“Jarvis lanes tell the story of a city that pretends to be committed to the bicycle” Hume

Taking over Jarvis

Via Toronto Star:

Hume: Cycling in Toronto is a joke
July 29, 2010 18:07:00
Christopher Hume
Star Columnist

Toronto’s bicycle policy is no policy at all; it’s a series of half-measures that add up to little.

The latest example, the much loathed bike lanes on Jarvis St., finally came to pass this week after years of rancorous debate. The new lanes begin at Charles St. in the north and end, as abruptly as they begin, on Queen St. to the south.

In other words, the new lanes are all but useless to anyone who happens to be travelling anywhere above or below that particular stretch of Jarvis. The new lanes do connect with others that run along Wellesley, Carlton and Gerrard; the failure, of course, is that they don’t connect with either Bloor St. or the waterfront.

Yet in their way, the Jarvis lanes tell the story of a city that pretends to be committed to the bicycle as an alternative means of urban transportation, but is anything but.

Instead, city officials have responded with rhetoric about the War on the Car. If only.

Rather than build a cycling network that would enable riders to reach all parts of the city, we have a hodge-podge of rules, regulations and lanes that probably make a bad situation worse.

Read the full article here.

Photo via BikingToronto’s Flickr Pool

Bike Sharing: “A project that trusts people before it distrusts them”

Screen shot 2010-07-30 at 8.32.45 AM

A look at London’s Barclays Cycle Hire:

Via The Guardian

London Launches Bicycle Sharing Program with Bicycles Built in Canada

Screen shot 2010-07-30 at 8.16.41 AM

Via The Guardian, “In Montreal’s Tracks”:

“Bixi bikes are for short hops, not days out.” This was the advice I was given about Montreal‘s hugely popular bike share scheme on my first day in the city. It came from André Giroux, who was clearly keen to make the distinction between this new scheme and his own 16-year-old cycle hire shop, Ça Roule. “Tourists get confused,” he sighed. “They try to take the Bixis on the out-of-town routes for hours on end, then wonder why they get hit by a huge bill.”

Today, those same Montreal-designed public bikes are rolling around London and with them come the same misunderstandings. Some of the UK press is up in arms about £50 charges for 24 hours’ use, but, as Montrealers know, no one is supposed to hang on to one bike for this long. The key to affordable usage is to dock the bike for five minutes between each “free” 30-minute session and – bingo – no extra charges. The daily charge in Montreal is $78 (Canadian dollars), about £50.

With their heavy frames and three-gear system, the bikes should have “short hop” written all over them. Are Londoners already struggling to see beyond the heavy-handed Barclays branding?

Read the full article here.

Toronto’s bike share program, also using Canadian-built Bixi bikes, needs your support now. Subscribe early and help bring more bikes to Toronto’s streets. Subscribe here: Bixi Toronto

Photo via The Guardian

Charlie’s FreeWheels: What it’s all About

Screen Shot Charles Princep

More on Charlie’s FreeWheels here.

Via BikeLaneDiary

Cargo Bikes; Big in New York (and Toronto too!)

Screen Shot NY Times Video Cargo Bikes

Screen shot NT Times Video Cargo Bikes

Screen Shot Cargo Trike NY Times Video

Watch the New York Times video “The Family Car(go) Bike” here.

BikingToronto blogger Claire is no stranger to the benefits of carting her family around in a bicycle built for four. Read her blog, The Fletcher Five here.

Someone at Amsterdam Brewery Sure Loves Bikes

Maybe you’ve enjoyed the Big Wheel Deluxe Amber from Amsterdam Brewery, but did you know they also make another bicycle-themed beer?

Via Greg Clow’s review on Taste T.O.:

amsterdam boneshaker Greg Clow photo from Tasteto.com

Boneshaker is labelled an “Unfiltered India Pale Ale”, and this is proven to be true by the pour, which brings a hazy reddish-orange body with a thick and persistent head of not-quite-white foam. The aroma has a hard time cutting through the head, but what does make it through is pleasant and fruity, with nice hints of pineapple and grapefruit, and not even a hint of nail polish remover. The body is medium full, and the flavour is chock full of hoppy goodness, with loads of citrus and tropical fruit, a bit of pine, and a long finish of grapefruit and orange zest. The malt definitely plays second fiddle, but offers enough caramel sweetness to be noticed.

