December 03, 2019

Send Peel-Gladstone Back To The Drawing Board

On Monday, December 2, the City of Toronto hosted a second drop in meeting regarding Peel and Gladstone Avenues. While I couldn’t go to this one, I was able to prepare some thoughts on the revised plan.
Original Peel-Gladstone Proposal (via City of Toronto)

November 26, 2019

Fixing the College and Dundas Intersection

On November 26, 2019, Councillor Ana Bailao’s office and City of Toronto staff hosted a public meeting to show local residents plans for improving the safety of the College and Dundas intersection for people who walk or bike. About 20 to 30 people attended what I would call a very engaging discussion with no shortage of ideas brought up. This development is important for my Parkdale neighbourhood, given many people living there use Lansdowne Avenue and Dundas Street West to get to the West Toronto Railpath which is an uncomfortable experience.

October 23, 2019

Checking Out Scarlett and Six Points

The Etobicoke York district has two main cycling projects for 2019; those being the protected bike lanes on Scarlett Road and the Six Points intersection in Etobicoke Centre. Scarlett was part of an action plan proposed by the Ward 11 Pedestrian Safety and Cycling Community (now Ward 5 York South Weston), while Six Points – where Bloor, Dundas, and Kipling meet – is attracting higher density development. I biked by these two areas on Sunday to understand the importance of these two projects.
Scarlett cycle tracks at the Humber River Trail

October 10, 2019

Biking Barrie to Orillia

Since moving to the Greater Toronto Area in 2008, the only GO train line that was easily accessible outside of rush hour was the Lakeshore line from Oshawa to Aldershot (just outside of Hamilton). However, GO Transit has expanded service on its Barrie, Kitchener, and Stouffville lines in recent years as part of their Regional Express Rail program. This includes year round weekend service to Barrie in December 2016 and to Niagara Falls since August 2019. Having gotten curious to check out the Oro Medonte Rail Trail, Helen and I brought our bikes on the GO train to Barrie last weekend to try it out.
Barrie's old Allandale train station

September 11, 2019

Tearing Down the Democratic Process

Over the past twenty years, Dave Meslin has become one of Toronto’s leading city builders. You may recognize some of his projects such as Spacing, Dandyhorse, Cycle Toronto, RaBIT, Downtown De-Fence Project, and the Toronto Public Space Committee. His new book – Teardown – draws from those experiences and those from other political roles to help educate people on the obstacles of our political system and how to overcome them.

August 29, 2019

The Value of Tactical Urbanism

For those who aren’t already aware, the term “tactical urbanism” refers to the use of temporary, low cost materials to help improve public spaces and neighbourhoods. The practice has been around for a long time, but this term has been popularized over the past few years including by Mikael Colville-Andersen during his TV series “The Life Sized City”. Last weekend, 8 80 Cities and Better Block took this concept to a whole new level by building a pop up complete street on Danforth Avenue known as 8 80 Streets Danforth; a first of its kind for Canada.

August 07, 2019

Observations Along the Humber

With the desire to escape the noise from the Caribbean Carnival on Saturday afternoon, I decided to bike the Humber River Trail all the way to Steeles and make some observations. A ride I used to do a few times before. This ride marked the first time I saw a deer while biking in Toronto, which happened south of Islington and Finch. A reminder of how cycling can lead to the most pleasant of surprises.

July 29, 2019

One Year Later – Where Are We On Protected Intersections?

Last year saw two cyclists killed in places where bike lanes intersected; those being Douglas Crosbie at Dundas and Jones in May and Dalia Chako at Bloor and St. George in June. Those fatalities helped spark new demands for Dutch style protected intersections from road safety advocates and the Toronto Star, while City Council approved ten “complete intersection” pilots. What happened on this file since then?
Cycle Toronto's protected intersection demo at Open Streets TO

July 22, 2019

What's Next, Bike Share Toronto?

Back in 2013, Toronto held the “Feeling Congested” consultation series to reduce gridlock and included a recommendation to expand Toronto’s bike share to 5,000 bikes. Earlier this month, this goal has been fulfilled with the newest of the 465 stations being installed in the Junction, Bloor West Village, the Beaches, East York, and Midtown. With this goal achieved, where should Bike Share Toronto go next?

July 10, 2019

Crossing Toronto’s Rubicon (a.k.a. The Humber)

Last month, Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee approved the bike plan update which would give city staff several actions related to the Bloor-Danforth corridor:
  1. Initiate planning, design, and consultation to extend the Bloor Street bike lanes west from Shaw Street to High Park Avenue with implementation as early as Summer 2020.
  2. Report back in Spring 2020 on a detailed design for pilot bike lanes on Danforth Avenue from Broadview Avenue to Dawes Road.
  3. Study the feasibility of protected bike lanes on Bloor from Church Street to Avenue Road as part of the bike lane construction from Sherbourne to Church Streets (now expected in 2022).

June 24, 2019

Back to the Bike Plan Drawing Board

This Thursday, Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee will review an update to the bike plan along with this year’s proposed cycling projects. The update effectively throws the bike plan approved in 2016 out the window; instead opting for more flexible three-year plans and a city-wide cycling network to be developed over the long term. What a slap in the face! Especially when you consider Toronto had a $16 million annual cycling budget (excluding federal and provincial funding) and five cycling fatalities in 2018, yet they built only 25 kilometres of on-street cycling infrastructure since 2016?!?!
The Bloor bike lanes need to be extended west from Shaw Street (pictured) to High Park

June 10, 2019

What's The Holdup, Danforth Bike Lanes?

