December 28, 2020

Revisiting Yonge Street

After almost eight years of blogging, I am pleased to announce this marks my 200th blog post! With yongeTOmorrow on the agenda for the January 11, 2021 Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting, what better way to use this milestone post than to revisit where things stand for cycling on Toronto’s iconic north-south arterial?

Map of various Yonge Street initiatives (via Hafeez A on Twitter)

December 26, 2020

An Unprecedented Pandemic Year

When 2020 started, we had just returned from our vacation in Turkey and Spain. It was a vacation rich in history, good places to hike, delicious tapas, and even some cycling for good measure. At that time, we were keen to travel again and COVID-19 had yet to register on our radar. Once the pandemic ramped up in mid-March, it seemed everything we took for granted was thrown out the window.

December 09, 2020

Connecting to Kipling Station

On Monday, a virtual public meeting was held regarding a proposal to extend the Martin Grove bike lanes from Rathburn to just north of Burnamthorpe, as well as upgrade the existing Rathburn bike lanes with protection and the intersection at Rathburn and Martin Grove. This is all part of a watermain replacement project planned for next year. I was able to tune in to the meeting and have some thoughts to share.

Rendering of proposed Martin Grove cycle tracks (via City of Toronto)

December 03, 2020

A Case of the Toronto COVID-19 Blues

This week has been a depressing one in the City of Toronto as Ontario continues to set new records for daily COVID-19 cases. A bike lane has been removed, winter conditions have caused traffic chaos, and another person biking was killed. It’s time to do a round up of these events.

Bike lane symbols scrubbed off Brimley - via Scarborough Cycles

November 21, 2020

Yesterday’s Deadly Crash on Royal York

Yesterday at 5:00 PM, the driver of a ML Ready Mix Concrete cement truck struck and killed a person riding a bike at Royal York and Judson in Etobicoke. Before this unfortunate event, I had only biked on Royal York a couple of times and recalled the bike lanes were pretty narrow. To get a better feel for the conditions on that street and how to improve it, we rode Royal York from Lake Shore to Evans on our way to do some errands.

November 11, 2020

Weston to Six Points via West Deane Trail

This past weekend was a warm one with temperatures approaching 20 degrees and may be the last weekend this year when riding with shorts and t-shirt is possible in Toronto. On Sunday, I went up to Weston to help out a stunt the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition was working on and decided to check out the West Deane Trail and Six Points on my way back.

The former town of Weston used the tagline “Home of the Bicycle” given their connection to the old CCM (Canadian Cycle and Motor) factory, yet that neighbourhood is one of the most hostile places to bike per a recent column done by Shawn Micallef. The stunt involved a Weston resident with a penny farthing and Donna with the turtle costume and a toy tricycle to show how slow Toronto is today in making Weston safe for people who bike. The video – found below – featured the penny farthing rider doing circles around the turtle. Hilarious!

Heading home from Weston, I took the Humber River and Eglinton West Trails to get to the West Deane Trail I hadn’t tried yet.

It follows Mimico Creek from Eglinton to Kipling just north of Burnamthorpe. The trail is mostly uneventful, but I was concerned with the narrow width in some places; especially as I approached the southern trail terminus. Some trail widening and repaving would help provide a more pleasant experience. 

It is unfortunate the trail ends at Kipling with no safe on-street connection, while the Islington Golf Club prevents further extending the trail to Tom Riley Park at Islington and Dundas West. If bike lanes along the entire length of Kipling were not to be politically feasible anytime soon, at least extend the Kipling bike lanes 1.5 kilometres north to Wingrove Hill so people can safely bike south to Kipling subway station. Given the centre buffer (or turning lane) and road widths approaching 16 metres, it is totally feasible to extend the bike lanes on Kipling without impacting motor vehicle capacity.

Once I arrived at Six Points, I noticed the Bloor bike lanes from Resurrection to Beamish have finally been completed and are among the city’s best! The only thing that remains for Six Points is a short stretch on Dundas West at Aukland. I recorded a video with my phone mounted to my new Q-Mount which barely fits my Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra with a six inch screen and did a decent job holding the phone in place.

However, when approaching the end of the cycle tracks at Resurrection, I was insulted to see sharrows freshly painted under the TTC tracks. Per Cycle Toronto’s position statement on sharrows, they should never be placed on high speed arterials as what happened on this part of Bloor. People will not feel safe biking on Bloor until protected bike lanes are installed from Six Points to Runnymede.

