Archive for the ‘Ward 4’ Category

One week ago, Valdemar and Fatima Avila were killed by a driver who rear ended their car while it was stopped at a red light on Parkside at Spring Rd. Today was the first of two vigils organized by people in the neighbourhood who have been concerned about the lack of safely along Parkside for many years due to high speed traffic.

Here is the crowd at Parkside and Spring.

A memorial was already on site.

One of the organizers announcing what is going to happen.

Local councillor Gord Perks talking to the media. His office sent along “slow down” signs, but as we all know, these do nothing as drivers will just speed past them.

Right at 4:40 pm, one week from the crash, people move into the intersection to block traffic for several light cycles.

I found it interesting that those of us cyclists used to blocking traffic in protest were fine, but others were somewhat reluctant to move into the intersection.

It didn’t take much time for traffic in both directions to be backed up. Thankfully, there was no honking. I imagine that everyone who commutes along this route was fully aware of last weeks tragedy.

The Whitlas, Alan Gasser et al sang a protest song. I don’t want them to have many more gigs like this.

A photo with politicians and some of the event organizers. Why is MP Arif Virani smiling?

Something has to be done to slow traffic on Parkside and also Keele between Dundas W and Bloor which is the feeder into Parkside. Rob Z’s blog outlines some ideas. In addition, this blog by High Park Engineer outlines some of the ridiculousness along this stretch, including several bus stops on the west side that force people to cross Parkside in the absence of any crosswalks.

Other solutions and suggestions have been brought forward to Gord Perks’ office. One was a request for speed enforcement cameras. However under provincial legislation, these can only be place in community safety zones (i.e. near schools), and apparently the Montessori school at Howard Park didn’t qualify. This is an example of how more than one level of government needs to be engaged in order to make anything like Vision Zero a reality.

I had a brief chat with former MP Peggy Nash who had participated in several audit rides of bike infrastructure with the old Ward 13 group. She reminded me that her husband was injured while riding a bike on Parkside.

Deepest condolences to family and friends of the Avilas.

There will be another protest next Tuesday (October 26), with a march down Parkside from Bloor to Spring Rd starting at 4 pm. The Safe Parkside group on Facebook will have the details.

Sadly, on the very day of the vigil, two pedestrians were killed by drivers in separate incidents, one of them a hit and run.

Update and correction:

From MPP Bhutila Karpoche’s office (She was present at the vigil):

Parkside Drive, from Bloor St. W. to Lake Shore Blvd W., was designated as a Community Safety Zone by the City of Toronto on December 17, 1998 (By-law No. 894-1998), under the powers granted to all Ontario municipalities by §214.1(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, 1990

On December 1, 2019, amendments to Part XIV.1 of the Highway Traffic Act, 1990 to allow automated speed enforcement technology in all community safety zones where the prescribed rate of speed is less than 80 kilometres per hour—no matter whether in proximity to a school or not—were proclaimed by the Province of Ontario. 

This means that there are no provincially mandated barriers for the City of Toronto to complete the following actions:

  • Place an automated speed enforcement system on Parkside Drive
  • Reduce the rate of speed from 50km/h to 40km/h
  • Installation of a contiguous west sidewalk
  • Installation of protected northbound and southbound bicycle lanes
  • Adding pedestrian crossovers at Geoffrey Street and The Queensway to service southbound TTC stops

All of these decisions are up to City and their Council to make. We are continuing our dialogue with the City to ensure that they understand the provincial legislation and can use it to the fullest extent.

Also Rob Z’s summary of the event.

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Out for a ride this evening, and I took a few pictures of some updated bike infrastructure near the lakefront. Firstly, I heard that there was a new protected bike lane on Birmingham which parallels Lakeshore between 1st and Kipling. Here is Birmingham, headed west from Dwight. You can see that this is a construction zone with sewer work, but I imagine that they will install bike lanes along this stretch as per the 2021 Toronto Cycling Map.

Crossing Islington, you see a curb protected bike lane.

Unfortunately it ends just short of Kipling.

Granted that Birmingham becomes Elder past Kipling and it is much less busy, but it would be nice for it to at least continue as a signed bike route, especially since it connects with Thirtieth St, which is one of the few small streets that crosses the GO train tracks. Nevertheless, this new bike lane is a good alternative to biking along Lakeshore between 1st and Kipling.

