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Archive for the ‘Bike Infrastructure’ Category

This past weekend I found myself in Portland. Technically this was the third time I was in town, but the first two times were at the end of the Seattle to Portland ride, and both times I was there for less than an hour before being driven back to Seattle. This was the first time that I had time to explore a bit.

One of the first sights was this sign at the airport.

Bike share

The bike share system is 100% e-bike. It requires that you download both the Biketown app, and the Lyft app. The bikes themselves are scattered about the downtown area either at an official station like this:

or you can drop off or pick up at any bike rack. However there are additional charges associated with picking up or dropping off away from one of the orange stations.

Open either app, scan a QR code, and then you can unlock the bike.

A locked bike.

After you unlock the bike, you stow the short cable like this and off you go.

The bikes themselves are tanks with wide 26″ wheels, but the weight really isn’t much of a factor since they are electric.

A bad picture of the rear nuvinci hub.

Bafang motor in the front.

I thought that this control on the right was for throttle, but it was just for the Nuvinci hub. The assist is pedal actuated.

Overall, they worked really well. One quirk is that you have to use the app to see the battery level, and you only get to see the battery level (in terms of an estimated range remaining) once you unlock a bike, but if it is low, you can immediately relock a bike without charge.

River City Bicycles

Although Portland has many bike shops, I wanted to visit River City Bicycles because I had one of their wool jerseys that I bought off of eBay about 20 years ago when I still lived in Michigan.

Lots of good stuff to look at.

Many interesting bikes hung from the ceiling. Here is a Teledyne Titan, one of the first production Ti bikes.

An Exxon Graftek, one of the first carbon fibre frames.

A Rigi, which has two thin tubs for the lower part of the seat tube so that the rear tire can overlap where a normal seat tube would be. Hence the super short wheelbase.

The highlight was a Naked Bicycles Baba Ghanoush by Sam Whittingham, a variation of the bike that won best of show at the National Handmade Bike Show. The original was a one speed.

I couldn’t leave empty handed. They were clearing out the last of their wool jerseys with the stripes (I already had the short sleeve version). I also got their current jersey with 40% wool content made locally by Anthm Collective.

If you’re in the area, you might as well have a meal at Afuri Izakaya.

Robata-yaki i,e, grilled stuff.

yakitori
yuzu-shio ramen. Really really good.
the custard pudding on the left was to die for

Bike infrastructure

A quick glance of downtown with the bike routes toggled on Google Maps shows a pretty dense network of bike routes. That combined with very courteous drivers made biking around town a pleasure. Also, many of the bridges across the Willamette had bike bikes. Take a look at this spiral off ramp for cyclists and pedestrians on the east side of the Morrison Bridge.

Riding north on the east bank, part of the route is a pontoon bridge.

Heading west on the Burnside Bridge.

I’ve never seen a passing bike lane before (headed west on the Hawthorne Bridge).

Liking this bridge over the 405.

Beyond the intersection, you can see that this one way street has parking on both sides, one car lane, and one bike lane of equal width. Amazing.

Sadly, there are a large number of homeless encampments, especially in the Old Town area.

The perpetual line at Voodoo donuts.

and just across the street is this famous sign.

which I first saw in this video.

A fun couple of days in Portland. I’ll have to go back when I have the chance.

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Out for a ride this evening, and I took a few pictures of some updated bike infrastructure near the lakefront. Firstly, I heard that there was a new protected bike lane on Birmingham which parallels Lakeshore between 1st and Kipling. Here is Birmingham, headed west from Dwight. You can see that this is a construction zone with sewer work, but I imagine that they will install bike lanes along this stretch as per the 2021 Toronto Cycling Map.

Crossing Islington, you see a curb protected bike lane.

Unfortunately it ends just short of Kipling.

Granted that Birmingham becomes Elder past Kipling and it is much less busy, but it would be nice for it to at least continue as a signed bike route, especially since it connects with Thirtieth St, which is one of the few small streets that crosses the GO train tracks. Nevertheless, this new bike lane is a good alternative to biking along Lakeshore between 1st and Kipling.

On the way back, I took a few pictures of the latest updates to the intersection of Colborne Lodge and Lakeshore. I noted new paint back in July, and this has been followed up with bollards.

Here is a view of the northbound cycling crossing. You can see some bollards on the west side that protect southbound cyclists at the median. This bollards also ensure that eastbound cars making a U turn have to swing very wide.

The corners of the central median on the east side of the intersection have been effectively squared off. This provides two small areas that could provide some refuge for cyclists that don’t make it all the way across during the very short cyclist green light. This picture is crooked since I was in a rush to make it across.

