Archive for the ‘Bike Infrastructure’ Category

As might be apparent from my previous post, I brought my Brompton along to Tokyo. The plan was to attend a specific event: a monthly meetup of local Brompton owners called “Brompton in Palace“, named after the fact that the group originally met up on the peripheral of the Imperial Palace. The organizer also has a website.

Unfortunately, the meeting was called off due to rain, and the announcement was made when I was already enroute with the bike. It turns out that having the bike gave me the opportunity to feel out what it is really like to travel around Tokyo by bike.

On the weekend, I planned out a ride along the Arakawa River, where there is open space on the west side with paved paths. I had visited the area before, but this time I was determined to check out a long artificial island on the east side that divided the Arakawa from the Naka River. It was hard to tell from Google street view exactly which bridges allowed pedestrian and cyclist access to the island, and to be safe I picked out a bridge near Yotsugi.

Here are the bollards blocking things like motorbikes from the river side area.

Riding north.

Approaching the Kinekawa bridge, and going across.

On the other side I see the same sort of trails as on the west side. There are parallel paths on top of the dyke, as well as lower by the river. The lower path is flanked by open space and a whole series of sports fields.

Here is one of the many youth baseball teams that I saw biking to practice early on a Sunday morning.

The other thing that I’ll note is that almost all the sports fields had a public restroom nearby. Although I didn’t go into any of them, and those that had open doors looked like they were pretty dirty, the fact that they were present was a strong contrast to what we have in Toronto. In fact, I noted a very high density of public bathrooms all across the city.

Here I am at the southern tip of the island at this location. Just a few fishermen about. I’m dressed all in wool, with a top from Pedaled and my aforementioned wool knickers from Rin Project.

Going back north, I see that in fact many of the bridges have access to Arakawa island, and I ended up going back across on the Komatsgawa bridge.

Here is a map of my ride that day,

Then it was Monday, and I was off to a downtown hotel with my backpack/carryon. Note the very narrow painted bike lane.

Many smart streets also had these useless sharrow markings, that are ignored by cars and truck parked curbside.

Most of the cycling that you see in Tokyo on major streets is on the sidewalk. In a few areas, there is signage to encourage a separation between pedestrians and cyclists, but these signs were often ignored.

I’ll also note that that bike routes suggested by Google more or less force you to bike on the sidewalk occasionally, as you are often directed the wrong way on a large arterial that is one way.

More of those useless sharrows as I approach the neighbourhood of the University of Tokyo.

This is the one spot where I actually saw some cones laid down for a modicum of protection since there was a bit of an uphill climb from Nezu.

There are often commenting challenges set up in cities to compare commute times by car, bike and transit. In a city like Toronto, biking often wins as downtown traffic can be hopeless, and transit routes can be frustratingly indirect. I figured that in Tokyo, with its extensive network of subways and trains that transit would win.

The conference that I was attending actually at a day at a different campus that was across central Tokyo from our hotel, and I was determined to bike there during the morning rush hour. The rest of the group was to take the subway. Google predicted similar times for transit and cycling: about 55 minutes for the 7.5 km trip.

Here I go. Here are some crossing guards.

During rush hour, the sidewalks are packed and so if you want to bike any distance you need to bike on the street. Here I am at an intersection where I am taking the lane because of a left turn curb lane.

However, I did start noticing that the few cyclists that I saw would bike between stopped cars and actually position themselves right by the curb at the corner. The assumption being that drivers are observant enough not to left hook them. By and large, I found drivers here to be very careful, and I had no issues with traffic. I will note a fair number of close passes when traffic was heavy, but you didn’t get the sense that drivers were out to kill you.

It also helped enormously to have the helmet mirror so that I could keep an eye out behind me, particularly when I was riding around a parked vehicle. Ideally, the mirror would have been mounted on the other side of the helmet.

Some of the shadows were augmented with blue arrows, which you can see did not effect the parking.

Lighter traffic now as I skirt the new Olympic Stadium.

If you stick to major streets, then you can use the same signs as the cars for wayfinding, which was convenient.

