Bloor western extension stakeholders meeting

Tonight there was a stakeholders meeting for the western extension of the Bloor bike lanes. I was pleased to see that one of the handouts was a brochure outlining the primary conclusions of a study of the impact of the Bloor bike lanes.

3898045E-4C09-474A-BD0A-CECA321A57B8

There was a presentation of the background for the project, outlining the extensive process of consultation that is ongoing in advance of the first broad public consultation scheduled for late January.

The city presented a preliminary design for the western extension. The bottom line is that there will be continous bike lanes on both sides of the street from Shaw to Runnymede, with some level of protection along the whole route. Unlike the Bloor bike lanes on the north side in the Annex which have only a painted line in the narrowest section, there will be a minimum of a painted buffer with bollards, with more protection in other sections. One of the proposals for better protection is precast concrete curbs topped by bollards. The details of the street configuration varies along the length of the project. Where parking is maintained, the parked cars will be used as a buffer, and the bike lane will be curbside. There will have to be a limited number of gaps to allow for things like stops for the night bus, and accessibility at certain points such as beside retirement homes.

Here is the proposed cross section for both Bloordale and Bloorcourt. This will entail removing parking from one side of the street.

IMG_3554

The section between Lansdowne and Dundas West calls for special treatment since there are two underpasses. The treatment for the underpasses is a little different because of the width required by the pillars supporting the railway bridges.

IMG_3555

West of Dundas, there is sufficient road width to maintain parking on both sides.

IMG_3556

IMG_3557

Many details of the design remain to be worked out. After the presentation, we were broken up into table groups in order to discuss two issues in particular: intersection designs, and considerations for loading, pickup and drop off, and accessibility.

IMG_3559

The atmosphere in the room was very positive.

Two of the usual suspects were all smiles afterwards (Kevin from Cycle Toronto, and Albert from Bells on Bloor)

IMG_3560

Next, city staff will flesh out a preliminary design based on the feedback collected at events such as the one tonight, and these will be presented at public consultations that will be during the last week in January. There will be two dates at two locations near the west and eastern ends of the project.

The intention is to have this project go to city council, and if approved, then installation is scheduled for August 2020. I was told that everything should be installed within a two week window.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bloor West Bikeway Extension

Screen Shot 2019-11-09 at 10.17.35 AM

The City of Toronto has posted their official page outlining the project involving the westward extension of the Bloor bike lanes.

“In July 2019, the City of Toronto began planning, design and consultation on the Bloor West Bikeway Extension. The project will study and develop a design to add a bikeway on Bloor Street West from Shaw Street to Runnymede Road.

This project is currently in the planning and design phases with public engagement scheduled for January 2020. Installation is planned for August 2020, pending approval by the Infrastructure and Environment Committee (IEC) and City Council in spring 2020.”

Watch for the public consultations, and opportunities for comments in early 2020.

Posted in infrastructure | Leave a comment

Danforth Avenue Complete Street and Planning Study

Tonight was the first of six public meetings on a major study of the Danforth launched by the city. It was also promoted by Cycle Toronto as an opportunity to get cyclists’ voices heard to push for bike lanes on Danforth. Attendees were greeted at the door by a face familiar to the cycling advocacy community.

IMG_3401

There was a considerable line getting into the venue.

IMG_3403

We were invited to place push pins to mark where we came from. It was obvious that the majority of attendees were from the vicinity of the study area, which was the Danforth from Broadview to Victoria Park.

IMG_3404

I was somewhat amused to see that I was the west most pin for the wider area map.

IMG_3409

People were greeted by signs and posters outlining the nature of the study.

DSC06568

There were also three activities to do before and after the formal presentation. The first was to solicit comments on the scope of the study to ensure that the city was not missing an important issue.

DSC06569

The second was an invitation to comment on specific points on the study area, using post it notes on a map.

DSC06566

DSC00875

DSC06572

The third was an exercise in priorities. Different issues were on a poster, and participants were asked to vote by placing two marbles into the relevant jars.

DSC06570

DSC06567

DSC06571

The two most relevant to cycling were “safety and complete streets” and “getting around”.

Once we go settled down, there was a formal presentation. There were over 300 people present, showing the intense level of interest.  From a show of hands, the majority of people in the area were from the study area, and almost everyone in the room shopped on the Danforth.

DSC06573

The presentation was kicked off by a facilitator from a consulting company, and she introduced the two local councillors.

Brad Bradford.

DSC00866

Paula Fletcher.

DSC00868

Next Jacquelyn Hayward was introduced as the overall project manager.

DSC00869

She said that this was just the first of six public meetings, and that the objective of this meeting was to get public input, particularly on scoping the entire project. She said that this project involved a collaboration between three city departments: transportation, planning, and economic development. She said that in the past it was unusual for different departments to be working together in parallel, but that that the King Street Pilot was a recent example of a successful collaboration between the same three departments.

