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Archive for the ‘Bike Infrastructure’ Category

The Big Loop is an 83 km route put together by TBN that goes up the Humber River trail from Etienne Brule, across the top paralleling the Finch Hydro corridor, and then down past Don Mills and into the Don River trail system.

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It was scheduled for late July, but it was cancelled by rain. I elected to load the route to my GPS to do it on my own, but noticing that today’s regularly scheduled Saturday morning ride went up to Humber College, I decided to ride along with them, and then split off at the appropriate point. Here is the crowd gathered for the ride. Chris is in the centre making announcements.

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Looking back at riders crossing the Humber, all walking their bikes like good citizens.

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After a brief stop at James Gardens, we have to take our first detour on Edenbridge out of the park because of continuing construction on the trail near Scarlett Rd.

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Further north, we take the usual route through a few blocks of Weston to traverse a gap in the trail. We have to stay alert on the bit where we go through a parking garage.

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There is a sign indicating construction on the trail past Albion Rd. The sign said that construction was due to be complete July 31, but on the other hand, the sign was still there so we elect to take the detour.

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Definitely appreciated safety in numbers along Albion.

IMG_9406The sections of the Humber River tail past Albion are very peaceful and scenic.

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At some point approaching Humber College, I had expected to turn off from the main group, but Chris informed me that due to the detour, we had bypassed the turn. I went with the main group to Humber to make a brief stop, and then I headed east to try to hook up with my original route. The difficultly was that I had erased the maps on my GPS, so it was not easy to navigate to the route. I decided to bike east along Finch until somewhere in the vicinity of York University. It was not as bad as I had feared due to relatively light traffic. There was even this pseudo bike lane in places.

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However, after the 400 overpass I was only too glad to get on the Finch hydro corridor trail (FHCT), at York Gate Blvd.

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It also turns out to have been a good move not to take the original route here as Adam had pointed out that the Rogers Cup was happening at York this weekend.

After a very short distance, I was not pleased to see no crossing at Jane St.

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So OK, I have to go a little south to cross.

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Past Sentinel Rd, I was happy to see this large area of community gardens, which made up for the fact that the trail was diverted to what was essentially a sidewalk for this stretch.

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A seeming dead end at Keele St, with no signage.

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If I had the cue sheet, I would have known to look to the right to see that the trail continues a little further south. The building on the right margin of this photo is the new Finch West subway station.

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This map shows that you have to make a few twists and turns to stay on the trail, which eventually straightens out, paralleling the York U. busway on the north side.

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This picture shows the trail and busway crossing tracks.

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The line of high buildings in the distance is Yonge St., but coming upon Dufferin St, I realize that they are still some distance off.

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Past G Ross Lord Park, the route takes me along Drewry Ave that becomes Cummer Ave, which was peaceful and uneventful, although the Ride with GPS route urged me to turn left at Bayview, which was not necessary.

At the end of the section on Cummer, the route turns south and then hooks up with the FHCT again. This downhill section that zigzags to the junction with the Don River trail was the most fun part of the whole ride.

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Going down the Don River trail was uneventful until it seems to end at the intersection of Leslie and Sheppard. Here you have to cross the intersection to the south east corner to find the continuation.

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This is what the trail entrance looks like.

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The trail ends again at Duncan Mill Rd, and here I met a group of lost seeming cyclists. There was a sign pointing to the right that said that the Don River trail was 2.4 km away, but again, not enough signage. It turns out that the 2.4 km involves a couple of turns on city streets before you end up back on the trail.

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The trail ends again, just short of York Mills, and the route map shows this.

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There was a bike lane westbound on this short section of York Mills, but there was too much traffic to take a picture. Cross the street at the light at Scarsdale, effectively making a left turn, and then look for a doubling back of the trail under the bridge.

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The trail then turns south and goes along a disused rail corridor. It is a straighter, more peaceful version of the West Toronto Railpath.

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Signalized crossing at Eglinton. It almost felt like I was in Vancouver for a moment. (except for the exceedingly long response time to a button push)

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The other thing I liked about this section was that at intersections with other trails, there was this round about like feature, with embedded sections of train track as a decorative element.

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Sadly, as with most bike infrastructure in TO, this cannot last, and the trail ends abruptly, and you have to make a sharp right turn on a short section of gravel that then leads to this narrow section that leads to Leslie St.