On the way back, I took a few pictures of the latest updates to the intersection of Colborne Lodge and Lakeshore. I noted new paint back in July, and this has been followed up with bollards.

Here is a view of the northbound cycling crossing. You can see some bollards on the west side that protect southbound cyclists at the median. This bollards also ensure that eastbound cars making a U turn have to swing very wide.

The corners of the central median on the east side of the intersection have been effectively squared off. This provides two small areas that could provide some refuge for cyclists that don’t make it all the way across during the very short cyclist green light. This picture is crooked since I was in a rush to make it across.

Here is the north west corner, facing west. Here the corner is squared off to slow down right turning cars. We had asked for no right turn on red at this point, but that hasn’t happened. Note also that one of the bollards (marked with the red arrow) is already gone.

Here is the northwest corner, facing southbound. This would be the view of a cyclist coming down from High Park. The bollards define a large staging area where cyclists can remain separated from pedestrians.

Here is a closer view of the median, southbound.

It is good to see these improvements. I guess the city has finally decided that this intersection is a priority, after two separate fatalities at this spot (RIP Jonas and Nigel).

I appreciate the fact that these changes were made quickly, and more easily than actually having to put down curbs. Similar protections have shown up downtown at several intersections, such as Elm and University. We shall see how they hold up, particularly to snow plowing.

The light timing on the northbound cyclist light seemed really short today. I’m going to have to go back down there to time it again to check if they changed the duration again. It sure didn’t seem like 15 seconds.


Update: It is 15 seconds, but note that it can take a few seconds to react to the green light, and that this quite fit cyclist makes it across with seconds to spare. 15 seconds is not enough!

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Not sure why it takes so long to get even just paint down at an intersection, but they finally put markings across Lakeshore at Colborne Lodge to indicate the position of the northbound bikes only crossing on the east side of the intersection.

I noted that these markings are already causing some confusion. Just before I took this picture, there were some pedestrians that walked across south from the median as if this was a crosswalk. We’ve asked for a pedestrian crossing on the east side but we were told that it would require major reconstruction, and it would slightly delay southbound cars turning left onto Lakeshore (God forbid!)

Just as a reference, here is a picture from 2018.

I see that they have also put some markings near the median on the west side where the Jonas Mitchell ghost bike is. Not really sure what the painted buffer is for. It will confuse cars that make a U turn from eastbound to westbound at this point.

There’s also a bit of green paint on the northeast corner, and they have painted buffers on the bike lane under the bridge.

Yes I know that the bike light is red, but it turned just as I was taking the picture. As everyone knows, you are not given a huge amount of time to cross.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised in retrospect that it took so long to put down the paint since it took the city seven years to retime the bike light.

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I had to go downtown on an errand today so I took the opportunity to check out the snow clearance on the Bloor bike lanes between Keele and High Park. This is what I saw just east of Runnymede which was not a good sign.

Lack of snow clearance is particularly problematic on the section between Kennedy and Clendenan since the bike lane weaves in and out of curb cuts, and you have to cross a concrete drainage ditch at shallow angles. If the bike lane is not completely clear of snow, this drainage channel could ice over, and that would be a severe hazard.

The only parts of the bike lane that were plowed were sections where the road plow could move in towards the curb, like at this bus stop.

Approaching Parkside, I see that the bike lane is properly cleared west of Parkdale and Keele.

I did see this plow going the other direction, so I hoped that when I checked back later, the plowing would extend further west.

However, as of about 1:15 this afternoon, still no joy west of Keele.

Pictures on twitter from earlier this morning made it clear that the Bloor bike lane was plowed early and well in the sections closer to downtown.

Hopefully the city will do a better job of getting the plowing done all the way west to Runnymede.

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The intersection between College and Dundas St W has been one of the more dangerous spots for cyclists. It was scheduled for improvements this year, and construction was finished sometime in the last month. I finally got a chance to look at the changes today.

A diagram of the planned changes is here:

Yesterday I took advantage of the plus Celsius temps to wash down the underside of the cargo bike and to swap in the studded tires. The hope is that the rest of the winter will be warm enough that this was unnecessary.

