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Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

There has been a lot of media coverage about the perceived conflict between cyclists and pedestrians in High Park, along with the heavy handed tactics of the police in addressing the behaviour of cyclists in High Park. There were a steady drumbeat of unfortunate incidents in the last couple of weeks including:

  • On July 26 John Tory says he supports the police targeting cyclists in High Park.
  • On July 29 a BIPOC cyclist was harassed by a plain clothed officer in the park.
  • On Aug 1 a cyclist was chased and hit off her bike by a man fed up with cyclists; it is alleged that he is an off duty TPS officer. Police were called to the incident, but no action was taken.
  • On Aug 2 a TPS officer was ticketing cyclists for not stopping at stop signs in the park when he himself failed to stop at a stop sign and hit a cyclist, damaging his bike.

Media coverage included:

Also, there have been some things to attempt to defuse tensions. The mayor’s office met with Cycle Toronto. In addition, the TPS released some figures about ticketing in High Park in order to show that comparatively few tickets have been issued to cyclists, but the data is muddied by the fact that the data was for High Park and the surrounding area, which presumably would include both Bloor and Parkside. Also their number of 16 cyclist tickets conflicts with the CTV report that 62 tickets were issued in a single week in July.

Added to all of this is the continuing concern about unsafe conditions along Parkside, as well as the city’s survey on a “High Park Movement Strategy”.

Tonight there was a ride for the cycling community to protest some of the actions of the police, and to show that the cycling community is highly engaged on the issue of usage of the park. The crowd assembled near the Bloor entrance to the park.

David Shellnut gets things organized.

Hizzoner, Lanrick Jr. Bennett, the bicycle mayor of Toronto.

This fellow was yelling about how inconsiderate cyclists were in the park.

That is a lot of cyclists.

Getting ready to go.

And we’re off.

Hard to keep to under 20 kph on this downhill section.

Up the hill to where the sakura bloom in the spring.

Turning down Centre Rd, after a stop at the stop sign, naturally.

Riding the brakes so as to go the same speed as the TPS officer in our midst.

Regroup at the High Park Blvd gates.

Once again, that is a long line of bikes.

Turning north on Parkside.

Regroup at Howard Park

Mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa was with us.

Now crossing Howard Park

Headed further north towards Bloor.

At Keele and Bloor

Our fearless leader.

Now back on Bloor towards the park entrance.

Signs

Thanks to David and the bike brigade for organizing today’s ride and getting the word out. Thanks to everyone who rode with us in solidarity.

Also nice to see so many of the usual suspects in person, and not on a ghost bike ride.

Remember to express your opinion about High Park movement at the city survey, which is open until August 19. If you want to read more about the issues, Rob covers those on his blog.

Update:

August 12 Globe and Mail Editorial: “It’s time to get cars out of Toronto’s High Park

Also, a count done from a video posted by Mike Whitla estimates about 500 cyclists attended.

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There was a bombshell announcement this morning in the Toronto Star to the effect that Mike Layton will not be running for re-election in Ward 11 University-Rosedale. This means that the three downtown wards will not have incumbents running this fall, with Joe Cressy and Kristin Wong-Tam having made similar announcements (and Wong-Tam being subsequently elected as an MPP). This is highly unfortunate as it means that three of the most progressive councillors on council will not be back.

At the same time, it is widely acknowledged that with the reduction in the number of wards in Toronto being reduced to about half by Doug Ford during a municipal election, the workloads for individual councillors has increased, and this problem is particularly acute in these downtown wards with their higher than average populations as well as the enormous number of development proposals that have been filed by developers in the area.

With all this preamble, I just wanted to thank Mike Layton for all of his leadership at City Council, in particular with regards to the promotion of cycling infrastructure. Here are just a few photos.

During the 2011 group commute.

The 2013 coldest day of the year ride. He is riding his commuter bike with the custom City of Toronto head badge and chain guard. I’ll miss seeing him on this bike occasionally, riding into work along Harbord.

August 2016: Official opening of the Bloor bike lane.

September 2016: Bells on Bloor: victory lap edition.

June 2019: Auctioning off his dad’s bike for charity.

April 2022: Earth Day on Shaw St.

Tailwinds to you and your family, and wishing you all success in whatever you decide to do next.

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I haven’t been on a Saturday morning ride with TBN as I am usually busy at that time. However, today I was not, and so I took advantage and rode down to High Park to join in. There was a pretty big crowd at the start.

Ride leader David gives us some safety reminders and notes on the route.

And off we go, headed towards the High Park Blvd exit.

