Archive for the ‘Urbanism’ Category

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.


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 😉


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


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


Neighbourhood resident Vic was taking pictures as usual.


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.


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


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


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Haven’t been to Henderson’s in a while, and when I dropped by today, I was surprised to see most of the parking lot filled with cars. It is now largely reserved parking for the various businesses that have sprung in the building adjoining the brewery.


While I’m happy about the number of jobs being created in the area, I’m a bit sad to see the largely empty lot gone, which would preclude holding family oriented bike events as in the past.

On the plus side, they’ve finally added a small ramp so that it will make it easier for me to haul beer home through the rear entrance onto the Railpath.


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The pedestrian bridge across the rail lines at the west end of Wallace Ave has been an important link for the neighbourhoods that are being built up east of the tracks. The stairway on the east end of the bridge just reopened after intermittent closures over this past winter.

The reconfiguration of the stairway is necessary to allow a new roadway (Sousa Mendes St.) to link between Ruskin and Wallace Avenues. 

Here is a site map from the developer.

Nov 15: you can see some uprights for the new stairway.

Jan 14: the steel framing for the lowest section of stairs is in.

March 23: in the process of pouring concrete on a platform.

March 28: the first evening that the stairs are open.

April 1: they certainly didn’t waste any time taking down the old stairs.

It was important to maintain this vital link for the neighbourhood. Eventually, there will be a pedestrian underpass in the area as well, which will also greatly facilitate the transfer between the UP Express and the Dundas West subway station. Until that happens, this bridge will have to do.

Update: here is a link to the city staff report on this project, and here is an excerpt:

Wallace Street Pedestrian Bridge One of the consequences of putting a new public street through the site, was the need to realign the eastern staircase of the Wallace Street Pedestrian Bridge as the stairs in their existing location are located right where Sousa Mendes Street joins with Wallace Avenue.

The Wallace Street Pedestrian Bridge was constructed in 1907 and is on the City of Toronto list of heritage properties. The bridge is constructed of steel, concrete and wood and it is organized in 3 distinct sections. A single set of stairs at the east and west ends rise in two tiers and the stairs are illuminated with decorative iron brackets. The bridge is a rare example of a vintage pedestrian bridge in Toronto and it is a visual landmark and an important feature in the neighbourhood. It is very well used, as it provides the only connection over the railway between Bloor and Dupont.

The applicant will be replacing the eastern staircase with a new staircase that will be located within the West Toronto Railpath, moving northward, then scissoring back to land at the end of Wallace Avenue. See Attachment 7 for drawings of the proposed stairs.

Given the prominence of the bridge and its high level of use, planning staff, the local Councillor, the applicant and members of the community met two times on-site to review the proposed stair location, the stair design and how the realignment of the stair would impact the gathering space on the Railpath at the end of Wallace Avenue. The bridge will remain open during the construction on the bridge and both Heritage staff and Engineering and Construction Services staff have signed off on the bridge alterations.

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Update 2: a few more pictures


The new view at the end of the bridge. Several people in the Junction Triangle Community Group on FB have mourned the ending of the former view, where the stairwell at this end of the bridge was basically invisible from mid span.


The bike rails are handy. No better or worse than before.



IMG_4952 (1)

A view of the space where the old stairs were, from ground level.


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I’ve been in Glasgow for a few days, and the bikeshare system has allowed me to explore a bit more of the city that I could have on foot.

First step: getting a bike. I noted that Tammy Thorne had reported some issues with the bikeshare system on the Dandyblog, so I prepared by loading the Nextbike app. Here is one of the bikeshare stations.


If you have the app, you can scan the QR code on the bike and it will let you know if it is available for rental. This seemed to work better than manually keying in the number on the phone or the keyboard on the bike. The app responds by giving you the combination to the lock.


and we’re off. Here is the bike on one of the pedestrian and bike bridges across the Clyde. It is a chunky bike with a Shimano 3 spd Nexus hub, but it strikes me as being less heavy than our bikeshare bikes in Toronto.


