Archive for the ‘Bike Infrastructure’ Category

Today was an unusual day, with lots of bike related stuff tucked in and around a full day at work.  First up: helping with a bike and car count on Bloor. My shift was from 8-9 am.


Here is Albert Koehl at the counting nerve centre, AKA the Coffee Time at Bloor and Spadina.


Next up: the annual Ride of Silence, which is worldwide, on the 3rd Wednesday of May, starting at 7 pm local time. My report is up on the Dandyblog, but here are some extra pictures that did not fit in the narrative.  Here is part of the gathered crowd.


This fellow showed up on a USS LWB recumbent from a company that I can never heard of: Lightning Cycles in Ohio (not to be confused with Lightning Cycle Dynamics in California). UPDATE: here is some information about the builder, who unfortunately just passed away.


Derek showed up with family at the very end of our ride with his unique ride.


He took this shot while the deceased riders’ names were being read out.

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After the ROS, I decided to drop by the Toronto Cruisers ride, which is every Wednesday evening in the warmer parts of the year, starting at 8:15 from Bloor and Huron. It was suggested that we head west, and so I lead our party on a route that took in the famous elephant.


It is a laid back social ride that often goes late (weather permitting), and always includes tunes from the big speakers on the back of Grant’s bike.


Thanks to Gerry, Grant and Natalie for introducing me to this ride. As a boring family man, I had to cut out before it got too dark. As far as I know, they might still be riding out there.


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It snowed pretty heavily yesterday and last night, but the plows were busy overnight, and most of the major streets had been plowed. Add to this the relatively balmy temps, and it was a good day to ride to work.

Here is the single snowiest part of my ride in: a stretch of Edwin Ave.


The West Toronto Railpath was clear.


Entering the Bloor bike lane at Shaw. Looks clear.


One small niggle: when the bike lane transitions from a section cleared by a regular plow to a parking protected section that was plowed separately, there is snow plowed into the transition. If it was frozen solid, this would have been an issue. Another problem with the curbside bike lane is the tendency for merchants to clear sidewalk snow onto it.


It is not to say that my ride in wasn’t peaceful. What with the snow, I had the bike lanes pretty much to myself, and there wasn’t the problem of having to pass slower cyclists, or having faster ones buzz by.  Kudos to the City for keeping them clear.


Have to end with this tweet from Yehuda Moon.


image source

Evening update: not so impressed by the snow clearance on Harbord.


but on the other hand, Annette was fine.


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Note that this blog post is a companion piece to an article on the Dandyhorse blog where the city has furnished quite a bit of additional information.

I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that there is less traction on the green patches that have been incorporated into several recent examples of bike infrastructure around town. The City of Toronto advises that the green paint is a thermoplastic material that has been blended with grit to give traction similar to asphalt.

Having had training in both Physics and Engineering, I decided to see if I could measure the difference in traction between ordinary asphalt, and asphalt covered in two different kinds of road markings. After some thought, I decided to repurpose some equipment that our undergraduate students have been using to measure the tensile strength of materials. What is relevant to the present discussion is that there is a force sensor that can be hooked to a computer to record force as a function of time.

Here is a picture of the apparatus.


The red string pulls on a lever that presses against a silver plunger that sticks out from one of two blue boxes (the one to the left that is labelled “Force Sensor” in small green type.)  The apparatus has four small rubber feet underneath. The idea is to drag the whole thing to the right by pulling on the red string while recording the force measured, which would be a measure of the frictional force.

The first set of measurements were done on a crosswalk on Runnymede Rd. Here is a picture of the setup being dragged.


I will note that this was done on pavement that was slightly wet from rain earlier in the day.  I started the measurement on asphalt, dragged the meter all the way across the white stripe, and then some distance on the asphalt, just so that I could see if there was a different on and off the marking. The data for three separate runs are shown below. The horizontal axis is time in seconds, and I’m not going to quantify the force reading on the vertical axis.


As you can see, the measurements are fairly consistent, and that there is a dip in each curve (from 4-8 seconds), corresponding to when the meter is being dragged across the white paint as opposed to the asphalt.  Clearly, there is a reduction in friction on the white paint.

Since each of the curves has quite a bit of scatter, I take the average value for the asphalt and the paint sections (with the standard deviation as the error). The results are as follows:

  • asphalt: 5.4 ±0.5
  • white paint: 4.4 ± 0.5

The net result is a 20% ±10% reduction in friction on the white paint.

