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There has been a lot of media coverage about the perceived conflict between cyclists and pedestrians in High Park, along with the heavy handed tactics of the police in addressing the behaviour of cyclists in High Park. There were a steady drumbeat of unfortunate incidents in the last couple of weeks including:

  • On July 26 John Tory says he supports the police targeting cyclists in High Park.
  • On July 29 a BIPOC cyclist was harassed by a plain clothed officer in the park.
  • On Aug 1 a cyclist was chased and hit off her bike by a man fed up with cyclists; it is alleged that he is an off duty TPS officer. Police were called to the incident, but no action was taken.
  • On Aug 2 a TPS officer was ticketing cyclists for not stopping at stop signs in the park when he himself failed to stop at a stop sign and hit a cyclist, damaging his bike.

Media coverage included:

Also, there have been some things to attempt to defuse tensions. The mayor’s office met with Cycle Toronto. In addition, the TPS released some figures about ticketing in High Park in order to show that comparatively few tickets have been issued to cyclists, but the data is muddied by the fact that the data was for High Park and the surrounding area, which presumably would include both Bloor and Parkside. Also their number of 16 cyclist tickets conflicts with the CTV report that 62 tickets were issued in a single week in July.

Added to all of this is the continuing concern about unsafe conditions along Parkside, as well as the city’s survey on a “High Park Movement Strategy”.

Tonight there was a ride for the cycling community to protest some of the actions of the police, and to show that the cycling community is highly engaged on the issue of usage of the park. The crowd assembled near the Bloor entrance to the park.

David Shellnut gets things organized.

Hizzoner, Lanrick Jr. Bennett, the bicycle mayor of Toronto.

This fellow was yelling about how inconsiderate cyclists were in the park.

That is a lot of cyclists.

Getting ready to go.

And we’re off.

Hard to keep to under 20 kph on this downhill section.

Up the hill to where the sakura bloom in the spring.

Turning down Centre Rd, after a stop at the stop sign, naturally.

Riding the brakes so as to go the same speed as the TPS officer in our midst.

Regroup at the High Park Blvd gates.

Once again, that is a long line of bikes.

Turning north on Parkside.

Regroup at Howard Park

Mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa was with us.

Now crossing Howard Park

Headed further north towards Bloor.

At Keele and Bloor

Our fearless leader.

Now back on Bloor towards the park entrance.

Signs

Thanks to David and the bike brigade for organizing today’s ride and getting the word out. Thanks to everyone who rode with us in solidarity.

Also nice to see so many of the usual suspects in person, and not on a ghost bike ride.

Remember to express your opinion about High Park movement at the city survey, which is open until August 19. If you want to read more about the issues, Rob covers those on his blog.

Update:

August 12 Globe and Mail Editorial: “It’s time to get cars out of Toronto’s High Park

Also, a count done from a video posted by Mike Whitla estimates about 500 cyclists attended.

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There was a bombshell announcement this morning in the Toronto Star to the effect that Mike Layton will not be running for re-election in Ward 11 University-Rosedale. This means that the three downtown wards will not have incumbents running this fall, with Joe Cressy and Kristin Wong-Tam having made similar announcements (and Wong-Tam being subsequently elected as an MPP). This is highly unfortunate as it means that three of the most progressive councillors on council will not be back.

At the same time, it is widely acknowledged that with the reduction in the number of wards in Toronto being reduced to about half by Doug Ford during a municipal election, the workloads for individual councillors has increased, and this problem is particularly acute in these downtown wards with their higher than average populations as well as the enormous number of development proposals that have been filed by developers in the area.

With all this preamble, I just wanted to thank Mike Layton for all of his leadership at City Council, in particular with regards to the promotion of cycling infrastructure. Here are just a few photos.

During the 2011 group commute.

The 2013 coldest day of the year ride. He is riding his commuter bike with the custom City of Toronto head badge and chain guard. I’ll miss seeing him on this bike occasionally, riding into work along Harbord.

