Laurier Avenue Separated Bike Lane in Ottawa

Via Bike Lane Diary

The Changing Face of the NYC Commute

11 miles is just shy of 18 kms and a fairly long commute. Yet, because of constant development and political support for cycling infrastructure 90% of this journey includes streets featuring some form of cycling infrastructure.

Notice that only a small percentage of the ride is along streets with sharrows and, notice too, that NYC DOT isn’t trying to squeeze one size fits all cycling infrastructure onto a wide variety of streets.

Thinking back on my former commute, 25 kms each way and exactly 0% of my route including any form of cycling infrastructure, it’s no wonder I was often alone on two wheels. Cycling along major arterials with boulevards wide enough to play soccer on I wondered why there wasn’t a bike path there. I would cross over multi-lane bridges that themselves spanned across 400 series highways and wondered why both cyclists and pedestrians were ignored there as well.

Real cycling infrastructure influences real change. How hard is that to understand?

Via StreetFilms.org

Evergreen Brick Works Helps Usher In Cycling Infrastructure on Bayview

Don Valley Brick Works - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Evergreen Brick Works recently held their grand opening, and while events and a market have been held at the site all summer, access by bicycle has been somewhat limited.

Bayview, a street where the speed limit increases to 70 km/h (meaning 90 km/h to far too many drivers) in front of the Brick Works also has crumbling shoulders. Certainly an uninviting situation for anyone on two wheels.

However, the revitalization of the once abandoned site is bringing in cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. In an e-mail from Dave Dunn of Cycling Infrastructure and Programs for the City of Toronto he explained that a new bi-directional and physically separated multi-use path will now connect the Rosedale Valley Drive multi-use trail to the Brick Works site. As well, a connection to Pottery Road will allow cyclists and pedestrians to access the site from the Lower Don Trail.

For added safety, Jersey barriers will be installed along Bayview separating cycling and pedestrian traffic, and the wooden bridge that runs under the Bayview access to the Don Valley Parkway is being repaired.

Here’s a Google Map created by Christina Bouchard detailing the changes currently being installed along Bayview (click for more details):

Photo via Flickr

Every day I hear Bells on Bloor

Every day I hear bells on Bloor.

Bike Lanes on BloorWalking down the street, I hear bells. Sitting and sipping in a coffee shop, I hear bells. At the library, running errands, meeting with friends, and all the time, I hear bells.

Each one of those bells is connected to a cyclist. A mother riding her bicycle to work. A family riding their bikes home from the park. Students riding their bikes to class.

And each one of those bells is asking so little of you. That bell is a kind request for a little attention and a little space. “See me,” says these bells.

On Saturday, May 29th, 2010, a symphony of bells launched from High Park and made its way with music and joy to Queen’s Park. Bells on Bloor brings together the individual bells you hear on Bloor Street each and every day and asks for attention, we ask you for bike lanes on Bloor.

Orange and Yellow

Speaker

Speaker 2

Performance

Supporters

She and Him

Sing a Song of Support

A Symphony of Bells

Group Riding

Downhill

Uphill

Pirates Sing

Musical Accompaniment

Tutu

ToddT

Eye in the Sky

And the band played on

Little One

Queen's Park

Bells on Bloor Cycle Chic

The End

Show your support, sign the petition: Bike Lanes on Bloor

Setting an Example: Burrard Street Bike Lane Vancouver

Screen shot 2010-05-11 at 11.01.24 AM

It doesn’t take much to create excellent cycling infrastructure. Take note Toronto, take note…

Via Bike Lane Diary
Photo via Price Tags

Lower Simcoe Taxi Stand… Wait, That’s A Bike Lane!

I found these images on the blog Torypages. Looks like taxi drivers have found a new place to wait for fares on Lower Simcoe… the bike lane.

More photos here.

UPDATE: Here’s reaction from other sources in Toronto

Anger as cars clog new Simcoe St. bike lane (Toronto Star)
So, this is a cycling city? (Toronto Star)

UPDATE the 2nd: The Toronto Star is really digging in to this story!

Traffic cops powerless to enforce bike lanes

Keeping lanes clear may take higher fines and more ticketing power

three main obstacles for parking enforcement officers trying to enforce bike lanes.

One, there’s no specific bylaw. Smith can’t track how many tickets are issued to cars sitting in a bike lane because such tickets are bundled with any others handed out for parking in a no-stopping zone.