Here is the north west corner, facing west. Here the corner is squared off to slow down right turning cars. We had asked for no right turn on red at this point, but that hasn’t happened. Note also that one of the bollards (marked with the red arrow) is already gone.

Here is the northwest corner, facing southbound. This would be the view of a cyclist coming down from High Park. The bollards define a large staging area where cyclists can remain separated from pedestrians.

Here is a closer view of the median, southbound.

It is good to see these improvements. I guess the city has finally decided that this intersection is a priority, after two separate fatalities at this spot (RIP Jonas and Nigel).

I appreciate the fact that these changes were made quickly, and more easily than actually having to put down curbs. Similar protections have shown up downtown at several intersections, such as Elm and University. We shall see how they hold up, particularly to snow plowing.

The light timing on the northbound cyclist light seemed really short today. I’m going to have to go back down there to time it again to check if they changed the duration again. It sure didn’t seem like 15 seconds.

Update:

Update: It is 15 seconds, but note that it can take a few seconds to react to the green light, and that this quite fit cyclist makes it across with seconds to spare. 15 seconds is not enough!

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Not sure why it takes so long to get even just paint down at an intersection, but they finally put markings across Lakeshore at Colborne Lodge to indicate the position of the northbound bikes only crossing on the east side of the intersection.

I noted that these markings are already causing some confusion. Just before I took this picture, there were some pedestrians that walked across south from the median as if this was a crosswalk. We’ve asked for a pedestrian crossing on the east side but we were told that it would require major reconstruction, and it would slightly delay southbound cars turning left onto Lakeshore (God forbid!)

Just as a reference, here is a picture from 2018.

I see that they have also put some markings near the median on the west side where the Jonas Mitchell ghost bike is. Not really sure what the painted buffer is for. It will confuse cars that make a U turn from eastbound to westbound at this point.

There’s also a bit of green paint on the northeast corner, and they have painted buffers on the bike lane under the bridge.

Yes I know that the bike light is red, but it turned just as I was taking the picture. As everyone knows, you are not given a huge amount of time to cross.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised in retrospect that it took so long to put down the paint since it took the city seven years to retime the bike light.

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With Lakeshore West once again open as part of ActiveTO, it was the perfect opportunity to take Lucy out on the Buddyrider for more than just a short test ride.

Cruising along Lakeshore.

Lucy notices the banner from the Biking Lawyer.

One new feature was “an escape lane” that allowed eastbound cars to go beyond Jameson through another route via the CNE grounds. As a result, they put in all of these extra barriers. Makes one think that it would be easy to put barriers all along Lakeshore West so that they could dedicate one traffic lanes to bikes every day (at least during the summer)

At any rate, I assume that it was pressure from the public that forced the city to reopen Lakeshore West as part of ActiveTO. The schedule for July has it open this weekend, closed next weekend due to work on the Gardiner, partially open from Jameson eastwards for the next two weekends, and the fully open again on July 31-August 1. Hopefully they will open it also in August.

I will note that it was surprisingly uncrowded at midday today (Saturday). Perhaps it is part of the city emptying out for the long weekend for those who can afford to go out of town.

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The city ran a public consultation on June 10 about the plans to bridge the gap in the Humber River Trail north of Lawrence. As an update to my previous post, I have a few notes on what happened at the meeting.

Firstly, just a reminder that the slides that were presented are still available here, and there is still the opportunity to provide written input until June 21.

The overview of the three alternatives:

All but one of the public comments strongly favoured Option 1A, which was the only alignment that did not climb out of the valley and back down.

The only person that spoke against 1A was the superintendent of the Weston Golf and Country Club, which is the golf course on the West Bank where part of the trail would run. He made the following points.

  • Current land use has been over 100 years.
  • Path is within 3m of the green?
  • Analysis of safety only talks about traffic, and doesn’t take into account golf balls striking people.
  • Habitat impact along the bank
  • Serious flooding in that location
  • Vandalism having occurred to the course, even in the presence of existing barrier fencing.

Several questioners asked city staff directly if the golf course would be in the position to block option 1A. The only answer given was that negotiations were underway.

A few notes on option 2a:

  • Starting from south to north, this option has a ramp that brings the trail up to road level south of the tracks.
  • It then has a bidirectional bike lane plus sidewalk
  • North of the tracks it goes back down into the valley where there is a walkway built along the east bank.
  • It was noted that the ground on the east bank is rather unstable.
  • I raised a question about the narrow width of the walkway shown in the diagram, saying that it looked similar in width to the bridge across the Humber under Dundas St W. This would imply that cyclists would have to walk their bikes along this path. They responded that the rendering was generic and perhaps copied from another project, and that the path would have sufficient width.
  • It was noted that the construction costs of 2A was estimated to be higher than that for option 1A.

