Is There a Bike War in NYC?

While I, and almost anyone who has ever ridden a bicycle in any city, object to the word “war” used in any form of transportation debate, this is a great little look at the changing face of New York City streets. In a city where 80% of the public space is comprised of streets and sidewalks, making that space accessible for all is ruffling some feathers. As pointed out changes that affect daily behaviours will always be met with some resistance as everyone learns to adapt.

Via Urban Velo

“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

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

Bikeway Network Event Public Notice


Bike Path By Night
Originally uploaded by sniderscion

Make your voice heard and show your support for more cycling infrastructure in Toronto:

Bikeway Network Event Public Notice

Date: Monday February 1, 2010
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Metro Hall, 55 John St. Room 308-309

The objective of this meeting is to get community input on proposed new downtown bikeways that the Transportation Services Cycling Infrastructure and Programs group is working on for 2010.

Topics will discuss concepts and criteria for new projects, including:

• 2010 bicycle lanes
• Rush hour sharrow bicycle markings on streetcar routes
• New bicycle lane intersection treatments at signalized intersections
• Locations for bicycle boxes at intersections
• Updates on the West-End bikeways project

Participants are invited to attend for a brief presentation and question period with City Staff from 6:30 – 7:00 p.m. From 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. the floor will be open for the public to view maps, talk to staff about projects, and submit comments and suggestions.

Visit our website at www.toronto.ca/cycling

Do you bike to shop? Let business owners know!

Bags

Via Third Wave Cycling Blog:

Bike Helmets on Customers Exposes Unnoticed Business For Retailers

January 11, 2010 by Jack Becker

We received an email earlier last week from the local ratepayers’ group:

There has been a request from VANOC and the Olympic committee asking Citygate and False Creek residents to keep their festive lights up and on throughout the Olympics so the world can see us.

Presumably this request can even include the festive Christmas lights that some boat owners festoon their masts along the waterfront.

What would be an equivalent, visibility tactic for the cycling community to announce the significance of cyclists?

It could be as simple as keeping your helmet on your head when you are shopping.  This action would go a long way towards changing the perception of local business retailers that their customer base and retail sales comes from car drivers.  It may start stopping retailers’ complaints any time that a new bike lane at their store entrance takes away more street car parking.  It may start retailer action to call for more storefront bike parking racks.  It may change perception that cyclists in a store does not contribute to the bottom line of retailer sales and profitability.  A “helmet-on-campaign-while shopping” would remind retailers that cyclists do comprise more of their customer base than retailers might realize.

Cyclists do shop, contribute to local businesses and the economy. Like everyone else, they still consume products and services.  In fact, cyclists, without the burden of paying for car maintenance, may have more money available for shopping.

In downtown Toronto, there has been an ongoing debate on implementation of a bike lane on the busy Bloor Street west of Spadina  Rd., an area  known  as the “Annex”.  For many decades and still now, the Annex is a gentrified neighbourhood with busy cafes, restaurants, independent shops, community centre and services that draw patrons and convivial street life.

A recent study of 61 local merchants, 531 patrons, and parking space use, revealed only 10% of patrons drive to the Bloor-Annex area. Pedestrians and cyclists were spending more money than the drivers.  This is not surprising since the area is served by 3 different subway station exits, feeder bus lines and an established bike lane grid in this Bloor St neighbourhood.

Meanwhile in Vancouver, the Canada Line opened in late August 2009.  Now changes in customer levels have been noted to be modest for businesses along the Canada Line on Cambie St.   Businesses closer to stations have seen an increase in foot traffic.  The full effect of a switch from car-based shopping to people-based shopping takes time.  It takes more than a full year business cycle for commuters to establish changes in their transportation choice, travel and shopping patterns.

Since no one is constantly monitoring where bikes are locked up outside  shops, then the bike helmet is the beacon to signal retailers that another customer that just arrived –in a different way.

Since cycling is on the rise in Toronto, it’s time to make yourself visible to shop owners who apparently don’t believe that cyclists and pedestrians are good for business. Carry your bike helmet, keep your pant leg reflector on and make sure to mention how much you appreciate the bike parking or bike lane you found nearby.

Photo via Flickr user Life in a Lens

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