How to Use a Bike Box – City of Toronto PSA

Nice heels on the woman riding the white bike with the front rack! Certainly would be approved by my girlfriend.

Via Cyclometer November Newsletter

Sharrows Miss the Point on Harbord

In the cover of night, workers began installing sharrows along Harbord.

A point of contention for years, the disconnected bike lane between Bathurst and Spadina has inspired Urban Repair Squad intervention and left Councilor Adam Vaughan singing the same old tune that the very sparse car parking on this strip is essential to the survival of the businesses here.

Ignoring the fact that this is one of the most direct east/west bicycle routes connecting west end residents to downtown work and school this gap reflects the overall disinterest in the City of Toronto for providing continuous, consistent and much needed bicycle infrastructure.

Like placing a band-aid over an axe wound, sharrows, painted stencils that encourage motorists and drivers to ride right over them, now “fill” the gap.

There’s no denying that space is limited along this street. Yet while further west street parking alternates sides of the street to accommodate bike lanes this effective use of space is ignored and instead pictures of bicycles place cyclists directly in the door zone:

And to make matters worse, the boxed in parking space designations are too small, maximizing the potential for door prizes:

It is clear that steps to improve this route for cyclists have been taken. Repaving the curbside lanes has eliminated sticky seam sealing and countless potholes meaning that cyclists can spend more time looking ahead than scanning below for hazards. Bike boxes have also been installed in the heart of the University of Toronto at Harbord/Hoskin and St. George to increase the visibility of cyclists and decrease the possibility of right hooks.

Yet, while the effectiveness of sharrows in Toronto is currently being studied, including part-time sharrows in use along the west end of College Street, it is clear that these stencils are a compromise. Sharing the road is a feat accomplished day after day by most motorists and cyclists. Sharrows offer up a reminder that space is limited and we must do what we can to make room for everyone. However, sharrows ignore more issues than they address. In the case of the new Harbord sharrows, they do nothing to prevent the problematic door prize and do even less to convince aggressive drivers to share space.

I must note that I am not a city planner and I am not diligently studying the road use along Harbord or College, however, I do ride along these streets almost daily and in my experience sharrows do little more than remind me of where better bicycle infrastructure is needed and how poorly our demands are being met.

More photos of the sharrows on Harbord in the slideshow by Martinho below:

Let the Learning Begin; Bike Boxes at Harbord and St. George

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Considering how many cars I see stopped in the middle of crosswalks, there’s obviously going to be a few growing pains with these new bike boxes in Toronto.

What are bike boxes and what do they do? Bike Boxes allow cyclists to move to the front of the line at red lights and position themselves for faster/safer left turns. In addition to dedicated space for turning cyclists, bike boxes are paired with no right turn on red light restrictions, reducing the chances of right hooks at busy intersections.

More photos of the new bike boxes by Martinho below:

Updated October 12, 2010: Here’s the info card distributed by the City of Toronto explaining the use of Toronto bike boxes:

Urban Repair Squad Questions Harbord’s Missing Bike Lanes

Toronto’s anonymous group of activists known as the Urban Repair Squad are no stranger to Harbord Street. They’ve installed bike boxes, comically expressed the sensations of cycling along the street pre-repairs and now they’re questioning why, with fresh pavement laid, the Harbord bike lanes do not extend between Bathurst and Spadina.

City Councilor Adam Vaughan has answered this question time and time again, stating that he believes that street parking is essential along this strip. Funny, because Joe Pantalone didn’t seem to have any issue with having less street parking on Harbord between Ossington and Bathurst that I know of. Sure, there are less businesses there, but considering that Harbord connects many U of T students and many downtown workers with their homes in the West end, this disconnect endangers many for the benefit of so very few.