Later in the afternoon, Helen and I did a ride towards Marie Curtis Park and found a couple of disappointing things. This was the first weekend since the Victoria Day long weekend when the eastbound lanes of Lake Shore Boulevard were not closed to motor vehicle traffic. Because of this and above seasonal temperatures, the crowding along the Martin Goodman Trail was so serious we had to wear masks. Most trail users weren’t wearing them despite more than 1300 COVID-19 cases reported on Sunday. We also noticed this on Saturday when walking around Evergreen Brickworks.

One other disappointment we saw was most of Toronto’s public washrooms were closed from November to April. From a public space perspective, this is something that urgently needs to change given people still go to parks and use the trails year round. Toronto Star columnist Shawn Micallef tweeted about the lack of public washrooms that day which has gotten a lot of reaction. Councillors Layton and Perks mentioned issues such as pipes and unheated buildings as reasons why this is the case, though a motion is expected at the November city council meeting to look into opening more washrooms and the retrofits required.

While this past weekend was a nice time to bike, the crowded trails and lack of winter public washrooms serve as reminders there remains a lot to do in order to make Toronto more livable during COVID-19. So let’s keep our spirits warm as the temperatures drop in the weeks ahead.

You can read Jun's take about the stunt and Keele-Weston here.

October 26, 2020

Increasing Suburban Cycling in Toronto - Revisited

Back in late May, I wrote about the need to expand cycling in Scarborough, Etobicoke, and North York and suggested roughly 150 kilometres of routes that would be needed to build a robust cycling grid in Toronto. A lot has happened since then including the building of almost 40 kilometres of bike lanes – the largest expansion in Toronto’s history – and some new proposals issued by the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition (which I am part of). Here is a review of what has been built under ActiveTO, the TCBC proposals, and which gaps remain to be filled.

Bayview from Rosedale Valley to River was one of this year's ActiveTO installations

October 16, 2020

October 09, 2020

A Peek Into Peterborough

This past year has lead to several new cycling adventures north, south, and west of the Toronto area including Sudbury, the Georgian Trail, the Brantford to Port Dover trails, and the Elora Cataract. However, Helen and I hadn’t brought our bikes east yet which was what we did on a rainy Sunday morning when we headed to Peterborough.

September 28, 2020

Brantford to Port Dover Rail Trails

Biking from Brantford to Port Dover along the rail trails is a 100 kilometre return trip which is possible to do in one day. However, we split the trip over two days and turned back at Waterford both days. Unlike the Georgian Trail which had views of Georgian Bay and of the Blue Mountains, this trip is focused on agriculture. I also took Jun N’s advice to park at the Colborne Common Shopping Centre in Brantford for the first day.

September 24, 2020

Audit Ride Around Parkdale-High Park

About ten people from Parkdale High Park Bikes took part in an audit ride on Sunday along with Nicholas from Councillor Ana Bailao’s office. The aim was to inspect the recently installed Bloor bike lane extension and other neighbourhood hotspots such as Brock-Florence, Seaforth, Macdonnell, and the Lansdowne-College-Dundas triangle. Fellow blogger Jun wrote his take here.

September 14, 2020

Georgian Trail from Collingwood to Meaford

For those who want to enjoy some cycling outside of Toronto, a lot of rail trails can be found across Ontario. Some of them can be accessed by GO Transit such as Oro Medonte, but many require getting to them by car for a day trip. During the Labour Day long weekend, Helen and I rented a car to bike the Georgian Trail from Collingwood to Meaford and the rail trails from Brantford to Port Dover.

September 07, 2020

yongeTOmorrow September 2020 Update

Originally, the third and final phase of consultations for yongeTOmorrow was to be held during the spring. However, the COVID-19 lockdowns at the time delayed lead to this round being postponed until last week’s virtual launch. After reviewing the consultation materials, it’s time to give a proper assessment of the recommended design.

Rendering of Yonge Dundas Square (via City of Toronto)

August 31, 2020

Brimley, Huntingwood & North Scarborough Green Loop

One part of Toronto I haven’t biked around as much is Scarborough. Sure, I biked to my old job in Pickering from Rouge Hill GO station, but only two kilometres of that trip is in Scarborough. As for longer treks, I did bike along the Gatineau Hydro Corridor and got to the Scarborough Bluffs once each. Yesterday, I joined the Toronto East Cyclists for a ride along the North Scarborough Green Loop while also checking the recently installed Brimley ActiveTO lanes.

