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

How to Get Better Bicycle Parking for Your Condo

Urban Garden & a half-stolen bike

I was recently contacted by a BikingToronto reader, Ian, in need of contact information for bike rack suppliers in Toronto. He told me that he had recently moved into a newer condo building near Bloor and Spadina. The building has bicycle parking, but after speaking with other residents and noticing the mess of bikes in their outdoor racks it was clear that his condo building needed better bicycle parking.

Part of why living in a downtown condo building is appealing is the ability to free yourself from needing a car to get everywhere. Ian’s building is near a TTC station and is a comfortable cycling distance from his office. He owns several bicycles and is concerned about keeping them in good condition and free from theft for as long as possible. The current set up in his building doesn’t satisfy both of those conditions. While the most accessible outdoor parking is covered, it is in an alleyway that anyone can walk down. The racks are also cluttered and that means his bicycle is going to get scraped and bounced around in addition to possibly being stolen.

If this sounds familiar, Ian’s story and how a cycling committee in his building approached the board of directors may help you get better bicycle parking for your condo.

While condo builders are adding amenities such as rooftop pools, bowling alleys and fitness centres it seems that bicycle parking isn’t a top priority when space is defined and the building begins. Bicycle racks are often placed in out of the way areas that are hard to access, feature inappropriate racks or simply do not exist at all.

Recent amendments to Toronto Zoning By-laws have added more information on bicycle parking guidelines, yet these focus mostly on quantity of available spaces and less on quality of space provided.

Here then is how to get better bicycle parking for your condo.

Your first point of contact is your condo board. Find out if others have approached them about available bicycle parking. In Ian’s case, a bicycle committee was formed to determine the bicycle parking needs of tenants and to propose improvements.

Bicyles Will Be Removed

The committee then surveyed the building by distributing a questionnaire to determine the current state of bicycle parking as viewed by tenants. Below is a sample survey:

1. How satisfied are you with the current bike parking/storage arrangement?

2. How many bicycles does your household have (write the number 0, 1, 2…9 in each of the spaces provided):

_____Adult-size _____Child-size (small bikes) _____Tricycles (very small child) _____Electric Bikes _____Other

3. Where are your unit’s bikes currently stored? (please indicate the quantity of bikes in each location)

_____Outside – racks at back of building

_____Outside – post and rings in front of building

_____Ground floor “Visitor Bike Parking” room

_____P1

_____Storage locker

_____Balcony

_____Apartment

_____Other location: _________________________

4. Do you have a car parking spot?

5. Would you be interested in having a bike rack mounted to the wall behind your car?

6. How much would you be willing to spend (rack + installation) ? $_________

7. Please rank your preference (1=first choice; 5=last choice) of where you’d like to store your bicycle(s):

_____Outside – racks at back of building

_____Ground floor “Visitor Bike Parking” room

_____P1

_____Other location: ________________________

_____Bike rack mounted to the wall behind my car

8. Would you be willing to pay for an indoor reserved bike parking spot? qYes qNo

9. This question is about how often the people in your unit ride. If you don’t ride in the winter, just ignore the winter months. How many people in your household ride:

daily (4+ times per week) …….. _____

weekly (1-3 times per week)…. _____

monthly (1-3 times per month). _____

less often than monthly………… _____

10. Have you had any bicycles or bicycle parts stolen from in or around the Condo?

11. Have you registered your bike with the Toronto Police? qYes qNo (http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/bike)

12. Please share any other bike parking or storage ideas:

___________________________________________

___________________________________________

___________________________________________

If you do not currently store a bicycle in the building, please make sure to return this survey with “No”

checked below. This is important for the committee to understand the needs of the building residents

and to evaluate the survey response rate. Thank you very much for your participation.

Does someone in your unit currently store one or more bicycles in or outside the building?

Optional:

If you provide us with your name & contact information, we will be able to contact you as soon as more

bike parking & storage options become available.

Your answers on this survey will be used only to guide us, not to commit you to anything.

Name: ______________________________________________ Suite #: ________ Parking Spot #: ________

Phone: ________________________ E-mail: ____________________________________________________

Please contact me as soon as more information is available Yes No

we meet again

Ian reports that the survey was well-received by tenants in the building and the response was more than enough to help guide them in creating an improved bicycle parking proposal for the condo board.

Using the survey results you’ll be able to identify problem areas and find out how much parking needs to be added and where residents would prefer the parking be located.

In Ian’s building it was determined that the outdoor parking was not properly laid out and created a cluttered and potentially bicycle damaging situation when using the racks. Indoor bicycle parking was limited and the racks did not provide secure locking options. Space was identified for additional parking in the underground parking lot of the building yet access and security both posed problems requiring passing through multiple doors which can be difficult with a bicycle and parcels.

Secure bicycle parking means racks that are permanently anchored to the ground or wall with enough contact points to lock both a bicycle frame and wheel. Racks should be spaced to allow for many sizes of bicycles and allow for clearance between them to assist in parking and removing a bicycle.

A bicycle user group for the City of Toronto recommends these bicycle rack manufacturers and models:

Cora Bike Rack Ltd.
www.cora.com
Tel: 1-800-739-4609
Model: Expo Bike Rack

Trystan Bike Racks
www.trystanproducts.com
68 Swan Street
Ayr, ON N0B 1E0
Tel: (519) 632-7427
Fax: (519) 632-8271
Model: TD1

Bike Rack Co.
www.bikerack.ca
395 Signet St.
Toronto, ON M9L 1V3
Tel: (416) 927-7499
Model: The lock up 1 and lock up 2

In order to make your bicycle parking proposal a professional one, be sure to contact suppliers as well as potential installers and determine the full costs of purchasing, shipping and installing. I’d also recommend contacting someone who can help you adhere to fire codes when determining where to install the racks.

Ian told me that after approaching his condo board they have been approved to make changes to the existing parking and a budget was given. The final move now is for the board to act on the recommendations of the cycling committee and put the plans into action.

If you’re disappointed in the current state of bicycle parking in your condo, then now is the time to do something about it.

Additional link: City of Toronto Guidelines for the Design and Management of Bicycle Parking Facilities

Photos via the BikingToronto Flickr Pool

Green P Parking’s For You… And Your Bicycle

Green P Pedal 'N Park 37 Yorkville Avenue

The other day, I was searching for bicycle parking on Cumberland in the high-end Toronto neighbourhood of Yorkville. The few standing post and rings were full and bicycles were locked to what few fences are here so I found myself wandering out along Yonge Street and finally finding an open sign post.

After completing my errand I happened to peek into the Green P parking garage that exits out on to Cumberland and saw a concrete pad with several post and rings inside the lot.

A quick Google search revealed nothing about these Pedal ‘N Park spots so I contacted the Toronto Parking Authority and was told that these racks are free for anyone to use and that other lots do have bicycle parking. They are in the process of putting together a list of these lots and I will post them here once they get back to me.

So, if you’re ever in Yorkville, struggling to find a place to lock your bicycle, head on into the parking garage at 37 Yorkville Avenue and you’ll find free, covered and well-lit bicycle parking.

Green P Toronto Parking Authority Indoor Bicycle Parking

Only 17 Post and Rings on 1.5 km Stretch of Redesigned St. Clair West

Found via Twitter user markjull:

Google Map of Post and Ring locations by Mark

Go here for the map.

What gives Astral?

Toronto Bike Life: Queen Street Part 5

Trinity Bellwoods Park to Bathurst

Behind the GatesThe street seems to narrow along the stretch between Trinity Bellwoods Park at Strachan all the way to Bathurst and beyond.

Physically, it may not have lost some width, but with the sheer volume of traffic from cyclists, motorists, streetcars and pedestrians rubbing elbows here can make you feel a little claustrophobic.

Street parking is hard to come by, both for cars and for bicycles. This area is a shopping, eating, lounging and people-watching destination and on a sunny day the crowds slow their pace. Whether you throw a blanket down in Trinity Bellwoods or wait in line for a coveted table at Terroni’s the best way to get here is to ride your bicycle, just don’t expect to get that post and ring right out front.

Red and Waiting

Scene of the Crime

Locked Up

Rooms

Fashion Post

Fresh Plaid

Quiet Yellow

Park Meeting

Call Waiting

At Their Post

The Crush

In Passing

Racks and a Cart

Notice

Welcome to the Neighbourhood Tim Horton

Inspirational

Is This Your Corner?

Waiting in the Sun

Toronto Bike Life: Queen Street Part 4
Toronto Bike Life: Queen Street Part 3
Toronto Bike Life: Queen Street Part 2
Toronto Bike Life: Queen Street Part 1

The Least Expensive Winter Cycling Accessory You Need

At least in Toronto, this accessory costs just 5 cents. It’s free with a purchase in many other cities.

The plastic bag!

That mighty little bag is a lifesaver as winter turns to spring and you never know what will fall or drip on your bicycle seat.

The Mysterious Mystery of the Bicycle Pile

Spotted on College Street at Brunswick. Spare part storage? Bike hoarding in plain sight?

What are your 2010 Toronto bike commuting goals?