A few notes of option 3A:

  • This configuration has a bidirectional cycle track adjacent to the sidewalk on the west side of Weston Rd, north of the bridge.
  • Under the bridge is a pinch point, and so there is only enough width to have a multi use trail at this point: i.e. pedestrians and cyclists would mix. This would result in more pictures like this picture taken just north of the bridge:

Despite issues having to do with the golf course, there was strong support for option 1A. Once again, you have the opportunity to provide further feedback to the city before June 21, using this form.

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An eleven year old boy was struck and killed yesterday while riding his bike near the on ramp from northbound Warden to eastbound 407. After a quick consultation among the usual suspects, a snap decision was made to install a ghost bike in his memory today.

We meet up in Milliken Mills Park, which is close to the crash site.

Heading west on 14th Ave towards Warden.

You get a sense of how dangerous it is to bike on Warden in the vicinity of the 407.

We are at the crash site. We are met by Peter, a local cyclist.

Keenan assembles the ghost bike.

Locking it up.

The bike after decorations. You can see the on ramp in the background. While we were there we saw someone on a mobility scooter cross the onramp. It was hair raising watching this in the midst of approaching high speed traffic.

A picture of all in attendance.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim. Thanks to Keenan for providing the ghost bike.


On the ride back downtown, Joey and I pass the ghost bike for Edouard Le Blanc on the Gatineau Hydro Corridor. We assume he is happy in heaven with how the Habs are doing.

Riding along the Danforth with the CafeTO installations. Note that there are spots where umbrellas intrude on the bike lane right at head height. On the plus side, the chicanes to accommodate the on the road seating seem less abrupt than last year.

A peek at the bike lanes on Bloor between Sherbourne and Avenue which were recently reconfigured to place the bike lane adjacent to the curb.

The section west of Bay has planters now interspersed with curbs which is a definite improvement. What was crazy was the number of people lined up to get into various shops.

Ride safe, everyone!

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A section of the Allen expressway between Eglinton and Lawrence was closed today as part of ActiveTO. The occasion was to mark the 50th anniversary of the cancelling of the Spadina Expressway that would have extended further south past Eglinton down the Cedarvale Ravine, and would have also obliterated a large part of the Annex Neighbourhood (where Jane Jacobs lived).

The only entrance to the closure area was just east of the Allen on the south side of Lawrence. Although everything I heard was that this was a one time only event, in case they do it again, if you are approaching from the south, you should bike up Shermount from the belt line and then turn left on the last street before Lawrence. There is a pathway at the end of the street that takes you right to the entrance of the closure. Marlee Ave is not a good alternative since it had much more traffic than usual, probably due to the closure.

Heading south towards Glencairn.

Nice to see Keagan (executive director of CycleTO), Sam and their daughter.

The south end of the closure. People were taking full advantage of the shade provided by the many overpasses.

Racing the subway back north.

Approaching the north end.

CycleTO had a tent set up under the northernmost bridge.

There were also plenty of these “slow down” signs on Shermount, but signs do nothing. Shermount is a straight, wide street, and if the city wanted cars to slow down, they would actually change the configuration with traffic calming measures like features to narrow the roadway. Wait a minute: what about a protected bike lane?

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As many cyclists know there is a gap in the Humber river trail in Weston between roughly north of Lawrence to Cardell Ave. Many cyclists use the sidewalk along Weston Rd, but this can lead to crowding and unsafe conditions, particularly under the railway bridge. I took these photos last week while southbound on Weston. No other cyclists joined me on the roadway behind the bus.

Furthermore, I found descending the stairs at Mallaby Park really unpleasant and crowded.

The city is in the middle of a study to see how to close this gap. There will be a public consultation on June 10 to discuss which of three alternatives are preferred. Please register for this meeting, or submit your feedback to the city before June 21, 2021.

There are three alternatives on the table.

Option 1A provides the safest route for both pedestrians and cyclists, and it is the only one that stays in the river valley. However it involves two bridges and intrudes on a private golf course.

Here is a picture of the West Bank of the Humber by the railway bridge on the golf course lands. Seems like there would be plenty of room for a path, don’t you think?

Option 2A has a cantilevered walkway on the east side of the river up until the railway, and then crosses under the rail bridge and connects further south.

Option 3 seems like a bad joke. It runs along Weston Rd and has some improvements for pedestrians but does very little for cyclists.

The timeline for the study shows that whatever is done isn’t going to happen until well after 2022.


So what is one to do in the meantime?

Here is a route that I learned from the Toronto Bicycling Network. On paper, it goes like this: south of Lawrence, get on Hickory Tree, then Little Ave. Turn left on Weston and then immediately right on King. Left on Rosemount to Queenslea, to Yelland and Oak. Then there is a trick, so it is better to show you pictures.