Headed down on the rail path. It was totally clear, and obviously had been heavily salted recently.

Stopping off at Hendersons to pick up an online order.

This building on the south side of Dundas at Sterling burned down two days ago. Apparently it had already been bought by Metrolinx.

Now approaching the intersection headed east, you see two new stoplights before Lansdowne.

Here is a wide angle view that also gives a closer look at the lay-by for cyclists wanting to turn left onto College.

The traffic light for left turning cyclists is synchronized with both the pedestrian crossing, and the left turn light for cars. One possible improvement is to put down some green paint to make the sharrows for cyclists more visible. The markings on the concrete around the street car tracks are not very visible.

Approaching the intersection from the north side on College.

The stub of St Helens Ave between Dundas St W and College St N has been blocked off, and the space used to accommodate a large bikeshare station.

This intersection is now much safer for both pedestrians and cyclists. Thanks to Councillor Bailao who was a very strong advocate for this change in her ward.

Dec 30: One slight update. This morning you can see that I was the first to use the lay by, waiting for the light to cross over to College.

Since there is no beg button or sensor for bikes at this spot, you need to keep an eagle eye on the traffic lights. The car left turn lights are synchronized with the bike crossing lights.

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We had record attendance at our October meeting. There was representation from all areas of the Ward, and it was also good to see a few new faces.

The first item of business was to note that a report arising from our Ward 4/9 audit ride was sent to the offices of Bailao and Perks.

An additional note was send to Perks’ office with two issues raised at our last meeting:

  • Does the 30 kph speed limit on residential streets apply to both the old Wards 13 and 14? The reduction of speed limits was passed for Ward 14, but the situation for old Ward 13 was not clear.
  • A request for a bike lane along High Park Ave, which has many cyclists with families biking along this stretch, especially on weekends.

Next item: a group in Ward 5 has a petition to press for bike lanes on Weston and Keele, as far north as Oak, and down to Bloor. We agree that this would be a great boon. Keele south of Dundas St W is very wide, and high speed car traffic is an issue. Since the petition is aimed for Ward 5 residents, our group will compose a letter of support.

Next, Janet Joy reported on the East meets West ride that she organized. She provided a report to various bodies, but received only nominal responses. Six Points is making efforts to have complete streets, but if they are not connected by safe infrastructure to the rest of the city (particularly along Bloor) they will have limited impact.

There was concern about the delay in the Bloor bike lane infrastructure under the two rail bridges between Symington and Dundas. Ben has been corresponding with Metrolinx, Toronto Hydro, and AECON. The latest word from AECON is that work on the UP Express overpass will continue until the end of December and perhaps beyond.  We will send a note to Gord Perks on this issue, and urge strongly that the Bike lanes be installed between Indian Rd and Dundas St W, including the intersection. There is no excuse for further delay.

#BikeTOBloor is a campaign that originated in Bloorcourt and Bloordale, and now has been extended westward to Keele, with the cooperation of the Bloor by the Park BIA. Posters have been distributed to businesses between Dundas and Keele. People should be encouraged to shop along Bloor, and to use the hashtag on social media, tagging local businesses as well.

It was disappointing that the Bloor West BIA elected not to participate. The BIA feels that the extension between High Park and Runnymede was sprung on them without adequate consultation.

Should we plan a Bloor bike ride after it is completed? As noted above, with the delay to the bike lanes under the bridges, any celebration will have to wait until next spring.

The next PHP Bikes meeting will be in the spring, unless a pressing issue arises in the interim.

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This past June, a bikeshare station was installed just down the block. Ordinarily, I would have been very pleased, since I am totally in favour of the expansion of Bike Share across the city.

However, in this case I was concerned that the new station blocked pedestrians. The station as installed extended all the way across a patch of interlocked pavement that was a popular place for people to gather, particularly parents who had just dropped off their kids at Runnymede PS. It also blocked the path of pedestrians using the crosswalk to get to either Glenwood or Kennedy. Finally, the students from Runnymede PS often rounded this corner while they ran laps of the block as part of PE.

Here is a satellite view of the intersection.

image from Google Maps

The station now forced people to the sidewalk.

