Congratulations, Toronto For Supporting Bixi; 1,000 Subscriber Goal Reached!

Toronto Bixi

Last night, October 18, 2010, Bixi Toronto held a party for the existing 884 subscribers.

According to ibikeTO.ca the party was a success and coincided with the announcement that the 1,000 early subscribers goal set by Toronto City Council was reached (and surpassed)!

However, Bixi Toronto is not a sure thing just yet. The good news is that you can help. In addition to 1,000 early subscribers the bike share system also needs to secure $600,000 in sponsorship. Of that total, ING Direct has contributed $450,000. The remaining money can come from both additional sponsors and from subscribers beyond the 1,000 mark.

If you haven’t subscribed to Bixi Toronto yet you can do so here: http://toronto.bixi.com/

If your company would like to become a sponsor, information can be found here: Corporate Memberships and How to Sponsor Bixi Toronto

Patch stencil artwork by Janet Bike Girl

Scenes from Toronto’s Group Commute – May 31, 2010

Bike to Work TorontoWhile I no longer bike to work, (I actually roll and then step to work in my home office) I still wanted free breakfast pancakes and chose to join the hundreds of Torontonians in the Bike Month Group Commute.

A whole lot of cyclists on the same route sure slows things down, but unlike when this happens with cars (every day), you can chit chat with your neighbour, sing a song or two and simply enjoy the fresh morning air.

Every day should be bike to work day for you. If it isn’t, ask yourself why? What is keeping you from biking to work? Is it because you feel you live too far? Is it because you don’t want to get sweaty? Is it because you don’t have a bike?

Remember, there are no good REASONS for not cycling to work, there are only EXCUSES.

Police Escort

Taking the Lane on Bloor Street

Join the Group

Into the Light

Congestion

The Meet Up

Cyclops in the Morning Light

Cyclops Dance

Political Will

Ontario Transportation Minister

Bike Union Mobile Service Station

Bike Route Blues – Crawford Needs Some Help

Crawford and Dundas North SideYou’ve just finished a tennis match/drum circle/swim/ball hockey game/Frisbee session/baseball practice at Trinity Bellwoods Park and now you want a continuous street to take you North beyond Bloor Street.

Well, you could try Bathurst with its awkward intersections, streetcar tracks and speedy drivers. You could head over to Ossington, a street with more potholes than parking spaces. Or, you could simply head North on Crawford, a one-way street with a gentle uphill grade and even a touch of cycling infrastructure.

Although there are blue bicycle signs along Crawford, you won’t find this residential street listed as part of Toronto’s Bikeway Network.

Toronto Bicycle Map Detail - No Hint of Crawford

No YES No

While not an official signed route, there is signage alerting drivers to the presence of cyclists.

Who You Callin' a Bike Route?

Just north of Dundas, Crawford is spacious and their are speed bumps and stop signs to help slow motorists who are also supposed to keep their speed at or below 30 km/h.

Although the extra space on this street often encourages illegal parking:

Parking Infraction

A slight uphill and a few minutes later and you reach a controlled intersection at College Street:

Crawford at College Street

If you’re turning left, stand on the dots:

Dots

There are no dots here, but if you’re going straight this may set the traffic signals in motion. I’ve never waited here more than a few seconds:

No Dots

Just north of College, Crawford takes a twisty turn lined with street parking. The right curb side has uneven manhole coverings, so take the lane:

Narrow Take the Lane

Here’s where it gets strange. Where do I go?

Where Now?

If you can spot the cyclist on the left of the above photo, that’s where Crawford continues. Head right, and you’ll end up on Montrose. There’s a blue circle bicycle sign hidden, too:

I See You Now

A few short minutes later and you’ll reach Harbord where you can connect to bicycle lanes. Should you want to go straight through this is where Montrose one street over to the East is a better option. At Harbord you have a stop sign, yet the east/west traffic does not. Depending on the time of day you may have to wait awhile to get across:

At Harbord Wait Wait Wait

Watch out for right hooks while you wait:

The Right Hook

And then carry on:

Slow Bike Movement

And once again, prepare to wait at the even busier Bloor Street:

Waiting at Bloor

Walk it on Bloor

As bike lanes continue to be a major issue in the upcoming Toronto mayoral elections, it is important to consider our entire network. Bike lanes are needed on major arterial roads and bicycle-friendly infrastructure is needed on our secondary street routes. That includes signaled crossings, something that would improve Crawford and earn it a permanent role in Toronto’s Bikeway Network.

