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

A Failure to Address the Intersection Problem


In the distance, approaching the camera, a work in progress bi-directional path becomes a sidewalk and a danger for all path users, Bayview at Pottery.

There are no words to describe my disappointment and disgust with a recently installed “major multi-use path” along the Bayview extension, but I’ll try.

According to the Toronto Bicycle/Motor-Vehicle Collision Study (2003), cyclists who ride on the sidewalk are more likely to be involved in crashes and collisions. To those who commute by bicycle daily, or are “avid” bicycle riders, this risk is immediately apparent. Riding on the sidewalk makes a rider less visible to motorists and the rider’s behaviour cannot be easily predicted. A driver has to ask themselves, “Is that cyclist on the sidewalk coming to a stop at a storefront? Are they heading into a park or driveway? Are they just looking for parking at an empty post an ring?” And, if that same bicycle rider is completely overlooked by the parallel driver, then an even larger problem arises, especially once their paths inevitably cross.

When and where the cyclist may or may not enter a road from a sidewalk cannot be determined by simply watching them. On roads, we have painted lines and signalled or signed intersections, all designed to increase the predictability of all road users. This lack of predictability is the major danger a cyclist entering a road from a sidewalk and into a crosswalk faces. On the road a cyclist’s behaviour is more predictable as many riders will conform to street directions and make turns at expected areas and while collisions do occur they are less frequent in these cases.

However, to more novice bicycle riders, the risked posed by cycling on the sidewalk may not be as easy to recognize. Sidewalks are separated from faster moving vehicles and curbs prevent motorists from driving on sidewalks at high speeds. To a novice cyclist the sidewalk appears to be a safe haven.

Recently, the City of Toronto has undertaken a project to connect the isolated Evergreen Brick Works for pedestrians and cyclists. An almost unknown section of the Don Trail has been repaved, a bridge resurfaced and jersey barriers are to be installed to separate this major multi-use path from high-speed traffic as it follows Bayview Avenue between Rosedale Valley Drive and Pottery Road. The path is bi-directional and approximately 3 metres across in width to allow pedestrian and cycling traffic to pass safely.

Access into the Evergreen Brick Works site from this extended path is further improved by dedicated cycling traffic lights and a new traffic lighted intersection on Bayview. All of these improvements are much needed as pedestrian and cycling traffic was previously forced onto this high-speed road or left to travel along narrow, crumbling shoulders.

As the 2003 study mentioned above identified, intersections are a major area of concern and recommendations were made to improve infrastructure to make cycling behaviour more predictable to motorists. Improvements like the Bike Boxes installed on 2 major downtown routes address the problem of right hooks and work to improve cyclist visibility.

With a knowledge of the dangers sidewalk cycling and intersections can pose to cyclists and with a trail expansion in an area more likely to attract novice, weekend cyclists (the hills entering and exiting the Don Valley make this route less enticing and longer for daily commuters) then imagine my surprise to find out that at the intersection of Bayview and Pottery Road, the major multi-use path ends well before the intersection and quickly becomes nothing more than a regular, narrow sidewalk.


A dedicated turning lane appears to be a regular intersection, bicycles are not included in the equation.


For cyclists, there is no access to the path, except for the crosswalk and sidewalk, both areas illegal for bicycle riding.

The extension of the existing stretch of the Don Trail adjacent to Bayview has been part of a larger construction project in the area. Pottery Road dives into the Don Valley and until this year the pavement was crumbled and pothole infested. A narrow path previously ran along Pottery Road, though a connection to the stretch of the Don Trail that runs on the east side of the river was mostly non-existent. The construction project reduced Pottery Road to two lanes and has widened and connected this path from the intersection of Pottery and Broadview down the escarpment to the Don Trail.

The newer, wider path ends here. When I took my concerns to the City of Toronto Cycling Facebook page I was informed that the bridges at the lower end of Pottery Road are heritage designated and that there were no plans to integrate any cycling infrastructure either over them or beside them. In light of this obstacle the City choose to simply do nothing, ending the path before it had an opportunity to connect to Bayview.