Now onto the green bike boxes. The difficult here was that my ability to take measurements was somewhat hampered by the fact that I was dodging traffic while doing so. Here is a picture where I took the data, on the Annette bike lane at Dundas St. West.


The data is taken where I draft the meter off of the green paint. Here is the data:


If you are charitable, you might imagine that the first part of the curve, say from 1.5 – 3 seconds is a little higher than from 4-6.  This would indicate that the traction on the green paint is actually higher than on the asphalt.  The numbers are as follows:

  • green paint: 5.6 ±.5
  • asphalt: 4.8 ± 0.6

Therefore, in this case the variation in the data is comparable to the difference measured between the two surfaces, and so it is not possible to conclude that there is a clear difference. If fact, if there is a difference, the green paint might actually provide slightly better traction than bare asphalt.  I will note that the asphalt section adjacent to the green paint was very rough (much rougher than the asphalt on the Runnymede bike lane), and this probably reduced the contact area between the rubber feet and the pavement, which would account for the comparatively friction reading for asphalt. At any rate, the green paint is very comparable in traction to bare pavement, and appears to give better grip that the white paint used for crosswalks (and I assume for bike lane markings etc).

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Cycle Hamilton  is a relatively new cycling advocacy group. They were running a Cycle Advocacy Week, and I figured that a ride they ran today would be the perfect opportunity to check out some of the bike infrastructure  and to get a bit of a feel about what was going on in my hometown. Given that it’s been 40 years since I’ve actually lived there, I knew that a lot had changed.

We gathered at City Hall. Kudos to them; this is the first bike related event that I’ve ever been to where more people showed up than were “going” on Facebook. There was a mix, everyone from a bike dad with son to a bunch of roadies in Lycra.


Johanna (co-founder of Cycle Hamilton) gives us the scoop on the ride before we start. She says that today’s ride focuses on the fact that a popular route up the escarpment, Sydenham Rd, is due for some infrastructure improvements, but that bike lanes are not included in the plan, even though this route is on the Cycling Master Plan.


And off we go. Look, a bidirectional bike lane!


Parking buffered bike lane on Charlton.


Note the wayfinding signs.


Entering a section of trail that goes along the northern border of Chedoke golf course.


Stop to regroup.


Here we go.


The lead group.


The rail trail.  Very nice and wide.



Threading through the Mac campus.


and down towards Dundas along Cootes Dr.




Pulling up to the Shed Brewery.


A brief stop to figure out who was going to brave the hill. It turns out that pretty much everyone was going to do it.


Here we go.


Not steep yet.


OK, time for the granny gear.


People arriving.


Proof that I made it. Thanks to Mark for taking the photo.


The historical marker talks about how this is called Clara’s Climb, after Clara Hughes.


These folks rode Sobi bikeshare bikes.


Group shot.


That’s Dave, chair of Cycle Hamilton, in the centre.


The ride down was quick, and then it was time for beer. The Shawn & Ed Brewing company was kind enough to let us bring bikes in. I hauled a heavy lock up that hill for nothing!


A good turnout. I was told that the building used to be a firehall, and then a curling rink, and now a beautifully retrofitted brewery.


It was great to talk to these guys about what was going on bike wise in Hamilton. We argued over who had the more dysfunctional city council. Of course, I could always pull out the Rob Ford card. Their main issue with the bike lanes is that they don’t form a continuous network. Sounds familiar.


The fellow on the right Mark Chamberlain, runs a ride called Bike for Mike that raises funds to provide underprivileged youth with bikes. They have a multi pronged approach to getting young people on bikes, including having them earn their bikes by pledging to bike to school, etc. They are taking the long view on encouraging the next generation of bike riders and potential bike advocates.  I can’t remember the exact date of the next ride, but I believe that it is going to be the first Sunday in May.

A few pictures of infra on my way back downtown. We biked by this sign on the way out.


I like this bollard shielded bump out for pedestrian safety and traffic calming.


The bike lane on Herkimer which is the one way complement to Charlton. These bike lanes just went in this year just went in this year.


Thanks to Cycle Hamilton for running this event!


Update: Don’s much better pictures on facebook.

Update #2: my ride report from Bike for Mike 2017.

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Cycle Toronto ran a fundraising ride today on Bloor/Danforth for the second consecutive year. About 120 riders were registered for the 25K ride, and another 30 or so for the 10K ride. The route was chosen to highlight several of the campaigns that Cycle Toronto has been running, including sections of Bloor, the Danforth, and Woodbine.