Janet Joy and Peter - along with the Toronto East Cyclists - on the Huntingwood bike lanes

August 10, 2020

Approaching Fifteen Kilometres of Glory

This summer in Toronto has seen bike lanes installed at an unprecedented rate including the ongoing establishment of a fifteen kilometre continuous east-west cycling corridor along Bloor-Danforth. This has been a dream decades in the making and one poised to become a game changer for cycling in this city. On Friday afternoon, I had the chance to check out some of the progress.

August 06, 2020

Biking (and Hiking) Around Sudbury

With COVID-19 making international travel impractical for the foreseeable future, it was time to look closer to home for vacation. Helen and I spent this past week near Sudbury. A place with great hiking, lots of blueberries, and even a few pleasant surprises when biking around.

July 06, 2020

Mixed Reviews for Quiet Streets

The City of Toronto has launched a survey collecting feedback about the over 50 kilometres of quiet streets which were created as part of ActiveTO. While I encourage people who used these quiet streets to fill out the survey and share, here are some thoughts that are street specific.

Brock Avenue

The quiet street on Brock slows down traffic but barrels are prone to being knocked over or moved
While I can’t vouch for Emerson, Brock is one route I use regularly to get to Shaw, Bloor, or Richmond-Adelaide. The quiet street implementation involves placing construction barrels on alternating sides to force drivers to slow down. While it is moderately effective, there is a tendency of the barrels getting knocked over or moved which negates this "quiet street" benefit. Even for a temporary set up, more durable barriers are needed to prevent them from being moved.

June 27, 2020

June 2020 ActiveTO Update

Earlier in June, I saw the first ActiveTO installations set up along Dundas East one week after being approved by City Council. The City has continued to roll out new bike lanes with University Avenue from Adelaide to Bloor and Bloor Street from Avenue to Sherbourne being the latest additions. Yesterday, I biked a loop consisting of Shaw, Bloor, Sherbourne, and Richmond Streets to check out the progress.

June 09, 2020

Toronto Needs an ActiveTO Phase 2

Toronto City Council approved 25 km of new bike lanes at their May 28 virtual meeting as part of ActiveTO, including the completion of a 15 km continuous bikeway across Bloor-Danforth from Runnymede to Dawes. It was a victory more than 40 years in the making with groups such as Take The Tooker, Bells on Bloor, Bells on Danforth, Cycle Toronto, and the David Suzuki Foundation all contributing to this moment. The aim is to install these bike lanes within weeks with some projects such as Dundas East from Broadview to Sackville already being recently completed. However, there are several reasons why Toronto needs an ActiveTO Phase 2 as soon as possible.
The recently installed Dundas East cycle tracks are part of the 25 km approved under ActiveTO

May 25, 2020

Increasing Cycling in Toronto's Inner Suburbs

There has been a lot of public attention in Toronto over the years in getting protected bike lanes on Bloor, Danforth, and Yonge; including a recent open letter and petition supported by over 100 groups and 5000 people. However, there is an urgent need to expand cycling infrastructure in the inner suburbs of Scarborough, Etobicoke, and North York – as well as engage local stakeholders – to help frame the idea cycling is not just for Downtown Toronto. Let’s take a look at some of the existing campaigns such as Our Greenway and the Eglinton East LRT, as well as what else is needed for a city-wide cycling grid.
Proposed spine (dark blue) and suburban (cyan) bike routes with existing infrastructure highlighted in red

May 17, 2020

A First Look at ActiveTO

A week following the announcement of CurbTO to address pedestrian hotspots and a City Council meeting that approved measures to look into providing space for people, Toronto finally announced a plan to do so under the ActiveTO banner. ActiveTO aims to create over 50 kilometres of quiet streets, close major roads on weekends, and accelerate the bike plan. The details of the quiet streets and road closures were announced on Thursday, May 14, but nothing was announced for bike lanes yet. Yesterday, Helen and I biked along Lake Shore Boulevard, which closed all eastbound traffic lanes from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road for the long weekend.

May 04, 2020

What's Next for #streets4peopleTO?

