November 27, 2017

Bring on the Eglinton East LRT!

Map of Eglinton East LRT (via City of Toronto)
As with many city builders in the Greater Toronto Area, I am furious at the political games with the one-stop subway extension in Scarborough. City councillors – mostly suburban – repeatedly denied conducting cost-and-benefit comparisons with the original seven stop LRT, while a recent Toronto Star article indicated staff will not reveal the updated subway costs until after the 2018 election. The recent article raises suspicions the Mayor’s office is trying to bury the subway as an election issue with both John Tory and Doug Ford supporting the subway. However, it will only delay the inevitable truth the subway – currently expected to cost $3.35 billion – will exceed the $3.56 billion in available funding and leave nothing for the Eglinton East LRT. Especially if the controversies surrounding the Lawrence Avenue SmartTrack stop prompt the addition of a second subway station.

November 13, 2017

Not Just Bloor in November

Last week saw Toronto city council vote in favour of making the Bloor bike lanes permanent. While that decision grabbed the bulk of the cycling headlines, several other good developments have happened for Toronto’s cycling community. Let’s find out what they are.

November 08, 2017

Addressing Pickering's Transportation Plan Challenges

For the first time in twenty years, the City of Pickering is updating their Integrated Transportation Master Plan. If there is one thing which badly needs to be addressed in the plan update, it’s their lack of cycling infrastructure. Per this image from Google Maps, Pickering is a cyclist’s black hole except for parts of the Waterfront Trail and a few disconnected bike lanes in the rest of the city; some of which don’t even qualify as bike lanes. Henceforth, I provided this submission to highlight some of the challenges I experienced and suggest some improvements.
Google Maps bicycling layer of Pickering and the rest of Durham Region

October 20, 2017

Streetfight on Bloor - Round 2

A year and a half after the Bloor bike lane pilot project was debated at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, the committee endured a six-hour session to determine whether to make those bike lanes permanent. Almost sixty people registered to speak on this item – leading to deputation times to be cut from five minutes to three – while hundreds more gave written submissions and over 6600 supporters signed Cycle Toronto’s Bloor Loves Bikes pledge. The meeting carried an extra sense of urgency with the death of Parkdale cyclist David Delos Santos that same morning.

October 09, 2017

Grave Warning on Bloor

Potential casualties should the Bloor bike lanes be removed
With the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee debating the fate of the Bloor bike lanes next week, many local cyclists are spooked about the possibility of having them removed. Especially when the Bloor bike lanes were forty years in the making. However, what many Toronto residents may not realize is losing Bloor has even more grave consequences that go far beyond the bike lanes.

September 29, 2017

The Bikelash of September 2017

My word to describe September 2017 is “bikelash”.

For starters, there is the stop sign controversy on Glen Road in Rosedale, which is near a site where a cyclist was killed a few years back. Only two weeks after the stop sign was installed after vigorous pleas from local residents due to speeding problems, calls emerged to have them removed. The matter had gotten so ridiculous even kids took to the streets demanding that the stop signs stay.
Woodbine bike lane opening on September 9, 2017

August 28, 2017

A New East End Connection

Bike lanes on Woodbine Avenue
Normally, my bike commute takes me along Richmond-Adelaide and Sherbourne Streets, as well as Danforth Avenue to get to Danforth GO station. Sometimes, I will go home via Bloor and Shaw Streets thanks to the Bloor bike lanes installed last year. Given bike lanes were installed on Woodbine Avenue south of Danforth Avenue during the weekend, I decided to give Woodbine a try and check out other bike lanes which connect the east end to downtown. This new routing also allows most of my commute to take place on dedicated cycling facilities.

August 21, 2017

Summer 2017 Waterfront Roundup

Last year, I wrote up about various quirks along Toronto’s Waterfront. Recently, there have been a lot of new developments which addressed some of these issues, though others remain. Let’s go over ten of these developments going from west to east.

July 24, 2017

Let's Talk About Laneways

Laneways have been getting a lot of attention in Toronto as of late. There is the ongoing push to allow secondary homes to be built on top of laneway garages to help address Toronto’s housing shortage, while many laneway garages showcase all kinds of murals. One laneway I sometimes use as a shortcut to the Parkdale Library – Milky Way – is home to a community garden and the first piece of property owned by the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust.
Milky Way laneway in Parkdale

July 03, 2017

Biking Brampton's Etobicoke Creek

While I have biked both east and west of Toronto, my experiences north of Steeles Avenue have been limited to training rides for the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2014. Thanks to a suggestion from Helen, we took part in Bike Brampton’s “Bike the Creek” ride on Saturday, June 24. Not only did it give me exposure to cycling north of Steeles, but it is arguably one of the best organized rides in the Greater Toronto Area with hundreds taking part.

June 26, 2017

Capital Cycling Charms - Part 2

Part 1 of the Ottawa cycling series focused on urban bike routes. Getting a more complete picture also required some exposure to suburban infrastructure, which we experienced on Day 2.
Our route from Ottawa's Little Italy to Kanata

June 07, 2017

Capital Cycling Charms - Part 1

Ottawa River and O-Train Pathways
When I attended Spring Bike Ottawa in March 2015, I couldn’t properly evaluate their cycling facilities due to the weather and lack of bike share. After cycling in Montréal in February, it was only a matter of time Ottawa would be revisited; something Helen and I did in late May.