Next, the fine is too low. Last November, Yvonne Bambrick of the Toronto Cyclists Union made a presentation to the Toronto Police Services Board, asking for tougher enforcement around bike lanes.

She wants the $60 fine for cars that cross a solid white line to enter a bike lane to be doubled to $120, which is closer to the $100-$150 fine charged for parking in a fire route or a handicapped space.

“We’re told to stay as far right as possible, then we’re forced to swerve into traffic,” says Bambrick.

Her suggestions were passed on to the city manager. Councillor Adam Vaughan, a police board member whose ward includes the convention centre, says council should be discussing a bike lane bylaw by the spring.

“Ticketing is the only way to do it,” said Vaughan, who said the discussion would include the possibility of raising the fine.

Smith also sees it as a major problem that parking enforcement officers are required to ask drivers to move before ticketing them. Most will just pull away if they see an officer approaching their illegally stopped car.

The constable, who is on the Cycling Advisory Committee, thinks parking officers should have the power to immediately issue a ticket to any car parked illegally, and to have the ticket stick even if the car leaves. That’s a recommendation police have made several times to the province, which has said only that it will consider changing the “drive away” ticketing rules.

LINK (Toronto Star)

Angles Morts – Blind Spots

Angle Morts

My French is pretty terrible, but the visuals in the video blow are certainly clear enough.

While many could see this as why cycling is dangerous, I believe that this video illustrates the need to re-imagine city streets and change a collective attitude concerning public space. In Toronto, I have noticed that drivers will rarely double-park. They will drive up on sidewalks, block bike lanes and park on the grass, but never will I see someone block in another car. How messed up is that logic? How disrespectful is that behaviour? And how much does this illustrate that a hulking mass of steel and rubber can dominate our public space?

Cycling is not a dangerous activity. Unattentive, selfish and careless individuals make our public spaces dangerous for everyone.

A Google Street View Tour of Bike Lane Parking on College Street

At the Begining

The College Street bike lane is quite possibly one of Toronto’s most used. Hundreds, if not thousands, of cyclists use this east/west bike lane to go to work, school, shop or simply get across town. Unfortunately, this bike lane is also a perfect place to let your car idle while you quickly run into one of the many shops and businesses that line this busy street.

The bike lane starts at Bay Street at its east end. In the image above we see a cyclist using the lane, a parked bicycle and another cyclist peaking into a window, a nice little slice of daily life.

Heading west, we pass the long intersection of University Avenue. And we find our first bike lane parker. Sure, a delivery truck may only park for a few minutes at a time… many times a day, every weekday… oh I guess that adds up:
Special Delivery

Moving further west, we see things are as they should be at Henry Street:

Bikes in the Bike Lane

But then we spot a van on the south side of the street just east of St. George:

The White Van

A little further west and it’s another white truck, only this one is much larger:

Big Delivery

On the north side of College, east of Spadina, the bike lane ends as the road narrows. On the South side we see the bike lane makes the perfect place to park or wait for your next fare:

Double Parked

Even when not parked in the bike lane vehicles pose a risk… watch out for the “door prize”:

Door Prize

Just because you’re making deliveries in the bike lane doesn’t mean cyclists can get by you… you just make it more dangerous to do so:

Another Delivery

Another delivery truck, another squeeze out for cyclists:

Brown Truck Blues

Delivery trucks could use empty parking spaces, but, since they don’t buy parking permits they could get a ticket, better stick to the bike lane:

This Truck Gets Around

As we continue our trip we see things get back to normal:

More Bikes in the Bike Lane

Parallel parking also poses a risk. Sure, it is a temporary risk that does come with the added benefit that cars are equipped with reverse lights, so you know they’re coming. I assume this car was waiting to park:

Backing Up?

But after we pass by and look behind us, the car is still there and the way is perfectly clear. Possibly they are just very slow parallel parkers… hopefully:

Still There

On the south side it looks like a biker has met with a cyclist:

A different kind of bike

Is this a stand-off? I’m not sure what’s going on here, but that biker is quickly outnumbered:

Blocked!

And I bet you thought only parcel delivery trucks used the bike lane… All cube-shaped trucks are welcome of course:

The Bell Tolls

And just a few more metres beyond Euclid, it’s delivery time:

Purolator... PuroNow

And then we reach the end of the bike lane as College narrows and on-street parking is a must:

The End

For cyclists using the College Street bike lane, I’m certain that the above images come as no surprise.  The fact that the Google Street View car was able to capture this many bike lane parkers in such a brief amount of time shows just how prevalent this illegal activity is.

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