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Archive for the ‘Ward 4’ Category

There has been some chatter about a particularly stupid piece of bike intrastructure that was recently installed on the south side of Bloor in Bloor West Village, at the intersection of Bloor and Ellis Park. If you are eastbound in the Bloor bike lanes from Glendonwynne, there is a downhill section. In this section, the bike lane zigs into some existing lay-bys so that the parked cars are on the left side of the cyclist.

The problem arises near the bottom of the hill where bikes have reached a very high speed. Here is the approach to Ellis Park Rd. There are some new curbs with bollards on the south west corner.

The problem arises on the south east corner. Here you might have expected a rubber curb placed to encourage cars not to cut the corner (as shown by the red line).

This would be analogous to several such curbs placed much further east on the bike lane, such as this one at Rusholme.

Instead, the city chose to install a curb flanking the bike lane.

This is a clear hazard for cyclists that is difficult to see. You can see from this picture that it doesn’t do anything to prevent drivers from clipping the bike lane.

and as reported here, sadly its sudden appearance resulted in a crash and severe injury to Eli, an extremely experienced cyclist and much beloved bicycle mechanic at Curbside Cycles.

The go fund me page to support Eli is here.

This curb needs to be removed as soon as possible. As pointed out by many people on the thread in the twitter link above, it will be even more problematic if it is covered by snow.

It does make one wonder if the people who design bike and pedestrian infrastructure actually scout out the locations where the infra is meant to be installed.

October 18 update:

A bollard has been installed to mark the position of the rubber bumper. While this is a marginal improvement, the bumper would still be a hazard if covered by snow. The bollard could have been placed at the front of the bumper, but then the bumper would be pointless.

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Siri Agrell is running against Gord Perks (and others) to be the next councillor for Ward 4. This evening, Rob Zaichkowski of TCBC organized an audit ride with Siri and a few others to take a look at some of the problem areas for bike infrastructure in and around the Roncesvalles section of the ward. Here we are, gathered at the Parkdale Library on Queen St. Left to right: Rob, Faraz from Safe Parkside, Ingrid also from TCBC, and Siri.

We rode up Brock and then along Seaforth, with a discussion about how this route should connect to Lansdowne and beyond. Here we are at Seaforth and McDonnell, where we had a discussion about how there is no way to get further west without riding against traffic, or going down to Queen. Regarding Queen St, Siri suggested extending the King Street bike lanes further west as an alternative, as long as proper north south connectors were in place. She definitely was very familiar with all the ways to get from Roncy to downtown by bike.

From this point we walked our bikes north on McDonnell until we reached Galley. Riding west on Galley, it was noted that there was no 4 way stop at Sorauren. Riding further, we cross Roncesvalles and onward to Parkside.

Here at Claude Ave and the Queensway, we talk about how disappointing it was that the bike lanes on Queensway will not extend all the way east from this point to the Roncy/Queen/King intersection.

From this point, I didn’t know about this short connector to Parkside.

Aaah, Parkside. So many safety issues here. The intersection at Lakeshore is a mess of spaghetti that routes cars through quickly, leaving a very unfriendly environment for both pedestrians and cyclists.

A quick ride along the MGT and then we get a live demonstration of how you have to stand at the position of the pink bike or else the bike signal northbound at Ellis is not triggered.

Done with the hill up Ellis, here we are on Kennedy.

At Bloor and Windermere.

photo by Rob Z.

Riding east on Bloor from Windermere, just as a reminder that the bike lanes end at Runnymede.

We pause at High Park to talk about several issues that have come up with cycling, etc. Siri reveals that she has actually read the covenant that governs the park (forbidding the sale of alcohol, for instance). She would be in support of having early morning hours for faster cyclists as an initial trial. However, she emphasized that the park is a place for all users, and she will be interested in seeing the outcome of the city survey. She made the good point that the city shouldn’t think about a solution for High Park movement in isolation; for example any solution would also have to take into account the concerns of Safe Parkside. She says that she is a systems person, and that one has to look at how different things have to all work together.

Now we stop at Dundas and Bloor, and Siri talks about how the giraffe building has taken ages to develop since an initial proposal was blocked by Perks, but a decade later a proposal goes though without any more affordable housing than what was originally proposed.

Riding down Roncy. Siri had informed us earlier that starting this week, the raised platforms are going to get ripped out and redone because they aren’t at the proper height for the new streetcars.

We paused at a patio for a light dinner and a wide ranging discussion. I asked about the concern that some have about not re-electing Perks since he is one of the last remaining left wing members of city council. Siri countered by asking how effective Perks has been in being strongly opposed to most of what the mayor has been doing. She argues that she would be a left-leaning councillor who would also have the ear of the mayor. I was impressed by her depth of knowledge about how city hall works, and I liked what she said about how silos need to be broken down, and processes and budgets better coordinated across departments in order to get things done. She also is extremely well informed on what is going on in the ward.

Thanks to Siri for spending time with us this evening over Labour Day weekend, to Rob for putting this group together, and to Ingrid and Faraz for joining in on the discussion. Nice to talk about these issues in person, and to spend time with more or less like minded people.