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The short section of Leslie leading to Willett Creek park was the scariest part of the whole ride, no thanks to the many drivers that whizzed by less than a meter from my handlebars. Bastards.

From Willett Creek, the Don Trail is probably more familiar to many of you so I didn’t take many pictures. Here are the elephants.

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And the stop with the gargoyles just north of Bloor, where I’ve never bothered to stop before. It was good to be riding the Tamarack. Much as people rave about Bromptons, I do find it easier to ride longer distances on a standard bike.

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Thanks to TBN for organizing the first part of my ride, and for plotting out this nice route.

Note: for those not in TBN that want more information about the route, it is available here, at least for the moment.

 

 

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One of the things that I noticed during my brief stay in Seattle was a number of colourful dockless bike share bikes scattered all around the University district, particularly around entrance points to the Burke Gilman trail. There are currently three companies that have provided 10,000 bikes as part of a pilot program. Several articles about these bikes appeared in the Monday edition of the Seattle times.

This article compares the three bike share systems, and the reliability of the bikes. Several things of note:

  • each bike was ridden an average of 0.86 times a day.
  • about 68% of the bikes were rideable.
  • The Limebike system has introduced e-bikes, which have their own issues.
  • brake cable cutting by vandals has been an issue.

SDOT is considering expanding the program to 20,000 bikes and making it permanent, while at the same time imposing higher fees on the vendors to fund things like more bike parking.

At the same time, the city parks board is also considering amendments to allow the e-bikes to be on trails such as the Burke Gilman. In practice, I already saw several of the Lime e-bikes parking or abandoned on the trail.

What do the bikes look like? Here is one of the Ofo bikes.

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Apparently they weigh 42 lbs and have solid rubber tires.

Here is one of the Limebike e-bikes.

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This article in WIRED discusses some of the issues that have arisen as part of this pilot, as well as some of the controversies about dockless bike share in general. It will be interesting to see how this all settles out.

Personally, I think that the system that I saw in Tokyo was a happy medium between docked and dockless. The bikes are still dropped off at stations, but the stations are wifi hotspots so that you can park the bike within a certain range, rather than counting on having an open slot in a docking station. In particular, I can’t get my head around how the Lime e-bikes are going to be recharged if they can be left anywhere in the city.

For the moment, dockless bikeshare appears to be dead in Toronto as I see fewer and fewer of their orange bikes around the U of T campus where they were first deployed.

On a side note, they have ghost bikes in Seattle as well; this one is at 16th Ave and 65th St.

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The bike lanes across the Burrard St. bridge are some of the most important pieces of bike infrastructure in Vancouver. First posted about them in 2010 when they were still in the pilot stage. They were made permanent, and then in 2015, there was a series of further upgrades approved.

I’ve posted about the bridge a lot in the past. Here are a series of before and after pictures showing some of the changes implemented over the years.

Back in 2010, here is the entrance to the northbound bike lanes, which for many years were on the former sidewalk, with pedestrian traffic diverted to the west side of the bridge.

This is the state of the northbound lane in 2014, on the former sidewalk.

This is what is looks like in 2018. Note that one lane of car traffic is now given over to bikes (just like the southbound direction) and the sidewalk has been restored to pedestrians. Also note the steel railings that are an antisuicide feature. They did a nice job of picking a design that merges with the original features of the bridge.DSC02869

Back in 2010, the north end of the bridge ended with a right turn lane for cars, and as a result, bike traffic was discouraged from continuing straight on Burrard.

This is what it looks like now. The right turn lane is gone, and there is good separation between bike and pedestrian right of ways.

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The short section of bike lane of Pacific leading to Hornby is now off the roadway.

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Here are a couple more pictures of the intersection at Pacific and Hornby.

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The Hornby bike lanes on the far side run north/south and are bidirectional.

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Taking a look back at the north end of the bridge, but this time approaching it from downtown, a lot has also changed. Here is a picture from 2011.

There is a right turn lane for cars coming from Pacific that isolates a triangular island with a short section of separated bike lane marked in red.

Here it is in 2014. Green road markings are an improvement, but the intersection is basically the same.

Here it is in 2018.

DSC02875The right turn lane is gone, and there is more protection for both pedestrians and cyclists, with good separation between them as well.

