Cycling Advocacy

Anything to do with cycling advocacy.

Ride a bike and be :)

Ride a bike and be :)

October 16, 2010. Somewhere along 16th St. near Folsom St. in San Francisco, on a fence with a bunch of other signs that appeared to be hand-painted by kids. I can agree with this. Riding a bike makes me happy too.

Still alone in your car

Still alone in your car

Looking into the window of the Toronto Free Gallery (currently the "Change" exhibit) during the New Bloor Festival on Saturday.

Cyclists Dismount

Cyclists DismountBack in January I noticed that these "Cyclists Dismount" signs were added along the Bloor St. sidewalk by the railway underpasses between Lansdowne Ave. and Dundas St. West.

I don't necessarily have a problem with telling cyclists to dismount while riding on sidewalks. After all, sidewalks are meant for pedestrians, and I have personally had some close encounters with sidewalk cyclists along here. It's especially dangerous to pedestrians stepping out from the Bloor GO train station.

However, these signs may be an indication of a bigger issue. Many cyclists hit the sidewalk when riding through these underpasses because they fear for their safety on the road. I often see cyclists ride on the roads along Bloor St., only to hop up on the curb when they reach the underpasses.

I can understand why cyclists might want to do that.

From the Don Valley to Central Parkway in Mississauga, this is definitely the worst part of Bloor St., for many reasons (Ok, Six Points stinks too). But for cyclists in particular, the problems are:

  • Between Dundas and Lansdowne, Bloor St. opens up into four lanes of fast-moving traffic. The only bit of traffic calming is the traffic light at Symington Ave.
  • The pavement is awful.
  • Motorists seem to speed through here in a race to arrive first at the next pinch point in the road.
  • When you're down in the underpasses, there's no chance to "escape" to a sidewalk in an emergency.
  • It can be difficult and dangerous to make a proper vehicular left turn off of Bloor St.

It's no wonder that cyclists take to the sidewalks here. But instead of hanging up some signs to address the symptoms, maybe something can be done to address the actual problems of the dangerous and scary roadway?

Cross-posted to I Bike T.O.. I have also been doing alot of work on the South Junction Triangle Residents Association website recently.

Kensington Market Pedestrian Sunday

Pedestrian SundayKensington Market's Pedestrian Sundays (note: website rarely seems to work for me) are an event where several streets in Toronto's Kensington Market are opened up to pedestrians. Automobile traffic is blocked off, and people are free to roam the streets. Not only is it a chance for people to enjoy all the extra space without the (slowly) moving and parked cars, but it's an opportunity do other fun stuff in the streets: play music, skateboard, dance, and even something as wild as walking down the middle of the street.

I forgot about this week's PS Kensington event. I just happened to stumble across it after shopping at the Urbane Cyclist and going for some pho on Spadina Ave. I was glad I found it, as I had never been to a PS Kensington event before.

As I wandered through the market, I stopped to watch a punk band play some "oldies" for a while, followed by an electric sitar and didjeridoo duo that really rocked. I watched kids skateboaring. People were learning to tango in the street. Cargo was being moved through the market on bicycles and carts. Kids were running around playing. Stilt-walkers towered above us.

Another interesting feature was the More Parks, Less Parking! petition. Basically, this was a car that was completely painted white, where people could sign their names asking for more appropriate use of public space. The car / petition was delivered to City Hall on Monday.

I had a great time there. Bumped into a few people I knew, and spent way more time downtown than I had originally planned. I'll have to rmember to check out more of these events in the future.

I had my camera with me, so of course I took a ton of photos.

Six Points Interchange Reconfiguration

Six Points MapThis week I went to the second public meeting about the Six Points Reconfiguration, which is basically a complete redesign of the Bloor - Dundas - Kipling intersection in Etobicoke (west Toronto). The purpose of this reconfiguration is to make better use of land that is swallowed up by this highway-style interchange (new civic, residential and commercial development), and better pedestrian and cyclist access to the area. Click the photo for some map displays that I photographed. Here's the Google Map of the area.