We were told to stay under 20 kph because we had just seen a cyclist be pulled over and ticketed while riding past the parking lot.

On the West Toronto Railpath.

Regroup at Cariboo Ave.

Alleyway art.

Nice cargo bike.

Through the tunnel.

Regroup at the entrance to the Beltline trail.

On the Beltline. During this stretch Jess of Friends and Families for Safe Streets passed us twice while running.

I took this photo on the fly while we were crossing Yonge in order to submit to #Biketag.

Biking through Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.

The entrance to the Moore Park Ravine was still closed.

The roadies were directed along Moore Ave to Bayview, whereas the rest of us were lead a couple of blocks to another entrance to the ravine trail. This entrance had a steep gravel descent (no pictures while riding down!)

At this point I was a little ahead of the main group so I decided to take a roundabout route to get to the Brickworks. Unfortunately, somewhere on the trail I dropped my phone, and I didn’t realize it until I got to the Brickworks. (you see, I have this bad habit of taking photos during bike rides )

At that point I rode back downtown to my office so that I could log in on my computer and use Find My iPhone. It was still at the Brickworks, and when I called my phone, a very kind person picked up and said that she would drop my phone off at the cashier in the Brickworks store. About half an hour later, I was back at the Brickworks, and got my phone. Thank you anonymous person for handing in my phone! This is the only trace that I have of this incident. Perhaps the photo app was still on when you picked it up.

At any rate, on the way back home, I redecorated two ghost bikes. The first was for Carla Warrilow, on Spadina, just south of Dundas. Both bikes were recently reconditioned by Geoffrey Bercarich.

The second was for Adan Excell, at Avenue and Davenport.

Going back along Bloor, I met the Bromptoning Duo at the Big on Bloor festival. I also saw two TBN’ers that were on the same ride earlier today.

All in all, a nice ride with a potential disaster averted. Thanks once again to the kind person who recovered my phone.

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Brian Woods was riding his bike on his way to work when he was hit and killed by a driver, early on the morning of July 5, 2022. Today was a ghost bike ride and installation in his memory. Since this was the first one that ARC did in Hamilton, the logistics were a bit different than usual. Here, the van is loaded up and we are ready to hit the road.

Unloading the bikes just around the corner from the start.

The starting point was Southam Park, at the top end of the Keddy Access Trail. Here, Mark Anderson (board member of Cycle Hamilton) is addressing the crowd.

I liked these shirts. Apparently one of these fellows is a mayoral candidate.

I was asked as a cyclist how seeing a ghost bike would make me feel. I said that a ghost bike is not to remind cyclists to be careful, it is to remind drivers to be careful; when you are in a two ton metal box travelling at speed, a moment’s inattention can result in death or serious injury to a pedestrian or cyclist. BTW it has been a bad first half the year for Hamilton, with Brian’s death being the 12th fatality for a vulnerable road user.

Here I am outlining the route for the ride, and letting people know that there will be bike Marshalls at the beginning and the end of the group of cyclists. In addition, Tracy Woods-Wilkinson very kindly offered to drive behind us to block traffic from trying to overtake.

photo: Albert Koehl

And off we go.

photo: Albert Koehl

On Inverness, passing Tracy’s truck.

On Upper Wellington, about to turn left onto Limeridge Rd.

On Limeridge

Now approaching the cut de sac just short of Upper Wentworth.

Now crossing Upper Wentworth. There was no marked crosswalk on the on ramp, so much corking had to be done to get the group all the way across. Drivers were generally patient with us when they saw such a large group of cyclists.

Unloading and installing the ghost bike.

A representative of the family thanks the riders for coming.

A moment of silence for Brian.

Decorating the ghost bike and the pole.

In addition to the approximately 60 riders, there were almost an equal number of friends and family present at the installation site.

Now riding back as a group with some of the cyclists.

Here is a video showing a few segments of the ride.

Thanks to everyone who rode with us. Thanks also to Tracy for driving behind us with her truck, both on the way to and from the installation site. Thanks to Mark for representing Hamilton, and to Karl and Daniel for extra marshalling. It was also nice to see several of the usual suspects from Toronto as well. Ironically, this was the most well attended ghost bike ride since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

Deepest condolences to Brian’s family and friends. I hope that they can take some small degree of comfort from the community support that was shown at the ride today.

A go fund me page has been set up for the family.

The City of Hamilton has been making some noises about making street design changes to improve safety. Council voted to consider a complete streets design manual. In somewhat of a more concrete step, they also recently voted to change Main St from one way to two way traffic. When this actually happens, that will be one down, King St. to go.

