public realm

Yorkville undermines their minimalist agenda with crappy bike parking and lanes

As is common with BIAs in Toronto the Bloor-Yorkville BIA was given a lot of control to decide the public realm priorities in the redesign of the stretch of Bloor between Church and Avenue. This included in letting the BIA decide if and how they would accommodate cyclists on their territory: how they would lock up their bikes and how they would bike along the roadway. The BIA chose to remove cyclists from the equation in the name of a minimalist and modern-looking design. Their choice, predictably, backfired.

The Bloor-Yorkville BIA's initial position during the redesign was to provide zero bike parking along this stretch of Bloor, presumably because bicycles are considered ugly and would take away from their preferred minimalism, much like the provision of bike lanes would have taken away from the wide marble sidewalks. The BIA was eventually forced by the City to at least provide some kind of temporary bike parking along the sidewalk, but they were given some control over the type of bike parking. Predictably they chose a design more for its aesthetics than usefulness; a design that cyclist to lock their bikes in awkward ways.

The locking is awkward enough that they felt compelled to provide a photo on BIA site on how one locks their bike. As one can see from the link it's not possible for someone to lock a wheel and frame with a u-lock, and even just getting the lock around the frame is a struggle. If you've got to provide a howto on something as simple as a bike parking structure than you've clearly failed, and has resulted in resourceful people finding other ways to lock their bikes as seen in the photo above. The Bloor-Yorkville BIA's attempt to tightly control how people use their space backfired.

Rather than improve bike parking and road conditions for cyclists along Bloor, the BIA is now attempting to manage public relations around their decisions. They tout their friendly bike parking design on their website, and they invent a new term to describe sharrows, "shared bike lanes". Instead of providing us with the bike lanes cyclists were calling for, they want us to think somehow cyclists got something even better: a lane that is "wider than standard, at 3.9 meters, and are demarked with bike icons, on the curbside", something that everyone else calls sharrows. As all cyclists know sharrows are the poor cousins of bike lanes, and in some parts of town are hidden underneath parked cars for a good part of the day. Along this stretch of Bloor the sharrow symbols are mostly blocked by the constant traffic jam.

Their attempt to brand themselves as bike-friendly is reminiscent of the Harbord BIA, which has strongly opposed filling in the Harbord bike lane gap between Bathurst and Spadina while at the same time claiming that the added sharrows were somehow a sacrifice on their part. Both BIAs wish to have their cake and eat it too. They wish pesky cyclists would just disappear but since cyclists won't they'll pretend that they're bending over backwards to improve the lives of cyclists. If the Bloor-Yorkville and Harbord BIA wish cyclists to take our business elsewhere, I'll try my best to oblige.

Cyclists alarmed over proposed bylaw to restrict bike parking on the street

There's been a flurry of alarm among cyclists after this last week's Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting, that a vote on harmonizing of street by-laws seems to be banning cyclists from parking their bikes to anything in the public realm, unless authorized by the General Manager. If something is locked for more than 24 hours then it may be removed (it's not clear from the the text if the 24 hours applies to post and rings as well as "illegal" parking.

It's not clear if the alarm is justified or not, though understandable given the anti-bike bent of those in control of city committees. Councillor Mike Layton was frustrated by the vote:

As part of the streets bylaw, PWIC voted to make it illegal to park a bike anywhere but a bike post. How much bike parking will this lose?

Though city staff have said that in practice things won't be as bad as cyclists fear. Christine Bouchard of of Transportation Services said on Facebook:

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