The month of April saw Torontonians ramp up their calls for Mayor John Tory, Toronto City Council, and Toronto Public Health to create #streets4peopleTO as cities across Canada and the world have done. While the City had consistently resisted this move and became a national outlier, there has been a gradual shift in attitude while some other improvements have been made. Let’s review what has happened and celebrate the 4th anniversary of the Bloor bike lanes being approved by city council.

April 19, 2020

RANT - Toronto's Carservative Resistance

All right, folks! I need to rant.

During the seven years I have been advocating for safer streets for people who bike in Toronto, it seems no other city in North America has done more to resist improving cycling (or reducing space for cars) than right here. This kind of frustration has been felt by many including by those who have been advocating a lot longer than I have. One such advocate – Hamish – even had a term for this kind of culture which is “carservative”. To be fair, the recent push to create health corridors in Toronto is just the latest in a long tradition of carservative resistance.
The Gardiner Expressway has been a source of contention in recent years

April 11, 2020

Physical Distancing during COVID-19 - Part 2

Happy Easter long weekend! The idea of closing traffic lanes or parking to allow physical distancing during COVID-19 has been really catching on around the world. Since my last update about the car ban at High Park, I have heard of eight Canadian cities that have adopted some form of traffic lane or parking closure on their streets.
Even Brampton got the message on traffic lane closures. Why can't Toronto? (via Lisa Stokes)
  • Calgary
  • Winnipeg
  • London
  • Vancouver
  • Montréal
  • Kitchener
  • Brampton
  • Edmonton
Gil Meslin created a useful thread about these cities while Dr. Tab Combs created a crowd sourced list of cities around the world which took (or considered) some form of COVID-19 action.

April 06, 2020

Physical Distancing during COVID-19

Over the past month, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has dominated the headlines along with constant reminders to stay (and work from) home, maintain social physical distancing, wash your hands, and self isolate for 14 days after recent travel. Canadian cities such as Calgary, Winnipeg, and London have been closing traffic lanes to give people who walk or bike the space they need. Toronto has no plans to follow suit at this time over fears the street closures would entice people to congregate. However, there is one exception.

April 03, 2020

Etobicoke Creek Trail Update

Good afternoon, folks! Hope everyone is coping with COVID-19 to the best of their abilities. Earlier this week, I biked along the Humber River, Eglinton West, and Etobicoke Creek Trails while maintaining physical distancing and found some useful updates.
For something to lift your spirits, one of the trees on the Humber River Trail was decorated with Easter eggs. Something much needed during these unprecedented times.

March 02, 2020

Crossing Toronto's Rubicon - Part 2

Last July, I wrote about the need to look beyond the currently proposed Bloor bike lane extension to which would eventually lead to Toronto’s crossing of the Rubicon (a.k.a. the Humber). Several developments have happened since then which increases the chances of this happening. Instead of High Park, the extension is now planned to go to the existing bike lanes on Runnymede and Bloor West Village. Mississauga’s updated cycling master plan calls for bike lanes on Bloor and Dundas right to the Toronto border. Finally, it’s already happening at Six Points which will see raised cycle tracks on Bloor from Prennan to Resurrection (500 metres) completed by this spring.
The slides from this community meeting can be found here

February 24, 2020

Dawdling Along on Danforth

The last week in January saw two public meetings for the Bloor bike lane extension to Runnymede and one for the Danforth Study. The feeling I got after pulling a double header on Monday, January 27 was the two meetings couldn’t have felt more different though turnout was high at both. The Bloor meeting felt very optimistic with many participants feeling the proposed design was very good, though the intersection at Bloor and Keele needs a rethink. Fellow Toronto bike blogger Jun provided an excellent breakdown of what is proposed for the Bloor extension.
Hundreds of people attended the second Danforth Study meeting
The Danforth Study meeting – the second in the process – was more respectful without the shouting from a few bike lane opponents and the lack of a presentation, though there was still more opposition to bike lanes compared to the Bloor meeting. Instead, a bunch of panels from the three different studies – planning, retail, and complete streets – were put up including the feedback collected from the first meeting held in November. The feedback cited strong support for complete streets and pilot bike lanes, but that’s where the good news stops.

