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Archive for the ‘Ward 4’ Category

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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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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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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