August 19, 2021

Action Alert RE Yesterday’s Avenue and Bloor Tragedy

Yesterday at 6:30 PM, 18-year-old Miguel Joshua Escana was killed by a cement truck driver while biking on Avenue Road immediately north of Bloor Street. While a ghost bike memorial ride will be held on Wednesday, August 25 and my condolences go to the family of the fallen cyclist, I would like to issue an urgent call to action. Especially considering the collision happened on a road which was supposed to get the ActiveTO treatment including protected bike lanes, but was never done.

Collision scene at Avenue and Bloor on August 18, 2021 (Via Toronto Police Operations)

Please e-mail Mayor Tory and the ActiveTO team with all 25 councillors blind copied urging them to not just implement the Avenue Road ActiveTO project from Bloor to Davenport now, but also accelerate bike lane installations across the city and make last year’s ActiveTO projects permanent. Below is the e-mail I sent yesterday, though I encourage you to come up with your own submissions.

August 16, 2021

Active Transportation Asks for the 2021 Election

Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed what was long suspected. Canadians will go to the polls on Monday, September 20 at a time when a high number of eligible Canadians have gotten vaccinated, but a fourth COVID-19 wave is emerging thanks to the delta variant. Let’s look at what Canada’s political parties & candidates need to do to win the hearts & minds of those who walk or bike.

You can read Canada's active transportation strategy (cover photo above) at this link

August 10, 2021

First Impressions of the Muli Cargo Bike

Last month, Helen and I rented a Larry vs Harry Bullit e-assist cargo bike to get a feel for cargo bikes in real world conditions. It was overall a solid performer and can be customized to transport all kinds of cargo, but had its shortcomings such as the high top tube not suitable for shorter riders and its length. When trying to find something more compact for urban living, Helen found a German made Muli Muskel which has a collapsible 100L basket and is only 195 cm long (compared to 243 cm for the Bullitt). She ordered it from Montréal-based Âllo Vélo – the only Canadian distributor for Muli cargo bikes – and we went to the Beagle Bicycle Company in Mississauga on Saturday to pick it up.

July 11, 2021

Cargo Bike Rentals with Happy Fiets

During the May long weekend, Helen and I picked up our puppy Mozzie; a miniature poodle. While we have been carrying him around with a Basil bike carrier which got lots of positive comments, we were concerned that Mozzie would eventually outgrow the carrier. With this in mind and the need to transport other goods, Helen was looking at whether to get a bike trailer or a cargo bike. To get a feel for what a real world cargo bike experience would be like – had only done brief test rides before this – I rented a Larry vs Harry Bullitt e-assist from Robin Richardson who launched Happy Fiets back in May.

Robin (centre) showing Helen (right) and I the bike and being affectionately greeted by Mozzie

June 19, 2021

June 2021 Bloor Update

Last summer was a game changer for Bloor-Danforth with the Bloor bike lanes permanently extended west from Shaw to Runnymede, as well as the temporary installation of ActiveTO corridors along Danforth (from Broadview to Dawes) and the Sherbourne to Avenue gap. However, a small gap remains under the West Toronto Railpath while Toronto City Council is expected to decide the fate of the temporary parts of Bloor-Danforth this fall. With this in mind, the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition is already pushing for a further western extension from Runnymede to Six Points and along Dundas to The East Mall.

Martin Reis (left) and volunteers from the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition preparing to deliver postcards calling for the extension of the Bloor bike lanes to Six Points

May 19, 2021

May 2021 Cycling Projects

Right after the Victoria Day long weekend, the City of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee will be debating several cycling projects which total six centreline kilometres (or 9.47 lane kilometres) of new infrastructure. These include Chesswood Drive in North York, Winona Drive in Midtown, Woodfield Road in the east end, The Esplanade and Mill Street in downtown, and Martin Grove Road in Etobicoke. The Rathburn Road bike lanes from Martin Grove to The East Mall will also be upgraded to cycle tracks. To help encourage people write submissions to the committee, here is a recap of each project.

Rendering of raised cycle tracks on Chesswood Drive (via City of Toronto)

May 17, 2021

It’s Time for a Safer Parkside

Since the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition was formed last May, one of their primary asks has been to put in a bikeway along Weston Road and Keele Street from Cardell Avenue to Bloor Street. However, Keele continues onto Parkside Drive from Bloor to Lake Shore Boulevard which is a fast moving arterial and unpleaseant for those who walk or bike. Earlier this month, the Sunnyside Community Association held a Zoom meeting in which many of the more than 40 people in attendance were supportive of safety improvements on Parkside including bike lanes. A separate Facebook group called “Safe Parkside” was also organized around this issue.

A pedestrian crossover is needed at Parkside for this trail immediately north of The Queensway

May 11, 2021

Overhauling Toronto’s Urban Highway Interchanges

Last year, the City of Toronto substantially completed the reconfiguration of Six Points; one of the City’s worst intersections for people walking or cycling. The spaghetti junction was replaced with three at-grade crossings for Bloor, Dundas, and Kipling including protected bike lanes, proper sidewalks, and streetscaping improvements. However, there are several other overbuilt urban highway interchanges which could use similarly radical interventions.

Dundas at Royal York

April 25, 2021

Biking to Brampton - April 2021

The last time I biked to Brampton three years ago, the underpass at Highway 401 was closed and there were no off road trails linking the Mississauga and Brampton parts of the Etobicoke Creek Trail. A fair bit has changed since then with the Mississauga – Brampton trail gap having been filled in, while the Highway 401 underpass was recently reopened per a post from Wayne Noble in the Cycling in Toronto Facebook group. With Saturday being 18’C outside, it was a good time for Helen and I to do our first long ride of the year, so we rode to Brampton and back for a 63 kilometre ride.