Going past

I’ll admit that I got a late start to bike commuting. It took me more than 3 years of city living to finally give it a try. In June 2009, on a bit of a whim, I took my new bike on a 25 km journey to my office in the outer reaches of Toronto (so far in fact that it’s not even in Toronto).

At first, I’d bike just twice a week as I needed the next day to recover. If it looked like rain, I jumped on the subway (then bus, then another bus and sometimes yet another bus).

All it took was one rainfall that I didn’t see coming and I lost the fear of getting wet. I was already soaked with sweat, so it made little difference, and rain actually feels good in the heat and humidity of a Toronto summer.

By the end of 2009 I had bought cycling shorts, tights, a shirt or two and a waterproof jacket. I now have a sturdy lock (and back-up lock for paranoia), panniers, two pumps, various lights and more cycling goodies than I can even remember.

So, what can I do more in 2010? Well, there’s been one big change for me. My commute, which was recently shortened to just 20 km each way has been drastically cut. I’ve joined the ranks of the work-from-home brigades, no commuting necessary. At least not daily.

This opens new doors for me. I get the chance to take morning or noon rides on trails I previously never would have seen on weekdays. I get to ride for pleasure, and if my route starts to wear on me, I get to change it. Lucky me, I know.

Yet, working from home also provides the opportunity to become lazy. I worked so hard getting comfortable as a bicycle commuter that it’s hard to give it up cold turkey. So, I’m going to make my morning rides my own sort of commute. It will be the longest distance between my bedroom and my home office possible, much more than a few shuffle-steps.

Over on Commute by Bike, Bike Shop Girl has compiled a list of 2010 bike commuter goals. Here are her 8 goals with my comments:

1. Learn how to properly lock your bike

There are a lot of different places to lock your bike in Toronto. It took me some time and practice to find the “sweet spots” for locking to post and rings and other spots. I find that a sturdy u-lock through the frame and front wheel is best for eliminating vulnerable gaps between lock, bike and rack. This also helps keep your bike upright as other people use the rack.

2. Start a Commuter Challenge

I’ve personally resisted getting a cycling computer. I’m a little too competitive and really want to keep my eyes on the road. But, if you find your commute getting stale, then why not strive to make the best time possible or work out how to catch every green light?

3. Motivate a co-worker to commute by bike

You could start by taking them with you on a ride one weekend. Show them your route when the roads are less busy. Unfortunately, no one at my office joined me last year… but walking in all sweaty with a bike in tow certainly got us talking about something new.

4. Join your local advocacy group

In Toronto you can start by joining the Toronto Cyclist Union. Joining is a great start, but getting active and participating in events or volunteering is even better. My goal is to do more with the Union now that I’m a proud member.

5.  Take photos to inspire others and yourself

There are more than 2,000 photos in the BikingToronto Flickr Pool… why not help us reach 3,000? Edit: As mentioned in the comment below, the pool is now approaching 4,000!

6.  Setup a commuter zone

My bike accessories once filled a small tupperware container. Now, I have a dedicated shelf near the door where I keep bungees, gloves, lights, the odd tool and helmets. Making space for your bike stuff, and making it accessible, are a great way to remind yourself that it’s better by bike.

7. Practice preventative maintenance

Not sure what to do with those tools a family member gave you over the holidays? Make a visit to Bike Pirates or the Community Bicycle Network and learn how to fix your own bike before it decides it no longer wants to go. If you live in Toronto’s East end, why not get involved in starting a DIY shop as well?

8. Invest in your gear

It’s certainly not necessary to have a full cycling wardrobe. But, adding pieces like waterproof gloves, a waterproof jacket or even shoes can help make your commute more enjoyable no matter what the weather is like.

That’s all 8… but I’m certain there are many more. What are your 2010 cycling/commuting/living goals? Share yours in the comments below.

Photo via sevenman in BikingToronto’s Flickr Pool

Every pole becomes a bike rack

While many Torontonians know that the post and ring racks that line many of our streets aren’t fool-proof, their simple design is unmistakable.
The major benefit of their design is that they give cyclists options when locking. Different bicycles require different locking positions to secure a wheel and frame at the same time and the curved loop allows this, although you are encouraged to lock to the centre pole.
Currently a pilot program in London, UK, the Cyclehoop transforms street signs and poles into usable bicycle parking. The bright colours attract are a lot of attention, which is the point. As more and more bicycles are found on streets around the world, transforming existing space into useable bicycle parking is a “quick-fix” while other initiatives (like large-scale parking stations) are in the works.
Photo via Cyclehoop.com

Yellow Fenders and Stickers

Spotted on Roncesvalles. Increasing visibility and freeing the cyclist of a distinctive “skunk tail” with bright yellow fenders.