I wrote Councillor Gord Perks about this, suggesting that perhaps the station could be shortened one segment that comprised eight slots.

remove this section

My request was forwarded to Bike Share, and someone responded as follows:

  • the installation meets the City of Toronto’s street-furniture guidelines, of which this station meets all pedestrian clearance requirements. 
  • At this moment in our expansion, we do not anticipate removing docks from this station, seeing as the removal of 8 docking points would result in a 17-dock station. As a general rule, we aim to have a minimum of 19 docking points, as any less tends to lead to difficulty rebalancing (full/empty stations) 

I did point out that:

  • several stations in the area were under the stated 19 docking point limit, in particular the bikeshare station that was across the street from the Runnymede subway station.
  • removing 8 slots would put the station at 17 slots, which was still more than several other stations in the area.

For several months, it looked like nothing would be done. In the interim, I also sent a note to the principal of Runnymede PS about this issue, and he responded that this was something that he had also flagged.

However, today several of my neighbours sent me emails that the city was in fact shortening the station as requested.

and here is a picture of how the restored gap improves pedestrian flow.

Thanks to Bike Share for responding to local concerns. Perhaps a small matter for them, but I believe that tweak will benefit people in the area.

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Today, Janet Joy Wilson organized a ride for our friends east of the Don River to highlight some of the bike infrastructure in our area. This was in partial response to a ride that she and a few other people from Ward 4 did in August where they were taken on a tour of the North Scarborough Green Loop. We gathered at the north gate of High Park.

The route was described as follows: Bloor to Runnymede, then north to the end, and west to the Scarlett Rd bike lanes. Then north to Eglinton, and back south on the Humber river trail. From Etienne Brulé Park, up past Old Mill to Bloor and then east to the six points area (Kipling).

I can’t resist posting a photo of this fellow who happened on our group and said he would ride along for a while. Beautiful 80’s vintage bonded aluminum frame.

Here we go.

Along Bloor. These bollards were installed within the last two or three weeks.

Rounding the corner at Runnymede. Note that the green paint that we are riding on is often blocked by cars just getting a quick coffee at McDonalds. We could use some protection here.

At the north end of Runnymede, we turn west on Henrietta.

We pause on Eileen Ave just short of Scarlett Rd, and I give some background on the Scarlett Rd bike lane which was installed last year. Although it is a massive improvement, it is disappointing that it does not extend as far south as St. Clair Ave. The underpass that connects Scarlett to Dundas St W is also due to be widened and bike lanes put under the railway, but it is not clear how they will be connected north.

photo: JJ Wilson

Zooming down the hill on Scarlett Rd. Note the very wide painted buffer.

This section is due to have painted concrete barriers installed soon.

The bike lane ends short of Edenbridge Rd, and we take the lane as a group to arrive at Eglinton.

At Eglinton we talk about how the multi use trail extends fairly far to the west into Mississauga. To the east, it will eventually extend the length of the Eglinton LRT. To the north, the Humber river trail continues. However, despite it being a very popular biking route, and part of the PanAm path, there is little signage indicating the route to the north, and furthermore you have to ride along the sidewalk for a stretch before the path becomes a proper separate multi use trail.

Now back south on the Humber River trail.

We regroup just short of the pedestrian bridge across the Humber.

Walking our bike across the bridge.

Up the hill to Old Dundas St.

Another regroup on the Humber River trail.

Pausing at Etienne Brulé Park.

David tells how Councillor Mark Grimes opposes almost all bike infrastructure in his ward. Additionally, the Kingsway BIA is also dead set against bike lanes.

Up the hill from the Old Mill towards Bloor St.

On the Kingsway. Road width and funds that went towards the flowered median could have been used for bike lanes, but this is Etobicoke.

The new bike lanes just past the underpass west of Islington.

We pause again at Resurrection to talk about the Six Points redevelopment. The city required bike lanes to be integrated into the redesigned intersection. The bike lanes are not complete yet. Rob Z has a nice write up about Six Points on his bike blog.

We have to cross to the south side to access part of the bike lanes that ring the intersection. This is close to one of the stopping points for the 2015 edition of the Reading Line “Books on Bloor” where we were advocating for a westward extension of the Bloor bike lanes.

