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Leslieville, a Grand Gateway to the green and wild places on the Great Lake Ontario

Video of a little trek I took from Jones Avenue and Queen via Queen Street to Leslie Street, via Leslie to Lake Shore Boulevard.

Some residents of Toronto’s downtown east side neighbourhood known as Leslieville, want the City of Toronto to install cycling infrastructure along Leslie Street when it is redeveloped this year.

This video goes a measure to explain why, it’s dangerous for bicyclists on Leslie – that’s why you don’t see very many of them. But soon, with all the parks opening to the south and a gentrification ongoing in the neighbourhood – this street will be teaming with cyclists… because it is one of only a few Gateways across the Great Wall – Lake Shore Boulevard!

This is a pretty slow Saturday afternoon in February, no snow, no snow banks – just a hellish westerly gusting to about 60 km/hr..

Just your typical Bike Ride in Toronto on a Saturday afternoon in February


The TTC is building a ‘Car House’ (the Ashbridges Bay Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) Maintenance and Storage Facility – ) on a plot of land on the South-East corner of Leslie Street and Lake Shore Boulevard – and to connect this cleaning a maintenance facility to the Toronto Transit Authority’s street car grid they are putting in street car tracks on Leslie Street from Queen Street, South down to approximately Commissioners Road.

Via Wikipedia - Streetcar track reconstruction at Bathurst Street and Queen Street.

Building a Grand Union at Bathurst Street and Queen Street West - 1997 (?)


The project is a major construction job:

1) A ‘three-quarter Grand Union’ at Queen Street and Leslie Street – so the new LRT cars travelling north can turn east or west – and so cars on Queen Street, traveling in either direction, can turn south to get back to the Car House;

2) Leslie street will need a new foundation to support the new LRT vehicles, each of which weighs in at 48,200 kg. The new vehicles are 30.2 metres, or 99 feet long – 25% longer than the longest street cars Toronto has now (the ‘articulated’, ALRV) which is 23 m or 75 feet. The TTC ssays they are ripping up the entire width of the street, sidewalks included.

3) The intersection of Leslie Street and Lake Shore Boulevard has all kinds of infrastructure under it. I’m not privy to the details, but I’m assuming water and sewer, electrical, fiber-optic… . Apparently many of the conduit for these elements will not stand up to the stresses that a street car right of way over top of them will create. That means they’re going to have to dig deep and build steel re-enforced concrete conduits for all these various elements – and make sure all are accessible by maintenance crews from a variety of city departments.


So after all this – can we get separated bike lanes on Leslie Street so folks can cycle safely to:

-the Waterfront Cycling Trail (formerly Martin Goodman Trail);
-the new Port Lands Parks; and,
-the new Tommy Thompson Park on Leslie Spit

The Transportation Department says the road is too narrow for Bike Lanes. The City of Toronto agrees – there is no way to make the street wider, and besides the road will be a TTC right of way in 10-15 years as Leslie becomes a service route. And the TTC says no, we can’t make the street wider – not in this project – the 2 year environmental study is already done – There’ No Time!!!

And they’re all correct … but we still need separated cycling infrastructure in order to help get parents and their children south of the great barrier, the Great Wall – Lake Shore Boulevard.

What to do?

We need your in-put.

The Leslie Street Complete Streets Working Group is meeting periodically and has lobbied all concerned about this issue. We are now at the end of the City of Toronto mandated, ‘Pubic Consultation Process’ – with no ground given on bike infrastructure. Now I think, we enter a phase of political organizing – we have to get a ground swell of popular support for cycling infrastructure on Leslie Street.

One suggestion, for the short term – just paint on bike lanes, or sharrows – for now, then…

Please help – us, all together, we can create a better Leslie Street. Perhaps, as I have dreamt – a Grand Gateway to the green and wild paces along the Great Lake Ontario – just 850 metres to the south.

And a new identity for Leslieville and South Riverdale – place names that will be known by tourists around the world.

