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Archive for the ‘Bike Infrastructure’ Category

Today was the annual  ride in support of Bike for Mike, a charity that supports cycling for youth in Hamilton. Last year I did a 50 km road ride. This year I thought that I’d try the “Hambur Loop” a ride that includes quite a bit of trail riding, and also circles Hamilton Harbour. The website recommended against road bikes, but since it said that hybrids were OK, I assumed that the Tamarack would do just fine.

Here are the ride marshals getting briefed just before we departed. As it turns out, the three of them kept us more or less in a group the whole time which build up some camaraderie as well.

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Now the announcements to the riders. There were roughly fifteen of us on the ride. Two fast people took off in advance of the group.

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And off we go, north on Ferguson, which was a marked and signed bike route with bike lanes for most of the length.

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In this short section between King and Main, I like the paving that mimics a rail line that must have cut through this neighbourhood.

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Now we are already at the escarpment. Downtown Hamilton has the advantage of being relatively compact. From the start at the Harbourfront to this point was roughly 2.4 km of bike lane, the same length as the Bloor bike lane in TO, and yet we’ve traversed the entirety of the downtown area from south to north.

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Riding up the rail trail was a breeze. The grade was very gradual all the way up, and most of it was paved.

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Here is the crossing at Wentworth mountain access, with proper signage and signaling. From this point, the rail trail is part of the Bruce Trail. There was a bit of gravel, but then the trail reverted to mostly pavement.

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Crossing the road that leads up to the Sherman Cut.

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All smiles as we approach the top.

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A brief stop at Albion Rd. to regroup.

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Here we go down the mountain.

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This was the only bit that was pretty marginal for a road bike. I was one of two that rode down, and I had to put my foot down a couple of times.

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Along the Red Hill Valley trail.

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Another regroup as we consider the next downhill section.

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Another downed tree mandated that we walk down this hill. There were several rollers on this section of trail that had interlocking bricks to prevent erosion.

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Riding alongside the Red  Hill Expressway. The last time I saw that highway sign was on the way back from ASME.

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A long bridge across the expressway.

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Now we are on the trail beside Beach Blvd.

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A small detour through a parking lot packed with Mustangs, although I only saw one from the 60’s.

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Mini rest stop at Hutch’s at about the 22 km mark. Drinks, granola bars, and bathrooms.

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We had to pause because the lift bridge was up.

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This bit of North Shore Blvd was the single most dangerous part of the ride because of all the on ramps and off ramps.

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Now we’re on a much more peaceful section.

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Regroup just before turning south on York.

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Back on Multiuse trails as we pass Princess Point. That is marshall Matt in front. I had a nice chat with him. He also has an Xtracycle Edgerunner for shopping and family cycling.

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Under the high level bridge back to the Harbour proper.

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Riding along the lakefront.

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These three are thinking about sprinting for that final corner.

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A group picture of most of the Hambur group. It was pleasure to ride with you folks. Thanks also to our three guides.

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Thanks also to Collective Arts Brewing for providing the start and finish facilities for the ride.

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The interesting thing is that this weekend I did two back to back rides with about 18 km of off road riding. I’d have to give today’s ride the edge. In particular riding up the escarpment on that rail trail was fun, and it provided many good views of the city along the way.

 

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This is Jane’s walk weekend (to celebrate the birthday of patron saint Jane Jacobs) where volunteers lead tours all around the city to point out various things of historical interest. My Facebook feed flagged a Jane’s walk on bikes that advertised an 18km loop in the heart of the city that was almost completely on off road trails, and some of them were unfamiliar to me, so it was a golden opportunity to explore more of downtown by bike.