Updates:

CHCH coverage is here.

Spectator story: Memorial ride honours 52-year-old cyclist killed on Upper Wentworth

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This past week I noticed this tweet mentioned a Bike Month event promoting the Keddy Access Trail.

I had visited the trail twice before, but I thought it would be nice to join in and show my support as a Toronto cyclist.

These two cheery volunteers from Smart Commute Hamilton were dispensing refreshments at the access point off of the east end of St. Joseph’s Drive.

I had a nice conversation with Chris (in the Hawaiian shirt) from the Hamilton Cycling Committee.

When I remarked that I had seen a lot of improvement in bike infrastructure in Hamilton, and the fact that their downtown was relatively compact compared to TO, he countered with the fact that when a bike lane gets installed in Toronto, many cyclists are immediately seen using it, which is not necessarily the case in Hamilton. We both agreed that the pace of installation in both cities is slower that we would like. He also mentioned that the HSR Mountain Climber program was pretty popular. A cyclist at a specially marked stop close to the bottom of the escarpment can rack their bike and then ride the bus for free to the first stop after the mountain access.

To his right is Councillor Danko whose ward is the West Mountain. Here’s another picture of Councillor Danko at the refreshment table.

When I mentioned that bike lanes on the mountain were comparatively sparse, he replied that he hoped that bike lanes would be installed on Upper Wellington from the mountain brow to Rymal Rd. He said it was a natural north-south route since it did not link with the Linc. Even better if that would be accompanied with some degree of protection for the bike lanes on the Jolley Cut which is the mountain access connected to Upper Wellington. Note that the Jolley Cut bike lanes are also connected to the Keddy.

I was happy to see that the donuts being provided were an independent shop called Grandad’s Donuts. I was told that they use recipes similar to the original Tim Horton’s, and I could see that their donuts were much bigger than the current offering at TH. Very yummy as well.

I biked up to the end of the W5th access to see if the state of the trail had changed. Regrettably I saw that the end is just connected to a sidewalk.

I saw that the bike lane markings at this point had faded away during the past few years. This is what it looked like back in Dec 2020.

Smooth sailing down the mountain.

On the way back down, I stopped by the booth again, and there were a few more people gathered. Here is a picture of several of the members of the cycling committee.

I had met Cora of Hamilton Trike (2nd from the left) on a trike ride around the harbour a few years back. She had a crank forward bike that people were trying out from Phoenix Bike Wrx who took over bike production from Rans.

This fellow rode up on a bike designed by Kris, the owner of Cafe Domestique in Dundas.

Riding down to the bottom of the trail, I was very happy to see that it was connected to the Hunter St bike lanes that were not there two years ago.

This is an interesting implementation that I’ve not seen in TO: a bi directional lane buffered by parked cars.

At any rate, it was nice to check out the Keddy access trail once again, and to meet some of the local cycle activists.

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The plan was to go for a longer ride, but it was cut short by a sudden downpour. Not as bad as the last time I was caught out in a storm, which was the big one on May 21. I’m noticing a 100% correlation with wearing a synthetic jersey, so maybe I should stick to wool, even when it’s warm.

On the way, I noticed that someone had moved the jersey barriers that were blocked the slip lane on the north west corner of Ellis and Lakeshore. We fought for years to have it closed off so that pedestrians and cyclists had more space to wait for the light to change. I’d like the city to make a more permanent closure, as was promised to us over ten years ago.

On the way back from Mimico, I visited the John Offutt ghost bike, which was reported to be in rough shape. I tried to prop it up as well as possible. You can see how the frame has been totally bent back due to a car hitting it some time ago.

When ARC replaces it, I think it should be chained to the large wooden pole just next to the present location.

It’s a good time to also note that there is a city consultation on the “Mimico Neighbourhood Mobility Plan” on June 14. The stated aims are:

The Mimico Neighbourhood Mobility Plan (NMP) will identify, prioritize and recommend short and long-term improvements to traffic operations and road design to support road safety for all modes of transportation including vulnerable road users (e.g. seniors, school children, people walking and cycling) in the Mimico study area.

The following areas of concern will be addressed:

  • traffic fatalities
  • cut-through traffic and excessive vehicular volume on local roads
  • excessive speeding on local roads
  • non-compliance with traffic regulations and signage
  • road and intersection designs that raise safety concerns

Mimico definitely needs more than just bike lanes on Royal York, Lakeshore and Birmingham.

