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Archive for the ‘Bike Infrastructure’ Category

Scarborough Cycles is a community based program that is promoting cycling in the east end of the city. They have been running programs for three years now, including safe cycling workshops, group rides, and DIY drop in bike repair. They are currently based at Accesspoint Danforth, on Danforth just east of Victoria Park. They advertised a winter group ride, and I thought that I’d join in.

Here is our group at the start of the ride. Program manager Marvin is in blue, together with three of their youth volunteers, and Linda, who came over from midtown to join in as well.

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Here we go down Victoria Park. The pavement is in pretty bad shape, but I’ve seen potholes all over the city after this particularly cold winter.

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Downhill towards the lake.

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On the Martin Goodman Trail, just west of Balmy Beach.

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Working our way around one of the many remaining patches of black ice.

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As we approached Woodbine Beach, we took the opportunity to check out the Winter Stations. Some of them were not finished yet, as the official opening is not until this Monday. We liked this Pussy Hat. The extensions made for nicely padded seating.

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The next one had some pivoting cones on stilts. I was a bit disappointed that they weren’t designed to make noise; the cones were just hollow.

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Here’s a closeup of one of their program bikes: a nicely kitted out Simcoe city bike.

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Could have used a fat bike today.

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The next exhibit was still under construction.

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Regrettably, we didn’t have time to check the two or three remaining stations. We decided to head back up the hill, taking advantage of the Woodbine bike lane. Here we are riding through the infill neighbourhood that used to be the site of the Woodbine race track.

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Marvin in the lead.

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Here we are on Dixon Rd, which is the short east-west connector to the Woodbine bike lanes. They end one block north of Queen St.

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Some green paint has been laid down near some of the intersections. Here the green paint is “protecting” us from the cars to our left that are wanting to turn right.

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Then a quick ride east along the Danforth back to home base.

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Marvin got this shot of me riding sweep.

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The community hub has many services, including a walk in medical clinic, education workshops, settlement services, and youth activities. Here are just a few shots of the interior of the building, which is a converted warehouse.  The green roof has some gardens for produce, herbs, etc.

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This shot looking down at the first floor shows the movable walls that are used to reconfigure rooms to accommodate events of different sizes. The place was buzzing, with a Bengali language activity in one area, and a seed swap in another.

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Scarborough Cycles has big plans for 2018. Last year they provided about 1300 services, while they were running from May to December. This year they will be running all year round (hence the winter group ride), they have a second bike hub at the Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, and they will be opening a third bike hub. As Marvin pointed out to the audience at this year’s Reading Line, there is only one bike shop in Scarborough, and so these bike hubs provide an accessible and essential service to the community.

Thanks to Marvin for showing me around, and for organizing today’s ride.

 

 

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It being a Sunday, I’d thought I’d take the scenic route to work. Even though it was a grey morning, a fresh coat of snow made everything look clean and bright, at least by TO standards. Here you can see that the city does a good job of maintaining the Martin Goodman Trail. Many runners out, but only three cyclists, who were a lycra clad trio.

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Curiously, the trail maintenance skips the bridge over the Humber River, although I could see that it continued on the other side.

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The new bike stations installed this past summer along the lake are not seeing much use during the winter.

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The dreaded pinch point on the MGT, finally fixed. Now the sidewalk is separated from bike traffic.

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Richmond bike lane, with the planters looking festive.

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The Henry Moore, relocated last summer to the middle of Grange Park.

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As freezing rain descends this afternoon, I think I’ll take my regular route home.

 

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This past Tuesday, Cycle Toronto invited people from Etobicoke for a meeting to update us about what the City of Toronto has planned for the cycling network over the next three years. It was also a chance to meet others, and to network.

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Here Katie Whitman from the City cycling unit updates us on the plans for the next three years. When I get her slide deck, I will update this post, but my notes say that for Ward 13 and parts nearby, we can look forward to:

  • 2018: Road markings at Jane and Annette, Runnymede at Bloor (already done?) and St. Clair; completion of the Lakeshore Cycle Track between Norris and First.
  • 2019: Detailed study of a Runnymede to Scarlett Rd connection. This would be tied into the larger project of the Scarlett Rd bridge and intersection reconfiguration.
  • 2020: Eglinton Jane to Weston connection.