February 22, 2020

BIKE MINDS 2020 - Using Data to Effect Change

On January 30, 2020, I was honoured to join five other presenters at BIKE MINDS; a bicycle storytelling series co-founded by Matt Pinder and Michelle Kearns. The theme of the event was "Bikes and Growth" and featured the following:
  • Julia Huys - A lawyer who shared her experiences cycling from London (Ontario) to St. John's (Newfoundland) with her father
  • Kevin Dunal - A corporate executive who shared his story about how he and his wife became carfree
  • Ryan Shissler - Cycle Toronto's Communications Lead who shared how the bicycle helped deal with his mental (and financial) health
  • David Shellnut - The Biking Lawyer who reflected on his recent assault by a motorist and shared information on what to do in the event of a crash
  • Agata Rudd - An environmental entrepreneur who talked about biking 5000 km in southeast asia with her partner
My story about about using data to effect change in Toronto's cycling community. I encourage you to read the recap of all speakers on Dandyhorse and view all videos here (except for Kevin Dunal's due to technical difficulties). This post includes the video of my presentation as well as the transcript.

February 17, 2020

WTF is up with the Railpath?

On Wednesday, February 26, the City of Toronto will be hosting a public meeting at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) to reveal the final design of the West Toronto Railpath extension to Abell Street. (pre-register here) Ahead of this meeting, I felt it was worth highlighting some good, bad, and ugly recent developments.
West Toronto Railpath extension rendering (via City of Toronto)

February 10, 2020

Turkey and Spain - Part 5 (Seville)

Whereas Granada is hilly and has lots of Islamic influence, Seville is flat and home to flamenco dancing and bull fighting. While we didn’t watch either, the Andalusian capital of Seville still has lots to offer. The Catedral de Sevilla and Real Alcazar are impressive, while foodies will fall in love with the tapas and churros con chocolate. Most importantly for this blog, we were impressed with the cycling in Seville to a point where I could almost say, “Watch out Amsterdam and Copenhagen!” Seriously! 😊
The Catedral de Sevilla's Giralda is Seville's most easily recognized landmark

February 06, 2020

Turkey and Spain - Part 4 (Granada)

After fifteen days exploring Turkey, we endured an early wake up in Izmir and a full day’s worth of travelling including two flights to Madrid and a high speed train ride to Granada where we stayed for three days. It was nice to be on a high speed train again since my last trip to Europe in 2014. Our Airbnb was a short walk away from the train station and a couple of grocery stores were nearby to grab some food. Aside from the lack of bathroom privacy with the glass walls and no locks, the room was clean and we were relieved to get some laundry done.
Passing by the Alhambra during our walk around Granada

January 28, 2020

Turkey and Spain - Part 3 (Antalya to Izmir)

The remaining six days in Turkey involved a lot more moving around including one day each in Antalya, Pamukkale, and Izmir; plus three days in Selçuk. Visiting the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts of Turkey is still decent in December with daytime temperatures approaching 20’C while winter jackets were still needed at night. However, revisiting the coastal areas during the spring or fall is needed to fully appreciate the area.

Roman Harbour in Antalya
Unlike Istanbul with its historic significance and Cappadocia’s abundance of old caves, Antalya feels considerably more modern. While on the sleek modern tram from the Airport to downtown (which also goes to the bus station), we passed by shopping centres which would feel right at home in North America and Western Europe. This modern feel – combined with palm trees everywhere and its status as a cruise ship and beach destination – makes this city Turkey’s Miami.

January 20, 2020

Turkey and Spain - Part 2 (Cappadocia)

After five days in Istanbul, we arrived in Cappadocia for four days. While we didn't take a hot air balloon ride – one of the area’s top attractions – Cappadocia is great for hiking and has other things to do. There is Göreme’s open air museum, Avanos’ pottery workshops, Uchisar’s castle and onyx shops, underground cities, and lots of cave hotels to choose from.
View from Uchisar Castle

January 06, 2020

Turkey and Spain - Part 1 (Istanbul)

Happy New Year!

From December 7 to 31, Helen and I travelled around Turkey and Spain. Turkey has diverse landscapes such as Istanbul’s hustle and bustle, Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys, Pamukkale’s hot springs, and ancient ruins along the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. The Andalusian province of Spain is home to Western Europe’s last remnants of Islam, great hiking trails in Granada, bike friendly Seville, and delicious tapas.
Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia)
This travel series will be split into five parts: