yonge and Mt. Pleasant.

I left a note requesting that the bike lanes be connected to the midtown Yonge St. bike lanes.

I do wonder if there will be pushback given that people could argue that there are already north south connectors in the vicinity.

I also left a note requesting that the bike lanes extend further west than Keele so that they would connect to the existing bike lanes along Eglinton that come as far east as just short of Weston Rd.

I had a peaceful ride home along the Winona Rd bike lanes that have a recently installed contraflow section. I also paid my respects at the Tom Samson ghost bike.

There’s a second public consultation on Saturday, as well as an online survey that is available until March 6.

Date: Saturday, February 25, 2023
Time: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Fairbank Public School, 2335 Dufferin St., gymnasium (parking lot located north side of school with back-up parking located on south side of school)

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