She said that the list of projects for each Ward were on their website. However, I found the information on the site was confusing and incomplete. For example, here is their map of Ward 13:

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by cross indexing to their list, I see:

  • #30 Dundas – (Royal York to Scarlett) and St Clair – (Runnymede to Scarlett) Proposed Bike lanes
  • #48 Lambton Baby Point Neighbourhood Connections, Proposed Quiet Street Routes
  • #8 Bloor – (Keele to Dundas Street West); Major Corridor Study – Proposed Bike Lanes or Cycle Tracks
  • there is no information on 610
  • 611 might correspond to the intersection improvements at the Lakeshore for which we have been advocating for four years, but again they aren’t on any list.

Pamela Gough, TDSB Trustee talked about some of the initiatives that she has been involved with, including safe routes to school, Biking to School Day, Biking to School Week, and the TDSB task force on Active Transportation. All pretty words, but they don’t address safety issues caused by the enormous number of people driving their kids to school. I had a side conversation with her afterwards, and I told her that in Japan, driving kids to elementary schools is illegal. I didn’t suggest that this would work here, but I did say that if the TDSB was serious about pedestrian safety, they should get behind VRU. I will be following up with her.

Darnell Harris talked about some of the issues of getting around the Black Creek area.

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He asked us to consider more broadly the issue of non motorized mobility, rather than cycle tracks. He reinforced this message by showing slides of people in motorized wheelchairs using bike lanes.

There were also several presentations from the South Etobicoke Cycling Committee that seem pretty active. Dave talked about the need for bike lanes along the Queensway, arguing that bike infra should be along streets where there are destinations, such as restaurants, No Frills, and even Ikea.  Someone else talked about their seven year fight to get a bike rack by the LCBO in Sobey’s plaza. She eventually escalated this issue to the top brass at LCBO, and as a result, the LCBO will provide bike parking for all LCBO’s where it is possible to provide it. (Many LCBO’s are on leased land, and the landowner might not agree in some cases).

During the brief networking session, I talked with Johnny from the Ward11 Pedestrian and Cycling Committee that was put together by Councillor Nunziata. I will be following up with that group so that our two wards can collaborate on connections across the our boundary at the north end of our ward.

Cycle Toronto posted some pictures from the evening here:

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Katie Whitman’s slides listing bike projects for Etobicoke district for 2018-2020 are here.

CI&P – Katie Wittmann – Etobicoke Cycle TO Advocacy Summit Presentation

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Good friend Tim Potter (Sustainable transportation manager for Michigan State University Bikes) dropped by this weekend, and of course he wanted to check out some of the bike infrastructure since it had been at least four years since he and I had ridden around town.

Here is my really bad picture of Tim…

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and from his much better picture, you can see that we are checking out the Bloor bike lane. (all photos with me in it are by Tim, except where noted)

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Next stop, dropping by the bike team to see what is going on. Here Tim poses by Eta Prime.

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Bruce and Calvin were working on the plug for Arbiter.

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I’m posing beside this year’s WHPSC poster.

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Tim was riding the Brompton that day.

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Overall, it was nice to ride around with someone who was appreciative of the improvements in bike infrastructure in the downtown area.

Here we are back at home, with matching N+1 shirts. Get yours here. (photo  M Koga)

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His daughter designed this shirt, which is available on Amazon.

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Note that the shirt means different things to different people:

  • from the viewpoint of a Michigander, if you are cycling on the road, more often than not drivers will yell at you to “get on the sidewalk”.
  • from my viewpoint in Toronto, is says that we shouldn’t be cycling on the sidewalk.

And then it was time for beer, this particular example from Henderson’s Brewing.

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The next day, Tim checks out Hoopdriver Bicycles (unfortunately closed on a Sunday morning).

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Since there was snow in the forecast, and I just happened to have an excellent bike mechanic as a guest….

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Tim is impressed that the Haul a Day can stand on end.

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Tim shows me his patented method of mounting tires.

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To cap the day off, I had a chance to tag along with Tim to meet Chris Phelan, Executive director of the Ride of Silence. (Photo H Potter).

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I was honoured to fill him in on some of the things that have been happening in Toronto, particularly with regards to the collaborations with organizations like Friends and Families for Safe Streets, and the united push for VRU legislation.