While bridges are an expensive piece of infrastructure (one this city only values if it is for cars and trucks) I can understand the problem posed here when it comes to creating a connected cycling and pedestrian route. What I can’t understand is why, when faced with this problem, the course of action taken was to not only ignore cyclists completely, but to also create a major conflict area in accessing the newly installed multi-use path on Bayview.

It is these vital connections that are the most important part of any cycling and pedestrian network. The straightaways are great but even when installed poorly are rarely the site of serious injury or death. Intersections, time and time again, have proven to pose the most risk to our most vulnerable road users, walkers and cyclists. As the current administration plans on installing 100 km of off-road bicycle routes then we must demand that they address intersections first and foremost. The increased safety of a separated path is only valuable if the route is connected and visibly represented in areas that provide the most risk of conflict. Never mind the idiom that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, in Toronto our current “chain” of cycling routes is completely missing links and the strength and security these could bring.


From the City’s current cycling map. Pottery Road and Bayview intersection is coloured with yellow boxes as a “Suggested On-Street Route” defined as “Quiet residential streets.” Since when has the Bayview extension ever been a quiet residential street? The speed limit is 60 km/h here.

UPDATE: Work along Bayview and at Pottery Road appears to have completed. The cycle path is not separated from high speed traffic on Bayview as expected and the intersection of Bayview and Pottery provides no clear routes for both cyclists and pedestrians. If you are concerned for your safety and want answers as to why this intersection is so poorly designed, I urge you to contact the local city councillor Mary Fragedakis councillor_fragedakis@toronto.ca, Daniel Egan, Manager of Pedestrian & Cycling Infrastructure degan@toronto.ca and 311 Toronto 311@toronto.ca

Report Toronto Traffic Problems Online

P1010046

It sometimes feel like Toronto police get stuck in a rut when it comes to enforcing traffic violations. They have their preferred locations where they camp out and rarely seem to stray from these established areas.

To me, that means that many places in the city, places where law violations seriously risk the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, are ignored.

For example, the newly installed Bike Boxes on Harbord and College streets are a prime example. My daily travels take me by the intersections with bike boxes and more often than not there are drivers either ignoring the stop lines or making illegal right turns on red lights. Yet, I have never seen police officers on site ready to both educate and ticket drivers who make these violations.

Is it because Toronto police don’t know or don’t believe that these are trouble areas? Well, if the reason is the former then thankfully Toronto police have an easy-to-use online reporting system that allows you to submit complaints.

Is there a stop signed intersection that drivers constantly fail to stop for (like the entire stretch of Barton from Christie to Bathurst)? Is there a key area where you observe a large number of drivers using handheld devices? Is there a stretch of road where drivers consistently exceed posted speed limits?

Let Toronto police know! Submit your complaints here: Online Citizen Police Reporting System

Photo by Martinho

A Look at the 2012 Beater Bikes

Toronto-based indie bicycle company Beater Bikes will be back with 2 new models for 2012.

The step-through (loop frame) and roaster (diamond frame) models continue the bare-bones theme of the brand. In fact, for 2012 they’ve gone even more minimalist. Both steel frames are available in single speed with coaster brake or 3-speed internal gear hub models (also with coaster brakes) meaning no exposed derailleurs and no cables or brake levers. The branding on the bikes has been cut down with only a logo headbadge remaining.

Both models come equipped with full front and rear fenders, rear racks, partial chain covers and double kickstands. The step-through frame is pictured with battery operated front and rear lights, while the roadster model comes with a front rack in lieu of the lights.

The best part, the pricing:

Singlespeed models will retail for $299.99 while the 3-speed equipped bicycles will be $399.99

For more info and to find out when the 2012 models will be available, visit BeaterBikes.net

 

Covet: Bike Rack Birdhouse by Dimini

Love the look of this birdhouse bike rack by Toronto-based Dimini.