Boneshaker IPA is available now in 500 ml bottles at the Amsterdam retail store, and on draught at select bars around town. In either format, it’s worth having a full one – just act fast, as it’s a limited release and won’t be around for long.

Read the full article here, photo via Taste T.O.

Covet: Everyday Eco Items by The Straight Stitch

Groovy Hearts Enviro Wrap by The Straight Stitch http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheStraightStitch

Groovy Hearts Enviro WrapGroovy Hearts Enviro Wrap

Pack your lunch in reusable sandwich wraps and bags and ditch the single-use plastic products!

Pictured above is an Enviro Wrap by The Straight Stitch a colourful way to give up on baggies and securely carry your lunch to work. The creator, Stefanie from Mississauga, is a bicycle enthusiast and her enviro bags would be a great addition to your pannier.

Also available are cutlery wraps and velcro-sealed lunch bags:

OOAK Robots Cutlery Wrap with NapkinOOAK Vines Enviro Lunch Set

Get The Straight Stitch eco items on Etsy
Follow The Straight Stitch on Twitter.
Find The Straight Stitch on Facebook.

Handling Street Car Tracks and Difficult Intersections With “Indirect Left Turns”

Indirect Left Turn Sign on Bloor at Sherbourne

What is an indirect left turn and how can it help you navigate streetcar tracks and other awkward intersections?

Making a left turn through a busy intersection can be a very tense situation for many cyclists. You’re worried about getting hit from behind, you’re trying to watch for oncoming vehicles, you’re watching the sidewalk for pedestrians, you’re hoping to cross streetcar tracks at a 90 degree angle and you can’t be sure everyone around you actually sees you waiting in the middle of all this.

To help make left turns a less stressful experience, the indirect left turn allows cyclists to proceed through an intersection on a green light in the curb lane (or bike lane should one be there) and join the curb lane of the cross street to wait for the next green light. This eliminates the hazards of waiting in the left most lane and allows cyclists to remain in the right most lane completing a left turn in a two part process.

In Toronto, there are 2 intersections where indirect left turns are suggested through existing infrastructure.

Heading West on Bloor Street in the bike lane extending from the Prince Edward Viaduct, an indirect left turn allows cyclists to turn from Bloor and head south on Sherbourne. Here’s an explanation from a 1997 issue of Cyclometer:

As you cycle west on Bloor St. towards Sherbourne St. there are two blue signs with a pictogram describing an ‘indirect left turn’ for westbound cyclists wanting to turn left onto Sherbourne. Cyclists can ride straight through on the westbound green and stop at the far curb in the white painted ‘box’ to wait for the southbound green light. To ensure that waiting cyclists aren’t in conflict with right turning drivers, the southbound ‘right turn on green’ has been prohibited. Also the crosswalk was moved north just enough so that cyclists don’t have to block the crosswalk while waiting for the southbound green. The ‘box’ is large enough to accommodate 2 or 3 cyclists at a time.

The bike lane and sign still exist (although the sign is hung exceptionally high for cyclists):

Bloor Street Bike Lane Sherbourne indirect left turn

Unfortunately, the past 13 years have not been kind to the “box”:

Box location for indirect left turn Sherbourne

Early Bike Box location Sherbourne

The second location where an indirect left turn is suggested for cyclists is at the awkward intersection of Dupont, Dundas Street West and Annette.

In order to get to the bike lane on Annette from the bike lane on Dupont, simply follow the sharrows. While I did not notice a sign explaining the turn at this intersection, the sharrows quite clearly illustrate a path for cyclists:

Sharrows for indirect left turn at Dupont Dundas Street West

Sharrows connect Old Weston Road to Annette bike lane

The indirect left turn is also popular with motorists at this intersection as I witnessed 4 drivers make a similar move on the underused Old Weston Road to avoid waiting in the left turn lane.

Indirect left turns are a great way to help people on bikes build confidence on busier roads where turning left can be both nerve-wracking and dangerous. In fact, the Toronto Cyclists Handbook even recommends this strategy, calling it a “two-part left-turn from right of lane”:

I’ve used this turning method at intersections with streetcar tracks and multiple traffic lanes and you’re bound to witness it at many intersections along Spadina. However, is it legal to make this type of turn?

I contacted Sgt. Tim Burrows of Traffic Services and here’s what he had to offer on the subject:

Why I like the indirect left turn.

