Archive for the ‘Toronto’ Category

Today was another brilliantly sunny Saturday. Once again, the city closed the eastbound lanes of Lakeshore from Windermere to Stadium. I could get used to this.

As I posted before, my preferred weekend destination is Tommy Thompson Park. You can see from this map that I bypassed the madness that is Queen’s Quay by leaving the lakeshore between Strachan and Sherbourne, using the Adelaide and Richmond bike lanes, as well as Garrison Crossing. I also used Unwin rather than the MGT because the section east of Cherry Beach can get packed.

Although the park was crowded, there was plenty of space to keep apart (although I avoided the floating bridge as per usual). Also great to see so many families out.

This is about the most people I’ve ever seen at the point at the lighthouse.

I explored a few bits of the park that I hadn’t been to. Here are a very large number of comorants.

Here is some built single track just to the east of the lighthouse.

This really bad selfie shows how much work it took to outline both sides of the trail with bricks.

Since I was on the gravel bike, I didn’t do any of the jumps. Looks like fun, though.

Always nice to find new spots that are fun riding, and yet not too crowded.

Not like this place:

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After much hemming and hawing from City Hall, the city finally decided to close some streets to both promote active transportation, and to reduce crowding for both pedestrians and cyclist along especially crowded routes. In particular, the Martin Goodman Trail has been very crowded on weekends, making social distancing rather difficult. In response to this issue, the city closed the east bound lanes of Lakeshore Blvd between Windermere and Stadium Rd. What a great enhancement of the Lakeshore, even if it is just for this long weekend.

Approaching Lakeshore from Ellis Ave.

Right away, we see a safety issue. There are northbound cyclists waiting to cross the westbound lanes that are not closed. Unfortunately, the newly installed bike crossing cannot be activated by cyclists waiting at the median.

Just as a side note, I’ve had issues with the new northbound bike crossing. The bike signal lights rely on a video sensor, and my success in being detected has only been about 50%.

What I think is going on is that the video camera’s view of cyclists (the blue arrow), is somewhat occluded by some wires that were hung up at the same time (red arrow).

I’ve had a little more success with the sensor if I stand right on this yellow dot.

If I stand closer to Lakeshore from this point, I don’t get detected. At any rate, I am disappointed that the city did not make the northbound bike crossing automatically triggered for every cycle since there is no car traffic making a left turn from Ellis to Lakeshore this weekend.

This issue aside, it was absolutely glorious to see bikes everywhere.

We were on the tandem.

Headed home.

For those of you downtown near the lake, I hope you got a chance to check this out. If not, the forecast for Sunday morning is still clear of rain.

I hope that they keep at least one lane closed for bidirectional bike traffic after this weekend to reduce crowding on the MGT, but I’m not holding my breath.

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I’m not going to be updating my plot of the total number of COVID-19 cases anymore. There is not too much more to be learned.

You can see that the #cases per capita for Canada is now higher than Iran, and that the US has passed Italy. The curves for the US and Canada are tracking each other, with the numbers for Canada being about half of those for the US. More distressing is the fact that the #deaths per capita for Canada is increasing with respect to the US. Earlier this spring, the ratio was about 1:10. Now it is more than 1:2, i.e. about the same ratio as the number of cases. This CBC article talks about the narrowing of the gap. The other big issue for Canada is that about 65-75% of the fatalities are associated with long term care homes, the highest such percentage for all OECD countries. The number for the US is only about one third.

The best source of international statistics remains the Financial Times page. Here are a couple of figures from that page.

The caption that goes with this figure says that the total number of cases is decreasing globally, but the worrisome thing is the increasing fraction coming from places like Brazil. It is also not clear how up to date the data from Africa, India, Russia, and some other places is.