May 17, 2017

A Flooded Commute

Last week, Ontario and Québec were subject to heavy rain and flooding with tourist attractions such as the Toronto Islands closed to the public until at least July. During my bike commute to work this week, I got a close hand encounter of flood conditions by the mouth of the Rouge River.
Submerged access to Toronto-Pickering bridge

May 02, 2017

REimagining Yonge Street

Last summer, I had the chance to bike the entire length of the Toronto portion of Yonge Street to make the case for bike lanes there. The resulting blog post lead to an article in Metro Toronto citing Yonge as the next cycling battleground. With an interim report for REimagining Yonge – which calls for the complete transformation of Yonge Street from Avondale to Bishop Avenues including bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and public realm improvements – coming to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday, May 9, a progress update is in order.
Yonge Street at Elmwood Avenue (North York Centre)

April 03, 2017

Prioritizing Cycling Projects

For cycling advocates, it can be tempting to push for bike lanes everywhere. However, there can be such a thing as pushing too far; especially when support is lacking or our pedestrian and transit user allies risk being alienated. Two recent projects – the King Street Pilot and pedestrianization on John Street – prompted this concern and lead to this question which needed to be asked.

In light of limited advocacy resources and political will, how should advocates prioritize their efforts?

March 22, 2017

Let's Get The Feds Involved

The notion of cycling infrastructure being primarily municipal responsibility is being challenged across Canada. New Brunswick’s advocates are pushing for a one metre passing rule (a.k.a. Ellen’s Law), Vélo Québec celebrates their 50th anniversary this year, Ontario is developing their second #CycleON action plan, and the British Columbia Cycling Coalition has their $1 billion for bikes petition. But what is the federal government doing to support cyclists? That is the focus on this post, including the national group called Canada Bikes and their call for a national cycling strategy.

March 18, 2017

Get Ajax Moving - Harwood Cycle Tracks

During my interview with Ajax Mayor Steve Parish last fall, he mentioned cycle tracks on Harwood Avenue South were among the town’s most recent installations. Today, I stopped by to get a first-hand encounter of the town’s first cycle track.
Harwood Avenue South at Lake Driveway

March 06, 2017

Copenhagen Does Toronto

Seeing a world-renowned planner like Copenhagenize's Mikael Colville-Andersen speak at last month’s Winter Cycling Congress is one thing. But twice in one month? That happened when he spoke in Toronto on February 27, 2017 during the Ontario Good Roads Association summit. Following Colville-Andersen’s “Getting Cycling Right” keynote was a panel he participated with Straphanger and Sacré Blues author Taras Grescoe and Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat. After Albert Koehl and Bart Hawkins Kreps wrote their takes, here’s mine covering some points that may have been missed.
Panel discussion with Colville-Andersen, Keesmaat & Grescoe

March 01, 2017

Bring on the Data!

Throughout my years in cycling advocacy, I gained an understanding about how external factors such as budget funding, design guidelines, inspiration from other cities, and partnerships with residents, businesses, schools, and community groups can influence road safety improvements. Another area Toronto must improve on is data collection in determining how effective cycling projects are. During the Winter Cycling Congress in Montréal (see recap and Montréal cycling posts), I attended their “A Matter of Data” workshop to learn about data collection in Anchorage, Montréal, and Ottawa.

February 20, 2017

Habs vs Leafs Bike Showdown

One of the oldest and largest Canadian sports rivalries is the Montréal Canadiens (Habs) versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. Until last week’s Winter Cycling Congress (see previous post), I never biked in Montréal which Copenhagenize and Biking Expert ranked as among North America's best. After getting a taste of Montréal’s infrastructure, let’s review their facilities and see how Toronto stacks up.
Bike box (sas vélo) at Avenue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville and Avenue du Mont-Royal

February 13, 2017

Winter Cycling Congress Recap

What is the first thing that comes to mind regarding winter cycling? Some believe nobody bikes in winter, yet year-round cycling has become so popular it has its own conference! Over 400 people attended the 5th Winter Cycling Congress from February 8 to 10 in Montréal; home of smoked meat, BIXI, and the Canadiens. Darnel Harris and I attended on behalf of Cycle Toronto’s Advocacy Committee.

February 06, 2017

The Left's Wake Up Call

Shortly after the last federal election, I wrote about burn out and needing to take a break from political activism (outside of cycling) to get myself in order. It does not mean being completely disengaged – attending town halls helps to stay informed and there is still a lot happening on the cycling front – but healthy political activism requires knowing when to go all out and when to lay low. After refraining from political rallies and non-cycling volunteering for all of 2016, recent events have proven to be a rude but much needed awakening for Canada’s progressives.

January 23, 2017

Looking at Moncton's Cycling Scene

While on vacation in Moncton, I wrote about my experience cycling there for the first time in a decade. It turned out new infrastructure (e.g. Northwest Trail, bike racks, bike lanes) wasn’t the only thing that changed. Thanks to some productive conversations with Krysta Cowling of La Bikery Co-operative Ltd and Benoît Leblanc of NB Biking Advocacy Group, I found out there have been some positive developments on the social and advocacy fronts.