August 2016: Official opening of the Bloor bike lane.

September 2016: Bells on Bloor: victory lap edition.

June 2019: Auctioning off his dad’s bike for charity.

April 2022: Earth Day on Shaw St.

Tailwinds to you and your family, and wishing you all success in whatever you decide to do next.

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This morning I was out for a ride, and my intention was to just do my usual out and back to Port Credit. However at Ellis and Lakeshore, FB friend Yann pulled up beside me, and after we rode off in different directions, I had remembered that he had posted some notes on a less accessible section of the Etobicoke creek trail. Inspired, I decided to try to bike the trail south from an entrance point mentioned in the FB thread.

Here I am crossing the Ogden Rd bridge. Still falling apart and partially fenced off as per usual.

On Dundas St eastbound, just crossing back into Toronto. The entrance is supposed to be just past the sign.

Here it is.

There was actually much less of a descent than I expected.

Easily rideable trail along the creek.

Someone has built a little lounging area.

Suddenly, a rather abrupt uphill that I had to walk up.

Several ups and downs, and then I am crossing under the rail line.

The trail climbs to a point where you can bail on the north side of The Queensway.

However, there is a trail that continues off to the right at this point, and you spend some time paralleling The Queensway before a rather steep descent as the trail swerves to go under the bridge. Here I am at the underpass.

Although I am a fan of Spy vs Spy, this spot would violate the #Biketag rules since I would not consider it as easily accessible. I also chose to walk under the bridge as the trail was “paved” in irregular rocks about the size of my fist or bigger.

After passing under The Queensway, you reach this point. I took the left fork for a bit, and it looked like it would lead me uphill to the other side of The Queensway, so I backtracked to take the right fork. I should have taken the hint that the left branch was much more popular.

Looks like I am crossing a dry branch of the creek.

More trail.

This leads to parts of the creek that I have never seen before. Very pretty.

You can see a small bridge ahead.

It soon became apparent that even the walking trail had largely disappeared. I did manage to find the trail again, but it was obvious that this section was not intended to be passable by bike.

Just past this point was the roadway that connected to the Middle Rd bridge.

If you go west across the bridge, this leads to Sherway Dr, and then you can bike a few blocks to the bike lane along The Queensway. If you go the other direction, then you will see a paved path that leads south to the rest of the Etobicoke Creek trail. Of course the underpass at the QEW is still closed.

This climb puts you back onto Sherway Dr, just by the edge of Sherway Mall.

At the top of the hill, you can take Evans Ave and then turn south on Gair Dr, and then Bisset to the southern portion of the trail.

Rewarding myself with an ice cream stop at Marie Curtis Park.

Here is a map of what I describe in this post.

Overall, I would say that the trail down to The Queensway would have been much more fun on a mountain bike. I would characterize it as very narrow single track, but totally doable. I was riding my gravel bike, and I was running 38mm wide slicks, so not ideal for the terrain. I did have to dismount maybe four or five times, whereas on a MTB, there was perhaps one point that I would have had to dismount. The other thing is that would not recommend going further south than the trail fork that I mentioned. Taking a closer look at the Strava map, I can see that I should have taken the left fork, and that would have allowed me to bypass the portions of the trail nearer the river that were not rideable.

All in all, a fun exploration of a piece of the valley that I had not seen before.

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Today was the Ride for Brain Health that took over the open slot vacated by the Ride for Heart (which was virtual again this year). As per previous rides, I provided mechanical support for the riders, along with many others from Toronto Bicycling Network. The organization of the TBN riders was a bit different this year. For one thing, we were told to gather at 5:30 AM so that we should be assigned to different start times. It’s been ages since I’ve been riding before sunrise.

Here is a picture of the group just before 6 AM.

Things were also a bit confused by the fact that the event announced a no bags rule, meaning that we were not allowed to have panniers. I arrived with my usual set up on my Haul a Day, gambling that I would not be turned away. As it turns out, there was no issue.