Here is a close up of the far side of the intersection.

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For cyclists, you can go straight on, or make a right turn onto a bidirectional bike lane on Pacific.

In Toronto, after years of pleading, probably the most we would get would be the type of road marking shown in the 2014 picture.

At the south side of the bridge, there is the bike counter.

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Because of the multiplexed display and my short shutter speed, you can’t see all of the digits, but I was the 2224th southbound cyclist today, and there have been 65,4521 cyclists so far this year.

It would be great to get a couple of these in downtown Toronto just to show everyone that there there can be a substantial amount of bike traffic when you build the correct kind of bike infrastructure.

Update: Kevin Rupasinghe points to this slide deck from a presentation to NACTO that provides diagrams of all of the changes done to the bridge since 2015. He also notes that:

“Also, wherever the opportunity exists, I think it’s important to push for bridges and underpass to have similar concrete barrier separation. Changes in elevation coupled with a lack of human-scaled features on a long straight encourages motorists to speed up a ton. A strip of paint is no way to be protected while crossing a bridge with your family. Strachan has been the most recent conversation on this topic with Layton & Cycling Staff, but I think the principle should be universal.

Lastly, I believe Bloor is expected to get one of those counters near U of T in the fall. There were permanent counters installed at Madison this year, so perhaps that is where the display will be put.”

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I’m in Vancouver doing some last minute tuning up of the Brompton, with less than a week to go before STP. This is analogous to my post about the Tikit from two years ago.

This was also the first time I’ve suitcased the Brompton.

Unpacking it was a breeze.

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I ended up removing the saddle, which made packing a lot easier. Unpacking: I put on the pedals and saddle, and readjusted the handlebar and bar end positions (which I had to alter to reduce the total width of the folded bike). Much less work compared to either my tikit or PBW.

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I’ve figured out a position for my Garmin mount that still allows the bike to be folded.

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The water bottle holder is from Randi Jo fabrications, works great, and does not affect the fold. I tried the Monkii cage, but it does not allow the bottle to be removed and reinserted on the fly.

I also took a brief ride out to JV bike to get an extra tube for my Brompton. They are the Brompton dealer for Vancouver, and they also specialize in other folders such as Dahon. I got there by riding across the Cambie bridge for the first time.

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Here is the nice bike offramp.

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You have to see it in person to understand what is going on, but it actually loops around in order for bikes to get around an offramp for cars.

Here is the entrance to JV Bike which is right by the north end of the Cambie bridge.

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An extensive stock of Dahons.

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Bromptons

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including this special edition.

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The other thing that caught my eye was this updated version of the Opus Rambler, a 24″ bike that both my daughters loved. This version has a large front basket that is probably more useful than the rear rack on the old version.

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Heading back across the bridge, I realized that I was probably on the wrong side of the bridge headed south, as indicated by the wrong way sign.

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This morning I went out for my last long ride before STP, about 80 km. Since it was relatively cool, I wore my wool jersey (from Portland), but sadly I will probably not be wearing it on STP as the forecast is for temps above 30°C.

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Crossing the Burrard bridge, I see that both directions have a bike lane on the roadway now, whereas previous bikes headed into downtown were on the sidewalk, and pedestrians had to use the walk on the west side only.

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At Pacific street I see that they’ve removed the right turn lane for cars to reduce bike/car conflict.  Also the short stretch on Pacific before Hornby was now a separated bike lane.

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At Hornby, there is what looks like 1/4 of a fully protected intersection. The design is appropriate for the fact that the Hornby bike lane is bidirectional.

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This is how Vancouver routes a bike lane around a condo construction site.

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During my ride, I saw many packs of riders that looked like racing teams or racing clubs. The only group ride that I saw that looked like I would want to join was this one, with a goodly mix of different people and types of bikes. Very little Lycra in evidence as well.

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From my Strava stats, it looks like I’m just as fast on the Brompton than the Tikit two years ago, so it looks like the clipless pedals and the faster tires help. However, it may have been a bad move to not bring one of my old saddles along. We can see this coming weekend.

 

 

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During a quick trip to Tokyo, I took advantage the one day where the forecast didn’t have rain to do a little biking with my brother’s family. They live in an older section of Tokyo east of downtown between the Sumida and Arakawa Rivers. This section is criss crossed with small canals, and there are some nice multiuse pathways along some of them.