 

 

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Tonight was the first public consultation on a proposed reconstruction of the Scarlett Rd / Dundas St W intersection which involves substantial reconstruction of the railway bridge. The main point is to expand the roadway to four lanes, two in each direction. This will also allow southbound traffic to turn either east or west on Dundas St W.

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The city’s information page on the project is here.

The community meeting was packed. Ward 11 Councillor Nunziata started things off by outlining some of the history of the project, which was 20 years in the making. She noted that it is funded, and that it will happen over the next three years. Ward 13 Councillor Sarah Doucette was also at the meeting.

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Construction will start in the summer of 2018, and the project should be done in 2020.

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Various issues were raised by citizens at the meeting, including concerns about increased traffic going into the Humber River valley neighbourhood as a way to bypass Jane during rush hour.  One common refrain from staff was that the design was only at 30%, and details will be adjusted taking into account community input. There were about three questions about bike lanes (the first one from Janet Joy), but more significantly, there didn’t seem to be any grumblings about bike lanes from anyone in the room.

I was there to hear what they had to say about bike infrastructure, since some of the prior information indicated that there would be bike lanes under the bridge, as well as bike lanes on nearby sections of Dundas and St. Chair. Here is a diagram showing the bike network connections in the area of the project.

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Note that this map shows a bike lane on Jane between Scarlett and Jane, but no corresponding section along Dundas W.  Also, the maps and figures indicated the bike lanes as “future bike lanes”.  This is because any bike lanes actually installed are subject to approval by PWIC and City Council. It seems that the two local councillors are supportive.

Looking at more details of the maps showed that the bike lanes along Dundas St W fade out long before they can make useful connections to either Humbercrest or Humber Hill Avenue.

 

I was told that this is subject to change, when the roads are redone in the area, perhaps around 2019 or so. I was also told that the nature of the bike connection along St. Clair is still up in the air, and that the worst case scenario along this section would be shadows. The only bike infrastructure that appears to be fully baked into the plan is a short section of protected bike lane under the bridge. There is supposed to be a curb separating the bike lanes from traffic.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this project as there will be opportunities for further public input as the details of the plans firm up. I was also told that Councillor Nunziata has been in contract with a “Cycling Committee” in Ward 11.

At a minimum, we would like to see a bike lane along Dundas St W from Humber Hill Rd to Humbercrest. This would make coming up out of the valley (or from the Humber River Trail), cycling east along Dundas, and the turning south again into Baby Point, much safer than it is now.

I was talking to one of the cycling staff who had biked to the meeting, and it was telling that she said she had to ride on the sidewalk for part of the ride going under the bridge that is at the centre of the project. I myself rode north to the end of Runnymede, and then took back streets to the community centre where the meeting was held, thereby completely bypassing that intersection.

 

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Today was the day when the Bloor bike lane pilot was voted on by PWIC. It was a very long day, with the bike lanes as the last item (#9) on the agenda. What follows is some fragmentary notes from the day, since I don’t have the energy for a full write up. Crummy camera shots supplemented by screen shots from the City of Toronto video record. Much of the speakers quotes are paraphrased, except those in quotes that are as accurate as I can remember.

Here is the stack of correspondence for the meeting, mainly about item #9.

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and here is the speaker list for item 9:

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Mayor Tory comes and sits in for a few minutes to get quorum until Giorgio Mammolitti (GM) arrives.

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Mammolitti wants to amend motion to limit speaker time on item #9 to 3 minutes and to limit questions from councillors to 3 minutes.  Carries.

Councillor Anthony Peruzza (AP) is absent. (He was a potential yes).

During discussion of one of the earlier items about freight movement in the city, GM is convinced that the report is a trojan horse to introduce tricycle cargo bikes into the city. He imagines a “third world” dystopia where fridges and mattresses are delivered by cargo bike.

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Some of the usual suspects nod off during another of his rants, this one about “pandas that can rip your arm off”.

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I spot a block of potential speakers that will oppose the bike lanes, near the end of the list.

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All the other items were finished before the lunch break.

After lunch: here we go.

First deputants: bring out the school kids so that they can go back to school after they speak.

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GM wants to license cyclists so that they can pay for the bike lane.

