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Today was the day when the Bloor bike lane pilot was voted on by PWIC. It was a very long day, with the bike lanes as the last item (#9) on the agenda. What follows is some fragmentary notes from the day, since I don’t have the energy for a full write up. Crummy camera shots supplemented by screen shots from the City of Toronto video record. Much of the speakers quotes are paraphrased, except those in quotes that are as accurate as I can remember.

Here is the stack of correspondence for the meeting, mainly about item #9.

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and here is the speaker list for item 9:

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Mayor Tory comes and sits in for a few minutes to get quorum until Giorgio Mammolitti (GM) arrives.

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Mammolitti wants to amend motion to limit speaker time on item #9 to 3 minutes and to limit questions from councillors to 3 minutes.  Carries.

Councillor Anthony Peruzza (AP) is absent. (He was a potential yes).

During discussion of one of the earlier items about freight movement in the city, GM is convinced that the report is a trojan horse to introduce tricycle cargo bikes into the city. He imagines a “third world” dystopia where fridges and mattresses are delivered by cargo bike.

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Some of the usual suspects nod off during another of his rants, this one about “pandas that can rip your arm off”.

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I spot a block of potential speakers that will oppose the bike lanes, near the end of the list.

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All the other items were finished before the lunch break.

After lunch: here we go.

First deputants: bring out the school kids so that they can go back to school after they speak.

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GM wants to license cyclists so that they can pay for the bike lane.

Doctors for safe cycling: 3 MD’s make a joint presentation. They also sent a letter signed by 200 MD’s to Mayor and PWIC.

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“Lack of bicycle infrastructure has a real human cost”

Jillian Baker: pediatrician with young kids that she didn’t allow to bike on Bloor until the bike lane went in. Here she is facing a slide of her riding a bike.

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When I drive, I want fewer cars on the road. When I bike, I want fewer cars on the road”

Layton makes the point that driver’s licences don’t pay for roads, property taxes do.

Mammolitti: bikes and cars shouldn’t share the roads. Nobody wants to pay for bike infrastructure.

Kristine Hubbard, Operations Manager, Beck Taxi:

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Surprise: she is not against bike lanes. “We need to see people share the roads in a safe way”. Bike lanes also make drivers more confident because they know where the bikes are.   On the other hand she is against UBER: “If we are talking about risk mitigation, what about 50,000 untrained drivers on our streets?”

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment: “These bike lanes are a public health priority”

GM: what about the air pollution from cars stuck in traffic along Bloor

Kasia Briegmann-Samson, Friends and Families for Safe Streets (FFSS):

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“ It infuriates me when discussions about safety digress to parking spaces and traffic delays.”  “With all due respect, councillors, keep your condolences and build safe streets.”

Kyle Ashley: (traffic policeman who has been detailed to ticket cars parked in bike lanes)

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We are people, people who bike, people who drive.  Vision zero requires more than zero vision. “Public safety is not political”.

GM: “The mayor is pushing this without proper dialogue”.  “The majority of Torontonians do not want these bike lanes”.

Albert Koehl:

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“Safety has to be a priority, not something to be balanced against parking or business”

GM: “will you provide me with your video”. AK; you are welcome to it. JR: I felt there are gaps in the report. I asked for a supplemental report.

Robert Zaichkowski:

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“You can’t claim to support Vision Zero if you take out the Bloor bike lanes”

GM: “Are you happy that we are going to convert Bloor St into a much more run down atmosphere?”

2:45 pm: Councillor Perruzza arrives

GM: “ I don’t believe the numbers in this report, not for a second”

John Leeson:

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“instead of my deputation, I would like to use the next minute to remember the cyclist who was killed this morning.”

Gideon Formann: David Suzuki Foundation:

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Angus Red Forum poll: Across the city, almost 70% of Torontonians want the Bloor bike lanes to stay. “The bike lanes on BLoor are a unifying force for our city”

SH: is trying to get an answer about numerical thresholds of various measures to rule that the bike lanes are a success.