My niece has a nice new minivelo branded as Bianchi with very sweet details. However, I don’t think the fabric seat and grips are going to stay clean for very long.

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These sharrows go in both directions even though this street is one way in the facing direction for car traffic.

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Here we are on an east west section of a multiuse path that goes within about 1 km of the Arakawa River. What is great about this section is that almost all the intersections with streets use underpasses.

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There are many clever features built in to slow down bike traffic to make things safe for all users. Here are some very closely spaced bollards.

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Many chicanes as well.

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Cyclists of all ages were out today.

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Here is a map of this particular greenway system.

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Reaching the Arakawa River, there are ramps over the flanking levees for bike access.

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Here at the top of the levee.

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At this point I ran into two bike enthusiasts with a Brompton and a Tikit.

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Here we go along the river. Nice wide open spaces for everyone.

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My brother took this picture of me taking pictures.

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On the way home, I met one more bike guy who was riding a nice Birdy. He also was wearing a folding helmet. He had just gone to a shop to buy some upgrades for his Birdy; notably some drop bars.

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It being a Saturday, the pace of car traffic was slower, and many people were out and about. Tokyo is a pretty civilized place to bike on weekends.

 

 

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Today was another of our annual rides with Sarah Doucette and company to review bike infrastructure in Ward 13. This year we changed things up a bit, and collaborated with Ward 14 to address issues at the intersections between Lakeshore Blvd and Colborne Lodge, Parkside, and Ellis. We gathered at the northwest corner of Colborne Lodge and Queensway for a group shot.

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We were fortunate to have representation from all three levels of government. From left to right, David (Ward14), Councillor Perks, Bhutila Karpoche (NDP Candidate for Parkdale-High Park), Eva (Ward 14), Shawn Dillon (Manager, Cycling Infrastructure, City of Toronto), Councillor Doucette, Arif Virani (MP, Parkdale-High Park), me (Ward 13) and Janet Joy (Ward 13).  In front, the Virani boys.

Janet Joy taking her selfie version of the group picture.

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and here is that selfie:

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(image source)

 

Shawn giving us an update on the plans for a section of the MGT where Xavier Morgan was killed. The question was why the temporary barrier had not been improved. The answer was that there was a comprehensive study done, and several intersections along the MGT will be fully redesigned. Construction is due to start sometime in the fall, and this might mean that parts of the MGT will require detour routing for a period of time.

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At this point, Gord and Bhutila had to leave, but not before they got a picture with my bike.

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Our first destination is Colborne Lodge and Lakeshore. Here Arif guides his boys across the Queensway, followed by the rest of us.

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Here we are at the south side of the intersection. This was the site of a serious collision between a cyclist and car just last week.

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One item of good news is that the northbound crossing for cyclists has had its bike signal retimed to give you 15s to cross before it turns yellow. We were told that this was done remotely on May 22, and then reconfirmed by a site visit on May 24. This video shows the change. The outer frame is video taken in May 2011. The inset was taken this week.

It is ironic that this retiming (which was originally requested in 2011) was done just this week. We don’t know if this change was triggered by the recent near fatal collision (although that involved a southbound cyclist on the west side of the intersection and a car that ran a red light), or by the timing of this audit ride.

Shawn also informed us that during 2018 we will be getting sharrows on both the east and west side of this intersection to indicate to cyclists where to cross, and to make the northbound crossing more apparent to both cyclists and motorists.

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One other smaller point is that the bicycle signal on the northeast corner is not aligned properly with the bike lane that continues under the bridge, and  it should be moved by installing a longer mounting arm. This has been recommended, but the timeline on this change is not clear.

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We asked for no right turn on red for westbound traffic on Lakeshore, but Shawn said that this would be “a major intervention” and would not be approved.

Next, onto Parkside.

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Just east of Parkside is this intersection between a parking lot entrance and the MGT with no signage for either cars or cyclists.

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We actually biked a little past Parkside in error and so here we are headed back.

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Now at the south side, looking at this very complicated intersection.

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The first step in crossing is to take a crosswalk to a large triangular island.

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After alighting on the island, you sill have to cross two more signalized crosswalks, and then finally a turning lane for high speed traffic to and from Parkside.

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This yield sign on the turning lane on the northwest corner was installed at the request of the Ward 14 bike advocacy group.