Doctors for safe cycling: 3 MD’s make a joint presentation. They also sent a letter signed by 200 MD’s to Mayor and PWIC.

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“Lack of bicycle infrastructure has a real human cost”

Jillian Baker: pediatrician with young kids that she didn’t allow to bike on Bloor until the bike lane went in. Here she is facing a slide of her riding a bike.

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When I drive, I want fewer cars on the road. When I bike, I want fewer cars on the road”

Layton makes the point that driver’s licences don’t pay for roads, property taxes do.

Mammolitti: bikes and cars shouldn’t share the roads. Nobody wants to pay for bike infrastructure.

Kristine Hubbard, Operations Manager, Beck Taxi:

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Surprise: she is not against bike lanes. “We need to see people share the roads in a safe way”. Bike lanes also make drivers more confident because they know where the bikes are.   On the other hand she is against UBER: “If we are talking about risk mitigation, what about 50,000 untrained drivers on our streets?”

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment: “These bike lanes are a public health priority”

GM: what about the air pollution from cars stuck in traffic along Bloor

Kasia Briegmann-Samson, Friends and Families for Safe Streets (FFSS):

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“ It infuriates me when discussions about safety digress to parking spaces and traffic delays.”  “With all due respect, councillors, keep your condolences and build safe streets.”

Kyle Ashley: (traffic policeman who has been detailed to ticket cars parked in bike lanes)

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We are people, people who bike, people who drive.  Vision zero requires more than zero vision. “Public safety is not political”.

GM: “The mayor is pushing this without proper dialogue”.  “The majority of Torontonians do not want these bike lanes”.

Albert Koehl:

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“Safety has to be a priority, not something to be balanced against parking or business”

GM: “will you provide me with your video”. AK; you are welcome to it. JR: I felt there are gaps in the report. I asked for a supplemental report.

Robert Zaichkowski:

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“You can’t claim to support Vision Zero if you take out the Bloor bike lanes”

GM: “Are you happy that we are going to convert Bloor St into a much more run down atmosphere?”

2:45 pm: Councillor Perruzza arrives

GM: “ I don’t believe the numbers in this report, not for a second”

John Leeson:

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“instead of my deputation, I would like to use the next minute to remember the cyclist who was killed this morning.”

Gideon Formann: David Suzuki Foundation:

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Angus Red Forum poll: Across the city, almost 70% of Torontonians want the Bloor bike lanes to stay. “The bike lanes on BLoor are a unifying force for our city”

SH: is trying to get an answer about numerical thresholds of various measures to rule that the bike lanes are a success.

Jennifer Klein: Mirvish Village BIA supports the bike lanes “We need to have a street design that accommodates the maximum number of users, cars, pedestrians and cyclists, not just as a thouroughfare for cars.”

JC: how many businesses in the BIA  “Over 300”

Robert Shenton

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43% of ON budget, and of that 46% on seniors on healthcare.  Cycling improves health. “People like me are also the most vulnerable cyclists on the road. You build the safe infrastructure, and we’ll do our bit by staying healthy by biking.”

Brian Burchell  Bloor Annex BIA:

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“We approached the pilot cautiously.” The Annex BIA voted overwhelmingly to affirm the TCAT report. “We shaped the questions, and are confident of the study’s integrity’.

JC: why did the BIA endorse the pilot. “Because we believe in the results of the TCAT result, which we commissioned”.

“One challenge we have yet to overcome is the safety issue of cars turning right from Bloor. The bike lanes make difficult sight lines.”

JR: many businesses have said that the lanes have had negative impact.

BB: wanted to take the emotion out of the study.  On consultation We did an email blast to all businesses that we had email addresses: 30 day comment period. Seven responses.

JR: would it have been better to have independent bodies to conduct the study.

BB: we did some checks and balances to make sure the study was not biased.

GM: we are headed towards passing this thing and then going back to fix those issues. You don’t pass something and then try to fix it.

SH: what do you say to the east and west of you?  Would you advocate to the other BIA’s to do this. What if delays are compounded by extension?

BB: our business is to take care of our businesses in our area. We are not concerned about drive thru traffic.

Palmerston Residents Association (PARA):

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Makes the point of anticipating massive densification in the area. This will radically change the use of Bloor St.  “We simply have to accept that with the intensification mandated by the city, the only way that we can continue to survive is to encourage more cyclist and pedestrian traffic.”