Group picture at Six Points.

Riding back towards Bloor, you can see that the bike lanes that will ring the intersection are quite nice.

Riding back towards Ward 4 on Bloor. With all the improvements at Kipling, and further development at Islington, the hope would be to eventually be able to extend the Bloor bike lanes all the way between Bloor West Village and Kipling.

Here is where we rode. A total of about 22 km.

Thanks to everyone who joined us today. Thanks also to Janet Joy Wilson for organizing the event, and to David for giving us some perspective from the South Etobicoke Cycling Committee.

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Parkdale High Park Bikes organized a ride to examine the state of the Bloor bike lanes as of today. Since the idea was to go as far east as Lansdowne, we contacted the offices of both Councillors Perks and Bailao. Since we were joined by Nicholas from Bailao’s office, we decided to expand the scope of our ride to cover a little more of Ward 9, and some areas that were close to the boundary between the two wards. Here we are at Runnymede subway station.

We start at the north west corner of Bloor and Runnymede, which is the western end of the Bloor bike lanes. There is a large cross hatched area here. It is not clear what the function of these areas, other than to provide traffic calming. As we will see further down on this post, some of them have been used to install bikeshare stations. In the original design renderings, some of them might have been designated as loading zones.

Off we go, headed east.

Our first stop is just east on Glendonwynne, across from the Runnymede Library. In this section, the eastbound bike lane swerves in and out of what was originally parking inset into the sidewalk, with the parking moved outwards towards the traffic lane. Although the objective of having parking spaces as a buffer between the bike lane and car traffic is laudable, one concern with this design is that the bike lane is not straight, and in particular it crosses a concrete strip that was originally designed to provide a drainage channel. One can foresee snow or black ice forming in this channels, making the swerve in and out very dangerous.

Another concern is the fact that exiting this chicane like feature, you must avoid a concrete bump out.

The last set of parking spaces at the bottom of the hill are very short, and so I was glad to see that the city elected to have the bike lane go straight past them. This does raise the issue that this is an inconsistency in design, but the original design was certainly not ideal from a safety standpoint.

Climbing up the hill towards High Park, the cars are mostly parked correctly, although some of them intrude into the buffer. This will be addressed once curbs are installed.

Here is the intersection of High Park and Bloor. This is perhaps the busiest intersection feeding High Park. The green left turn boxes are a new feature. However, the box in the foreground is problematic as it requires cyclists to stand potentially in the path of eastbound car traffic.

The box on the south east corner is smaller and does not have this issue.

Given the desirable goal of separating pedestrian and cyclist traffic, this site would seem to be an ideal place for a fully protected intersection.

Heading further east, this section of bollards must have been installed very recently.

Here is the intersection with Parkside. As was previously noted, the design was changed so that the bike lane hugs the curb, and the right turn lane for cars is separated from the bike lane by curbs and bollards.

The new design seems to work well, although it is puzzling that there is a gap in the bollards just short of the intersection. Perhaps this is an oversight; the original design had the bike lane crossing the right turn lane, and this resulted in a gap in the curbs with bollards.

There is paint in place as far east as Indian Rd.

Across the street, there is one of those wide cross hatched areas that has been used for a bikeshare station.

Past Indian Rd, and all the way to Dundas, there are not even paint markings. This is a bit of a puzzle since this section is supposed to be part of Phase 2.

Here is the intersection of Bloor and Dundas St W. I don’t recall any special treatments planned here, even though this is the intersection there there have been the most injuries to pedestrians and cyclists in the entire survey area.

We were joined by lots of pigeons who demonstrated their ability to fly over the intersection, thereby avoiding traffic.

Headed east again, under the first bridge. The section between Dundas and Symington will be the last to be installed due to road construction.

A brief stop at Symington. Nicholas welcomes us to Ward 9. Between here and Lansdowne, the original plan had no parking, and the roadway was a straight shot. Parking was added as a traffic calming measure.

Grateful for the wide buffer under this bridge. The original design specified bollards and curbs here, but the hope is that there is enough space to place concrete jersey barriers such as the ones along Lakeshore in the vicinity of Royal York, or the ones recently installed along Adelaide.