There are some nice paths along the north side of the river. In some sections, there are separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists. Here it is multiuse.


To get around some buildings, the path sometimes becomes a glorified sidewalk.


Approaching the Transport Museum, which was designed by the late Zaha Hadid.


The museum holds a sample of everything on wheels, plus some models of ships. I’m going to concentrate on the bikes.


Unfortunately, many of the bikes were suspended on a round track that was hung from the ceiling.



You could use a touchscreen display to get descriptions and pictures of each bike, but it wasn’t the same as being close up to them. I guess the advantage is that you can provide text in different languages, and that you could provide more text than on a static display, but it was a little disappointing none the less. Here are a Moulton and Raleigh 20 on the track.


A USS recumbent dating from the 30’s.


A display of trikes, with a Windcheetah in the foreground.


A vintage tandem trike on the same display. The front person has the option of not pedaling, and just using the footrests.


A view out the front of the building, with a huge wall of cars to the right. The same complaint applies to the cars: you can’t see them very well.


From another angle.


A special edition Raleigh chopper that was released for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. It didn’t sell very well. Perhaps the really heavy mag wheels had something to do with it.


A display of touring bikes. You could object to the fact that 2 out of five were not human powered, but one of the two motorbikes was used by Ewen McGregor, so I guess that’s OK.


This is allegedly a model of the first working bike in the world. Made in Scotland, naturally.


Finally, the thing that I really wanted to see was the replicas of Graeme Obree’s bikes.


One had the original narrow bars meant to be under the rider’s chest, and the other featured the extended superman position. Both positions were banned by the UCI.

Here is a shot of the narrow bars, with my hand barely in front of them, to get a sense of just how narrow these are.


Overall, I was underwhelmed by the Obree display as the replicas were rather crude, with no attempt to show the ultra narrow Q factor or the special cranks that the real bike had.


Nevertheless, it was a fun visit, doubly so because I got there by bike. Here I am biking back as the weather turned rainy.


These wayfinding signs were helpful, with timings given for both cyclists and pedestrians.


It was often difficult to tell if a given sidewalk was part of a bike route. It was more clear where the pavement was a special colour, such as red which seemed to indicate multiuse.


Elsewhere, blue signage was helpful.


When you return a rental bike, you just pull up to a bike station, lock the bike and then indicate the return on the app. One thing is that if you are on a roaming data plan, it would be inadvisable to keep the app running for the whole time that you have the bike. If you turn off the app after you check the bike out, it is helpful to note the combination beforehand, especially if you plan to lock up the bike during your rental period. I got into the habit on taking a screen cap as soon as I rented a bike.

When you return the bike, relaunch the app and it will figure out where you are.


Note that this screen is also providing you with the lock combination. Press return, and then you can select the actual location where you are doing the return. You will be rewarded by this screen.


The app also lets you review your rentals to make sure all your returns were successful.


On our second day in Glasgow, the weather was much better and it was great to see so many people out and about on the two main pedestrian streets downtown: Buchanan and Sauciehall.



A cool non US model Cannondale with small wheels and a kid seat.


This is Mitchell St, which runs parallel to Buchanan but one short block west. This street seemed to be used for loading into the backs of buildings that fronted on Buchanan.


The pedestrianization of a good deal of downtown has transformed these streets into a big, outdoor shopping mall. There was definitely a huge amount of foot traffic, but I’m not sure that this would be the best model for revitalization. I would hope that the second floors and above of the buildings would be given over to offices and such so that employment as well as retail activity could anchor downtown.

More Glaswegians enjoying the sun. You might wonder about the slogan posted in many places: “People Make Glasgow”.  Well I must say that everyone we’ve met in Glasgow has been very friendly!


Some flaggers in the Merchant City district, practicing for a street festival that starts tomorrow. This section of the city had pavers put down in 2011, and it gives this area a distinct character, along with all the old buildings with their impressive stonework.


and here are two Dutch bikes belonging to the owners of a very cool jewelry shop, with one of them trying to get out of the picture.