Stated goals (not in any particular priority)

  • Enhance mobility and safety
  • Shape future growth
  • Strengthen business community
  • A Community based vision for change

She mentioned several other studies that were ongoing or recently completed in the relevant area. One was a citywide study of Main Street retail that would be complete and provided to council in 2020. The concern was the continued success of local, small retailers on main shopping streets, versus the significant shifts in the overall retail landscape.

There were three brief presentations on the three main areas of study.

Transportation and safety: a few slides on safety and the theme of complete streets.

DSC00871

DSC00872

Economic Development: who shops on the Danforth, and how to they get there. What makes the Danforth an attractive destination?

Avenue study component: zoning, land use, managing growth, the public realm, affordable housing, community services, heritage considerations, sustainability.

In terms of timeline, the next meeting would be early in 2020, and at that meeting, a summary of public input would be presented, along with some results of traffic and economic studies.  A preliminary complete streets design would be presented in summer 2020 for further public input. An outline framework would be presented to council in the fall, and then an implementation plan would be presented in 2021.

At this point there was an opportunity for a few questions from the crowd:

  • Have you already decided to put in a bike lane? No, this is not decided yet. One of the outcomes of the study will be a complete streets design, but with appropriate analysis of things like potential economic impact, etc.
  • Why can’t we put in a bike lane pilot in 2020? The city wants to move this project forward with comprehensive community consultation, and the hope that there will be a consensus on any changes to be made. There will be a design brought forward in 2020.
  • There was some discussion of a stakeholders advisory committee. Who chooses who is going to be on the committee? This will be done in consultation with the councillors. As a follow up, how will this group fully represent the diversity of the community. It was pointed out that the people at the front of the room did not look very diverse.
  • In this time of climate crisis, and given the fact that the city has declared a climate emergency, can’t this process be expedited?  Once again, it is important to take into account community and stakeholder input, so we will stick to the stated timeline.

DSC00873

At the close of questioning there were some loud objections about the lack of concern for the prosperity of the neighbourhood, i.e. the success of local merchants. Eventually things were settled down to the point that the audience was invited to go through a visioning exercise while seated around tables.

DSC00874

After the meeting I rode back west, and I was struck by how much more road width there was available along the Danforth when compared to Bloor. I had the pleasure of cycling back with Hamish Wilson, and I thought that it would appropriate to bookend this post with another picture of him.

IMG_3417

Update: all of the materials from the meeting have been posted:

Posted in Advocacy, infrastructure | Leave a comment

Bloor protected bike lane update

The section of the Bloor bike lane between Bathurst and Spadina has been closed for several months while sewer work was being done. At the same time, the city took the opportunity to upgrade the bike infrastructure along this stretch. This past weekend, the paving was completed, and road markings went down, and so it is easy to visualize what the finished product will look like.

Biking east, just past Bathurst, you can see the new pavement and road markings.

IMG_3323

Here are two pictures by Lee’s Palace from Oct 30 (left) and today. You can see where the raised portion of the bike lane will be, to the right of the raised curb.

Here at Brunswick, the bike lane moves to the left past the allowed parking spaces. The concrete work still needs to be completed here, and then they can lay the gravel that will be under the raised bike lane, as seen in the previous photos.

IMG_3325

A little further on, another section with car parking.  That’s long time bike advocate Rick who just passed me on his bakfiets.

Frame-03-11-2019-11-32-03

Here is a picture of almost the same spot back in August 2016. One potential issue with the new design is that the buffer between parked cars and the bike lane is now just the width of the curb, which raises the issue of being doored from the left. It looks like the former width of the buffer was used to make room for the poured concrete transition between the sidewalk and the bike lane.

IMG_3746

Here is a closer view of the transition between the sidewalk and the bike lane.

IMG_3335

Now coming back west from Spadina, you can see that some things never change.

IMG_3330

There is a raised island terminating the strip of allowed parking just in front of the Shopper’s Drug Mart.

IMG_3332

Looking west from Roberts St, you can see that the bike lane on the north side is the same painted stripe as before. Lack of road width on this section precludes any better solution so long as some parking is preserved along this stretch.

IMG_3333

At Bathurst, the intersection design is the same as before, with the addition of a person parked in the right turn lane.

IMG_3336

Looking forward to the completion of the project. I’m sure that the merchants along this stretch are glad to see the fencing come down and the street reopened.

In the meantime, the full court press continues to have the bike lanes extended west to High Park, and perhaps even to Runnymede. Albert published recent coverage on Dandyhorse.

Here is a video of some supporters of this initiative, including many store owners along this stretch.