1.) Avoid potential conflict by trying to cut through traffic to move into
proper turn position. (safer)
2.) Most drivers expect to see bicycles on right side of road adding to the
‘predictability factor,’ (safer)
3.) Riders can always keep eyes forward, with glances to left/right for
safety instead of turning back to get a ‘big picture.’ (safer)
4.) Faster (better for cyclist)

Intersections are one of the most dangerous areas for all our road users
and especially so for our vulnerable groups such as cyclists.  Anytime we
can find safer means for them to travel…its better for all of us.

The Sherbourne site has one draw back. The sign shows a painted stop line,
but there isn’t one.  Maybe this is a given, but I wouldn’t want cyclists
to think they are supposed to drive into the pedestrian walk way, nor have
officers ticketing a cyclist for riding too close to the crosswalk.

As long as you stay out of the crosswalk indirect left turns are a perfectly acceptable and possibly even faster way to make a left turn on a bicycle at busier intersections.

While I’m uncertain if there are plans to add indirect left turn infrastructure in the current Bike Plan, Toronto may soon see something similar in the form of “Bike Boxes.”

Over at Giddy Up Toronto, a blogger has suggested that we use indirect left turn boxes instead of the proposed bike boxes. The planned bike boxes would allow cyclists to move to the head of the line at red lights and position themselves for a left turn from the centre-most lane. While this clearly marks a space where cyclists will be turning it doesn’t address the issue that you’re still in a position that makes it difficult to cross streetcar tracks at a 90 degree angle. Both our planned bike boxes and indirect left turn boxes work best when right turns are prohibited on red lights, but only the indirect left turn box positions cyclists to safely cross streetcar tracks.

The most important aspect when considering any piece of infrastructure, and this is something that Sgt. Burrows also mentions, is that we create an environment that promotes predictable behaviour. Intersections, especially busy ones with streetcar right-of-ways and multiple lanes (including bike lanes) provide the greatest opportunity for serious collisions. Clearly marking paths for all users helps to promote predictable behaviours and can keep all road users “on the same page” reducing the possibility of confusion and ultimately collisions.

Update November 12, 2010: A sign explaining indirect left turns has been posted at the Dupont/Dundas/Annette intersection. Although to make this sort of turn here as indicated means you’re now blocking the bike lane. Here’s the sign as photographed by Martinho:

P1010685

Green P Pedal ‘N Park Locations Throughout Toronto

Earlier, I told you of my recent discovery of sheltered, well-lit bicycle parking in a Green P lot in Yorkville.

Yes, the Toronto Parking Authority is in fact also providing parking for bicycles.

Even better, there is absolutely no cost for using these spots. Simply lock and go.

I contacted the TPA and they’ve provided a list of all Green P lots that currently have bicycle parking. Click on the lot name for maps and more information from the Green P site:

Carpark 1 (20 Charles St.)
8 stands (16 spaces) at the West and NE part of the Garage

Carpark 5 (15 Wellesley St. E.)
2 stands (4 spaces) at the NW Walkway

Carpark 15 (37 Yorkville Ave.)
6 rings (12 spaces)  at the  west wall

Carpark 26 (37 Queen St. E.)
1 stand (2 spaces) adjacent to the NW elevators

Carpark 51 (365 Lippincott St.)
2 stands (4 spaces) near the SW corner of the parking lot

Carpark 52 (40 York St.)
1 rack (7 spaces) outside York St. entrance

Carpark 58 (9 Bedford Rd.)
2 stands (4 spaces) near the TTC generators, West edge of the carpark on Bedford Rd.

Carpark 68 (20 St. Andrew St.)
2 racks (14 spaces) outside southern entrance on St. Andrew St. –  7 stands (14 spaces) southern corner

Anonymous Sign Maker Points to Benefits of Bike Lanes on Jarvis

Thank You Cyclists photo by HiMYSYeD

Thank-you Cyclists for paying more for these roads than you get in services. Roads are paid for by property tax (and rental fees) most cyclists live in Toronto and pay this tax. Many drivers do not and get a free ride.

Thank you cyclists 2 photo by HiMYSYeD

Thank you cyclists for choosing a life-enhancing, noise- and heat-free form of transportation.

2% photo by HiMYSYeD

Cyclist get bike lanes on only 2% of the roads they pay for. Roads are paid for by property tax (and rental fees) most cyclists live in Toronto and pay this tax. Many drivers do not and get a free ride.

Photos via HiMYSYeD