Bike Posts Removed for Billboards

As if the indignity of having enormous billboards posturing as “information” signs blocking sidewalks and distracting drivers wasn’t enough, in some cases installing these ugly and useless ads meant the removal of bicycle parking.

The above “infotogo” pillar installed by Astral Media as part of their street furniture contract with the City required the removal of two or more post and ring bike racks. Located at the southeast corner of College Street and Manning, these racks were constantly in use and may even have been in use at the time of their removal.

The racks were simply sawed off at the bottom and in this case locked to another post and ring nearby:

Minutes after posting these images to Twitter, I was contacted by Councillor Mike Layton’s office. The good news is that these horrible advertising pillars and their disrespectful placement and displacement of sidewalk space and bicycle parking are being scrutinized by City staff. Several have already been ordered removed and hopefully we’ll soon see that list grow.

Val Dodge has a similar story about a new “info” pillar on the Danforth in front of the Carrot Commons.

Update: This one f-ugly and useless pillar required the removal of 5 post and rings racks…. FIVE! Thanks Bike Lane Diary


  1. The response I received from a Toronto bylaw officer:

    I’m writing in response to the attached e-mail regarding the new info pillar located on the south side of College St, east of Manning Ave.

    Transportation Services’ Division led an initiative to develop criteria and guidelines for improving the design and placement of the various street furniture elements to be installed & maintained by Astral Out-of-Home under the City of Toronto’s Coordinated Street Furniture Program. This process eventually resulted in the creation of the Vibrant Streets document which City Council adopted as the placement guidelines for our program.

    Given your concerns about vision in the vicinity of the info pillar, I conducted a review of the existing site in order to determine whether or not it meets our placement guidelines. This study determined that the info pillar was installed approx. 11m east of the east curb of Manning Ave and 0.6m south of the curb on College St which satisfies our guidelines. The info pillar is also located approx. 9m west of the on street parking area on the south side of College St, east of Manning Ave, and provides parked motorists with ample visibility of oncoming cyclists within the adjacent 1.5m wide bike lane.

    With respect to the redesign of the info pillars, I advise that the new pillar has a more compact overall footprint as the unit is smaller in length, height and width as compared to the original pillars to be installed under our program (see attached drawing). The information portion of these pillars will soon be receiving custom maps and local tourist information once it’s been developed by the City & Astral. As noted in your e-mail, a non-ad version of this pillar will form the basis of the City’s way-finding strategy for addressing needs of tourists and local communities.

    For your information, the City’s contractual agreement with Astral calls for the installation and maintenance of 26,000 street furniture elements (i.e. litter bins, benches, etc…) over the 20 year term of the agreement, including 120 info pillars located within the public right-of-way. While I can appreciate your concerns about advertising within the public realm, this program is a public-private partnership wherein Astral manufactures, owns, cleans & repairs all of the street furniture within the City of Toronto, at no cost to the taxpayer, in exchange for managing the advertising rights on the shelters and info pillars. In addition, the City gets a share of the advertising revenue which is subsequently used to fund various programs, such as tree planting, sidewalk construction, & other boulevard improvements.

    I should also note that Astral’s advertising will be primarily confined to the transit shelters and that the ad space available within the planned 120 info pillars only represents 3% of the total advertising space allowed under the City’s contract with Astral.

    The 4 bike rings that were removed at this site will eventually be reinstalled by the City further east of the info pillar in order to reestablish the bike parking in this neighbourhood.

    Given the above, I’m not in a position to recommend removal of the info pillar on the south side of College St, east of Manning Ave.

  2. We need to have a conversation about selling the vision-scape of our neighbourhoods. Perhaps an equal number of community Pillars – for civil-society notices – the production of which to be paid for out of the revenues from the for-profit Pillars.

    The net gain would be a better City – rather than revenue and a further diminishing of the separation between the Corporation and the State – key to a continuing democracy.

    This vision is quite different to the neo-liberal philosophy that commodifies absolutely everything – and in my opinion, this kind of re-thinking is something we need to consider in everything we do as a city these days.

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