The ride started at Ben Nobleman Park, which was highly appropriate since it was located at the southern terminus of the Allen Expressway: the stub that was supposed to continue downtown as the Spadina Expressway. Jane Jacobs led the fight to quash the expressway. Here we gather in the shadow of the many cranes that are building a station for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

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Just before we started, a community group called the Ben Nobleman Community Orchard was wrapping up a fundraiser, and one of them was able to tell us a little more about the history of this spot. The very long picnic table was made from reclaimed wood that had been part of a dock in the harbour. It also more or less marked the line where the province under Premier Bill Davis had a narrow strip of provincial land leased to the city  for 99 years as part of a strategy to ensure that an expressway would not extend further south than Eglinton Ave.

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Our ride leader, Burns from the Cycle Toronto Midtown group, shows us the newspaper account of the cancellation of the Spadina Expressway.

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Then it was a short ride up to the starting point of our ride: the western end of the Beltline Trail at Allen Expressway. (I do realize that the belt line extends further west). The sign had a lot of interesting information. The Beltline trail marks the path of the northern part of a railway loop that ran for a scant 28 months before it went bankrupt. The northern section of the rail line continued to be used for freight as far east as Mt. Pleasant, but then in 1990 it was converted over to a rail trail.

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Here where the Beltline crosses Bathurst, there are no road markings. After a lot of lobbying, the city has agreed to put in a small refugee island and some signage at this crossing. This is due to go in sometime this year.

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A brief stop under the bridge where Eglinton crosses the Beltline. Burns tells us that we have Eglinton above us, and below we have a buried storm sewer that was Yellow Creek, as well as the Eglinton Crosstown.

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The first of several obstacles that mother nature provided us from yesterday’s wind storm.

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Here is the crossing at Avenue Rd, which was the most improved of all the major crossing. Heavy lobbying by the Cycle TO Midtown group was crucial in making this happen.

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They are less pleased with what the city did at Oriole Parkway, with this island in the middle, and no road markings.

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What a beautiful day to be riding the Beltline.

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Across Yonge lies Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. Here you can see another downed tree.

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At Mt. Pleasant Ave, we enter the cemetery and head towards Moore Park Ravine.

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Moore Park Ravine.

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Another downed tree.

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We stop briefly near the spot where there was the Moore Park train station.

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Riding down the hill, we end up at the bottom of where the City is making a new switchback trail to connect the Beltline to Chorley Park. This trail had significant opposition from local residents.

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Now onto towards the Brickworks.

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Now climbing back up the Park Drive Reservation trail.

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A very unfriendly crossing of Mt. Pleasant to get to David Balfour Park.

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Up another ravine that I’ve never seen before.

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After about a km or so on city streets, we are back on the west side of Yonge St. We pause briefly at Poplar Plains where we are told that the bike lane there was the first in the city it was installed in 1979. Note the newspaper article visible in the binder.

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“Bike Lanes have drivers up in arms”. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

At this point, I had to cut off from the group who were headed back up Nordheimer and Cedarvale to the starting point.

Thanks to Burns from Cycle TO Midtown for leading the ride and teaching us things, as well as to Ken, also from the Midtown group, for providing supplemental information.

If you are so inclined, this ride is running again on Sunday, and it has also been offered several years so you might be able to join next year.

 

 

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Perennial Cycle is a bike shop that I’ve wanted to visit for many years. Back when I was living in Michigan, I’d occasionally things from them since they carried many unique items for recumbents, such as Radical Designs panniers. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to stay in Minneapolis and so I finally got to see the shop in person. Even better: on Saturday they were running one of a series of Pastry Rides to promote #30daysofbiking during April.

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Not quite knowing what to expect, my buddy Steve and I arrived at the shop at about 9 am. Quite a large crowd had already gathered.

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We borrowed bikes for the occasion. Where else in North America are you going to find a bike shop where the rentals are Bromptons? Mine was a superlight with dynamo lighting and a third party midrise bar. Quite an upgrade from my own number.

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Steve talks to a fellow Brompton rider.

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Yuba bikes was sponsoring today’s ride. This Supermarché was put to work hauling coffee from Peace Coffee. Note the Brompton shipping cartons.

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All shapes and sizes of bikes and riders were in evidence.