There will also be a public consultation about a bike lane pilot on the Danforth this week on Thursday Nov 7 at 6:30, Monarch Park CI. The city has also posted information here.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Bloor west community will benefit from expanded bike lanes: advocates

photo: Justin Greaves/Torstar

There is an article on Toronto.com about local businesses and the potential impact of extending the Bloor bike lanes further west.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rob Z’s summary of the bike plan update

Robert Zaichkowski has posted an excellent summary of the revisions to the bike plan that will be considered this Thursday at the Intrastructure and Environment Committee.

To quote his action items at the end of his post:

The deadline to register to speak or provide comments to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee (iec@toronto.ca) and your city councillor is 4:30 PM on Wednesday, June 26. Stay tuned for action alerts from Cycle Toronto, though those wishing to provide submissions should focus on the following key items:

  1. Extend the Bloor bike lanes west to High Park Avenue by 2020
  2. Implement a pilot bike lane on Danforth Avenue by 2020
  3. Accelerate bike lane installations across the City including protected intersections
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Backgrounder posted for the 2019-2021 Bike Plan

The backgrounder for the latest revision to the City of Toronto Bike Plan has been posted. This will be considered at the June 27 Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting, and then it move to further consideration at City Council.

The agenda item is here.

The sentences relevant to Bloor/Danforth are as follows:

“As part of the Update to the Cycling Network Plan, the major corridors were reviewed and prioritized based on the analysis results, as well as on previous Council commitments, recently completed Avenue Studies, and planned capital works. The following corridors are proposed for study in the near-term program (2019-2021): 

• Danforth Avenue Planning and Complete Streets Study (Broadview Ave to Victoria Park Ave): Launching in summer 2019, through a collaboration between Transportation Services, City Planning, and Economic Development and Culture, this project will evaluate opportunities for a complete streets design. Implementation proposed for 2021. 

• Bloor Street West (Shaw St to High Park Ave): Launching in fall 2019, this project will involve planning, design, and public consultation for an extension of the Bloor St West cycle tracks to High Park, with implementation proposed for 2020 or 2021. 

• Bloor Street East (Church St to Sherbourne St): As a next step from the Bloor Street East Streetscape Improvement Plan, an Environmental Assessment for this project will be initiated in early 2020. Road reconstruction is planned in 2022.”

Note that it is not clear what “implementation” means for the first two bullet points. Note that there is a distinction drawn for Bloor St. East, which uses the phrase “Road reconstruction”.

One hopes that the phrase in the first paragraph “proposed for study” doesn’t mean that all that will happen by 2021 are more studies.

BTW: our turtle derby video is now available on youtube, as well as from the link on the “reports and videos” tab.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Community letter for extension

On June 27 City Council will be considering whether to accelerate the extension of the Bloor bike lanes westward to High Park Ave, or to put it off with another study. As part of our advocacy effort, we are looking for business owners on Bloor who would support this initiative, particularly those between Shaw and High Park.

Join the 40 merchants & groups that have already signed the community letter calling for the extension of the Bloor bike lane.

email us at bellsonbloor@gmail.com

The text of the support letter follows below, and the letter is also available in pdf form from the “community letter for extension” tab from the home page.

*********************************************

May 21, 2019 

Mayor John Tory and City Councillors 

City Hall, 2nd Floor 100 Queen St. W. Toronto, ON M5H 2N2 

Dear Mayor Tory and City Councillors, 

Re: It’s (finally) time to make Bloor St. safe for Toronto 

Toronto has fallen behind other major cities in making its roads safe for residents and visitors who ride bicycles, or who would ride if they felt safe. Forty years after the installation of the city’s first bike lane, Toronto still lacks a coherent network of bike lanes. It’s time for City Hall to remedy this shortcoming, and to catch up with other major North American cities. A good place to start is the extension of the Bloor bike lane westward from Shaw St. to High Park. 

Bike lanes on Bloor have been comprehensively studied many times, including in 1978, 1992, 2008, and 2017. Each of these studies confirmed the popularity of Bloor as a cycling route and the potential for significant growth in ridership. Each study likewise highlighted the value of Bloor as a key connecting route for a cycling network. The 2017 study of the Bloor bike lane pilot from Avenue Rd. to Shaw was, according to the city’s transportation manager, one of the most comprehensively studied road projects in recent North American history. 

The failure to move forward on bike lanes on Bloor, despite the obvious need, is part of a larger failure to implement Toronto’s 2016 Bike Plan. A mere 27 km of bike lanes have been installed in the last three years — leaving the city far off track from the 335 km of lanes and roadside paths envisioned over the plan’s ten-year timeframe. By comparison, Montreal, despite its far smaller size and colder winters, installed 90 km of bike lanes during the same time frame, while New York City installed 124 km in 2017 alone. 