The timing being what it was, I decided to do as much of the 25 km as I could before coming back to meet some colleagues back at the start at 7:30. Here I am riding off at 6:10.

First fix of the day was just a few hundred meters down the course in the shadow of BMO field. Just needed a little air in her tires.

Riding into the sun with Jimmy.

Pretty peaceful as most of the early riders were fast and experienced.

Nice views of the Port Lands development from the Gardiner.

I looped back to meet my colleagues from the MSE department at the start.

Got a couple of pictures of the group riding together.

photo by Eli Sone

After these photos, I told everyone to go at their own pace, and of course I immediately got dropped like a wet rag.

Having been abandoned by my colleagues, it was nice for me to see several familiar faces on the ride.

Here I’m asking Becky Katz if the DVP should set a new standard for bike infrastructure, particularly with respect to the width of a bike lane.

A colleague from the Bike Brigade and one from Chemical Engineering.

I saw Jess from Friends and Families for Safe Streets several times, but I only thought to take a picture at the very end of the ride.

Here I am at the top of the ride.

A flat fix on the way back down.

They seemed to be breaking down the course very early. These trucks were headed northbound at Bayview when it was only 10 AM.

The highlight of my helping out was sagging a little girl back to the start. I saw her and her dad walking along the Gardiner and offered to give her a ride while towing her ride. She recently learned to bike and did 17 km for the day, which I thought was phenomenal.

The one big thing that made the ride less kid friendly this year was the fact that the first rest stop with water and snacks was at Bayview, and the “no bags” rule meant that the dad couldn’t bring along water or food on his bike. The other thing was that the Ride Marshalls were told to tell stranded riders that there would be a bus offering sag every 20 minutes. This did not happen. I think I saw two school buses on the route for the entire day.

It will be interesting to see which charity runs the ride again next year. I’m sure that Heart and Stroke would like to have their ride back.

Total support provided: pumped up about six bikes worth of tires, didn’t change a single flat, couldn’t help a guy with a broken chain, or another with a broken crank. Lent out Allen keys a couple of times. Also couldn’t help a guy that flatted both front and rear tubeless tires on a pothole. And of course provided some sag at the end of the ride.

I logged 84 km, which is probably the most that I’ve ridden my cargo bike in a day.

At any rate, it was ideal weather (unlike the last ride in 2019), and it was great to be out and out with colleagues and friends.

Thanks to Todd from TBN who organized all of the Marshalls, and who also waited patiently at start the whole time so that he could collect our armbands after the ride.

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It’s Bike Month, and Cycle Toronto ran a group commute for the first time in several years. As per usual, I biked in with the High Park group. Here we are at the start.

At Keele

Up the hill towards Indian Rd.

Under the Railpath. Yes that is Brooklyn resident Janet Joy back in town for Memorial Day weekend.

At Dufferin. Note human scale to the left versus SUV monster scale to the right.

Stopping by the Annex location of Sweet Pete’s to show solidarity after the incident last week. This is all the people I could squeeze into the picture during our brief stop.

Adrian is all dressed up for work.

At Spadina.

Waiting at Yonge.

At that moment, the Danforth group arrived across the intersection.

Now headed down Yonge. We didn’t try to collect all the groups together near Charles St as in past years, and things went smoothly.

At Yonge and Dundas. That’s one of the Marshalls for the Davisville start to the right.

Longtime WHPSC volunteer Mike with his Battle Mountain shirt. Also that’s photog Danielle, who is now working for Zygg.

Arriving at NPS.

From the appearance of the bike racks, it looks like numbers were way down this year. Perhaps not a lot of people are still returning to the office downtown.

On the plus side, the line up for coffee was less than usual.

I was told that this bikeshare tandem only comes out for special occasions.

Nice to see many of the usual suspects this morning.

Here is a group picture that was taken at the end of the speeches.

Thanks to Cycle Toronto, and all the other sponsors for Bike Month. Thanks also to our ride Marshalls from Cycle Toronto and the Bike Brigade.

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Today there was a gathering to mark the success of Shaw St, which has become one of the most heavily travelled bikeways in the entire city. Councillor Layton’s article in the Star gives lots of facts and figures, but the bottom line is that many more people travel along Shaw by bike than by car. Over 4000 trips by bike between September and November of last year is truly something to celebrate on Earth Day. People were saying that this was the first bike lane event in a while with sunny weather.

Councillor Layton gave us an overview of the history of the project, with all of the community consultation, as well some of the hurdles that had to be overcome, such as a change in the Highway Traffic Act in order to allow two way bike traffic. A revision to the street design in 2020 that blocked thru car traffic was also a game changer.

The street is now safer for all road users, and people in the neighbourhood appreciate the more peaceful nature of the street.

Becky Katz (Manager of Cycling and Pedestrian Projects) felt she had to show up, even though she was on vacation. She talked a bit about the evaluation of the design, and the fact that it was important to build this kind of infrastructure on non-arterial streets as part of a cycling network. I am in total agreement with this since the bike network in Vancouver is largely built on side streets in a similar manner.

Finally, Keegan Gartz (Executive Director, CycleTO) talked about how she lives just a block off of Shaw, and how much safer it is for her to cycle around. She said that there is a lot more to look forward to in terms of new bike infra during the next three years.

We’re getting lined up to get ready ride down Shaw St. Nice to see MPP Jessica Bell in attendance.

A few more photos before we roll.

And here we go. I love biking by this upholstery shop just south of Bloor in the summer when they have their Fiat 500 Topolinos parked out front.

A brief stop at Harbord.

Kevin is all smiles.

Group photo at the northwest corner of Trinity Bellwoods.

Thanks to Cycle Toronto for organizing the event, and to all those who enabled this project to be possible. Let’s keep building similar bikeways across the city!

Update: the City of Toronto has more facts and figures here.

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Things were calmer today than last week. At the Bike Brigade pick up, I scored this bit of swag.

After my usual deliveries to the Regent Park area, I encountered this parade down Yonge St. I appreciated the fact that this group used the theme of “freedom” for their own agenda, freeing a Kurdish political prisoner.

Many tow trucks staged on University Ave. Just ahead of them were several vans marked as “Commercial Vehicle Inspection”.

Just like last week, Queen’s Park Crescent was closed, and more or less deserted. I was told that a big crowd started at Queen’s Park, and that was the group that I saw marching down Yonge St.

All quiet at Bloor and Avenue.

Dropped by Christie Pits on the way home to say hi to the Cycle Toronto folks at Christie Pits. They had a stand to mark the day that the Coldest Day of the Year Ride had been planned.

The poor volunteers were colder than I since they were standing around rather than biking.

It’ll be cold for the next few days, but hopefully it will start warming up for real fairly soon.

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truckers and food delivery

There is an ongoing truckers’ protest in downtown Toronto that has snarled traffic in the immediate vicinity of Queen’s Park. This had the potential of making my Bike Brigade deliveries a little more interesting than usual. I rode west on College St, but I was advised to detour as far south as Adelaide to make my way to Regent Park. Here is a shot going south on Beverley; traffic was not being allowed further west than St. George/Beverley on this side of downtown.

It seemed that the police strategy was paying off. Cars were not allowed inside a certain perimeter, and there was limited parking, and so I saw processions of trucks and cars circling downtown on Richmond, Queen, and Parliament, with a lot of blowing of horns, etc.

After completing my deliveries, I decided to take a chance and just cycle back along my regular route. This turned out to be fine. Police had no issues with me biking past the road blocks, and inside the perimeter, there was a low density of protestors just walking around. The intersection of College and University was surprisingly peaceful.

There were marchers on College with bicycle cops keeping watch.

I decided to see how crowded Queen’s Park Crescent was. It was a pleasure to be biking there with no cars.

There were quite a few people around the statue of King Edward VII in the northern part of the park. There were not very many people in front of the parliament buildings.

Somewhat mysteriously, all of the tractors that were pictured on the news in front of the ROM were gone today.