People gathered at registration before the ride.

Patrick Brown with just a few of the riders for team Bike Law.

Jared makes some announcements.

Joe Cressy says that he knows in this venue, he is preaching to the choir. Nevertheless, he highlights the importance of Cycle Toronto’s advocacy work at City Hall in getting new bike infrastructure approved.

Head Marshall Captain Sam briefs the riders on how we are going to stick together, and reminds us to use hand signals.

Lined up at the start on Cecil St.

Down this laneway behind Baldwin St. to get to Elm.

Across the Bloor Viaduct.

This family was with us for the whole 25K ride.

Headed south on Woodbine.

Headed west on the Danforth.

We make a stop at the Eastview Community Centre to meet up with the 10K riders, including this family with the second orange Haul a Day in town!

Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon is a strong supporter of cycling in the city.

Julie Dabrusin is the local MP, and she told us that there is now a Cycling Caucus in the Federal Government.

and off we go again.

Sam leads us back across the viaduct.

Momentary stop on Bloor.

The other Sam does some corking.

Riding is a breeze if dad does all the work.

On some sections of Bloor, we can’t all fit into the bike lane.

On the final stretch, down St. George.

Thanks to Cycle Toronto for organizing the ride, the ride sponsors, as well as Toronto’s finest for the escort. These officers were from 14 Division, but 51 and 52 also helped out.

Also nice to see so many families out biking on this brilliantly sunny fall day. Ride safe everyone!

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We’ve been asking the city to make access to the lakefront from Ward 13 safer for cyclists. One of the items on the list were sharrows on Ellis Ave, originally requested in 2010. My understanding is that the installation of sharrows was somewhat delayed by the Pan Am games. However they finally went in a couple of weeks ago. Here are some new sharrows in Runnymede, south of Bloor.

Looking back northward, you can see that the downhill sharrows are by the curb, whereas the uphill (northbound) sharrows are in the door zone. However, there is not much road width here.

Southbound on Runnymede, there is a sharrow with arrow directing us to turn left on DeForest.

Similar arrows direct us south on Kennedy, then a short jog left to get to the top of Ellis Ave. The short section of Morningside is problematic as there is a lot of car traffic here that comes from all four directions.



On Ellis Ave itself, both the downhill and uphill sharrows are by the curb. Unfortunately, in the sections where parking is allowed in the uphill directions, parked cars can totally obscure the sharrows.

Ellis at Queensway. There is no sign of sharrows across the intersection yet, although sharrows were recently installed across the Queensway on Colborne Lodge Rd.

There is also no sign of the short section of bike lane on Ellis under the Gardiner.

My understanding is that there will be a northbound bikes only crossing installed on the east side of the Ellis-Lakeshore intersection, similar to the one at Colborne Lodge. Speaking of which, I wanted to check to see if they had retimed the bike crossing at Colborne Lodge.

Here is a video. I pressed start just after the bike light turned green.

As you can see, the light is green for about 9 seconds, and then yellow for about 4 seconds. If you compare this with a video taken in 2011:

you can see that the bike crossing light has not been retimed, as we requested several years ago. I will note that the bike signal is now “bike shaped” which I guess is progress of a sort.  Also, I am disappointed to see that sharrows were not put in for this northbound bike crossing, as many people continue to bike across using the pedestrian crossing on the west side of the intersection.

A little further east, I came upon the wooden sculpture that commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising.

I also see that the bike lane has been slightly rerouted at the entrance to the Boulevard Club, so that at least one car exiting the club can wait for traffic to clear on Lakeshore without blocking bike traffic.

Just east of thing point, I was excited to see a pedestrian and bike bridge across to the south end of Dowling Ave. This is a picture of the north end of the bridge.

You can see that this new bridge is much less wide than the original roadway.

I was less excited to find out from this and other articles that this is just a temporary structure while the city conducts an environment assessment to decide whether to replace the roadway bridges at both Dunn and Dowling.

Update: I’ve been told by the Cycle Toronto Ward 14 group that the Dowling Bridge will be for pedestrians and cyclists only going forward, and that there is a proposal for Dowling to have a contraflow lane installed between Queen and King to improve access to this bridge.

This evening, we got the whole family together to take another picture of the time tunnel.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving everyone!