The section of Bloor between Lansdowne and Dufferin appears to have all of the protection installed. However, it is puzzling that the bollards on the south side don’t start until well past the intersection.

Here is one of several CafeTO spaces on the south side. Nicholas explained that local councillors played a key role in setting up things like the CafeTO spaces since it required careful coordination between different departments at City Hall. The CafeTO spaces will be in place until November 15, or they might be removed earlier if there is a significant snow fall.

This bikeshare station at Brock is new.

Headed back west towards Lansdowne.

Now headed down Lansdowne.

We decided to divert over to Brock to take a look at the intersection of Brock and Florence.

The main issue at this intersection is that the wall on the southeast corner creates a visual barrier for both cyclists and cars. In particular if you are northbound on Brock, it is hard to see cars coming west on Florence.

Perhaps a mirror on the pole on the northeast corner would help.

Now we turn west on Seaforth from Brock.

Seaforth would be a great connector between Brock and Landowne, if it weren’t for the inconvenient fact that it is one way for two blocks, and that the direction of traffic reverses at this point. Otherwise, you have to use Queen to get from Lansdowne to Brock.

Seaforth does not have enough width to implement a contraflow lane, but perhaps there could be a solution that could be copied from what was done on a section of Argyle, where there are markings indicating that bi directional bike traffic was allowed on a section of one way street.

Now we approach Lansdowne on Seaforth, and we will cross over to the intersection with Macdonell.

Macdonell is one way southbound. Once again, this forces bike traffic down to Queen. If contraflow bike traffic was allowed north for two blocks to Galley, that would provide a safe connection to Sorauren and Roncesvalles.

The last point of interest in our ride was the College/Dundas St W intersection. This is an intersection that is due for major upgrades this fall.

This includes a new traffic light and pedestrian crossing of Dundas at College, the closing of a short section of St. Helens Ave, and redirection of car traffic on St. Helens and College St N.

Nicholas said that construction is slated for October. This will be a long project since the streetcar tracks are also going to be replaced and realigned.

One last group picture. Thanks to everyone who joined us for the ride, and to Nicholas from Councillor Bailao’s office for riding along and giving us some Ward 9 updates. A report from PHP Bikes will be prepared and passed along to the councillors.


Afterwards I had some shopping to do downtown, and I thought that I would also drop by the Cycle Toronto stand that was set up at Yonge and Queen’s Quay to pick up my Ride for Safe Streets bandana.

Just at that time, a guy on a really nice bike was stopped on the bike path, and I chatted with him a bit. A Cherubim gravel bike. I immediately recognized the paint job, as it was the same as a bike that Blacksmith Cycles showed at the bike show a while back. Looking back, it might have even been the same bike without fenders and with different wheels.

This is perhaps the first gravel bike by this builder. Tire clearances were opened up, and the builder used a carbon fork and flared headtube.

Very nice, but I already have my own very nice gravel bike 😉

Update: here are some of Nicholas’ pictures.

Bloor and Runnymede
High Park
bollards on Bloor @ Lansdowne
McGregor Playground
At Brock and Florence
Mom and kid waiting to cross College at Dundas St W.

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The Ward 4 advocacy group of CycleTO has been asking for safety enhancements at the intersection of Ellis and Lakeshore for many years. For example, here is a report from back in 2014. Number one on our list was to eliminate the slip lane on the northwest corner which traps pedestrians and cyclists on a tiny triangular island.

I rode down to the lakefront this afternoon, and I couldn’t believe my eyes: the slip lane has finally been blocked!

This creates a large, safe space for pedestrians. It also separates the pedestrians from southbound cyclists. Note also that bike lanes under the bridge were put in at the same time.

Here is what the northbound bike lane looks like.

One hopes the the slip lane will eventually be replaced by something more permanent, like a sidewalk extension that incorporates the triangular island. In the meantime, I want to acknowledge former Councillor Sarah Doucette who got the slip lane removal through community council many years ago, and Councillor Gord Perks who actually got the slip lane blocked at the same time that the bike lanes were put in.

Incremental progress……

Update: I guess it was too early to declare even a small victory. Here it is the next morninbg. Someone moved one of the jersey barriers to restore the slip lane at Ellis and Lakeshore. Please anchor these down! (already called into 311)

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