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However, it should be repositioned, as you can see that it is not visible until the last minute. Here is a shot from under the bridge, roughly where a southbound driver would be looking.

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David from Ward 14 points out the other yield sign on the northeast corner.

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The concept of cars yielding to pedestrians is inconsistent with the sign directing pedestrians to wait for a gap.

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Now back at the south side of Ellis and Lakeshore, which has been the subject of many past ward audit rides.

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Shawn promised that a northbound cyclist crossing similar to the one at Colborne Lodge will be installed this year (2018). Note that this was promised to us two years ago on a similar audit ride.  This will help reduce the number of hazardous crossings by cyclists cutting diagonally across the intersection.

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He also said that there is an ongoing effort to better coordinate between different units within transportation to streamline changes to road and bike infrastructure.

Here we go across the intersection, nice and slow as pedestrians.

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Here is the major safety hazard at this intersection. Pedestrians get stranded on this tiny triangular island on the northwest corner that is formed by a right turn lane from southbound Ellis to westbound Lakeshore.

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This point has been brought up in the past:

Sarah reiterates that this has been approved, but the funding was supposed to come from section 37 money associated with the condo development on the northeast corner of Lakeshore and Windermere. If her staff can’t track down the original agreement with the developer (which has changed in the interim) then she will get this inserted into the capital budget.

Additionally, the bike lanes on Ellis between Queensway and Lakeshore have been approved but this is held up by “signal timing issues”.

In the meantime, many families will continue to struggle with poor access, especially to the Sunnyside Bike Park.

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Another small point about the forthcoming northbound cyclists’ crossing on the east side: the curbcut where you might land if you go up on the sidewalk is not orientated in the correct direction.

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Shawn’s response was that legally you should continue on the street north on Ellis and then turn right into the driveway, but I can’t see kids on bikes wanting to do this.

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Sarah, Eva, David, and Janet Joy discussing a few last points with Shawn.

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At the end of the ride, we have several specific things that have been promised to us this year:

  • Sharrows on both sides of the intersection at Colborne Lodge.
  • Construction along the MGT near the Legion where Xavier Morgan was killed, including a permanent barrier.
  • Installation of a barrier along the sidewalks under the bridges at Parkside. This is intended for pedestrians, but in practice bikes also take the sidewalk here.
  • Installation of a northbound cyclists’ crossing at Ellis, making the intersection similar to Colborne Lodge.

Things that will be “looked into”

  • repositioning of yield signs at Parkside and Lakeshore.
  • signage for the offramp to the Budapest Park parking lot where it crosses the MGT.
  • redesigning the curb cut on the northeast corner of Lakeshore and Ellis when that northbound cyclists’ crossing goes in.

Thanks to everyone who came out this morning. Thanks to Shawn who spent a good deal of his morning with us, and to Sarah who stayed until the very end.

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Today was the memorial ride for Douglas Crosbie, who was killed last Wednesday morning, on the same day as the Ride of Silence. At Bloor and Spadina, there was quite a large turnout for a ride that was scheduled during the workday.

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Joey makes some announcements to get us organized.

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Lining up on Bloor, headed east.

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And off we go, Geoffrey and Joey in the lead.

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A bit of tricky business getting the ghost bike through the bollards under Soldier’s Tower.

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Through the corner of campus.

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Behind Queen’s Park.

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We were thankful to have several officers who corked major intersections for us.

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Today we owned Wellesley.

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Turning south on Sackville.

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Now east on Dundas.

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Sharrows on the bridge over the Don. These turn into bike lanes along Dundas past Broadview.

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Bike lanes on Dundas. Just lines of paint, though.

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Approaching the crash site at Jones.

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Photos and flowers had already been left by friends and family.

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Installing the ghost bike.

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The banner, ironically blocking the bike lane for the moment. It is just a dashed line at this point, meaning that it can be used legally as a right turn lane.

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A minute of silence.

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Douglas’ wife, Christine talks with Joey, and then to the media.

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Another senseless death, in a city that is not serious about Vision Zero.

Here is a Toronto Star editorial that was published yesterday: “Toronto’s ‘Vision Zero’ plan to reduce traffic deaths has had zero impact so far”

Thanks to everyone who came out to the ride.

Deepest condolences to family and friends.

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Update:

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