At this point, a guy with a “fire Ford” sign walked by, and I would have dearly loved to have gotten a picture.

This is as close as I wanted to get to Bloor and Avenue.

I’m sure that what you will see in the news will be the few places with big crowds, but what I saw was pretty low key and not at all like what went on in Ottawa. Let’s hope it stays that way, and that all of this will be over by Monday.

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It’s been many years since I ventured out to the island during the winter, but I was inspired by some pictures posted by bike buddy Sam on Saturday so I took a midday break to check it out. There were lots of people on the ferry with skates and sticks, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up for clear ice.

Sure enough there were a quite a few places where people had cleared the ice to be able to skate and to play shinny.

A little past the church I decided to check the depth of the snow myself, and I found that it was only about 5 cm. Totally bikeable. (note that I have studded tires).

This video immediately preceded my taking the above picture.

The sound and feel of cutting through the snow was something I hadn’t experienced before. Just like normal biking, but with a little drag. Also the ice was glass smooth underneath. It was especially nice to bike on untracked areas. However, even areas with lots of tracks was fine. I biked back east to just past the church where I started to get bogged down in deeper snow. Everyone that I passed was pretty chill about me biking by. I had a nice conversation with a fellow who had skated for three or four days on Grenadier Pond before the snow hit.

All the major roads were plowed, and there were no crowds.

They also cleared the snow off of the pier.

Waiting for the ferry. No worries about the flag; it was a group of First Nations and supporters. I guess all the troublemaker flag wavers were in Ottawa for the weekend.

Travelling back to the terminal.

I’m going to have to go out to the island more often during the winter. It was a very peaceful break.

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There has been a lot of chatter about inadequate snow clearance of sidewalks and bike lanes around the city, including a Star editorial and an ask from Cycle Toronto to email the Mayor and your councillor about this issue. After the near record breaking amount of snow that fell on the city just over a week ago, many pictures were posted of totally impassable bike lanes.

Granted that it is a good point that the city should reconsider the absolute priority that snow clearance of roads and highways has had over sidewalks and bike lanes. However, this winter is the first where there has been a significant expansion of the plowing of sidewalks across the city and so I can understand why it might take a while for everyone to be satisfied with what the city has been able to accomplish in a week.

The situation was made a little worse by the snowfall yesterday that made all roads a mess last night, but things looked a bit better this morning, and so with this in mind I biked into work with an eye to seeing how my commute was compared to last week.

The Bloor bike lanes were certainly in much better shape, and I had no issues biking eastbound between Lansdowne and St. George.

The only spots that were a little snowy were where there was no curb protection.

For my commute home, I decided to go back via the Martin Goodman Trail since it appeared to have much better snow clearance than any of the bike lanes, even a day after the blizzard. On the way there, University looked pretty good southbound.

The snowbanks at Elm give a preview of what a fully protected intersection would look like. Cars need considerably less space than they are actually given.

A bit of snow in the bike lane as I approach Queen St.

Richmond looked good.

Simcoe was fine as well.

I was somewhat taken aback by the blockage south of Wellington, but as it turned out, the bike detour was fine.

Simcoe clear all the way to the lakefront.

The MGT was in very good shape. The only comment that I would make is that all the runners were using the MUP rather than the pedestrian path.

It’s a bit of a mystery to me as to why the city is able to do a much better job on the MGT than on any of the bike lanes, but it could have to do with the fact that the MGT is wide and straight with a comparative lack of intersections. Perhaps they can use wider and bigger plows that what a bike lane accommodates.

I’m not implying that all is well in terms of the snow clearance of bike lanes. In particular I’m aware that the Danforth and the Yonge bike lanes were reported to be in bad shape today. Hopefully it is just a matter of a day or two more before all of the major bike lanes in the city are clear.

At the same time, I’ll take all of the chatter about snow clearance in bike lanes as a sign to all concerned that more people than ever are biking in the winter, and the city needs to get that message loud and clear.

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