GM: I keep hearing lots of opposition from phone calls.

GM: why didn’t we do the study in the winter?

Ila Bossons:  former head of PWIC: 80 years old.

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Bloor St moves quite well by car.  “Anyone who commutes long distances along Bloor by car is an utter total fool.” “What you are doing here is something that has been done for 50 years in my home country of Germany”.

GM: “ I am the only person on this committee who has had the privilege of working with you, and I decline to get in a debate with you”

Alan Wayne Scott (who gave a deputation despite great difficulty speaking due to cancer surgery.

‘what you should be discussing is how far we should be extending the bike lanes”. Rips up the certification of congratulations from Mel Lastman”. “It’s not worth the paper it is written on.  Do your work!”

ABBA: Barry Alper,  Michel Sauve, Miranda Black, (but seven people registered)

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“We are cyclists, and supporters of bike lanes”

“Safety of cyclists is paramount”

HOWEVER:

Insufficient time and resources devoted.

We suggest:

  • Different voices must be heard
  • Re design bike lanes
  • What can be done to improve them?
  • Please, let’s learn from other cities and neighbourhoods.
  • “The middle path”
  • Data
    • Business are down
    • Survey did not ask the right questions
    • BIA commissioned study from TCAT
    • We did our own survey
      • 70% of businesses
      • Loss of jobs outnumber new hires by 6 to 1
    • Moneris is only one of four credit card processors
    • Did the city ask about cash deposits?
  • Safety
    • Dooring is now possible from the passenger side
    • No one asked about comparative safety with other bike lanes like Harbord
    • Issues of lack of curbside access
  • Traffic flow
    • what are the hours of peak travel
    • Why no winter numbers?
    • Traffic flow by the hour data
  • Design
    • Montreal has summer and winter lanes
    • Bike lane design copied from Richmond or Adelaide.
  • Is business down enough to remove the bike lanes? No but we should do things to mitigate business losses

We would told this was a pilot. Finding a solution that reduces tension, increases understanding and moves us forward.

  • Hammering on accessibility and lack of curbside access.
  • Summer
    • On peak: remove all parking, HOV lanes for bikes
    • Off peak: restore all curbside access
  • Winter: remove bike lanes.

Provided staff with these plans yesterday.

Petition submitted to BIA to get an independent study.  They were not allowed to do so.

GM: just fishing for information to counter the bike lanes.

AP: is it true that you can say business is not necessarily down because of the bike lanes?

AP: I hear your design ideas, but I suspect from the safety persecutive, it would be better to keep the infrastructure the same all the time.

Stephen Holiday (SH): How can we gather the data independently.  Also people’s feelings important?

Jaye Robinson (JR): critical of some aspects of the survey. Also several of the bodies that did the study spoke out in favour of the bike lanes before the studies were launched.

Heather Kelly: Bloor Street Culture Corridor:

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continued support for bike lanes.

  • Some incremental changes might be required, but the bike lanes need to be made permanent
  • supporters include attendees and employees, feeling safer.

Jared Kolb is the last speaker. Here he is facing the committee.

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Now time for councillors to question staff:

GM: arguing about the request for raw video data with JHG

JHG: it was against the terms of FIPPA to release raw video.  1000’s of hours of video

GM: can I get a scrubbed version of the video if you are directed to do so by city council.

If so directed, we can get an estimate of cost and time to do so.

JHG: improvements can include green paint, and more fulsome improvements can be done at a time when further capital improvements along the corridor are made.

Speeches:

Joe Cressy: Bike lanes on Bloor are here to stay, so let’s make it so.

Janet Davis: also speaking strongly in favour. “The degree of distrust of staff was verging on harassment”. Also disappointed that there isn’t an immediate corridor study for Danforth is in the cards.

Chin Lee:

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Moves staff recommendation. (Anticipates amendments)

“We have to do the right thing, and the right thing is to make it permanent.” His own children are asking for a safe way to bike all the way downtown safely.

Steven Holyday:

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Motion to remove bike lanes, second motion to consult with ABBA and to do more polling of merchants.