For more more information, or to get involved – Contact me at, michaelholloway111(at)gmail(dot)com


See specifications for the new (LRT) street cars: TTC -

Also at the TTC:

See the old ones:  Wikipedia:  ”Toronto streetcar system” —> 3.0 “Rolling Stock” —> 3.1 “Streetcars purchased by the TTC” (click on the links in the “Type” column to see the different vintages) -

This article was written under the video while it was up-loading – to see it there click on the video, or this link -


Posted: February 25th, 2012
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Toronto Police Bicycle corps. re-purpose bicycles at G20 Summit for crowd control

This weekend I saw many examples of how police were re-purposing the bicycle. I was distressing for me to see bicycles being used as weapons and as “aggressive fences” during the past weekend’s military like clamp down.

The video below shows a march along Carlton Avenue called “Justice for our Communities” that took place on Friday June 25th 2010. The march was organized by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). In the past, OCAP has had some violent incidents with police. (see Wikipedia article, “Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Queen’s Park riot and aftermath“).

The group has matured over the years and now, I think, understands that their chosen tactic, ‘Direct Action’ must be peaceful in nature in order to succeed (this includes sit-ins and demonstrations that target the offices of politicians); and that violent confrontation with police only serves to empower the authorities use of overwhelming force.

There has been no evidence of such incident around this group in the ten years since the Queens park riot (one of the groups early actions), in on going campaign for street youth and the very poor.

But for the people setting policy in the Toronto Police, this group, they believe needs constant reminders of the power of the police though ‘special’ treatment. As such police policy makers decided that this particular march fit the bill for an application of the surreal level of security bring laid on this weekend, especially in the red zone, which this groups main neighborhood is pretty close to – Dundas and Sherbourne – Allen Gardens.

Note in the video how Toronto Bicycle Police are charged with walking along side the demo, on both sides, with their bikes wheel to wheel – basically creating a rolling fence.

As you can see this containment idea was an over-all strategy – all egress points along the route were manned – not by enough force to stop everyone if they decided to change the route – but by centuries, in military terms, or eyes and and ears on the field.

Later, along College Street police arrest a young black man it seems they’ve targeted through face recognition software, he’s deaf and they arrest him for not following police directive (which he cannot hear) and is taken behind police lines into an HMV store.

The crowd presses the doorway the police are defending, attempting to communicate with supervisors about the protesters deafness and secure his release. There is no evidence of violence from the crowd in all the video I’ve seen of this. But the crowds pressing in to the centre the police themselves have created leads to confrontation. Eventually the order comes to push the crowd back – to secure the police position.

In the ensuing may-lay Jesse Freeston a producer/reporter with The Real News Network (TRNN), and others are thrown back over police bikes, which for some reason are lying on the roadway. When he’s down Jesse is punched in the head – twice.

Right afterwards, Freeston asks the policeman who punched him why he did it. At 4:11 of the video Toronto Police Bicycle corp. use the handle bars of their bikes as batons to jab The Real News Network’s reporter while ordering him to leave the scene (he is working as a reporter on public sidewalk, at a permitted march).

Later in the same video (at 5:11), the Toronto Bicycle corp. use their bicycles as an “aggressive fence”, with the bikes tipped up on their back wheels in a line, the knobby tires right in your face.

I dislike seeing bikes used as weapons or fences. it’s really bad imagery and a sad weekend in the otherwise good ‘Police on Bicycles’ campaign that’s getting more police out of their isolating, ‘uber human’ patrol cars and on to the streets and sidewalks, talking with and getting to know folks in communities.


Posted: June 29th, 2010
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“Rolling Stops” a yeild to common sense over “Crack Downs”

Jun 24, 2010 @ 12:57

Over at the Biking Toronto Discussion group, “Bikelanes & InfrastructureColin McKay started the topic: “Can we please have a police crackdown on cyclists running reds?“.

The inflammatory title of the piece serves to begin a discussion about the differences between car and bike, the history of the creation of the infrastructure and the bias towards car traffic reflected in traffic law.


Oh well. That’s what I wanted to talk about here.

Three weeks and three days ago Mark added a common sense essay to the discussion the included a link to this great video below. This seems like a good place to start here.

Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.

So far there are 12 comments on the discussion including one added today by Todd Tyrtle – have a look.

My take here and at this blogs sister site the “Bicycle Route Mapping Wiki“, is that everything must change a little, some things must change a lot in the transportation infrastructure of the city to make Toronto a bike friendly environment.

I rode courier for four summers and 3 winters people running reds was never a problem. Like the video says you make a habit of running red the problem will soon be gone – you’ll be dead. The main point of Mr. McKays introduction if I read it correctly is that we need to be taken seriously with in the commons.