Bottom line: I made it in about 50 minutes which was very close to the Google estimate. I started off at 8 AM which was a little past the peak of rush hour. My colleagues on the subway arrived about 15 minutes later, and they commented on how crowded the trains were.

After the day’s events, I’m headed to the Shibuya scramble crossing for a group photo.

Said group photo by Jason Tam.

Jason was also kind enough to take this shot of my and my bike.

At this point, I took the subway the rest of the way back, and regulations stated that bikes have to be bagged on the trains. Thus my carrying handle with shoulder strap and a Dimpa bag.

Two final notes. On the sidewalk, there doesn’t seem to be fixed protocol for which side you take when another bike is approaching. Also, most bikes do not have bells, and it is regarded as a bit aggressive if you use one.

Finally, on small one way side streets, this sign says that bikes are allowed to go the wrong way.

All in all, cycling in Tokyo was more pleasant than I expected. The comparative lack of bike infrastructure was offset by the courtesy of the drivers,

The other thing is that I can now mentally connect some of the districts that I rode through like Shibuya, Harajuku, and Omotesando in a different way than just popping up from the subway.

Perhaps the next time I’ll make use of their bikeshare system.

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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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It’s quite warm today with little wind, and snow clearance has been surprisingly good. Here is a side street in the High Park area.

On the other hand, the plowing of the Annette St bike lane was inconsistent as usual.

Not all side roads were in good condition. For my ride this morning, Wallace Ave was the sketchiest section. On a day after heavy snow, it is better to stick to main roads like Lansdowne. It really helped that traffic was quite light.

Bloor bike lanes have been well plowed.

Even where there are windrows at intersections, the snow is soft enough that you can ride through.

Shaw south of Bloor is in good shape.

On the other hand, although sections of the bike lanes along Harbord have been plowed, you are much better off taking the lane.

If you are out and about, ride safe, and have a good rest of the weekend!

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There has been a raised island in the Bloor bike lane on the south side of Bloor just before Queen’s Park Crescent with a damaged metal ramp. Here is a picture before the damage, taken back in December.

Here’s a picture from February 16. This time of damage is caused by the mini plows that are used to clear the bike lanes catching the edge of the metal ramp. You can see that the city has marked the hazard with paint and a cone.

A request for the repair was submitted to 311 by several people including myself. Here is a relevant twitter thread.

I got this cheery message yesterday that the repair had been done.

At the same time, Geoffrey posted some pictures of Facebook showing that the ramp had been snowed in.

Image source

The cynics replied that the ramp issue had gone away because the ramp was now impassable.

I decided to give the city a break and assume that the repair had been done. I went to check it out myself.

Here is the snowed in ramp.

I brought a shovel to dig down to the ramp edge. Sadly, the repair had not been done.

At the very least, this shows that there is a breakdown in communication between the crews that make the street repairs, and the 311 tracking.

Sadly, the state of good repair of many things in this city has deteriorated.

Hard to say what the longer term solution for islands such as these. One solution, as noted in this prior post, is to make the ramps out of asphalt.

Update: followed up by phone with 311. They said that the work order had been closed, but there were no notes on the job. A new repair request has been filed.

Update, March 10. Still not fixed and even more of a hazard it it gets covered in snow.

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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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It being glorious weather (+5°C and little wind), we got a huge turnout for the “Coldest Day of the Year Ride”, organized by Cycle Toronto. The ride start was at the Sumach-Shuter parkette, with a route planned that was almost entirely on protected bike lanes. We would ride west on Shuter, north on Sherbourne, and then east on Bloor-Danforth to East Lynn Park. It was pointed out that at the last such ride (pre pandemic) only a short section of the ride on Bloor was on protected bike lanes, so it was good to see the positive changes over the past three years.

The ride was supported by Bikeshare Toronto, and I had never seen so many of their e-bikes in one place.

More riders arriving.

The crowd is getting bigger and bigger.

I was asked to take this picture to add to the cycling Asian confusion.