With much of the cycling community’s focus on extending the Bloor bike lanes west to High Park, we cannot forget the need to extend the bike lanes east along Danforth Avenue. A complete streets study was announced at last year’s Bells on Danforth ride, but WTF has happened since then? Turns out there’s a lot going on with the east end’s main street.
Bells on Danforth 2018

May 21, 2019

Road Safety and the Green New Deal

Aside from Toronto’s snail pace of bike lane and public transit installation, one thing that has become incredibly frustrating for me is the lack of global climate action despite the Kyoto (1997) and Paris (2015) agreements. At a time the world’s leading scientists urged people to reduce greenhouse emissions in half by 2030 to avoid catastrophic climate change, they elect folks such as Donald Trump in the United States and Doug Ford in Ontario who are doing the opposite. Something that has gotten me worried about this fall’s federal election. The good news is millions of youth – inspired by Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg – have had enough and held school strikes urging world leaders to treat climate change as an emergency. American politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared a need for a Green New Deal; something recently introduced in Canada as the next step to the Leap Manifesto.

May 10, 2019

The Pedestrianized Folly of yongeTOmorrow

Thursday, May 9 marked the first yongeTOmorrow open house, which aims to reconstruct Yonge Street from College to Queen Streets with a second phase extending north to Davenport Road. With pedestrian volumes making up between 50 and 75% of mode share there and low traffic volumes compared to nearby streets, the focus has been more on improving the pedestrian realm while public consultation documents mused about “installing cycling facilities on Yonge Street or a nearby north-south street”. Ryerson University’s City Building Institute posted an article citing their preference for bike lanes on adjacent streets; claiming bike lanes on Yonge would lead to pedestrian-conflicts and a reduced ability to host special events. While I am normally supportive of Ryerson CBI’s initiatives and acknowledge their support for Transform Yonge in North York, this is one of the few cases where we have to disagree.

April 26, 2019

My Longitudinal Frustration

Early last year, I switched jobs to near Dufferin and Lawrence and slashed three quarters of my commute distance. During the winter months, I took the TTC but aimed to commute by bike as often as possible (of course). This bike commuting experience made me aware of not only how few bike lanes North York has, but also the lack of dedicated north-south routes in Toronto. Especially north of Davenport. Since I opted to take a different route yesterday morning, I will reflect on that experience, my original route, and a project the City of Toronto is looking to implement late this year.
The West Toronto Railpath was part of my original bike commute

April 20, 2019

Small Changes for a Big Difference

Like many others in Toronto’s cycling community, I am frustrated with our city’s slow pace of bike lane installation. Montréal was able to install 90 kilometres from 2016 to 2018 while Toronto only installed 25 kilometres. As much as we need to push for key projects such as on Bloor and Danforth, a recent announcement for a cycling project revealed how small changes can also make a big difference.
Cycle track on Dufferin while under construction in August 2018

March 25, 2019

Time to Extend the Bloor Bike Lanes!

This month has seen a renewed push for extending the Bloor Street bike lanes from Shaw Street to High Park. Cycle Toronto issued a press release confirming the bike lanes get almost one million riders annually, while the David Suzuki Foundation launched a form letter campaign calling on supporters of the extension to e-mail Mayor John Tory. Next month, there will be a public meeting to rally support with a focus on the history of Bloor, the business case, the view from council, and what supports can do to make the extension a reality and reverse the current turtle pace of Toronto’s bike plan implementation.
Montréal left Bloor, Danforth, and Yonge in the dust with this bike lane turtle derby!
However, some people are wondering how can bike lanes be accommodated on Bloor. With a little help from Google Maps to measure street widths and Streetmix to do the basic layout, I will walk you through on how the bike lanes could fit.

March 05, 2019

The Good, Bad & Ugly of the Middle East – Part 3

The first two posts about our Middle East trip showed the good hospitality and sights of Jordan while Egypt’s extensive history is weighed down by its people, though the harassment we faced there was likely out of economic necessity. That effectively meant naming Israel-Palestine as the ugly part of the trip.
View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

February 27, 2019

The Good, Bad & Ugly of the Middle East – Part 2

In the first part of the Middle East series, I reflected on Jordan’s hospitality and great sights. In fitting with the theme, let’s go back to our first country which was Egypt. One thing that can make or break a person’s impression of a country is the people and unfortunately, this is where Egypt failed despite having wonders such as the Pyramids and the low cost of travel.
Pharaoh Khafre's Pyramid

February 12, 2019

The Good, Bad & Ugly of the Middle East – Part 1

Imagine an area rich in history but torn by conflict. One where December temperatures are summer-like by day but almost freezing at night. One where frequent security presence and extreme inequalities between neighbours is the norm. From December 13 to January 1, Helen and I did our first big trip together by visiting the Middle Eastern countries of Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. Here is what I would describe the good, bad, and ugly parts of the region.
Enjoying the sunset view from Amman's Citadel

January 25, 2019

Some Momentum for 2019

OK! So I haven’t had the chance to write here for almost three months. Part of it was because I was on vacation in the Middle East in December (more on that soon), but things have not been idle on the cycling front this month with some developments worth sharing.

Early Signs of Optimism
2015 Coldest Day of the Year Ride on Adelaide
To call the Richmond-Adelaide protected bike lanes a success is a serious understatement. Since the bike lanes were first installed in 2014, ridership increased more than tenfold to become Toronto’s busiest bike route with collisions reduced by 73% and minimal impact on motor vehicle users. Given these findings, city staff finally recommended making these bike lanes permanent, though it baffles me how it could take almost five years to get from approval to this point. With the Infrastructure and Environment Committee (which replaced the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee) voting unanimously to keep the bike lanes, the motion should be slam dunk at City Council next week and could be one of the few times this term where a cycling motion unanimously passes city council. If only the same could happen when REimagining Yonge returns to City Council in a couple of months …