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Today was a very short ride to deliver some packaged meals from CAMH to the Allan Gardens food bank. It was also my first group ride with the Bike Brigade. Here are my fellow riders at the pick up.

Someone said “Look, Jun has a Chad bike” …

…referring to the legendary Chad who both works behind the scenes for TBB and also does a huge number of deliveries on his Haul a Day.

And we’re off.

At this point, Lois remarked that I had been hitting every single red light. She took over the lead, and the pace quickened considerably.

A fun little ride to support the good work of the Allan Gardens Food Bank. Even better: putting our bikes to work on World Bicycle Day.

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It’s Bike Month, and Cycle Toronto ran a group commute for the first time in several years. As per usual, I biked in with the High Park group. Here we are at the start.

At Keele

Up the hill towards Indian Rd.

Under the Railpath. Yes that is Brooklyn resident Janet Joy back in town for Memorial Day weekend.

At Dufferin. Note human scale to the left versus SUV monster scale to the right.

Stopping by the Annex location of Sweet Pete’s to show solidarity after the incident last week. This is all the people I could squeeze into the picture during our brief stop.

Adrian is all dressed up for work.

At Spadina.

Waiting at Yonge.

At that moment, the Danforth group arrived across the intersection.

Now headed down Yonge. We didn’t try to collect all the groups together near Charles St as in past years, and things went smoothly.

At Yonge and Dundas. That’s one of the Marshalls for the Davisville start to the right.

Longtime WHPSC volunteer Mike with his Battle Mountain shirt. Also that’s photog Danielle, who is now working for Zygg.

Arriving at NPS.

From the appearance of the bike racks, it looks like numbers were way down this year. Perhaps not a lot of people are still returning to the office downtown.

On the plus side, the line up for coffee was less than usual.

I was told that this bikeshare tandem only comes out for special occasions.

Nice to see many of the usual suspects this morning.

Here is a group picture that was taken at the end of the speeches.

Thanks to Cycle Toronto, and all the other sponsors for Bike Month. Thanks also to our ride Marshalls from Cycle Toronto and the Bike Brigade.

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Joshua Okoeguale, age 16, was riding home on Thursday evening after coaching Grade 1 basketball when he was killed by a truck driver on May 19. Today was a ghost bike ride and installation in his memory.

Geoffrey and I were joined at the Oshawa GO station by several local cycling advocates, including some members of the Durham Region Cycling Coalition.

Long time advocate Joe Arruda leads us off.

Bloor St W is a very busy arterial with lots of high speed traffic. We realized at this point that there was a car following behind us driving at our pace with flashers on. This was someone from the funeral who was creating safe passage for us.

Biking down Simcoe St.

Arriving at the crash site.

There was already a memorial in place.

The ghost bike arrives.

Installing the ghost bike.

After a minute of silence in Joshua’s memory, his older sister gave a short, heartbreaking speech. Afterwards, the family came forward to decorate the bike.

Many family members and friends were in attendance.

As we prepared to depart, several people kindly offered to drive behind us back to the station. There were at least five vehicles in the procession behind the bikes, which was an extraordinary gesture.

Thanks to Joe and Ron for organizing locally.

Deepest condolences to Joshua’s family and friends. He will not be forgotten.

Pictures from Joe:

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Today was the first in person Ride of Silence in Toronto for three years. Thirty eight cyclists rode to remember those who have been killed while cycling on these mean streets of the GTA.

both photos by Joey Schwartz

Last year was a bad year with seven ghost bikes installed in the GTA. The trend that has become apparent is that most deaths are now outside of the downtown area, and in fact only two of the seven in 2021 were in the city itself. The outer suburbs are also hazardous for cyclists.

The updated list of cyclists to be remembered in 2021 is as follows:

Sept 17   Ignacio Viana    (81) Lower Base Line West and 6th Line, Milton

Sept 11      Male cyclist           Eglinton and Leslie

Sept 1       Nikita Victoria Belykh  (11) Thornhill

June 17     Male cyclist  (60s)  Queen St E and HWY 50 (Brampton)

August 18   Miguel Joshua Escanan (18) Avenue Rd and Bloor    

June 10      Boy  (11)  HWY 407 and Warden, Markham

May 20    Darren Williams (51)   Muskoka

May 4    Rayyan Ali  (5)   Hurontario and Evans

Thanks to everyone who rode tonight. Thanks to Joey and Geoffrey for leading tonight’s ride.

Perry has posted some photos and a video of Joey reading the names of departed cyclists at the end of the ride.

https://www.photodorks.com/2022/05/ride-of-silence-toronto-2022.html

Geoffrey’s video

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