Westward Ho! Bloor bike lane extension meeting

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(cross posted from Dandyhorse Magazine)

Tonight was Westward Ho!, a community meeting organized for the Bloordale neighbourhood to educate people about the issues surrounding a possible westward extension of the Bloor bike lane as far as High Park. It was organized by frequent Dandyhorse contributors Albert Koehl of Bells on Bloor and Rob Zaichkowski from Cycle Toronto. The meeting was held at Bloor Collegiate Institute, just a bit west of the Bloor and Dufferin intersection.

Albert kicked things off with a short historical presentation of bike lanes on Bloor.

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Next up: Nancy Lea Smith from TCAT, who talked about several studies they had done over the years to measure the economic impact of bike lane installation.DSC07663

The next speaker was local merchant Jennifer Klein of “Secrets From Your Sister“. She has been supportive of the bike lanes, but understood the apprehension of some of her fellow merchants, as well as her own customers. She said that adjustments made during the pilot phase of the Bloor bike lanes was helpful: in particular the addition of dedicated loading zones on side streets.

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Sharon Zikman (Doctors for Safe Cycling) talked about the health aspects of cycling. She is a psychiatrist, and made an analogy between anti-depressants and commuting by bike. She said that when she prescibed anti-depressants, she knew upfront that the they would be 35% effective on average, with some small probability of serious side effects. On the other hand, she cited studies from the UK that benefits from commuting by bike could have a larger impact, such as a 50% decrease in cardiac disease. She noted the hazards of cycling as a side effect, but this was a side effect that could be avoided by prescribing safer cycling infrastructure.

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Next up: Nahum Mann from the Bloordale Community Improvement Association (CIA). He said that they were supportive of the westward extension of the bike lanes. On a personal note, he said that he both he and his fiancée had been doored recently.

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At this point, Councillors Layton and Bailao joined in, just having rushed over from City Council after having voted to make the King Street transit pilot permanent.

Mike was somewhat circumspect about the prospects of the westward extension in the near term. He spoke from his experience in the long process of getting the Bloor bike lanes installed up to Shaw. He said that it took a big tent to get it through. At the same time, one can’t wait for the community building to be perfect before moving forward.

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Ana Bailao sounded generally supportive. She acknowledged that a network of bike lanes will be one piece of the solution to moving goods and people across an increasingly crowded city. She said that there will be a need for difficult conversations, and that support comes from packing rooms with people, not just dedicated cycles.

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Next, Gideon Forman from the David Suzuki Foundation presented some data from an EKOS poll that showed surprisingly broad support across the city for bike lanes.

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Finally, Jared Kolb from Cycle Toronto said that City Council will have a key decision to make in May to consider accelerating the extension of the Bloor bike lanes. If they turn it down, there is little prospect of anything happening until at least 2023. He reiterated the success of the Richmond/Adelaide bike lanes, and stated that their polls consistently show that people want to ride, and they want to ride more often.

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The speakers then took a series of questions from the audience.

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There were a few people who were brave enough to speak up strongly against the bike lanes, and against the behaviour of cyclists in general. This lead to one of the difficult conversations that was alluded to earlier in the evening.

One of the last questions was from the head of the local BIA who said that her members were undecided about the bike lanes, and that they were not aware of the information that had been presented at this meeting. I saw both Jared and Ana huddled with her as the meeting adjourned.

Out in the lobby, there were a few researchers from the University of Copenhagen who were running a survey on bike infrastructure. They are been here for a while. Here, longtime advocate Hamish Wilson is briefing them.

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One of the european visitors said he was impressed with all of the bike advocacy that was going on, but couldn’t understand the glacial pace of getting new things built.  Why indeed….

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Bloor bike lane extension meeting

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(graphic by Peter)

Mark your calendars for this coming Tuesday evening for a public meeting about the timeline for a westward extension of the Bloor Bike Lanes at Bloor Collegiate Institute.

The speakers include:

  • Albert Koehl (Bells on Bloor) – History of Bloor and the bicycle
  • Nancy Smith Lea (TCAT) – Bloor pilot study & what we learned
  • Jennifer Klein (Secrets from Your Sister) – The business perspective
  • Councillors Layton and/or Bailao – The view from council
  • Sharon Zikman (Doctors for Safe Cycling) – The health perspective
  • Gideon Forman (David Suzuki Foundation) – The environmental perspective
  • Jared Kolb (Cycle Toronto) – Next Steps

Toronto.com just published an article about the upcoming meeting.

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The Great Bike Lane Turtle Derby

There were some strange goings on near Bloor and Dufferin this morning.

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Video linked below:

Afterwards, it was a brief stroll down Bloor to get a snack.

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Of course you can guess who represented Bloor in the race.

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Arriving at Home Baking for freshly baked treats.  Support your local businesses!

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Ever been in line when the customers ahead of you are soooo slow?  😉

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Turtles need nourishment too!

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Thanks to all who participated!

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Nearly one million cyclists a year on the Bloor bike lanes

Our friends at CycleTO recently posted an analysis of city data on the number of cyclists that use the Bloor bike lanes, and came up with the fact that almost one million cyclists use them a year. This makes them one of the most heavily used pieces of bike infrastructure in Canada, despite the fact that they are only 2.4 km long.

Westbound on Bloor, approaching Shaw, do you ever get a sinking feeling when you know that the bike lane is about to end?