Bike Messengers 1992-98

Chrissima

From Trevor Hughes’ series Bike Messengers 1992-98.

See the full set on Flickr here.

Bikes On Wheels

While you simply can’t just call a video ‘viral’ (especially at less than 1,000 views) I still think this is a cool promo for Bikes On Wheels… and that song’s gonna be stuck in my head all day, too.

Councillor Ana Bailão Proposes Reversible Centre Lane on Dupont

Here’s a letter I received from Cllr. Bailão in response a plea I sent for councillors to not accept PWIC’s motions to remove the Jarvis bike lane and to not begin removing the Dupont bike lane:

Thank you for taking the time to email me with regards to Toronto’s bikelanes and for your patience in awaiting my reply.

As our city grows, the need for cleaner, alternative methods of transportation becomes increasingly necessary for a healthy and mobile city. The predicted population increases for Toronto will put further strain on rush hour traffic use. To alleviate this we must invest in infrastructure that supports alternative ways of moving around Toronto. Bicycling reduces vehicle traffic, promotes health, is environmentally-friendly and I will continue to support bicycle infrastructure in the City of Toronto.

The proposed removal of the Jarvis Street bike lane was due to concerns that traffic, specifically travelling North in the evening, is being significantly delayed. Traffic congestion is a serious issue in the City of Toronto and poses a significant economic threat due to lost productivity.

I feel strongly that it is irresponsible for Council to remove the Jarvis Street bike lane before City staff has an opportunity to implement their solution and revaluate the situation which is why I voted to maintain the existing bike lane. I am particularly disappointed with Council’s decision to eliminate the Jarvis bike lane because it offers a safe commuting option to hundreds of cyclists every day, and without the most up-to-date information, the removal of this bike lane is premature and unjustified.

The bicycle lanes on Dupont Street were installed under the previous Councillor and I feel strongly that many concerns surrounding their installation could have been resolved with greater community consultation.

These bicycle lanes have caused significant congestion for vehicle traffic during peak commuting periods. Not only has this made it very difficult for residents living in the area to access their homes, but the idling of stationary vehicles in this congestion can offset the environmental benefits of the bicyclists using the lane.

City Staff indicated that a large amount of congestion was occurring around the Landsdowne and Dupont intersection, where the bike lane begins. On staff’s recommendation, moving the Dupont bike lane a short distance West of this intersection will allow vehicles to more easily turn at this intersection and reduce traffic backlog.

In order to alleviate the concerns of residents in the area, I have been working with City staff to develop a strategy to improve traffic flow while maintaining bicycle lanes on Dupont as it is a critical East-West cycling route. During the last meeting of the Public Works Committee, a motion was approved to have City staff examine the installation of a middle vehicle lane on Dupont Street that would alternate with rush hour to provide an extra lane of traffic during peak hours.

By working with the interests of cyclists, local residents, and City staff, these changes will go a long way to improving traffic concerns in this area. I will continue to create forums of dialogue between groups in addition to supporting the increase of cycling infrastructure in the City of Toronto.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact my office and please do not hesitate to do so in the future.

Sincerely,
Ana Bailão
City Councillor
Ward 18, Davenport

councillor_bailao@toronto.ca (416) 392-7012 www.AnaBailao.ca

I guess this motion means removing either sidewalks, the bike lanes or on-street parking to make room for an alternating lane of doom on Dupont. I’ve written the councillor asking for further information about this proposal as it appears nowhere in PWIC or City Council records online.

Passing the Buck on Safety at Ontario Place Parking Lot Entrances

There’s a steaming pile of mess out front of Ontario Place, and for once it isn’t left behind by our mounted police officers.

To redirect cyclists, joggers, rollerbladers and other non-Ontario Place guests from interfering with park entrance line ups (do they even exist these days?), the Martin Goodman Trail was redirected in 2008 and now runs beside Lake Shore Boulevard. In the process of straightening the trail and separating it from park visitor foot traffic, which is a good thing and a benefit to the hundreds who use this path to commute year round, a new issue has arisen.