All in all, an enjoyable visit, but all too brief. I also went by a special bike shop, but I’ll write that up in a separate post.




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It’s been unseasonably warm this December. Following on last month, I took advantage of a day with a forecast high of 12C to ride in with shorts again today.
today It actually hit a high of 14C, and although it was past sunset on the way home, it was still a balmy 11C.

It being brilliantly sunny this morning, I took some pix on the way in. Here is a serious cargo trailer riding up from under the West Toronto Railpath underpass. His left wheel needs a bit of camber adjustment.

Just around the corner, I see that they’ve started putting in the curbs for the new section of Edwin Ave that will connect with Wallace once the Wallace Walk development is complete.
This was the site of the former Glidden paint factory. It took a long time to get the ground cleaned up, and then this block was left vacant for a couple of years. At this point, it looks like most of the townhouses on the east side are nearly complete, but they’ve only started work on the west side, where a row of live/work spaces will go in and back out onto the Railpath.

Here is a view from the Wallace St. bridge, taken back in Oct 2014. oct4_14 At this point, the condos that face Wallace are occupied.

A little further on is another church to condo conversion.

Compare the picture above to this one from October 2014. oct23_14

Headed east on Wallace, I approach a rail level crossing.
DSC07112 Metrolinx plans to elevate a section of this line to eliminate a rail crossing further north in order to enable more frequent service to Barrie. The initial renderings of the project showed a three storey tall wall that would visually cut this neighbourhood into two halves. More recent renderings show an elevated span that is more open, and there are media reports that this is a done deal, but there is still significant opposition in the neighbourhood.


Certainly, no matter how you dress it up, an elevated railway would totally change the character of the area.

At Dovercourt, a block north of Bloor, the former Postal Station E is being converted to TV studios for Master Chef Canada. The exterior cladding on the second storey is almost complete.
jun11 I thought it was a bit odd to have the splashes of orange, but it turns out that this is a project by an architectural firm called SuperkĂźl, and I guess they’ve decided this is the colour of the moment.

On the site of a former gas station on Harbord St., the same firm has designed a row of townhouses, and sure enough, the orange shows up here too.

Here are a couple more photos showing how quickly this project was built.

Nov 2014 nov11

March 2015

June 2015 jun17

It is interesting to see the rendering of Harbord St with lots of bikes in the marketing materials for this site. Note the target demographic: riders without helmets riding fixies on the wrong side of the street. Still at least one unit available!

Great day for cycling. Lots of changes in the neighbourhoods. All in a day’s commute.

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Hamilton Bike Share

We were in Hamilton this weekend to take in a little PanAm Soccer. It’s been years since I’ve been downtown, and one of the brand new things is a bike share system. Although I didn’t ride any of the bikes, it was interesting to take a brief look at their bike, in comparison to the Bikeshare Toronto machines.

The main difference is that the racking system is very simple, and all the smart tech is carried on the bikes themselves. The bike is a basic aluminum framed city bike that is significantly lighter than the ex-Bixi bikes.

Here is the tech that displays the status of each bike. The yellow loop is the bike lock that is opened when you rent a bike via a smartphone app.
DSC05881 The small loops to the left are a lock holster.

One quirk of the system is that each bike has a name. This one is named after one of my daughters.
DSC05879 According to the FAQ, if you signed up for a founding membership, you got to name a bike. Other bike names on the same rack were “Skeletor” and “Linus Blanket”.

The bikes also feature shaft drive, as well as a very sturdy front basket.

You can read this early review of what it’s like to actually use this system.

The next time I’m in town for an extended visit, I’m going to have to check out all of the new bike infrastructure that has gone in all across town over the last five years. It’s surprising that these improvements have gone in despite the actions of a City Council that often seems more dysfunctional that our own here in Toronto. Thumbs up to the citizen advocates such as those that are behind Raise the Hammer for pushing a progressive agenda.

Update: a Toronto based article comparing the two cities bike share system, and liking Hamilton’s better.

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Changes along Annette

Sad to see this for sale sign.

Because what this neighbourhood is really crying out for is more church to condo conversions.


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