Clearly we all want the city to be a better place as it tries to meet the many future challenges coming our way.

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Headed home after a long day at the office. The neon riders were out, hanging out at something having to do with chocolate. I wished a few of them well but rode on.

Saw people leaving Ontario Place. Sounded like the Dave Matthews Band was still going strong.

Some prom action at Palais Royale.

The reason that I was riding home along the lakefront was that I got an email from Gord Perks’ office saying that the Ellis slip lane was closed again on June 18. Sure enough it was. I had noted that it was unblocked on June 9.

This time they lined up the two jersey barriers in a row. We’ll see how long it lasts.

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The plan was to go for a longer ride, but it was cut short by a sudden downpour. Not as bad as the last time I was caught out in a storm, which was the big one on May 21. I’m noticing a 100% correlation with wearing a synthetic jersey, so maybe I should stick to wool, even when it’s warm.

On the way, I noticed that someone had moved the jersey barriers that were blocked the slip lane on the north west corner of Ellis and Lakeshore. We fought for years to have it closed off so that pedestrians and cyclists had more space to wait for the light to change. I’d like the city to make a more permanent closure, as was promised to us over ten years ago.

On the way back from Mimico, I visited the John Offutt ghost bike, which was reported to be in rough shape. I tried to prop it up as well as possible. You can see how the frame has been totally bent back due to a car hitting it some time ago.

When ARC replaces it, I think it should be chained to the large wooden pole just next to the present location.

It’s a good time to also note that there is a city consultation on the “Mimico Neighbourhood Mobility Plan” on June 14. The stated aims are:

The Mimico Neighbourhood Mobility Plan (NMP) will identify, prioritize and recommend short and long-term improvements to traffic operations and road design to support road safety for all modes of transportation including vulnerable road users (e.g. seniors, school children, people walking and cycling) in the Mimico study area.

The following areas of concern will be addressed:

  • traffic fatalities
  • cut-through traffic and excessive vehicular volume on local roads
  • excessive speeding on local roads
  • non-compliance with traffic regulations and signage
  • road and intersection designs that raise safety concerns

Mimico definitely needs more than just bike lanes on Royal York, Lakeshore and Birmingham.

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This group met in response to an alert about an upcoming discussion of active transportion options around High Park that will come before the Infrastructure and Environment Committee next week. The city posted an interim report on May 11. Interestingly enough, although the title of the report is “Interim Report for the High Park Movement Strategy”, the only detailed proposals that were put forward had to do with different roadway configurations to improve safety along Parkside Drive.

There are nine options being put forward. They are discussed in detail in a blog post by Rob Z. I won’t repeat his discussion here other than to note that our group also strongly supports his conclusions that options #6 and #9 were the only viable ones that also included protected bike lanes, and that there was a further preference for option #6 since option #9 included a bidirectional bike lane on the wide side of the street.

The interim report was also fairly light on plans about transportation within High Park itself. I recall a proposal for closing off the main loop to cars permanently, and allowing limited motor vehicle access between the High Park Blvd entrance and the Grenadier parking lot, but this didn’t appear in the report. There was also some discussion about simply removing car traffic from the park and providing access during the summer with bus service from High Park station.

There was a brief update on the Humber Trail Gap closure meeting that was held this past Tuesday.

There was a reminder that Lakeshore West will be closed to cars this coming Monday (Victoria Day) as part of ActiveTO.

Finally, we will be sending a letter to Gord Perks’ office to get an update on some of the bike infrastructure improvements promised for the ward, including some intersection improvements at Jane and Annette, some configuration changes on Seaforth to make thru access between Brock and Lansdowne, and an update on the status of the construction blockages on Bloor under the two bridges between Lansdowne and Dundas West. Once we get those updates, we can have another audit ride to look things over.

Finally, it was noted that longtime bike advocates (and former leaders of the Ward14 group) Rob and Helen will be moving out of the ward at the end of this month. Fortunately they are not going far, and we wish them well.

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Today was a march down Parkside Drive to protest the unsafe conditions along this stretch for all road users. High speed caused the tragic crash two weeks ago that took the lives of the Avilas.

Getting ready to march at Bloor and Parkside.

The “slow down” signs don’t seem to do much, but a whole crowd walking down the drive does.

Ironically, biking a bit ahead of the crowd, this is the first time I feel safe biking down Parkside.

At Howard Park. The bike brigade was assisting at side intersections.

Dave

and David (read his blog post about the lack of safety on Parkside)

and Janet Joy.

Closing off the intersection at Spring St.

A moment of silence to pay our respects to the Avila Family.

One of the organizers, Genevieve, thanks us for coming, and asks us to safely move out of the intersection. There is also a petition being circulated, along with a online survey on road safety that will be launched fairly soon.

One hopes that these events show the community’s engagement on the issue of slowing down traffic on Parkside to make is safer for all users: pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike.

Global TV coverage.

CBC Coverage

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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:

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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