As seen above, there are signs, there are traffic lights, and there are p-gates that narrow the path drastically.

I’ve written why these gates create more hazards than they supposedly prevent. Toronto Star’s The Fixer has written about the gates, not once, not twice but three times now.

First, The Fixer: Barricades are a big bang for cyclists:

The barriers, which are mounted to poles on both sides and swing out to cut the width of the trail by half, force cyclists to squeeze between them, sometimes with disastrous results, said McNally.

“I had a bad crash into one more than six weeks ago, when they were unexpectedly closed for the first time in my memory, during a morning commute,” he said.

“While I waited for assistance, another cyclist had similar spill,” he said, adding that it took five weeks to recover from the accident.

Then, The Fixer gets action: Martin Goodman Trail a little safer already:

The trio talked over ideas for thwarting motorists while reducing the risk to cyclists from the barriers, nearby utility poles and vehicles crossing the bike path as they turn onto Ontario Place Blvd.

The ideas include better signage for cyclists and painting the path red at the approach to the intersection (to warn them to slow down), as well as barriers made of flexible material that will give if a cyclist runs into one.

For now, Dann has agreed to open barriers on one side of the path, which will allow more space for cyclists to pass each other, while still serving as an impediment to vehicles.

And he’s looking hard at the other ideas, saying anything that is feasible and will improve safety at the intersection will be seriously considered.

And now, The Fixer: Metal gates return to menace cyclists:

The city parks department, which is responsible for the trail, decided to open them after our column, figuring the hazard they posed to cyclists was greater than the need to keep cars off.

But Ontario Place owns the property over which the trail runs and overruled the decision. It closed the gates again last week, saying vehicles on the trail are more dangerous to people than the barriers.

Jonathan Daley, Ontario Place’s director of corporate affairs, said drivers leaving from the Remembrance Dr. entrance at the west end of the park try to sneak onto the trail to get a jump on slow traffic.

Ontario Place decided to close them to ensure drivers don’t start using the trail again, said Daley, adding it is responsible for the safety of people on its property, even those using the trail.

In The Fixer’s follow-up, a van is seen driving along the trail. How did that van get there if the gates were closed? Obviously, the only activity these gates are actually inhibiting is the use of common sense in intersection design.

It appears as though Jonathan Daley at Ontario Place needs more encouragement to not only open and remove these p-gates, but he also needs a hand when it comes to creating a solution that does not put trail users into dangerous situations. Let’s take a visual look at what can be done to stave off the supposed problem of trail driving dummies:

portland springwater trail road intersection

How staggeringly simple! A single bollard on the dividing line and two more permanent fixtures on the path’s edge. The Martin Goodman Trail is cleared of snow all winter and to allow snow removal vehicles the p-gates remain open all winter. Using the above solution, the centre bollard can easily be removed and will not impede snow clearing vehicles.

Why then does Ontario Place (or at least their representative) feel that trail users must take full responsibility for a problem not caused by them and deal with a current solution that places them at greater risk of personal injury?

Send an e-mail to Jonathan Daley, Ontario Place’s director of corporate affairs, jonathan.daley@ontarioplace.com and let him know that the current situation along the Martin Goodman Trail is unacceptable, needlessly dangerous and finally, easily fixable.

 

Dave’s Ride for Heart Detour

Via Dave Ghent:

This year I finally got to participate in the Heart and Stroke ride for a cure, which goes along the 2 major highways in Toronto. Starting at Exhibition place you enter the gardiner, then go all the way along to the dvp, and up to York Mills rd. Then you turn around and go all the way back down to exhibition place again. 50 kilometres in total. About 20 minutes into my ride I blew my tire. After about an hour of walking with my head down and kicking stones, I went back to my apartment and fixed my flat, and finished the race. Check out the time-lapse of my adventure.