Nor does this chart reflect the fact that poorer countries generally have much lower testing rates, the outlier being Japan, which also lags severely in testing (currently about the same rate as Brazil at 1600 tests per 1 M population; the same number for the US or Canada is about 26K). The fact that the curve for Japan in the first figure is flattening again may indicate some degree of success in contact tracing, but with such limited testing of the population at large, it is hard to tell.

Their charts for the total number of deaths and cases has changed format. Here is the number of deaths per day.

If we are optimistic and assume that the curves have peaked and will decline somewhat symmetrically, then the total number of deaths will be about double the current tally. For the US, this yields a prediction of about 140K (Trump predicted yesterday a total of about 95K). For Canada, it would be about 9K for the first wave. The federal government has thrown out numbers between 10K and 200K, depending on how social distancing, etc are managed in the future. I believe these numbers also take into account more than just “the first wave” of fatalities.

The curves for the number of new cases per day looks like this:

The US seems to have plateaued, whereas the numbers for Canada continue to slowly increase (mainly due to Quebec, and to a less extent, Ontario). It will be interesting to see new trends as various lockdown restrictions are being lifted in both the US and Canada.

Of course, it being only May, it is snowing a bit this morning.

Between the cold and the high winds, I don’t think that I’ll be riding today.

(well I decided to run some errands anyway)

Stay safe, everyone!

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30 days of biking is a movement to promote biking by encouraging people to bike every day in the month of April. Here’s my ride log for the month.

In this time of COVID-19, my riding habits have been disrupted. Usually, the great majority of my mileage comes from commuting to downtown 5 or 6 days a week. April 2019 I logged 78 rides for a total distance of 544 km. This past month I did only 47 rides for a total of 632 km. I’ve been making up the loss of commuting by doing two or three longer rides a week.

I’m fortunate that my current work schedule is flexible enough that I can occasionally ride during normal working hours. This lets me avoid the crowding on places like the MGT. Most of my weekday rides have been out to Port Credit.

I do take the Lakeshore trail out to Norris Ave, but it is not too crowded during working hours. The rest of the way is along Lakeshore, although I take two bypasses: from 3rd Ave to 30th along Birmingham and Elder, and a second section in Mississauga from Haig Blvd to Stavebank along Atwater/Mineola. There is a nice little loop of 3.3 km at the end that I can add if I feel like it.

On my Port Credit ride this afternoon, I saw these officers riding up Ellis Ave. Since the city has closed High Park, they were riding the park perimeter. I asked how many laps they were going to do, and they said “a lot”.

On weekends, I’ve been riding to Tommy Thompson Park. To avoid crowds I ride across town from High Park on either Bloor/Danforth and down Jones and back up Logan, or I cut across on Gerrard once I reach the downtown area. Traffic has been light, and I get to avoid the Queen’s Quay section of the Martin Goodman Trail.

Even with these 40-50 km rides, I’m not going to be able to match my total annual mileage from past years since I won’t be doing any longer rides with TBN. Still, it’s nice to be able to get out and about while maintaining proper social distancing.

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Off for a ride downtown to check on some lab equipment at U of T. On the way in, I see lots of cyclists, including this family on Annette. Makes me feel good about fighting for those bike lanes back in the day.

I’m assuming that this group was riding together while maintaining social distance.

On the way, I checked out a few sakura trees on Shanly. These have generally been the first to bloom in the west end.

I also wanted to check out the enhanced bike lane protection that was just installed earlier this week, on the north side of Bloor between Palmerston and Euclid. These are the bollards on curbs that are going to be used for the Bloor bike lane westward extension.

You can see the difference between the bollards on curbs and the old style bollards in this picture.

One thing that I noticed was that if I was waiting on a bike facing south at Euclid and I wanted to make a left hand turn, these new bollards screen my view of oncoming traffic to some extent.

I thought that this would be an issue for cars as well, but the position of a left turning driver is farther back, and so this would be the view.

One possible tweak would be to install the bollards at an angle so that they would not block the view as much, as per this diagram.

However, looking at the base of the bollards, it would seem that this would be difficult with the existing mounting system. Perhaps if the curbs were spaced a little further apart, that would be better. That would also give a little more space for those cyclists that want to weave in and out of the bike lane. At any rate, this early installation is a great chance for the city to get feedback on this new type of bike lane protection.

Finally, I wanted to check out the sakura grove by Robarts Library.

They are pretty close to blooming.

Interestingly enough, the branches of one tree that are closest to the wall get more reflected sunlight, and so they bloom earlier.

Just as a side note, U of T has fenced off the grass field at Kings College Circle. Perhaps this is the start of the reconstruction project where they will install underground parking, as well as banning car traffic and parking on the circle itself.

Just for completeness, I visited the High Park Sakura as well. These trees by the soccer fields usually bloom a bit early.

High Park has been closed to cars for a while, and there are plenty of cyclists and pedestrians about.

The sakura at the top of the hill by the Grenadier Restaurant are about a week away from full bloom, just a bit behind those at Robarts.

Of course the city plans to close the entire park during peak bloom. From the looks of things, they will probably close the park sometime this coming week.

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It is now more or less a given that you have to line up at any grocery store, or the LCBO, and I’ve had to wait anywhere from 10-40 minutes at various times this past week. A couple of days ago, I became aware of a website that tracks grocery store waiting times. I decided to check this out this afternoon. In my neighbourhood, it was indicating that the wait time at my local organic market was about 30 minutes (orange marker), but the no frills nearby was just 10 minutes (green marker).

Off I went by bike to check this out. Here is the line at No Frills on Pacific Ave.

Indicated wait time: 10 minutes. Actual wait time: 8 minutes.

After No Frills, I rode by to check the line at Sweet Potato, and 20-30 minutes seemed about right. I chose not to stop.

Before I set off on this shopping trip, I saw that the nearest Loblaws had a 75 minute wait. It could be that the wait times for the larger stores might be an overestimate since it uses phone data to generate the wait times, since I notice that the times for Loblaws seem to be high across the city.

At any rate, using this app has the potential of saving you time spent waiting in line, which is one of the more annoying aspects of life right now.

Keep safe everyone!

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A few pictures from the past week in chronological order

Social distancing is now the norm at grocery stores.

After reading numerous stories about the shortage of critical supplies at hospitals, including our local St. Joes, I decided to donate a container of lysol wipes that I got on the shopping trip pictured above, as well as most of a container of surgical masks that I had bought a week ago in Chinatown. On the way down, I biked along the Queensway to remind myself about the section of bike lane that is due to be improved. Here is the eastbound bike lane ending short of Claude Ave. It is truly unfortunate that the bike lane will not be extended all the way to Roncesvalles. The planning document says something about insufficient road width. At least there will be a significant reconstruction of the Roncy/Queen/King intersection that will make things safer for pedestrians and cyclists that alight from the MGT by crossing the pedestrian/bike bridge across Lakeshore.

The bike lane will be extended one block east to Glendale Ave, where there is a stoplight and pedestrian crossing. Right now, there are sharrows leading up to this intersection. It is truly unfortunate that the bike lane will not be extended all the way to Roncesvalles. The planning document says something about insufficient road width. At least there will be a significant reconstruction of the Roncy/Queen/King intersection that will make things safer for pedestrians and cyclists that alight from the MGT by crossing the pedestrian/bike bridge across Lakeshore.

Here I am just before dropping off the supplies, which were accepted gratefully. They said I should have emailed ahead of time, but I think they took pity on me because I had obviously biked in.

Today I had to run an errand to U of T, which was a ghost town.

In the lineup at PAT Central Market on the way home.

Also went by No Frills, where I hit the toilet paper jackpot. Always good to have a pair bungee cords in your panniers, just in case.

Stay safe and sane, everyone.

plot of log(cases per capita) for selected countries.

I don’t see any clear indication of the flattening of the curve for either the US or Canada. It’s going to be a long haul.

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