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Retrogrouch representation.

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Mark and Mary were riding this Vision tandem with OSS and IPS.

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Martha gets us organized just before we start.

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Our lead off rider was on a Brompton.

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Here we go.

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Stopped on Humboldt at Lake.

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Turning east on the Midtown Greenway.

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This section has a pedestrian section marked by a white line on the right.

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Here the pedestrian path is slightly separated.

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The offramp towards Nicollete.

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Going north on Nicollette Ave.

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Arriving at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

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Group picture. There were about a hundred of us.

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And now pastries and coffee. Pastry from the Salty Tart.

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Steve and I.

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Lots of fun talking with like minded cyclists. Minnesotans are very friendly! Since I happened to be riding a Brompton, there was lots of Brompton related chat as well.

Selfie with shop owner Luke Breen, who is a good guy.

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Luke is now giving away raffle prizes. If you go on one of their rides, be sure to sign up; there were some pretty nice things being given away.

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At this point, we decided to leave a bit early. Mark and Mary were kind enough to lead us back on their tandem. Here’s glimpse of a separated bike lane on 26th.

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Here on the greenway, we pass some Department of Transportation staff who were demonstrating an Autonomous shuttle. They yelled out that we should stop to check it out, but I responded that we preferred human power which drew a chuckle.

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Back at the shop, it was time to take a look around. I really liked this mini bike rigged up to demonstrate dynamo lighting.

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The colorway on this bike is clearly meant for adults, not kids.

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Here is their rack of Bromptons. The gray ones on the bottom row are rentals.

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A good selection of Catrikes.

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Recumbents, long tails, and commuter bikes.

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Of course I couldn’t leave empty handed. Among the things that I got were a SpedDial clamp set, and a Radical carrying bag that got a rave review on their website.

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Thanks so much to Luke and his staff for their hospitality. If you want to visit a great bike shop that carries all manner of bikes that are not for the MAMIL set, you should definitely check it out.

Also thanks to the Salty Tart for their treats. Here is their stand at MSP.

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An additional shout out to Martha who apparently wants to visit this shop in Toronto that is just around the corner from where I buy most of my groceries.

#itsasmallworld #supportindependentbusiness

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Update: Perennial Cycle has posted their photo album here.

Just a few more pictures:

Just around the corner from the bike shop is a bike share station. It looks like it is run on the same platform as Toronto’s system.

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There were a variety of bike racks around town. These didn’t look that space efficient.

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This was was better.

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Cycling along the lakefront is a very popular pastime. Towards the west end of the Martin Goodman Trail, a separated pathway extends beyond the bridge at the Humber River, through Mimico, ending at Norris Ave. From that point, cyclists are expected to use a 1.4 km stretch of Lakeshore Blvd until First Ave, at which point the waterfront trail continues through residential streets. This has been a sore point for cyclists in South Etobicoke, and the city finally started planning a protected cycle track to bridge this gap. The construction process has been very slow, but it appears at this point that the cycle track is more or less done, needing just a bit more signage and some sweeping before it can be officially opened.

Here is the west end of the track, at First Ave, near where Susan Trainor died.

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Here you can see the concrete barriers separating the bidirectional cycle track from car traffic. There are many gaps in the barrier at cross streets, and also at every single driveway along the south side.

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The fact that one of the bike symbols is not inverted bothers me.

Also, a more serious issue: it looks like the directions for the bike lanes are reversed. As far as the actual bike lane markings go, the lane closest to the car traffic should be westbound, which is downwards on this sign that is visible from the eastbound direction. Not that it really matters since this sign is clearly meant for car drivers. Still there is the potential for some confusion.

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Riding east, here is the first of three raised bus stops at Royal York. The fact that they are relatively far apart makes them much less annoying than the ones along Roncesvalles.

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Here is the east end of the track at Norris Cres.

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From here you can join onto the lakefront trail. Note the Brompton rider riding no hands.

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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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