Jennifer Klein: Mirvish Village BIA supports the bike lanes “We need to have a street design that accommodates the maximum number of users, cars, pedestrians and cyclists, not just as a thouroughfare for cars.”

JC: how many businesses in the BIA  “Over 300”

Robert Shenton

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43% of ON budget, and of that 46% on seniors on healthcare.  Cycling improves health. “People like me are also the most vulnerable cyclists on the road. You build the safe infrastructure, and we’ll do our bit by staying healthy by biking.”

Brian Burchell  Bloor Annex BIA:

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“We approached the pilot cautiously.” The Annex BIA voted overwhelmingly to affirm the TCAT report. “We shaped the questions, and are confident of the study’s integrity’.

JC: why did the BIA endorse the pilot. “Because we believe in the results of the TCAT result, which we commissioned”.

“One challenge we have yet to overcome is the safety issue of cars turning right from Bloor. The bike lanes make difficult sight lines.”

JR: many businesses have said that the lanes have had negative impact.

BB: wanted to take the emotion out of the study.  On consultation We did an email blast to all businesses that we had email addresses: 30 day comment period. Seven responses.

JR: would it have been better to have independent bodies to conduct the study.

BB: we did some checks and balances to make sure the study was not biased.

GM: we are headed towards passing this thing and then going back to fix those issues. You don’t pass something and then try to fix it.

SH: what do you say to the east and west of you?  Would you advocate to the other BIA’s to do this. What if delays are compounded by extension?

BB: our business is to take care of our businesses in our area. We are not concerned about drive thru traffic.

Palmerston Residents Association (PARA):

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Makes the point of anticipating massive densification in the area. This will radically change the use of Bloor St.  “We simply have to accept that with the intensification mandated by the city, the only way that we can continue to survive is to encourage more cyclist and pedestrian traffic.”

GM: I keep hearing lots of opposition from phone calls.

GM: why didn’t we do the study in the winter?

Ila Bossons:  former head of PWIC: 80 years old.

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Bloor St moves quite well by car.  “Anyone who commutes long distances along Bloor by car is an utter total fool.” “What you are doing here is something that has been done for 50 years in my home country of Germany”.

GM: “ I am the only person on this committee who has had the privilege of working with you, and I decline to get in a debate with you”

Alan Wayne Scott (who gave a deputation despite great difficulty speaking due to cancer surgery.

‘what you should be discussing is how far we should be extending the bike lanes”. Rips up the certification of congratulations from Mel Lastman”. “It’s not worth the paper it is written on.  Do your work!”

ABBA: Barry Alper,  Michel Sauve, Miranda Black, (but seven people registered)

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“We are cyclists, and supporters of bike lanes”

“Safety of cyclists is paramount”

HOWEVER:

Insufficient time and resources devoted.

We suggest:

  • Different voices must be heard
  • Re design bike lanes
  • What can be done to improve them?
  • Please, let’s learn from other cities and neighbourhoods.
  • “The middle path”
  • Data
    • Business are down
    • Survey did not ask the right questions
    • BIA commissioned study from TCAT
    • We did our own survey
      • 70% of businesses
      • Loss of jobs outnumber new hires by 6 to 1
    • Moneris is only one of four credit card processors
    • Did the city ask about cash deposits?
  • Safety
    • Dooring is now possible from the passenger side
    • No one asked about comparative safety with other bike lanes like Harbord
    • Issues of lack of curbside access
  • Traffic flow
    • what are the hours of peak travel
    • Why no winter numbers?
    • Traffic flow by the hour data
  • Design
    • Montreal has summer and winter lanes
    • Bike lane design copied from Richmond or Adelaide.
  • Is business down enough to remove the bike lanes? No but we should do things to mitigate business losses

We would told this was a pilot. Finding a solution that reduces tension, increases understanding and moves us forward.

  • Hammering on accessibility and lack of curbside access.
  • Summer
    • On peak: remove all parking, HOV lanes for bikes
    • Off peak: restore all curbside access
  • Winter: remove bike lanes.