March 25, 2021

(Finally) Filling the Winona Gap

For the past few years, one of my biggest complaints about biking in Toronto is the lack of north-south routes north of Davenport. Especially considering my office is at Dufferin and Lawrence which meant riding on steep hills on Caledonia or going the wrong way at times between St. Clair and Eglinton. Finally, the City of Toronto hosted a public consultation on Monday, March 22 for a contraflow bike lane on Winona which could be installed as early as this June or July.

March 17, 2021

Open Letter on 2021 ActiveTO Proposals

Below is a letter I submitted to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee, Mayor John Tory, and my councillor (Gord Perks) ahead of next Tuesday's committee meeting which will discuss next steps for ActiveTO. The deadline to submit your own comments on Motion IE20.12 (ActiveTO) to iec@toronto.ca (and copy your councillor and Mayor Tory) is Monday, March 22 at 4:30 PM. You can also check out Cycle Toronto's action alert for their own analysis.

ActiveTO on Lake Shore Boulevard West in May 2020

--

Greetings, Members of the Infratructure and Environment Committee.

Last year was historic for cycling in Toronto with a net 31 kilometres of on-street bike lanes installed that year, as well as the well received major road closures on Lake Shore Boulevard and Bayview Avenue. While I am pleased with the idea of ActiveTO returning this year, I am disappointed that the proposals do not go far enough for several reasons.

March 12, 2021

Resisting Doug Ford's Agenda

Since Doug Ford became Ontario’s premier in 2018, he has become one of the province’s most controversial political leaders (at least since Mike Harris). Early on, he scrapped Ontario’s cap-and-trade program only to see it replaced with a federal carbon tax, froze the minimum wage at $14/hour, and cut Toronto’s city council in half during the municipal election campaign. While there was a time early in the pandemic when Ford appeared reasonable, he has since returned to his populist antics which prompted several campaigns to oppose his agenda.

#StopThe413

Map of proposed GTA West Highway a.k.a. Highway 413 (via Environmental Defence)
In early 2018, Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals scrapped plans for a GTA West Highway (a.k.a. Highway 413) running from Vaughan to Milton which would have paved hundreds of acres of Greenbelt and prime agricultural land. An expert panel at the time deemed it would not have addressed the GTA’s changing transportation needs. Doug Ford’s “Progressive” Conservatives revived these plans and fast tracked the environmental assessment process in order to get this highway built which would cost at least $6 billion and save drivers only 30 seconds on their commutes. Funds which would have been better spent on public transit and active transportation.

February 15, 2021

Winter 2021 Consultation Roundup

While winter may appear to be a slow period for cycling – notwithstanding the growing numbers of people choosing to bike year round – the public consultations have come fast and furious. The City of Toronto hosted two consultations in December bike lanes on Martin Grove Road and Cummer Avenue, while Metrolinx hosted one about the Durham – Scarborough BRT which includes protected bike lanes. In early February, the City unveiled plans to upgrade the Davenport bike lanes and extend them to Yonge. If that wasn’t enough for you, there are at least four more projects the City is currently collecting feedback on.

Rendering of The Esplanade - Via City of Toronto

February 05, 2021

Fixing the Davenport Disaster

While there are people who view St. Clair as a disaster over the streetcar line there, the term “disaster” better applies to Davenport from a cycling perspective. Especially between Bay and Dupont where bike lanes placed in the door zone can lead to the bike lanes being blocked when snow gets piled by the curbs. Not to mention, Avenue and Davenport was where a ghost bike was placed for Adam Excell who was killed by a driver in June 2015. Fortunately, the City of Toronto plans to improve this part of Davenport, as well as extend the bike lanes east to Yonge Street where bike lanes could be installed from Bloor to just north of Lawrence later this year. The slides from yesterday's consultation - which I missed - can be found here.

Door zone bike lanes are prone to being blocked when snow piles by the curbs

January 25, 2021

Finishing the Job on Bloor

The past twelve months have seen real progress with cycling on Toronto’s main arterials. Not only is there now the 15 kilometre Bloor-Danforth corridor, but City Council approved a study for bike lanes on Yonge in Midtown and Transform Yonge in North York last fall. Phase one of yongeTOmorrow downtown also passed at the infrastructure and Environment Committee recently and will come to City Council on February 2. With the future of Yonge being all but locked in, it’s time to focus on Etobicoke.

Bloor Street at the Humber River looking west towards Etobicoke

January 18, 2021

Cycling in the 2021 Toronto Budget

On Thursday, January 14, the City of Toronto released their 2021 tax supported capital and operating budgets. With budgets forming the basis of where Toronto’s priorities lie, it’s time to investigate what this budget has in store from a cycling perspective notwithstanding potential shortfalls exceeding $1 billion triggered by COVID-19. For this purpose, I will consult the Transportation Services budget notes.

The 2021 budget presentation can be viewed here

January 04, 2021

Review of Durham – Scarborough BRT Project

Last month, the City of Toronto made a mistake by removing the Brimley bike lanes within days of a public meeting deceivingly labelled as “improving Toronto’s cycling network”. Had the Brimley bike lanes been kept and extended, there is another project which could have provided a connection opportunity. It’s a project which could provide an intercity cycling connection between Toronto and Durham Region while also improving transit in the area.

That project is the Durham – Scarborough BRT.

A typical street layout for the Durham - Scarborough BRT (via Metrolinx)