Of course, no one is going to mistake Sam for anyone else.

You could say the same thing about Natalie.

Nice to see so many of the usual suspects as well.

Now we are getting ready with some announcements.

Alison from CycleTO kicks things off.

Nest, Andrew from Bike Share told us about the growth of the system from about 80 stations back in 2011 to about 680 at the present. He also mentioned that there will be more e-bikes added to the system.

Next, Councillor Diane Saxe thanked three groups for their support in making the midtown Yonge bike lanes permanent. First, city staff who worked hard on both the implementation of the pilot, as well as the design for permanent installation. Secondly, citizen engagement, including Cycle Toronto and Yonge4All. Finally, she thanked her fellow councillors who voted in favour of making the lanes permanent, over the wishes of the Mayor.

I had a chance to chat with her while we rode up Sherbourne, and I was very disappointed to hear the extent to which Tory pressured councillors to vote for deferral, while publicly supporting the bike lanes. It seems that he listens more to his constituents in Rosedale more than the many others who supported the bike lanes.

I also agreed with her that it was truly unfortunate that the Tory story distracted the news cycle away from the issue of the developers attending and donating to Doug Ford’s daughter’s wedding. These are the very same people who stand to benefit from both the trimming of the greenbelt, and the construction of the 413.

Finally, Michael starts to get us organized for the ride, and outlines some safety rules.

Here we go.

Along Bloor, just east of Sherbourne.

The lead group approaching the viaduct.

Dad provides a bit of a boost.

On the Danforth.

Gil Penalosa was with us. Suddenly he is a potential mayoral candidate.

Sorry Natalie, I didn’t get you in frame.

The crowd at East Lynn Park.

I met Anne, whom I think I met on a Coldest Day of the Year Ride many years ago. She was the one that got me interested in Dogwood Designs pogies.

I took a little spin on one of the e-bikes. Pretty responsive!

Councillor Bradford reminds of the importance for everyone to work together, particularly as City Council deals with the resignation of the Mayor just before the votes on the budget next week.

This article talks about how the right wing is getting organized for the mayoral race with an eye to make sure that there is only one centre-right candidate. What is interesting is that Bradford is one of the two names mentioned as a possibility.

I do worry that the left will not coalesce around a single left leaning candidate, thereby splitting their vote. Lots of things to think about.

Finally a group picture.

Here’s some video of a few sections of the ride (in particular the start).

Thanks to Cycle Toronto for organizing, to Bike Share Toronto for providing some loaners, and to Councillors Saxe and Bradford for riding along.

Looking forward to more sunny and warm days for riding.

Also this from Bromptoning.

Update: Cycle Toronto posted their pictures on Facebook.


Ben’s video also includes footage of the Yonge4All feeder ride. Although it was not the warmest coldest day of the year ride. That would have been 2013.

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The midtown Yonge St bike lane pilot goes in front of the Infrastructure and Environment committee this morning. Yonge4All organized a rally at City Hall at 9, timed so that it would be just before the IEC meeting started. Robin Richardson was our MC.

She reminded us that Yonge4All is a community group that brings together many different groups with the common interest in making Yonge St a safer, complete street for everyone.

Our first speaker was Councillor Brad Bradford. He reflected on the positive effect of the Danforth bike lanes on his ward. He also emphasized that broad consultation and working with all sides is the way to get these types of projects done. He has been impressed with the work that had gone into this initiative.

Next, urbanist Ken Greenberg says that Yonge St is emblematic of our city. He described the unfortunate transformation of the city by the automobile over many decades, and was glad to see this trend slowly reversing. He has been involved with both Reimagining Yonge and YongeTOmorrow, and described the midtown pilot as an important missing piece.

Councillor Amber Morley was happy to see this initiative, and hopes that similar things will be happening in her ward of Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Such a sea change from former Councillor Mark Grimes.

Toronto Centre Councillor Chris Moise is also supportive, and reminds us that the Bayview bike lanes are also being considered today.

Stephen Job represents a group of property developers. He said that reducing parking requirements enables the creation of more housing, and that people will only consider such developments if they see that cycling and transit are real and safe alternatives to the car.

Finally, Councillor Diane Saxe led us in a rousing round of questions and answers where the crowd response was always “Bike Lanes!” She was presented with that green binder, which symbolized the more than 8000 signatures on the petition.

Finally, a group picture of some of the leaders of Yonge4All.

In the interest of balanced reporting, I will note that there was also a smaller crowd of anti bike lane people off to the side.

Thanks to all the people that are staying for the day to give deputations (over 80 people have registered to speak). I’ll report back with updates when they are available.

You can follow some of what is happening in this twitter thread.

Update: Emotions run high during Yonge Street bike lane debate (Toronto Star)

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Yonge 4 All is a community based group that has been campaigning to make the bike lanes on Yonge Street permanent. To be specific, the bike lanes that have been installed as a pilot project between Bloor St and Davisville are under consideration to become permanent. The Infrastructure and Environment Committee will be considering them on Monday as agenda item IE 1.4. If you click on the item, you will see that:

The General Manager, Transportation Services recommends that:  

1. City Council approve the ActiveTO Yonge Street Cycling Network Expansion project installed in 2021 currently in place as permanent and in doing so, authorize the necessary by-law amendments to retain the following locations as a permanent installation:

a. Yonge Street: 150 metres north of Davisville Avenue to 100 metres south of Bloor Street (cycle tracks, Ward 11 and 12).

2. City Council approve the ActiveTO Bayview Cycling Network Expansion project installed in 2021 currently in place as permanent and in doing so, authorize the necessary by-law amendments to retain the following locations as a permanent installation:

a. Bayview Avenue: River Street to Front Street East (multi-use trail, Ward 13)

3. City Council amend cycling, traffic and parking regulations required in Chapter 886, Chapter 903, Chapter 910 and Chapter 950, as generally described in Attachment 2-Technical Amendments for By-law accuracy.

There are also links to the background study that shows that cycling traffic has increased significantly during the period of the pilot, and impact on motor traffic has been minimal.

There has also been quite a bit of coverage about the bike lanes:

If you wish to send a message to either the mayor and IEC about this issue, the committee will be accepting submissions until 5 pm on this Friday.

You can email IEC directly at: iec@toronto.ca, and use the subject line “My comments for 2023.IE1.4 on January 30, 2023 Infrastructure and Environment Committee”

Or you can use this handy link to write a letter to the Mayor and the members of the IEC.

Yonge 4 All will also be holding an event at Nathan Phillips Square on this Monday January 30 at 9 AM to symbolically present the mayor with a petition supporting the bike lanes, with over 8000 signatures.

If you want to read more about the long road to getting the Yonge bike lanes made permanent, Rob has an excellent summary on his blog.

Also bear in mind that in the longer term, there are also separate projects under consideration to put bike lanes between Finch and Sheppard [Transform Yonge], and restricting motor traffic on Yonge between College and Queen [YongeTOmorrow] (although the current proposal on the latter item only includes bike lanes as far south as Gerrard).

Update: as of this evening I see that 1021 emails or letters have been recorded on this item by the city clerk.

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I wasn’t going to post a snow clearance report but I saw something that was good news so here goes.

There is a stark difference in the condition of plowed vs unplowed side streets. Unplowed streets are going to be an ice rink with the hard freeze tonight.

Annette bike lanes looked like they had been plowed at some point, but there was enough residual snow and ice to make taking the lane a better option.

Bloor bike lane was decently plowed, but not salted, as also reported by David Shellnut.

I did notice that there were fewer obstructions in the bike lane, and sure enough I came upon a city crew clearing windrows at intersections. I thanked them profusely. If you look closely at the photo, you will see that the bike lane was temporarily blocked further on. This was to allow another worker to shovel more snow out of the bike lane. He was done and unblocked the lane as I rode by.

Not sure if this a new practice by the city, but the Bloor bike lane was in better shape than usual. I just hope that they lay down some salt before tonight.

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