Yvonne Bambrick of Toronto Cyclists Union at #voteTOin416

Yvonne Bambrick

Via #voteTOin416

I’m a member of the Toronto Cyclists Union. At the Toronto International Bicycle Show I volunteered with the Union and had a fantastic time speaking with Bike Show attendees about the issues facing all cyclists on Toronto’s streets. This was the first time I’d met Yvonne and listening to her speak passionately about cycling and cyclists was an inspiration. Advocating for cycling in Toronto can be as simple as using your bicycle as often as possible and, while doing so, setting a positive example for all cyclists.

Learn more about the Toronto Cyclists Union and become a member at http://bikeunion.to

When a bike lane needs to be more than just paint

bike lane potholes

City cyclists know the horrors of the Sherbourne bike lane. Those opposed to the Jarvis revitalization point to this street to the east where they believe adequate cycling infrastructure is unused. It is being used, by delivery trucks as temporary parking. If any piece of cycling infrastructure in Toronto is an example of why paint does not make a bike lane, it is this stretch of torn up, crumbling and downright dangerous pavement. I’d much rather take my commuter through the advanced trails in the Don Valley than have to risk being tossed around on this stretch of road.

While city councilors and mayoral candidates may believe that bike lanes are not safe, they seem to be basing their opinions on the poor examples barely taking up space on our roads today. But, this point isn’t going unnoticed, as an article in the Natoinal Post points out:

City’s bike lanes need revamp: advocates

Alan Heisey, a Toronto lawyer and former chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, has been cycling in the city for 35 years, but he is against bike lanes. That is, he says that the current bike lanes — a strip of paint at the side of the road — simply aren’t safe.

“The bike lane ends up making the street more dangerous than if it wasn’t there because it gives the impression of safety,” Mr. Heisey said. “It forces bicyclists who are in the lane legally to swerve around the cars that are parked illegally.”

The solution to this, he says, is separated bike lanes.

9th Avenue bike lane Manhattan

In Toronto, poor surface conditions and improper use by motor vehicles combine to make our existing bike lanes unsafe. While I fully encourage the creation of separated bike lanes, I’d also like to see governments addressing the selfish attitudes that result in motorists ignoring and abusing infrastructure. The Toronto Cyclists Union is pushing for this change as they propose updates to the Motorists Handbook used as a primary teaching tool for new drivers.

1st Photo of Sherbourne Bike Lane via Torontoist.com taken 3 years ago (street condition remains the same today)

2nd Photo of 9th Avenue Bike Lane in New York City via NYCBikeMaps

“Putting Priority on Pedestrians and Cyclists”

Bernhardt Jensen Cycling Mayor

The mayoral race in Toronto is just barely beginning and already cycling is becoming a hot issue. With a candidate, who I do not want to name, already vowing to “rip out” existing bike lanes and halt transit expansion, the race is off to a depressing start. While many cyclists felt we wouldn’t even be addressed in the campaigns, it is quite disturbing to see city infrastructure meant to support active lifestyles threatened so early.

On Monday, February 1st, TTC Chair Adam Giambrone is expected to officially announce his mayoral bid. While I can’t say I know near enough about any of the more than 20 candidates, Giambrone is already an active spokesperson in support of public transit and pedestrian safety. The video below shows Adam Giambrone addressing city council concerning the highly contested (and now possibly threatened) Javis revitalization that would see the removal of one lane of motor vehicle traffic and the addition of wider sidewalks and bicycle lanes:

Photo of Bernhardt Jensen (known as the Cycling Mayor of Aarhus) via Copenhagenize

What Would a Bicycle Licence Program in Toronto Mean?

TORONTO, ONTARIO 1960'S TORONTO STAR NEWSPAPER DELIVERY BICYCLE plate
Photo caption from Flickr: “This bicycle tag is issued to delivery bicycles who deliver the Toronto Star newspaper. This plate which I have had for a long time was issued in the 1960’s or 70’s.”


The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting on September 14, 2009 has everyone and their mother talking about cyclist licensing and helmet laws.

However, there’s one question that needs to be asked, and one that hasn’t been just yet.

What exactly is a bicycle licence or cyclist’s license?

There are differences between the two and we need to clarify these first.

A bicycle licence isn’t a new idea. These have been around for years. The Flickr account of woody1778a has a collection of bicycle licence plates from Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec and elsewhere.

A bicycle licence is simply bicycle registration. Cities like Madison, WI, Davis, CA, St. Lake City, UT and Regina, SK all have bicycle licence programs. These are free in some cases and can cost up to $10. Having a bicycle licence in these cities means you have registered your bicycle for identification in the instance it is recovered after theft. It can also be used to identify the owner of the bicycle if they suffer a serious injury. And it also provides city planners with a count of cyclists (or bicycles really) to use when planning infrastructure. Some of the money collected can go towards funding cycling infrastructure, however at such low costs there is often very little money generated for bike lanes or anything else.

In Toronto, the Toronto Police Service already provides free bicycle registration that is not mandatory, but is highly recommended to aid in the recovery of stolen bicycles. There is no registration number provided, although retaining your bicycle’s serial number is the same as having a unique registration number as this is used for identification.

On the other hand we have a cyclist’s license that would grant the holder permission to use a bicycle.

While my search has certainly not been exhaustive, I have yet to find an example of a cyclist’s license in use anywhere in the world. If you know of any, please let me know in the Biking Toronto Forum.

Motorists, boaters and pilots all require a license to operate their vehicles. Licenses are issued after testing and must be renewed after a certain amount of time with the exception of boaters who simply must pass their licensing test once.

Why then, should a cyclist’s licensing program be started? And do we even need one at all?

Currently, cyclist’s are regulated under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). On a bicycle you’re required to follow all of the rules of the road. Stopping at stop signs and red lights, signaling turns and having appropriate lighting at night are all covered under the HTA and cyclists can be issued fines for these offenses.

However, these charges do not affect the current points system on their driver’s licenses, should they have one. The argument here is that by licensing cyclists, you can track their offenses and possibly even revoke their license as we do with motorists.

In Florida, traffic offenses committed on a bicycle go on their driver’s record and can result in the revoking of a license. Florida is even strict on those too young to have a driver’s license, requiring that they pay fines incurred on a bicycle before they can get their driver’s license.

So then, in Ontario and Toronto cyclists are already regulated. The problem is in enforcement, not regulation. And, enforcement is currently being stepped up, especially in Toronto as thousands of violations are issued each year to cyclists.

Licensing of motorists, boaters and pilots also implies that a certain level of education concerning the rules of operation has been obtained. Many argue that licensing cyclists would help increase the general knowledge of road rules and therefore decrease the number of law breakers on the road.
But, do cyclists not know the rules? Are the cyclists you sometimes see running red lights doing so because they don’t know what a red light means?
Of course not!
You take a person off of their bike and you’ve got a pedestrian, and we certainly don’t doubt that anyone getting around on their feet is ignorant of stop signs and red lights and crosswalk signals.
While city staff are now tasked with researching cyclist’s licenses for Torontonians, AGAIN, we as cyclists must be vocal about what we would want from such a system should it be implemented.
If part, if not most, of the money collected during licensing goes solely to cycling infrastructure, I have no issues with that. If having a bicycle licence plate means that EVERY motorist will pass me safely and legally and that I won’t be pushed out of lanes at intersections, then so be it.
Until the details of what exactly a cyclist’s licensing program in Toronto would be, it is hard to say whether we need one or not. What we don’t need is a bicycle licence, since we already have a free registry that could be made mandatory to aid in theft recovery.
Discuss licensing and your thoughts on the issue in the Biking Toronto Forum