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After the bike lane ends, you have no choice but to mix it up with traffic.

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In the same blog post, CycleTO makes a strong argument to extend the bike lanes westward, all the way to High Park.

They also cite a bike count that was done in September of last year by Bells on Bloor volunteers. That data shows that between the hours of midnight and 9 pm on Sept 28, 2018, about 2200 cyclists cycled by Sweet Pete’s bike shop, just west of Bloor and Dufferin, a section with no bike lanes.

Here’s a closer look at the data.

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Both lines show the number of cyclists per hour, westbound (blue) and eastbound (orange). It is interesting that the morning rush hour has a very distinct peak between 8-9 am, whereas the outbound evening rush hour is much more spread out. The data show a total of 1060 westbound cyclists and 1134 eastbound cyclists, totals that are roughly balanced.

There were also automobile counts done over the rush hour periods. During the morning rush between 8-9 am, the cyclist total was about 13% of the motorist total. During the evening rush, the number of cyclists was about 17% between the hours of 4-7 pm. These are significant numbers for a section of Bloor that is not bike friendly.

Let’s continue the push to get the Bloor bike lanes extended, and for bike lanes to be put on the Danforth as well!

 

 

 

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two articles on the Dandyhorse blog

50502892_2061064967309033_6013425982197727232_oDandyhorse published two recent articles on the bike plan.

In the first, Robert Zaichkowski and Albert Koehl talk about how real progress on building new bicycle infrastructure is falling far behind the official bike plan.

In the second, Tammy Thorne outlines how unambitious the city’s plans are for 2019.

Tomorrow morning (Jan 17), the newly constituted infrastructure and environment committee will vote on whether or not to recommend that the Richmond and Adelaide bike lanes be made permanent, as recommended by city staff. The city’s own studies show that bike traffic along this corridor has increased by a factor or ten, and the number of bike/car collisions as decreased at the same time. This will be the first indication of how receptive the new city council is towards bicycle infrastructure.

Fingers crossed.

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Making Bloor safe for cyclists is not as easy as you might think

 

DSC02604An article by Albert has just been posted in Dandyhorse Magazine about the long history of fighting for bike lanes on Bloor.

(Note that the photo above was taken this past summer during the group commute, the one day when bicycles can take over Bloor in the downtown bound direction).

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The small step that paved the way for Toronto’s waterfront trail

An article in the Globe and Mail about Winona Gallop, a cycling activist who started with getting the bike path along the Beach waterfront done, and then worked to extend it. The last broken link in the Waterfront Trail, at the foot of Leslie St. along Unwin Avenue, will be finished this year.

“Long before Bloor Street had a bike lane, before council approved its first bike plan, and even before the city had a mayor who was maligned for riding his bike to work, Toronto had Winona Gallop.”

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Bloor bike lanes: one year anniversary

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Image source.

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What bells work in the rain?

As we head into a rainy fall, one discussion that came up recently on the BOB list was the question of bike bells not working very well in the rain. I recently bought a Crane Suzu bell, which was reported to work pretty well in the rain.

Does this photo remind you of any particular logo?

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Since I also had a Spurcycle bell on the Brompton, it was time to do another comparison of the different bells I had. An earlier comparison looked at just the Knog Oi, an Incredibell, and a Cateye bell.

This video tells the tale:

When all the bells are dry, it is clear that the Spurcycle is the loudest and most resonant.

Once the bells are soaked, all are somewhat muffled, but the Crane is the loudest when wet, the Spurcycle still OK, and the other three are too quiet to be much use. The question as to why the Crane Suzu does the best in the rain is an interesting one, and probably has to do with the fact that it is relatively large and heavy, implying that it is not as affected by the damping effect of water droplets on the bell surface. However, the Crane Suzu is rather large, and takes up considerably more handlebar real estate than the others. Note that the Crane I tested was not one of their aluminum models, which I think would not do as well in the rain.

The other thing to keep in mind as the days get shorter is that you should have adequate lighting. I am one of the volunteers that is counting bikes and cars from a 24 hour video taken recently on the Danforth, and I was surprised to see that about half of the cyclists I saw between midnight and 1 am had no lights at all.

Be this person:

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Not this one:

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Ride safe, everyone!

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Toronto Bike History Ride

This past Thursday (Aug 23), the Ward 28 group of Cycle Toronto organized a bike history ride, starting at St. James Park, going to the site of the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club, and then back to St. James Park for a special screening of the movie “Breaking Away”. As a special treat, the event was also attended by the Barry family, of Mariposa Bicycle fame.

Here is Albert talking about the history of Jarvis St, and how it related to cycling in Toronto.

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Cynthia Waye in front of the Royal Canadian Curling (formerly Cycling) Club that dates to 1891.

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Mike Barry, founder of Mariposa Bicycles in front of his former store Bicyclesport on King St. Arthur Klimowicz, Ward 28, is on the megaphone (he was one of the organizers).

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A quote from Cynthia Waye, Collections Curator: “What a pleasure to meet new faces and old at the Royals.  I cannot tell you how exciting it was for me to see 30 cyclists biking down the alley to the club as ‘our boys’ did over a hundred years ago to attend gatherings at the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club. Still makes me smile.”

For those that are interested about the history of cycling in Toronto, there is a special exhibit “Bike City: How industry, advocacy and infrastructure shaped Toronto’s cycling culture” until November 17 at the Market Gallery in St. Lawrence Market.

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