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Archive for the ‘Bike Infrastructure’ Category

Today was the most rain free day of a three day weekend, and so I planned to ride the holiday tourist ride out to Streetsville with TBN. However, it turns out that I was the only one that showed up. Many riders that might have shown up were probably on the Niagara ride that was rescheduled for today. Ride leader Joey was good enough to come out to the start, but he has been having issues with his knee, and so was unable to ride. I decided to ride it solo as it was a route that I had done a couple of times. Going solo allowed me some time to take pictures at my leisure.

The ghost bike at Colborne Lodge and Lakeshore for Jonas Mitchell has been extensively decorated.

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I’ve never noticed this mural at Islington and Lakeshore before.

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Shout out to Peter Wen: this is first time I’ve used the telehex on a ride: tightening up a loose bottle cage.

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On Mississauga Rd, a bike lane starts just before the underpass crossing the QEW. Just north of this point these wayfinding signs are new.

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Unfortuately, on this section just short of the connection to N. Service Rd, the sign is set back so far from the road that it is hard to read. These signs petered out north of UTM.

Just shy of UTM, a display of fall colours. They will be even better next weekend. Here’s hoping for sunny weather.

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On the north side of the intersection with Dundas, I see this unusual treatment of the bike lane. It seemed to work OK, but there wasn’t much traffic today.

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Downtown Streetsville. Never too cold for a little ice cream.

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Heading back east on Bristol Rd, I see that much of it has a bike lane along its length, for which they appear to have removed the on street parking on the north side. While this is much appreciated, I wish that the bike lane didn’t devolve to sharrows at major intersections like this one at Huronontario.

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The TBN route had me going south on Orbitor Dr into Centennial Park, but I elected to turn east on this new bi directional bike lane / multiuse trail on the north side of Eglinton. There are no markings at all on it, but it is plenty wide.

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OK there are a few markings near intersections.

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The path ends at Rathburn, but the intersection markings indicate that I should cross to the south side.

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Here I’m on the south east corner, looking east, and I see the familiar section of bike trail that goes under the 427.

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My impression is that the bike infra is getting a bit better in Mississauga, but there are still many gaps in the network, and also bike lanes starting and stopping at ward boundaries as well.

Overall, a nice ride that might just offset some of the calories that were consumed yesterday.

 

 

 

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Today was the 5th annual book ride put on by the Reading Line. This year’s theme was centred on the Bloor Viaduct, its history, the fact that it bridges different communities, and the fact that it is tied up with the experiences of different immigrants who make up the fabric of our city. We started our day in a courtyard on the grounds of Central Tech, near Bloor and Bathurst.

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Siva Vijenthira talked to us about her current and prior work with with various organizations like Cycle Toronto and Culture Link to encourage cycling among new immigrants and school groups in the city.

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Our first author reading was by Bethelem Terrefe Gebreyohannes who read from her debut book “Firewalkers” which is an account of her family’s escape from Ethiopia.

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The next reading was by Carrianne Leung who read from “That that time I loved you”, a series of interconnected stories about youth in Scarborough, under the shadow of a tragic event that happened in the neighbourhood.

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Next, Sarah Bradley from Cycle TO reminded us of the necessity for continuing advocacy for better cycling infrastructure.

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In the mean time, lead Joey Schwartz briefs the group of volunteer bike marshalls.

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Finally, our fearless leader Janet Joy Wilson starts getting the large crowd primed for the first segment of our ride, down Bloor to the Rosedale Valley School of the Arts.

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Joey gets the crowd energized.

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Lining up to leave.

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Along Bloor.

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One of our videographers was Kutaiba, who is a Syrian refugee. Motive transport was provided by Curbside Cycle, and motive power was provided by Geoffrey Bercarich.

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Chris Brunlett of Modacity and Janet Joy.

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I first met writer Amy Lavender Harris on the 2014 edition of the Reading Line book ride.

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Here we arrive at our second stop, a peaceful glade just south of Castle Frank subway station, on the grounds of the Rosedale Valley School of the Arts.

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Many of our announcements were also interpreted into ASL.

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Amanda O’Rourke, executive director of 8-80 cities, reminded us of the importance of making it easy for all ages to travel around the city. The vision statement of 8-80 cities:

“Whether you’re 8 or 80 years old, cities should work for everyone.”

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Chris and Melissa Brunlett told us of how they came to found Modacity, where they promote the benefits of walking, cycling and public transit. Melissa then read a short excerpt from their just released book “Building the Cycling City“.

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I asked Chris what he thought of the ride over, in particular the section of Bloor between Avenue Rd and Sherbourne. Suffice it to say that he was not impressed, and he said that he would definitely not be happy having his 12 year old daughter ride that route.

Our final speaker at this site was Ramón Pérez, a graphic novel artist who talked about being an immigrant, and finding his tribe among like minded artists here in Toronto. Drawing an analogy to the X -Men (the second group), he said that his groups’ superpowers were art. He is part of the Raid Studio, a group that encourages the next generation of comic book artists.

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Our next stop would be across the Bloor Viaduct, along the Danforth to East Lynn Park.

I think that the single most hazardous part of the ride is the east end of the viaduct where there is an offramp to the DVP. Here green paint is the only protection as cyclists have to navigate their way one lane over from the curb lane.

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Riding along the Danforth.

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I really liked the colorway of this Masi with 650b tires.

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Our final stop was East Lynn Park. I arrived a bit ahead of the main group and had the pleasure of listening to the tail end of a practice session by Wilson and the Castaways.

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There were many activities planned for the final stop, and some of this was made possible by “the Danny” AKA the Danforth Mosaic BIA.

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Geoffrey cooling his feet after an afternoon of piloting a very heavy cargo bike.

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Marvin Macaraig talked about the good work of Scarborough Cycles. I remember his talk from the last edition of the Reading Line, and one thing that stuck with me was the fact that there is only one bike shop in all of Scarborough. They run many bike related programs out of Access Point on Danforth, include community bike rides.

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Unfortunately at this point, I had to leave, so I was not able to hear the final two readings, as well as to see the other activities planned for the rest of the day.

As always, it was a pleasure to be part of the book ride experience. The event gets richer every year. I admire both the work of the many volunteers, as well as the tremendous energy of Janet Joy Wilson, who has been the driving force behind this event.

My reports on previous book rides:

2016 was the year I missed the ride, but you can read about Books on Bathurst at Dandyhorse Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

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Last week, Cycle TO did a demonstration of a fully protected intersection at the intersection of St. George and Bloor. However, what kept it from being an effective demonstration was the fact that it was done during open streets, and so there was no barrier to having bikes just bike leisurely through the intersection, as if they were car traffic.

Today I found myself in Vancouver with a little time on my hands, so I took the opportunity to check out the first fully protected four way intersection that was just installed at Quebec and 1st.

Today’s ride was my old Dahon Speed Uno folder. One of the advantages of such a simple machine is that you can put it away for two years and then pull it out, put air in the tires, and just ride off.

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Here I am at the intersection, looking way too happy.

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The intersection is designed so that pedestrian and bike crossings are separated, and there are concrete islands that prevent right turning cars from intruding into the space for bikes and people on foot. Here is the diagram from the twitter post linked above.

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One thing that I found amusing was that on the south east corner, there was a dealer for these very odd electric vehicles.

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Ok, I’d settle for the Porsche on the end, but I did not get close enough to it to see if it was a replica.

Here are some cyclists waiting for a light. You see that they are naturally hugging the intersection side of the crossing.

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Here is a short video of me simulating an indirect left turn.

The thing that you notice at the end is the lack of a push button for the bike crossing.

However, you can see that there is a mount on the black pole.

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I also noticed that the pedestrian buttons were not active yet.

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I talked to this workman who was in the process of wiring up some of the signals. He confirmed that there will be push buttons for both cyclists and pedestrians at all four corners.

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Action photo of some cyclists crossing.

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Word is that we will eventually get a similar intersection as a pilot project at Bloor and St. George. However it will be probably two years away.

On the way back, I took a little detour to Duffin’s Donuts, a local eatery that appeared in the movie Edge of Seventeen, and also has a very interesting history that explains why it serves both donuts and tamales. Regretfully it was a bit early for lunch, but I had a nice cinnamon donut.

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Also rode through the woods for old times sake.

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Update: talking to Chris Bruntlett on the book ride, he said that it took three years of fighting to get this intersection built.

 

 

 

 

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Today, Lucy and I took a ride downtown. Wait a minute, something is different about Bloor today, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

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Today was the first of two Open Streets events, from 10 am to 2 pm.

A gathering of cargo bikes at Curbside, with some Bromptons hanging around for good measure.

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Councillor Kristin Wong Tam has been a champion of this event. She led an official group bike ride.  Smile, Peter, smile 😉

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This was the finest bike decorating I saw today.

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These people were going nowhere in an awfully big hurry.

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There was also a group dog walk put on by Toronto Animal Services, but Lucy said “no, I prefer to keep riding”.

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Cycle Toronto had a demonstration fully protected intersection laid out at Bloor and St. George.

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The location meant, of course, that it was within sight of the Dalia Chako ghost bike.

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Temporary markings indicated how bicycle and pedestrian traffic should flow.

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Ironically, since there was no car traffic at this crossing, most people were just strolling or riding through the intersection.  Sort of like the King St. pilot.

Hopefully the city will install one of these, even just as a trial. Of course Vancouver is way ahead of us, and they already have the real thing.

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Parks and Rec advertised a temporary grass installation at Yonge and Bloor. 5000 square feet sounds like a lot, but when you actually look at it, it looks rather small compared to the acres of concrete and asphalt everywhere else.

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Lucy and Yonge St. This time there wasn’t a selfie station in the centre of the intersection, which was too bad.

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On the way home, we passed bike buddy Doug who was riding his new Wike Salamander cargo bike. Most in the bike community have met Honey the dachshund, but now Chelsea can also attend bike events as well.

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There is going to be one more Open Streets event on Sunday, September 16. Mark your calendars!

 

 

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The Hamilton Glowriders is a group that rides around downtown once a month during the summer after darkness falls. Everyone shows up with bikes decorated for the occasion. I’ve been reading about this group for a while and decided to hit the QEW to check out their August ride.

The ride starts at Durand park, and the route takes full advantage of the scenery around Cootes Paradise and the harbour front.

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This picture gives you an idea of the age range of the riders. In actual fact, the great majority of the riders looked to be in their twenties or early thirties. I can’t remember the last time I was in a group ride where I was decades older than the average. When many bike clubs bemoan the aging demographics of their membership, these people seem to have done something right.

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The other thing that I didn’t expect was to see was the diversity of interesting bikes. Two small examples. Firstly a Hase Pino that the owners got used, and they also added a Rohloff hub to the back. This is the centre stand with lowrider pannier mounts.

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Another fellow had an immaculately detailed 650B gravel bike, and this was his girlfriend’s bike: a vintage Nishiki mixte with interesting Nitto bars that he had ordered from Blue Lug.

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Meet up time was 8 pm, but we didn’t really get rolling for about an hour. As darkness fell, more and more riders showed up. Here is Don, one of the ride leaders, taking pictures of people.

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More lights.

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I was told these fiber optic lights were from Dollarama.

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In total, there were probably two or three hundred riders at the start.

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Lining up to get ready to roll.

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On King St, crossing the QEW. Note that a full lane of traffic has been given over to bikes. This is the main westbound thoroughfare in the city. Imagine the Bloor viaduct having one full lane reserved for bikes.

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This couple was asked what they would do to top these costumes at Hallowe’en. Yes, that is a cat skeleton.

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The leaders did a great job of having enough regroups to give this very large group together. There was no corking at traffic lights, but at these pauses in the ride, everyone was able to get back into one large group.

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Skirting the harbour front.

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Now riding through downtown on James St. Lots of supportive calling out from pedestrians.

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The ride leaders. That’s Tyler in the captain’s hat.

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Another surprise was the large number of riders on Sobi bike share bikes. The Sobi system seems to be doing very well.

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Turning the last corner onto Augusta.

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Captain Tyler thanks everyone for coming, and suggests we all have a beer. Unfortunately, given that it was past my bedtime and the fact that I had a drive ahead, I was not able to stick around.

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At any rate, it was a spectacularly fun evening for me. I got to geek out on bike hardware, met lots of friendly people, and soaked in the laid back vibe of downtown Hamilton on a summer Saturday night with several hundred new friends. Thanks to Tyler, Don et al for a great event.

You might get a better impression of the ride from this video, minus the occasional whiff of cannabis.

The final glow ride of the year will be on September 22, and you should watch their facebook page for details. I heard that the start time will be moved earlier as we would be at the equinox.

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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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