Leave the Humber Trail just past the tennis courts south of Lawrence.

Cross Lawrence at Little Ave.

Little curves right to meet Weston. You will turn left here at the light but immediately right again on King.

Follow the route as described above to Oak. (King->L on Rosemount->L on Queenslea->Yelland->L on Oak. Here is a map.

Here is the trick: on Oak, you turn right at the light (Knob Hill) before you reach Weston, into the driveway for a shopping centre.

Take the first left into the parking lot.

Immediately turn right into the parking garage.

Turn left in the parking garage just past that speed bump.

Like magic, the garage exits at a light that will take you across Weston to Cardell Ave, where you can rejoin the Humber River Trail.

Southbound, you can reverse these directions.

I’ve found that even in pre-pandemic times, this route feels much safer than going along Weston Rd. YMMV.

In any case, ride safe everyone!

Also, make sure you express your opinion on what the city should do in the long run to close this gap.

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Back in mid May, a fellow named Stephen posted a nice route on Facebook from downtown to Kleinburg that wended its way along the William Granger Greenway through both the Boyd Conservation Area and the Kortright Centre for Conservation.

His route took a faster route home along Islington. I decided to modify the route slightly so that once you crossed the 407, you joined the Humber River trail on the return leg. My version starts from Runnymede and Annette and is about 67 km round trip.

Islington is a good choice to cross the 407 since it is just a bridge with no interchange. If you pick a day and time when the traffic is not too bad, Islington is OK for biking.

Once you reach Langstaff, there is a MUP on the east side that you can use to the park entrance.

Here’s the entrance to Boyd Conservation Area.

I was not excited to see the entrance fee. However, if you bike in, it is free!

Pavement gives way to gravel.

Winding through the woods.

The trail has ups and downs, with some of the steeper sections being paved (one presumes to avoid erosion). After one of the steeper gravel climbs, you are rewarded with this view. It being a weekend, the trail was pretty busy.

More scenery. This is actually the Humber River Trail at this point.

Exiting the trail at the north end, I see signage that the trail is closed at Major Mac. The fencing was down and plenty of people were walking through, but I do not know if that was just because this was a weekend.

Looking 180° from the previous photo, you can see that we are back in civilization with the fight for parking.

At the park entrance. At this point, you are about a five minute bike ride from downtown Kleinburg.

Coming south out of Kleinburg, there is a MUP along Islington.

The route jogs one block over to Clarence St which has much less traffic.

This lasts until Woodbridge at which point you have to bike along Islington again to cross the 407.

Lots of wildflowers along the Humber River Trail.

My route takes a bit of a detour on the northbound leg in order to bridge the gap in the Humber River Trail. However, when I returned south, I went along Weston Rd. The city really needs to close this gap as you can see that many people use the sidewalk along this section.

Thanks to Stephen for posting the original version of the route. It was nice way to get up to Kleinberg, with some gravel riding thrown in for good measure. There were a few sections where there was loose gravel due to trail maintenance, but I saw plenty of people on hybrid bikes on the trail. Road bikes with skinny tires would struggle a bit.

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Today was the 100th consecutive day of biking for me this year. I decided to mark the day by doing some deliveries for the bike brigade.

Did I mention that the weather was gorgeous, and it was the first shorts ride of the year as well?

Chatting at the pick up point with our fearless leader, Dave Shellnutt, the biking lawyer.

Deliveries done, I dropped by Urbane Cyclist on the way home to pick up some fancy MKS half clips. I am a big fan of half clips.

The bike brigade texted me to drop by again, and they gave me this flag! Triple logos in this picture.

I also decided to drop by the Alex Amaro ghost bike. Thanks to whoever has been keeping the bike looking beautiful.

I also wanted to check out the Bloor bike lanes between Lansdowne and Dundas West since I had heard that the hydro work under one of the bridges was done. Nice to see this family taking advantage of the bike lane.

I did note that the parents directed their kids onto the sidewalk for the underpasses. This one only has a painted buffer at the moment.

The hydro work under the rail path bridge is done, but apparently Metrolinx has to do a little more work before the bike lane is installed. It is not clear if the city will lay down stripes in the meantime.

Two other brief notes, one happy, one sad.

Last night I was extremely honoured to be named “bike advocate of the year” by the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition. I have to note that many people who are part of this group have done more than I towards bike infrastructure, but they took themselves out of the running by being part of the organization that was giving out the award. You know who you are….

Congratulations to all the award winners. I am doubly honoured to be in such good company.

Second thing: the truck driver that killed Douglas Crosbie was acquitted of all charges today.

Stay safe, and get out there and enjoy the weather.

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