Filmed last summer, Les bons, les méchants et la bicyclette by Mediatique of Montreal gives an outsiders view of cycling in Toronto with a clear lens of the madness that we just get used to living in this large city.

The film, in French, appeared on Radio-Canada television in September:

on présente un documentaire sur la vie des cyclistes torontois. Sous le titre, Les bons, les méchants et la bicyclette, le journaliste, écrivain et humoriste Josh Freed nous convie à une virée à vélo à travers les rues de la ville reine.

Translated as: "presents a documentary on the life of Toronto cyclists. Under the title, The good, the bad and the bicycle, journalist, writer and humorist Josh Freed takes us on a bike ride through the streets of the Queen City. [links mine]"

Huh, "Queen City"? That's an interesting nickname for this city I haven't heard yet.

Josh Freed, an anglophone, who lives in Montreal, helps provide an interesting outsider's view of what it's like to bike in Toronto. Even if your French is rusty you'll probably like it.

Frankly it makes me feel a bit embarrassed on behalf of our citizenry.

It's been a long, long time since bike lanes for Bloor Street had been first proposed. Just ask Albert Koehl, lawyer and cycling advocate, who detailed the history—first proposed in 1977! (Or Hamish Wilson, who for many years carried the torch despite the "Bloored vision" of City Hall—tip of my hat to Hamish's famous turn of phrases for Caronto). Well, today we've finally got an Open House proposing pilot bike lanes for Bloor Street (Trinity St. Paul's 427 Bloor Street West).

Now's our chance. The stars are aligning. A critical mass businesses and politicians seems to be building (and screw the rest). Let's show up in force.

Please note that not all the proposed bike lanes will be fully protected. For some reason in some diagrams they are proposing just paint on one side of the street and bollards on the other. If we're going to build bike lanes, let's do it right! I think the vast majority of people are sick of those drivers that like to park wherever they feel like it thus rendering the bike lane useless.

Not to mention that the BICE study long showed that protected bike lanes are much safer than just paint (and much preferred).

I noticed that they left the car lane widths at 3.3m, despite Transpo chief Buckley stating that 3m is the new minimum width (if my memory serves me well). That means we've got .6m to play with to add another buffer.

Pumpkin separated bike lanes on Harbord

The Urban Repair Squad has improved the buffered bike lane on Harbord with a row of jack-o-lanterns. (Photo: Tino) I'm a bit late to this story but I wanted to highlight how cyclists are asking for so little yet how hard it can be get that even on streets with large numbers.

In the City's original plan for improving the safety of Harbord for cyclists, there was going to be a physical barrier between cyclists and car traffic. It was going to be a bidirectional bike lane on one side of the street. Transportation planners reneged on that plan for various reasons (none of which were that compelling to me) and instead put in a wider painted buffer and only physically separated a handful of blocks on Hoskin which got separation with flexiposts and parked cars.

With some imagination (and willingness to annoy the car lobby), I believe the transportation planners could have come up with protected bike lanes that worked for Harbord. For instance, by adopting the Dutch innovation of protected intersections (like Salt Lake City has of all places) they might have been able to make the bidirectional bike path work. Their study, however, only looked at old-school options like timing the lights. And in the end they decided that the delay was not worth the extra protection.

The pumpkins only work on the side where the bike lane is adjacent to the sidewalk. The other side has cars parked between them, which means the cars have to cross the bike lane. That's rather unfortunate but even here it might have been possible to switch the two, but the TTC was opposed to the idea because they want to be able to speed along with their buses without having to worry about drivers getting out of their parked cars.

I'm no transportation planner, but it seems to me that cycling safety has always been given a lower priority to issues that don't actually involve life and death decisions. Sure, the concerns of drivers parking and TTC bus drivers need to be dealt with but do they trump the safety of someone else? No.

Anyway. Happy Halloween! If we all put out our pumpkins as barriers maybe we'll start a trend.