From the very beginning of the process “Nobody wanted to admit what success looks like”

GM: two motions:

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  • One to conduct a poll
  • Request for video footage to be distributed to every councillor

What is the motive for the Mayor to be pushing this through as fast as possible? “ I don’t have to believe staff.”

He loudly states (as he did several times during the session) that he looks forward to being part of the next administration so that he can strip out the bike lane and generally fix the mess that is downtown.

Anthony Peruzza:

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Will support recommendation. Talked about driving along Bloor, and to see that it hasn’t fallen apart.

Crstin Carmichael Greb:

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Received numerous emails in support of bike lanes. “I wholeheartedly support the bike lanes on Bloor.”

Jaye Robinson:

“I just don’t thing we have this right at this stage”

Some confusion about the wording of her six motions.

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Several motions

  • Work with local businesses to mitigate concerns
  • Several different design improvements split in two motions
  • Collect year round data along Bloor. Permanent data collection
  • Mitigate bike/pedestrian conflicts
  • City council should support and promote local businesses along Bloor St.

Will support motion with these amendments.

So we have three yes votes, and it remains to be seen what happens with amendments.

SH motion to remove bike lanes:

2 for, 4 against: FAILS

SH motion to consult with ABBA

3 for, 3 against. FAILS

GM: request for video footage.

2 for, 4 against. FAILS

JR #4 (year round bike count)

5 for, 1 against

JR for other parts of motion

Unanimous

Motion as amended

4 for 2 against

In the end, the bike lanes are approved by this 6-4 vote, with some amendments from JR mainly having to do with suggestions for additional safety. One part of the motion has to do with year round monitoring of bike counts, but this shows a misunderstanding of the nature of the equipment the city used to take the video record, which is not suitable for winter use.

Meeting adjourned just before 8 pm.

If you are glutton for punishment, you can watch the whole afternoon here:

I left the meeting with mixed feelings: relief that the motion passed, but sadness that another cyclist was killed this morning, with the news received by tweet while we were all in the committee room.

If you want to do something:

Updates:

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The bike team had a little group ride this morning, on a planned 47 km route. They said that they would cruise at about 30 kph.  I thought I would tag along. Can’t say I wasn’t warned.

Here is the before picture.

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The ride went east from downtown, along the lakefront and the Beach, and then further out on Kingston Rd, down and up Brimley, and then back west, taking in some of the Don Valley. At least that was the plan, but I got a flat right at Corktown Commons, so I got dropped right away.

I decided then to ride up to the Danforth and run the latter part of the course in reverse until I caught the group again. A bonus feature of this plan was that I would not have to ride the Brimley Rd. segment down and up the bluffs. I finally caught the lead group on Danforth just north of St. Clair.IMG_6827

After heading west on Danforth, we turn north on Woodbine, and I get to see part of the northern section of the recently installed bike lanes, albeit at a faster pace than usual. You can see that I’m getting dropped between every set of stop lights.

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Eventually I rode the last half of the route on my own. Long story short, since I was so far behind, after descending into the Don Valley on Bayview, I decided to take a detour to check out some of the features of the recently reopened lower Don Trail. Coming up from the Bayview/Pottery Rd intersection, here are some P gates on either side of the rail crossing.

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Here is the new pedestrian/ cyclist bridge that parallels the concrete roadway bridge.

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From the pictures that I had seen, I was a bit confused about exactly where this bridge was. Here, looking north from the east end of the bridge, you seen that the Pottery Rd crossing to go further north on the trail remains the same, with two offset crossings and a lot of pavement markings.

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However, if you look south from the same point, you see the connection to the Lower Don Trail. It was at this point that I realized I had never ridden this section between Pottery Rd and the Gerrard St. bridge.

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These sculptures look like bits of stonework that had fallen off of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

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The close spacing of the way finding signs suggests that they are more for pedestrians than cyclists.

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Here is the revised Belleville underpass, compete with cyclists on mural (and regrettably some fairly fresh tags).

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The team made it back to the shop in drips and drabs and were soon back to work on their various projects.

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Here is some speed data from my phone.

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The three sections where I was going more than 30 kph correspond to:

  1. downtown before my flat
  2. riding with the fast group. The only reason I wasn’t dropped right away was all the stoplights on Danforth.
  3. descending into the valley on Bayview.

 

 

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