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Biking in Oslo

I’ve made a quick trip to Oslo on business, and after arriving in the city before 7 am, it was time to check out what it’s like to bike around early Sunday morning. I elected to buy a season subscription to the bike share system (299 NOK is about $50 CDN), rather than renting on a day by day basis from local shop Viking Biking. Here is the bike station nearest my hotel.


After a quick launch of their app, it prompts me to take a specific bike by number. Each ride can span up to three hours which is very generous. The season runs from April to November.

Here is the bike. It has a Nexus 3 spd hub, and also 24″ Schwalbe Big Apple tires. As bike share bikes go, this one is pretty light. I can boost up the front wheel to mount curbs pretty easily on this one.


This is typical of one of the official bike lanes downtown. Note the wayfinding signs. At the same time, parts of the marked bike routes did not have obvious bike lane markings, and were more akin to the bikeways that you would find in Vancouver.  Biking this early in the morning with limited car traffic was a pleasure.


One of the pages that I visited about biking in Oslo (apparently not this one) noted that the Akeselva river was a good route to follow. It has a beautiful multuse trail along parts of its length, but just because it’s along a river doesn’t mean that it’s flat. Fortunately I rode it in the downstream direction. This is a picture of a steep section: note the fairly substantial waferfall.


A little further down, another waterfall.


Another bridge, this time encouraging the practice of putting padlocks on it.


Right beside this point, I note a huge forest of bike racks, and some swanky buildings. Turns out it is the Oslo National Academy of the Arts.

Early in the morning, people are fishing down at the waterfront.


Lots of bike parking near the ferries.


I eventually make my way westward around the harbour to a swanky new neighbourhood called Tjuvholmen. Here is a waterfront promenade with cafes that haven’t opened yet. (note that it was not possible to find a cafe open before 9 on a Sunday morning, although I did ride by a bakery earlier in the ride).


Going as far as I could, I ended up just a little past the Astrup Fearnley Museum, and then water.


Lo and behold, I’m beside an outdoor bathing area, and there were already two hardy souls in the water around 8 am. I did check the water and it was surprisingly warm. I regret not bringing a swimsuit.


At this point, I do a quick check with the cycling app to see where the nearest station is. You can see that Google maps thinks I’m in the water.


Turns out that the nearest station is right beside the Nobel Peace Prize museum.


All you do to return a bike is lift up the front wheel slightly and engage a bracket just above the fork. You can take any open slot.


and now the app tells you that you’ve returned the bike.


To check one out again, you click “unlock bike” on a page associated with the nearest bike station.


Here is the prompt page that tells you which bike to take.


Now off further to the west along this bidirectional bike path to check out the Bygdøy neighbourhood which has a cluster of museums.


The huge amount of foot traffic is coming from that cruise ship.


I hope this is Norwegian for “share the road”


On my way to the Norwegian Folklore Museum, I’m directed onto this gravel path that is a nice green break from the city streets.


Eventually I got to some museums to see stuff like this:


I will note that the nearest bike station to the maritime museum is still a brisk 20 minute walk away, which is a bit disappointing, given that they are promoting biking in this area. In this respect, short term renters might be better opting for a rental bike with a bike lock, like these from Viking Biking, but bike share is cheaper on a per day basis for more than two days.


I saw these signs posted in the neighbourhood that seem to argue against further expansion of bike infrastructure in this corner of the city. (It turns out that the bike lanes appear to have been approved over some local opposition).


By now it’s mid afternoon, and when I get back to the same promenade that I shot earlier this morning, it looks like this:


and now people are having trouble finding open slots to park at the bike share station as well


and later that evening, I see the truck used to redistribute bikes.


Overall, it’s been a fun first day, made better of course by biking. The bikeshare system works well, although I wish that I could park anywhere (like Glasgow). Perhaps the best solution would have been to have a cheap cable lock so that you can park away from a bike share station for sub three hour periods. That would have given me a bit more flexibility moving around today.

The other thing I can recommend is the Oslo Pass. It gives you free admission to many museums, and free use of public transit as well. Very easy to get your money’s work in either a 24 or 48 hour period.

Update: a few more shots around town.

Here is a bike lane with speed bumps. I couldn’t help noticing that many cyclists avoided them by riding on the sidewalk.


Contraflow lane, Oslo style.


I really like the realism of the bike part of this sculpture.


Bike counter. Unfortunately, the display was multiplexed so you can’t see the numbers in this photo.


Dapper sells clothing, Brooks, and haircuts. Unfortunately, their bike shop around the corner was closed at the time.


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