Provided staff with these plans yesterday.

Petition submitted to BIA to get an independent study.  They were not allowed to do so.

GM: just fishing for information to counter the bike lanes.

AP: is it true that you can say business is not necessarily down because of the bike lanes?

AP: I hear your design ideas, but I suspect from the safety persecutive, it would be better to keep the infrastructure the same all the time.

Stephen Holiday (SH): How can we gather the data independently.  Also people’s feelings important?

Jaye Robinson (JR): critical of some aspects of the survey. Also several of the bodies that did the study spoke out in favour of the bike lanes before the studies were launched.

Heather Kelly: Bloor Street Culture Corridor:

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continued support for bike lanes.

  • Some incremental changes might be required, but the bike lanes need to be made permanent
  • supporters include attendees and employees, feeling safer.

Jared Kolb is the last speaker. Here he is facing the committee.

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Now time for councillors to question staff:

GM: arguing about the request for raw video data with JHG

JHG: it was against the terms of FIPPA to release raw video.  1000’s of hours of video

GM: can I get a scrubbed version of the video if you are directed to do so by city council.

If so directed, we can get an estimate of cost and time to do so.

JHG: improvements can include green paint, and more fulsome improvements can be done at a time when further capital improvements along the corridor are made.

Speeches:

Joe Cressy: Bike lanes on Bloor are here to stay, so let’s make it so.

Janet Davis: also speaking strongly in favour. “The degree of distrust of staff was verging on harassment”. Also disappointed that there isn’t an immediate corridor study for Danforth is in the cards.

Chin Lee:

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Moves staff recommendation. (Anticipates amendments)

“We have to do the right thing, and the right thing is to make it permanent.” His own children are asking for a safe way to bike all the way downtown safely.

Steven Holyday:

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Motion to remove bike lanes, second motion to consult with ABBA and to do more polling of merchants.

From the very beginning of the process “Nobody wanted to admit what success looks like”

GM: two motions:

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  • One to conduct a poll
  • Request for video footage to be distributed to every councillor

What is the motive for the Mayor to be pushing this through as fast as possible? “ I don’t have to believe staff.”

He loudly states (as he did several times during the session) that he looks forward to being part of the next administration so that he can strip out the bike lane and generally fix the mess that is downtown.

Anthony Peruzza:

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Will support recommendation. Talked about driving along Bloor, and to see that it hasn’t fallen apart.

Crstin Carmichael Greb:

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Received numerous emails in support of bike lanes. “I wholeheartedly support the bike lanes on Bloor.”

Jaye Robinson:

“I just don’t thing we have this right at this stage”

Some confusion about the wording of her six motions.

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Several motions

  • Work with local businesses to mitigate concerns
  • Several different design improvements split in two motions
  • Collect year round data along Bloor. Permanent data collection
  • Mitigate bike/pedestrian conflicts
  • City council should support and promote local businesses along Bloor St.

Will support motion with these amendments.

So we have three yes votes, and it remains to be seen what happens with amendments.

SH motion to remove bike lanes:

2 for, 4 against: FAILS

SH motion to consult with ABBA

3 for, 3 against. FAILS

GM: request for video footage.

2 for, 4 against. FAILS

JR #4 (year round bike count)

5 for, 1 against

JR for other parts of motion

Unanimous

Motion as amended

4 for 2 against

In the end, the bike lanes are approved by this 6-4 vote, with some amendments from JR mainly having to do with suggestions for additional safety. One part of the motion has to do with year round monitoring of bike counts, but this shows a misunderstanding of the nature of the equipment the city used to take the video record, which is not suitable for winter use.

Meeting adjourned just before 8 pm.

If you are glutton for punishment, you can watch the whole afternoon here:

I left the meeting with mixed feelings: relief that the motion passed, but sadness that another cyclist was killed this morning, with the news received by tweet while we were all in the committee room.

If you want to do something:

  • attend the vigil for victims of road violence in front of City Hall at the Peace Garden, this coming Tuesday, Oct 24 at 6 pm.
  • perhaps there will be a ghost bike ride next Wednesday. Stay tuned on this.