I’m all for that – but you’re not going to stop a practice used by messengers to get they’re job done, on a grid that treats them like second class users – with a crack down – what ever that might be.

Equal, that’s the key I think; we all want to be treated like equals, but the stage the way it’s set right now has people with a car being a lot more equal than them without.

I agree that responsible cycling is key to the discussion, I even think bicycles should be licensed – along with changes to the drivers license test that includes much more about sharing the road, and perhaps even a section of the test that involves a bicycle road test for motor vehicle drivers! You can’t drive a car until you’ve got your cycling license for example.


This piece was cross published in Michael Holloway’s FilterBlogs.

Posted: June 24th, 2010
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Michael Bryant and Spin Doctors ‘Diminish Us All’

May 25, 2010 @ 16:36

“We are all diminished by any loss of life,” said Mr. Bryant.

I would opine that we are all diminished when after one takes the life of another, the institution we have built that maintains our civilization offers no sanction.

The starting point, the point where Michael Bryant loses his humanity to fear and the objectification of the other, happens before the hellish ride that kills Darcy Allan Sheppard. It starts with an assault at an intersection, when Bryant uses his car to throw the cyclist onto the hood ( He then brakes and backs up, spilling the injured man to the pavement, then he wheels right, around the man and over the bike, trying to effect an escape of the scene of his criminal act – it is at this point Sheppard grabs onto the side of the car. It is in this attempt to escape the consequences of his assault on Sheppard that Bryant embarks down the road to murder – and becomes Sheppard’s Chauffeur of death.

Here’s a player with the audio embedded of the carefully scripted stage play that served as a news conference this morning.

After, reporters pose questions that seem intended only to help Mr. Bryant flesh out the details of the spin he has just delivered – questions that help Bryant add colour and depth to his script:
Thanks to the National post (mp3 of Michael Bryant news conference May 25, 2010).

“28 seconds…” This is the theme the script writers go with, it talks to the idea that at a moment of fear and surprise you might have done what Michael Bryant did – that is, cross to the opposite side of Bloor Street and use a mail box and a tree to “brush off” – to snuff out the life of – a man hanging onto the side of your car for dear life.

From the witnesses, via Youtube video:

Click to see it on Youtube: “Witnesses to killing of Darcy Allan Sheppard By Michael Bryant“.

What charges should be brought that will have a reasonable likelihood of resulting in a conviction?

Dangerous Driving?
Assault with a weapon?

I cross posted this piece at Michael Holloway’s FilterBlogs “Michael Bryant and Spin Doctors ‘Diminish Us All’“.


Posted: May 25th, 2010
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TransitCity faces Challenges creating Meaningful Bicycle Commute Corridors through the Core

Apr 22, 2010 @ 14:51

On April 15th @bikerooTO and @JoFergs were talking on Twitter about #TransitCity, and specifically how bike corridors both north/south and east/west through the core were absent from the plan. This map illustrates where one big problem lies.

A way up the east side of the core. Notice the big problem just above bloor to just below St Clair, that's Mt Pleasant which is a hyway and a kill zone for bikes.

A way up the east side of the core. Notice the big problem just above Bloor to just below St Clair, that's Mt Pleasant which is a 'highway', and a 'kill zone' for cyclists.

The squiggly route through Rosedale is a product of the Great Don River taking a huge slice out of it’s flood plain as it dog-legs above Bloor. The roads in the area reflect that topography.

Several man-made barriers also present barriers to safe cycling.

  • Mt. Pleasant Blvd. is a highway and is not for bikes. Cars power down that hill that starts under 777 Jarvis.
  • The lack of a tunnel or a bridge across the railway tracks at the north end of Rosedale force bicycles out of the safe quiet side streets, and on to harrowing Yonge.

I think the east side of the core is uniquely suited for a commuter cycling corridor, a ‘super safeway’ for bikes (a shady pleasant ‘few-car’ route north and south that will ‘quiet’ neighborhood streets and increase property values).

This route has been added to the Bicycle Route Mapping Wiki, Sherbourne and Queen’s Quay to Eglington and Mt. Pleasant.
Next week: I’ve got in mind an east/west route through the top of the core just north of Bloor Street West, Dufferin to Sherbourne that I always use during business hours.


Posted: April 22nd, 2010
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