There's a ton of information about this project on the City's website, but I just wanted to share some of the things I learned at the meeting, and comments that people made. Note: I don't necessarily agree with many of the comments and concerns, but I'm quite pleased at the turnout (probably over 100 people) and the enthusiasm of the attendees.

Several options had been discussed, but the planners are currently favouring the "Fully at-Grade Dundas St. Loop" solution, which would eliminate all bridges, introduce more traffic lights, and re-route Dundas St. with a south-east loop. The rest of the commentary in this article will deal with this proposed solution.

Here's what I like about it:

  • Pedestrian-friendly
  • No longer a high-speed highway-style interchange.
  • Much better east-west bike access, particularly along Bloor St. They are even talking about putting in bike lanes, and the Dundas St. loop will have a wide curb lane. Several times they mentioned this was part of the city's Bike Plan (I didn't think the Bike Plan actually included any of Bloor, but I could be wrong).

Bikin' the 'Burbs and Cyclist Memorial

Ghost Bike I covered quite a long distance on my bike on Thursday, especially for a regular weekday. Almost 70km. My usual commute to work was followed by a ride out to the depths of North York for a memorial for a 16 year-old cyclist named Bianca Gogel who was killed by a truck last week. Although the main destination for all this riding was to attend a sad memorial, I wanted to make the best of this nice riding weather and enjoy myself.

The pictures tell more of the story.

Burnhamthorpe Credit River Bridge

Raise The RailOn the morning of Wednesday March 29 2006, 46 year-old Andrzej Sacawa was riding his bicycle westbound on Burnhamthorpe Road over the Credit River bridge in Mississauga. His handlebars struck the railing, causing him to fall off his bicycle and over the railing to the river below. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

This story struck a nerve with me for several reasons. The first time I rode my bike out there, I noticed the very low railing and thought to myself, "This is dangerous! How can this be part of the Burnhamthorpe Trail system?" Yes, this bridge with a railing that is only 38 inches high is part of a cycling route. The other reason why I was bothered with this incident is that the city of Mississauga seemed to put the blame on Mr. Sacawa for riding his bike on the sidewalk!

I rode along the Burnhamthorpe Trail to the Credit River Bridge to survey the scene. In my opinion, the "trail" provides cyclists a false sense of security by separating them from traffic, while funneling them onto sidewalks and over bridges with low guardrails.

Please click here to see my photos and read my commentary about this trail and bridge.

Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists (ARC) has followed up on the incident by holding a memorial, calling for a formal coroner's inquest, and demanding an apology from the city of Mississauga for creating a dangerous situation and blaming the cyclist for his own death.

Bike Parking at Islington Station

Smashed bike and rackI took a few pictures of the bike parking mess at the Islington Subway Station tonight. The sight of a bike rack completely destroyed by a car prompted me to go home and get my camera. Glad it wasn't my bike, but this sort of thing really ticks me off. I wrote up more commentary about the sad situation of bike parking and being a pedestrian around Islington Station over here.

Candlelight Memorial for cyclist Ryan Carriere

Cyclist with candleRyan was riding his bike at the corner of Queen Street West and Gladstone Ave. on October 31st 2005 when he was run over and killed by a large truck. He was on his way home to spend Halloween with his family, but didn't make it.
Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists (ARC) organized a memorial ride from Nathan Phillips Square to the collision site, followed by a candle-light vigil. Over 100 cyclists rode down Queen St. together, and we met up with probably 100 more of Ryan's friends, family, neighbours, etc. It was an amazing response, one that I never expected. The whole thing was very emotional, but I can't describe what it was like to be there. I just hope we don't have to do this again anytime.
I feel that cycling is generally a very safe activity, and the benefits definitly outweigh the drawbacks, but we need to be reminded that it can be dangerous. Collisions, injuries, and deaths are all avoidable.
I hope that memorials like this can raise awareness of cycling issues, and hopefully help make cycling a safer activity for all of us. Cyclists and motorists need to be better educated, roads need to be safer, cycling facilities should be designed or improved when appropriate, and of course we need to make people more aware that there are cyclists out there so be careful! The issue of truck sideguards has been brought up again too, and I hope something can be done about that.
I took pictures and posted them over here along with some links to media coverage.

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