 

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There was an event nearby on the West Toronto Railpath timing around dusk. We thought it would be a nice opportunity to get in a little family outing.

Lucy wants to go for a bike ride.

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The event was put on by DeRail Art, and was entitled “We pause at twilight” It consisted of an audio track accessed from their website that we could access while we were guided along the rail path. At various points, we were directed to pause, and to think carefully about our surroundings, the movement of our bodies, and even at times the collective motion of the entire crowd.

Here on the bridge over Bloor, we are directed to face south. Of course there are always one or two who don’t take direction as well 😉

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It was interesting to see the repainting of the Red Cross building, and how the new paint deliberately avoided these vines.

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The evening event ended with us on the Wallace St. Bridge.

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Neighbourhood resident Vic was taking pictures as usual.

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It was also interesting to see the row of two storey live/work buildings almost complete, as one of the last parts of the Wallace Towns development.

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At this point Lucy was getting a little cold, so we wrapped her up like ET and headed home.

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Thanks to DeRail for an simulating event. Nice to see so many people turn out as well.

 

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The bike team had a little group ride this morning, on a planned 47 km route. They said that they would cruise at about 30 kph.  I thought I would tag along. Can’t say I wasn’t warned.

Here is the before picture.

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The ride went east from downtown, along the lakefront and the Beach, and then further out on Kingston Rd, down and up Brimley, and then back west, taking in some of the Don Valley. At least that was the plan, but I got a flat right at Corktown Commons, so I got dropped right away.

I decided then to ride up to the Danforth and run the latter part of the course in reverse until I caught the group again. A bonus feature of this plan was that I would not have to ride the Brimley Rd. segment down and up the bluffs. I finally caught the lead group on Danforth just north of St. Clair.IMG_6827

After heading west on Danforth, we turn north on Woodbine, and I get to see part of the northern section of the recently installed bike lanes, albeit at a faster pace than usual. You can see that I’m getting dropped between every set of stop lights.

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Eventually I rode the last half of the route on my own. Long story short, since I was so far behind, after descending into the Don Valley on Bayview, I decided to take a detour to check out some of the features of the recently reopened lower Don Trail. Coming up from the Bayview/Pottery Rd intersection, here are some P gates on either side of the rail crossing.

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Here is the new pedestrian/ cyclist bridge that parallels the concrete roadway bridge.

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From the pictures that I had seen, I was a bit confused about exactly where this bridge was. Here, looking north from the east end of the bridge, you seen that the Pottery Rd crossing to go further north on the trail remains the same, with two offset crossings and a lot of pavement markings.

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However, if you look south from the same point, you see the connection to the Lower Don Trail. It was at this point that I realized I had never ridden this section between Pottery Rd and the Gerrard St. bridge.

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These sculptures look like bits of stonework that had fallen off of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

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The close spacing of the way finding signs suggests that they are more for pedestrians than cyclists.

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Here is the revised Belleville underpass, compete with cyclists on mural (and regrettably some fairly fresh tags).

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The team made it back to the shop in drips and drabs and were soon back to work on their various projects.

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Here is some speed data from my phone.

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The three sections where I was going more than 30 kph correspond to:

  1. downtown before my flat
  2. riding with the fast group. The only reason I wasn’t dropped right away was all the stoplights on Danforth.
  3. descending into the valley on Bayview.

 

 

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Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 9.05.57 PMSparked by some of the reaction to the recent bike count, I thought it would be fun to look at a particular time segment (8:40 am to 9 am on Tuesday) with peak bike traffic, and this time count the cars.

In this particular segment, there were 237 bikes east bound (in the above image, the east bound bikes are going from lower right to upper left). During the same 20 minutes, I counted 162 cars. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to make sense since it looks like there are more cars on the road than bikes. However, in this image there are five bikes leading up to Brunswick and only four cars, with the bikes taking up much less room. An earlier count by Bells on Bloor indicated that about 80% of the cars during rush hour are singly occupied. This means that more people are being moved through the intersection by bikes than cars.

Put another way, even if the bike lanes were to be removed, and then two lanes of car traffic in the rush hour direction restored, if we were to move twice as many cars in the 20 minutes (a very generous assumption since some traffic is delayed by cars turning, etc), this would still be less than the number of people moved by the cars plus bike lane combination.

More food for thought….

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Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 3.04.23 AMThe Bloor bike lane pilot project was installed last summer to some fanfare. This fall, City Council will consider whether or not to make them permanent. It has been stated from the beginning by the Mayor that the decision on whether to keep them will be data driven, and indeed there has been an unprecedented amount of study done on the bike lanes, including traffic counts, and various measures of economic impact. The first hurdle for the bike lanes is the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) meeting on October 18, and as that date approaches, both advocates and opponents of the bike lane are gearing up.

Yesterday’s CBC news had an article that mentioned some of the lobbying for and against. One of the issues that is always brought up is the question of how many cyclists are using the bike lane. Councillor Mammolitti was quoted as saying he wants a list of names of those riding in the lanes.

“I think that it’s the same people that just keep going in a circle just to be counted,” he said at the Sept. 19 public works meeting.

In addition, Denzil Minnan-Wong tweeted the following:

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in response to an article in the Toronto Star that said that the Bloor bike lanes are increasing the number of cyclists.  Unfortunately, both Minnan-Wong and Mammolitti are on PWIC. (Correction: D M-W is no longer on PWIC, but one can anticipate that Stephen Holiday will vote the same way that D M-W would.)

The city has cited a number of 4500 cyclists a day using the bike lanes, whereas various counts done by citizen groups such as Bells on Bloor and Cycle Toronto have come up with higher numbers.

Over the last week, 20 Bells on Bloor volunteers analyzed a video record of cyclists on Bloor at about Brunswick Ave, and for the first time, a full 24 hour count was done over five consecutive weekdays.

The results are in and the data show that over 6000 cyclists use the Bloor Bike Lanes on weekdays. A slightly deeper dive into the data shows some interesting trends. Here is a chart of the hourly variation, averaged over the five days.

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You can see that at the peak periods, there are over 600 cyclists an hour that pass by this point. Additionally during the entire daylight period, the minimum number of cyclists is over 200 an hour.

As one of the volunteers in the video analysis, I was assigned 6 am to 10 am on one of the days, and I was amused to see myself pass by during my commute. ( I was running a bit late that morning).

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The other things I noticed during the four hours:

  • I saw 12 total cargo bikes or bikes with trailers (including myself) (out of about 1400 bikes)
  • I only saw 5 sidewalk cyclists. I don’t have any data on whether this is a decrease from before the bike lanes were installed, but the number was lower than I expected.

The complete press release is here

BellsonBloor Bike Count Media Release FINAL Sept 28, 2017

and here is a sample video segment.

Metro News Coverage

Update: a great piece on iBikeTO by fellow blogger Herb.

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Tonight was the second in a series of evening concerts put on by the Bicycle Music Festival, leading up to their main event on September 10. Cycle Toronto organized a ride from downtown to Taylor Creek Park.

Here we are in Asquith Green Park, just a block north of Bloor and Church.  Sam gets us organized.

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Here we go down Rosedale Valley Rd.

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Now north on Bayview Ave. It’s nice to have that solid guard rail between us and traffic.

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Tunnel of trees.

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Waiting for the Go Train to pass.

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A brief water break at “the elephants”.

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Caitlin of the Bicycle Music Festival provided the tunes during our ride.

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Keagan just after she called in to say that we were going to arrive a little late.

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and we’re here. Volunteers from Arts in the Parks show us where to turn.

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Tonight’s band was Yuka, who laid down smooth Motown style grooves. I really wished that we had been able to provide a bigger crowd, but my guess is that a lot of people were scared off by the weather forecast of possible afternoon thundershowers.

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Power for the sound system provided by bike, naturally. Note that the Yuba Mundo ridden by Caitlin is being put to work.

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Riders had to keep the generated voltage within a certain range, as shown by the small meter.

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A big thanks to YUKA, the Bicycle Music Festival, Cycle Toronto, and Arts in the Parks.

The next Sunset Series bike ride / concert is on August 15, with another following on August 29. All the infomation is at the Bicycle Music Festival website.

 

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This past Friday, clusters of orange bikes suddenly appeared on campus at several locations along St. George St. It turns out that there is a new bike share company in town called Dropbike. This appears to be similar to schemes popularized in China, where you are able to drop a bike off anywhere, which has caused some problems for the public realm. Here the website says the the territory available to drop bike users is confined to the U of T St. George campus for the moment.

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Here’s some bikes outside Sid Smith.

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and some more beside Engineering. I wonder if they bothered to get any kind of permit to clutter up our sidewalks.

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I do have some bias towards orange bikes with black trim that also have a flagpole as you can see from this pic.

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Nevertheless, let’s take a closer look at the bikes themselves.  The overall stance of the bike is similar to a “bixi” bike, although the horizontal distance between handlebar and seat is somewhat less. It is much lighter, but it does not give the impression of being very heavy duty. The frame mounted front basket is a plus and is much bigger than the one on the Toronto bike share bikes; bring your own bungie.

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Both bikes feature 24″ wheels.

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Front caliper, rear drum brake.

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Solar powered headlights and taillights. I’d be curious to see if these actually work. I noted that about a quarter of the bikes did not have the headlight.

 

Some basic security features, such as the lack of quick release, and proprietary fasteners on the handlebar stem, etc. I did note that you cannot pull the seat post out of the frame, but trying to do so does a nice job of almost jamming the seat in the highest position. No sign of grease anywhere on the bike.

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Here is the wheel lock. You scan the QR code while inside the app, and you get the combination, and away you go.

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The website is not very informative, and you only get more information by downloading their app. $45 deposit, and first ten rides free, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. Note that the End user agreement says that you might get charged $200-$300 for a stolen bike, and that surge pricing might apply, even though the website and the FAQ fail to mention this.

Here I am, all logged in, and I see there are 18 bikes in this vicinity.

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Actually, from where I was standing, I could only see 17, but close enough.

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This ride is free, and it is telling me that these are the spots where I can drop the bike off.

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There don’t seem to be any spots off campus, although if you look on the bike locator screen, there are already a few farther afield, such as one in Yorkville, and a couple near 89 Chestnut, and this one that I walked by earlier in the day on McCaul.

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This screen gives you the combination (which I remembered to blank out of the photo)

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I wasn’t brave enough to venture off campus as I didn’t want to be charged for dropping the bike off out of territory. I took a quick ride to Physics. The bike is single speed, and quicker than a Bixi.

Once you are finished with the ride, you press the “end” icon, and you get this:

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and the bike location seems to be keyed to the nearest orange dot, rather than reflecting the actual location of the bike (which is near the blue arrow). Note that you are not given any guidance as to whether you are near a designated drop off zone. As I mentioned previously, I was still on campus, so I don’t know if there is a warning if you try to drop off out of territory. I did note a button to report misplaced bikes.

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I would urge the developers to have the instruction to lock the bike and scramble the combination on a separate screen before the one that asks you to take a photo of the bike. I also didn’t see anyway for the next user to access said photo.

There didn’t seem to be any electronics on the bikes themselves, so I’m assuming that everything depends on the GPS service on the phone. I also didn’t see any provision for changing the combination, so in principle, anyone with the combination could just walk away with a bike. In this case I’m assuming that the last user gets charged for the cost of the bike?  It is also possible that staff might come around and periodically mechanically reset the combinations, but this is sheer speculation on my part.

At any rate, this is an interesting experiment, and we’ll see how it does. They are undercutting Toronto Bike Share by quite a bit on price, in a business where no bike share company that I’m aware of makes money in the first place.

Update (June 26): Star Article.

Update: Picture in wired

 

 

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