The 2.4 km pilot bike lane on Bloor (made permanent by City Council in 2017) resulted in a surge in the number of trips by bicycle and a substantial reduction in the number of conflicts (near misses) between road users. Revenues for local merchants also increased. In fact, city staff noted in its study that if a bike lane can be so successfully installed on “one of the busiest and most constrained sections of Bloor,” it should be considered for the full length of Bloor/Danforth. And yet, even a Bloor corridor study described as ‘currently underway’ in 2016 for Bloor bike lanes remains stalled. 

The potential contribution of the bicycle to urgent problems of climate change, traffic congestion, and affordability continue to be undermined by the grim road casualty toll. Last year five cyclists were killed on public roads and many others injured, while the city installed a mere eight km of new bike lanes. The demonstrated peril for pedestrians is no less disturbing, despite Toronto’s Vision Zero road safety plan. 

Our city has changed. Today it is transit, walking and cycling that are increasing in importance as the main mode of transportation for residents. Municipal infrastructure investments are urgently needed to bring our transportation system back into balance by providing for the safety of all road users, including residents who get around by bicycle. 

It’s finally time to move from study to action for bike lanes on Bloor. The next step must be a design and implementation plan, informed by community consultation, to determine ‘how’ not ‘whether’ to install bike lanes on Bloor and to ensure that issues such as the location of business loading zones, safe motor vehicle turns, and access for the disabled are addressed. 

We urge City Council to move forward now on extending the Bloor bike lane west to High Park — a road safety measure that is long overdue. 

Sincerely, 

__________________________ 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Letter to Mayor John Tory

Albert Koehl has sent a letter to Mayor John Tory about the failure of the city’s ten year bike plan.

April 29, 2019

Dear Mayor Tory,

Re: Toronto’s bike plan is failing (again)

Toronto’s Ten-Year Cycling Network Plan is on a clear trajectory to failure. We believe that such a failure is a loss for the community, not just for people on bicycles.

The new ten-year plan, approved in principle by council in June 2016, set out 335 km of new bike lanes and sidewalk level bike paths to be in place by 2025. In the almost three years since then, a paltry 27.5 km of new bike lanes, including some of marginal value, have been built. (Montreal, by comparison has installed 90 km of bike lanes in the same period.) This dismal pace of action has occurred despite a $16 million annual cycling capital budget (of which only $11 million was spent last year — little of it on bike lanes) and millions in additional federal funding. At the current pace, City Hall will repeat the failure of the 2001 bike plan.

The numbers are not simply a matter of passing interest. While Toronto installed about eight km of bike lanes last year, five residents were killed (a toll not exceeded since 1998) and many others suffered life-altering injuries while engaged in the otherwise enjoyable activity of riding bicycles.

Polling information over recent years has shown majority support from across the city for bike lanes and other road safety measures. We know that far more people would cycle if safe infrastructure was in place, allowing them to take advantage of the health and affordability benefits of bicycling while the community is spared from unnecessary air pollution, noise, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, and road danger.

Central to the new ten-year plan were eight corridor studies for specific arterial roads, including Bloor, Danforth, and Yonge Streets, to provide the vital connecting routes needed for a cycling network. We have known since the 1970s that utilitarian cyclists use the same arterial roads as motorists, simply because they are typically going to the same places (and at the same times of day). Although it is now 40 years since Toronto’s first bike lane was installed, we are still years away from seeing a useful cycling network in place.

On a motion by the chair of the public works committee on May 16, 2016 (PW 13.11), all but two of the corridor studies were deferred, subject to a two-year review. The rationale for these deferrals was to provide an opportunity to learn from the completed studies. The Yonge study did move forward, albeit driven by the road reconstruction schedule, but the Bloor study sits idle – despite being noted as “currently underway” in 2016. We have yet to receive a satisfactory explanation for the failure to move forward, especially in view of the crucial information the reports were to provide (and in the context of new staff resources contemplated under the ten-year plan and the significant available funding). The two-year review has also not taken place.

We therefore have three questions:

  1. Who is accountable and responsible to the community for implementation of the city’s bike plan? We note that the significant dedication of city resources to the preparation of the bike plan is squandered when the plan is not implemented;
  2. What strategy will be put in place to get the ten-year plan back on track? This will require significant political will, given that three years have already passed with little progress. Action during this term of council will determine success or failure; and
  3. Why has the Bloor Corridor Study not been commenced, given that its completion was a key determinant for future action on the remaining corridor studies, which were themselves necessary elements for a coherent bike network in Toronto.

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Albert Koehl

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Westward Ho! What’s next for the Bloor bike lanes

Cycle Toronto has published a more extensive summary of last week’s meeting on the westward extension of the Bloor bike lane.

Action item:

They have updated their pledge on the Bloor bike lane specifically to call for a westward extension of the lanes to High Park. Sign, if you have not already done so!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment