Archive for the ‘Toronto’ Category

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:

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 8.25.22 PM

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.


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).

Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 1.18.06 PM

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.


Here we go down Rosedale Valley Rd.


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


Tunnel of trees.


Waiting for the Go Train to pass.


A brief water break at “the elephants”.


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


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


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


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.




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


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



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.


Here’s some bikes outside Sid Smith.


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


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


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.


Both bikes feature 24″ wheels.


Front caliper, rear drum brake.


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.


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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:


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.


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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Cycle Toronto organized a “Yonge Loves Bikes” ride on a gloriously sunny Saturday. The ride started at Heath and Yonge, just a little north of St. Clair so that we could all look forward to riding down the big hill. This is in contrast to last year, when we had to bike up the hill.


It’s always interesting to see some of the fine machines that show up. This is TBN member Roy’s Air Friday, to which he has added e-assist.


He also locked out the flexing of the Ti beam with this bracket.


Sam with one of his bikes. He says he has been trimming down the size of his fleet.


It turns out that this big orange Bullitt with a trailer belongs to Cycle Toronto.


The combination of horizontal dropouts, disc brakes, hub gear and tight fender line is going to make repairing a flat on the rear a real pleasure. (I hope I didn’t jinx things by pointing this out). Note the Shimano e-assist and and electronic shifting.


Sam et al tell us how the ride is going to be organized.


We line up behind some police bikes.


And off we go, turning south on Yonge.




Regroup after the steepest part of the hill.


Is that “V” for victory, or a peace sign?


At Davenport.




Approaching Bloor St.



South of Bloor now.


Here comes that Imperial Star Destroyer the Cycle Toronto portable mothership.


Sorry this one is blurry.


Yonge/Dundas. At this point, the police escort peeled off.


At Shuter.


Turning at the foot of Yonge St.


Along the MG trail.


Turning into the southernmost part of Sherbourne Commons.


Group picture, without the lake in the background.


Thanks to Cycle Toronto for organizing, and all the rides who rode with us.


Once again this year, there will not be a Bells on Bloor ride as that volunteer group is focusing on the Bloor bike lane pilot campaign. There will be a Bells on Danforth ride on June 24, but regrettably, I’ll be out of town that day.

and of course today there were other rides going on, such as the Ride to Conquer Cancer, and the world naked bike ride, which just happened to go by my office while I was composing this blog entry.




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Today was the annual Ride for Heart, a fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Once again, I volunteered with TBN to provide rider assistance. Since the forecast was for rain for the entire morning at the very least, I decided to go with full on rain gear. Although during my commutes, my rain gear of choice is a rain cape, since I’d be out in the rain for hours and there would be a lot of getting on and off the bike, I wore a rain jacket and pants, and a helmet cover for good measure.


Riding by the memorial for.Xavier Morgan.


There was a bit of confusion since the TBN booth was in a totally different location than was advertised on their website.  Indoors this time, right by the Ricoh Coliseum.


Apparently an email went out but I didn’t; get it. Although I was on the EX grounds a little before 7:30, it was past 8:00 before I got rolling.

Frank and I dealt with our first flat even before the starting line.


Once I’m on the Gardiner, all the aggravation of getting up early and dealing with rain slips away.


Bad picture of a tandem Bikeshare bike.


Because of the late start, we were mainly mixed in with the 25K riders, which accounted for the very large number of kids on the road.


Homemade rain cover on this Yuba.


First stop: just a person low on air. Once you stop and people see you have a floor pump, several of them stop as well. This happened a couple of times.


John and Bob (and water on the lens).

20,000 participants might have disagreed, but given the choice, I’m glad we had sunny weather yesterday rather than today.


A woman went over her bars on this downhill, and we talked her into walking back up the hill to a school bus to take a breather.  Sean is talking to her group on the other side of the roadway.


This gal had a pinch flat, and then punctured her new tube during installation. Fortunately, Sean had a skinny enough tube to fit.


After the turnoff for the 25K rider, rider numbers went way down. At this point, it looked like we would be dealing with 50K stragglers.


Made it to the top.  Mostly downhill from here.


Totally uncrowded DVP.


This trike rider broke the quick link on his chain.


One last hill.


Toronto skyline once again. Every year, there are more condos going up.


At this late stage, I see walkers and runners in the other lanes.


Ran into Frank again just past the exit for the 50k riders. Just like last year, I was taking the opportunity to ride home on the Gardiner.


You don’t get to see this view of the Dowling Ave Bridge every day.


Didn’t get as many clients as last year, and the weather was worse. Nevertheless, a fulfilling morning spent helping fellow riders.

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Xavier Morgan was a five year old boy who died while riding his bike on the Martin Goodman Trail a week ago Wednesday. Today was his memorial ride. About 200 cyclists joined us.

DSC04441Several members of the family were present. Brenda Morgan was his great aunt, and Scott was his grandfather.



Scott was passing out these cards in memory of Xavier.


Many bike families were present.


Joey getting the marshalls organized.


Geoffrey making some announcements.


He has made ghost bikes for too many memorial rides.

and here we go.



Down Huron


Harbord, across Spadina.



Down Harbord.



Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon in conference with Walk Toronto and Hamish Wilson.


Passing the Bike Joint.


Regroup at Shaw



South on Shaw.


Watch out for those streetcar tracks.


Through Liberty Village.



Regroup at Strachan.


Riding up the hill on the bridge.


Along Manitoba St. on the EX grounds.


Across the bridge to Ontario Place.


Back down to the Martin Goodman trail.




Arriving near the crash site.



Installing the ghost bike.





Joey calls for a minute of silence.


The family makes a statement.  Brenda Morgan said that the family appreciate that many came together as a result of this tragedy, and that the city acted quickly to put in a safety barrier. Scott Morgan said that the only blessing was the Xavier’s death was instantaneous and that his spirit went straight up to heaven.



The ghost bike.



We then formed a human chain along the barrier in tribute to Xavier.



“There was nothing he loved more than biking.”


The city is now making belated efforts to identify other hazardous spots along the Martin Goodman Trail. It is very sad that it takes a tragedy like this to get action on improvements to instructure for cyclists and pedestrians.

Thanks to everyone who rode today.  Support from the Toronto Police was also appreciated.

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