city hall

Don Mills Centre to City Hall: Toronto Bike To Work Day

Join a group of cyclists for a fun, friendly, and casual ride from traditional car-centric suburbia (Don Mills Centre) to Downtown City Hall.

Date: Monday May 31st 2010
Departure Time: 7am (be there before 7am for a brief intro and speeches)
Meeting Location: Don Mills Road and Lawrence Avenue East Southwest Corner

City of Toronto Councillor and Budget Chief Shelley Carroll has confirmed her attendance, and has been warming up for the ride recently. So get ready for a beautiful cycling week in the sun!

Toronto Annual Group Commute from Don Mills

Live on the east side of the Don Valley near Lawrence Avenue? Riding across the Lawrence Avenue bridge can be challenging for some. There will be a pre-ride westbound across the Lawrence Avenue bridge departing from Lawrence Avenue East and Underhill (Northeast corner) at 6:30am.

Bikeway network approved but University bike lane in limbo

City Council debated late into the night on the bikeway network plan for 2010, which was passed 26-8, with one caveat: it was amended by Councillor Hall (Ward 1) to remove the pilot University Ave bike lanes from the motion. The vote to amend was 15-13, but apparently Councillor Fletcher, who has been quite pro-bike lane, made an error in her vote (or some have said there was a technical glitch). A re-vote was requested but apparently there is a bizarre council rule that a re-vote cannot take place if it will change the result (one is not sure why else someone would want to re-vote). So no re-vote and this council session is now complete. The next one is June 8 and 9.

Damn council. Not even willing to try something out. You could have voted to take it out after the pilot project. We've tried the whole car thing, folks. Just look how well that worked. Just look.

It was a very close vote to remove it, but it doesn't mean that it might not show up in June. The chances are that it will be a close vote again if it is put on the agenda of the next council session. The results of the vote are here, start calling your councillors to get them to wake up and support it.

Bixi Toronto and University bike lanes: tomorrow is decision day at City Hall

Tomorrow is do or die. Either council approves the loan guarantee and contract with Bixi, or it will be a long, long time before Toronto gets its own bikesharing program. Please go to City Hall at 10 am with your bike helmet on to show your support. The Mayor is making a special push for it!

The 2010 Bikeway Network will be coming up at a later time, possibly on May 12th. That's when the University bike lane pilot will up for vote. This item will be likely even more contentious than Bixi. Follow the bike union's Twitter feed @bikeunion to see when the item is coming up, then rush down to City Hall with your helmets!

I've got a lot of hope riding on Bixi. Way back in 2000, my roommate Todd Parsons first brought back the idea of yellow bikesharing back from his trip to Austin, Texas. This brought forth Bikeshare, which populated Toronto with lots of yellow bikes for 6 great years. Now I'm hoping that Bixi will more than fill the hole that Bikeshare left. I hope that all cyclists and other folks can jump to show the politicians that this is a great idea! We can't let Montreal have all the fun.

From Yvonne at the bike union:

As per my email last week about the City Council meeting taking place May 11th & 12th in Council Chambers - you are invited to attend whenever you are able.

Although I don't have specific details around timing, I now know that Item PW 32.8 – The Public Bike (Bixi-Toronto) Program (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2010/pw/bgrd/background...) will be one of the Mayor's items! Good news indeed.

Will Adrian Heaps try to sabotage Bixi?

Is Councillor Adrian Heaps going to try sabotage Bixi Toronto at City Council next week? Given his recent performance at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting, I'm a bit concerned. Does he want a public bike program that could be flourishing by next year, or does he want to delay it a few years just so his favourite company, Astral Media, can run it? And does Astral Media even want it?

If you go to the bike union website you can use their friendly green button to contact Adrian Heaps (on the right side) to ask him these important questions before next week.

A bit of history: Transportation Services and City Manager staff have been negotiating with Bixi for many months now. They finally came to a deal for 1000 bikes in 2011 (a realistic compromise that the city could safely support). At the last public works meeting Heaps made a motion to go back to square one, drop the deal with Bixi and try to negotiate with Astral Media a second time, even though it was dropped at least a year ago. As Chair of the Cycling Advisory Committee, you'd think that Heaps would have more sense to just let his own agenda die and support Bixi.

Why is Heaps stuck on having Astral provide this service? Does he still not know that Astral will not provide a public bike program for free? Jonathan Goldsbie confirmed back in 2008 that Astral would likely only want the program if the whole streets furniture for advertising contract was re-opened and renegotiated. Who knows how long that would take - years?

Goldsbie said:

Toronto's first separated bike lane approved by committee

The public works committee approved today the pilot separated bike lanes on University. I had to duck out of the meeting early in order to do some real work, but the room was full of citizens and media, waiting for the decision on this and the public bike proposal.

The pilot project will begin after the G20 summit and end in September, going along the center median of University Avenue. The committee compromised on the length, agreeing to make it go from Queen to Hoskin / Wellesley. If it is successful, and the Richmond bike lanes are installed, the bike lanes will be extended to Richmond.

The move has been a long time coming, bike advocates argue, pointing to cities around the world that have experimented with dedicated bike lanes that set up barriers of some kind to keep them separate from motor vehicle traffic. Yvonne Bambrick, executive director of the Toronto Cyclists Union, said this will make the large, often high-speed artery safer for both motorists and cyclists.

Councillor Minnan-Wong, who just learned to balance on a bike last year, and is already an expert on all this bicycling, proposed a network of "secondary bike lanes", which will presumably have to either be built on top of the buildings or underground (says I who has biked just about every street in downtown):

Separated bike lanes proposed for center of University Ave

University Ave bike lane: proposed summer pilot project

Separated bike lanes are planned as a summer pilot project for University Avenue. It should prove to be the new scapegoat for traffic congestion by the media, and a new focus for the so-called "war on cars", despite staff showing that traffic capacity will not be affected at all (just as many cars will flow up and down University as before). But reason be damned.

City staff have submitted a bikeway network report to public works proposing the University Ave project along with a number of other items, including sharrows on Spadina, a short bike lane on Bay, and so on.

The pilot University lane will start at Hoskin's on the north side of Queen's Park and down to Richmond. At the end of summer the bike lane will be removed and the results analyzed. It will then be up to the new city council to approve a permanent bike lane.

The Star reports:

University currently has four traffic lanes in each direction with a centre median, but it could be reduced to three lanes, with one lane given over to bicycles, a staff report says.

Having bikes run in the centre lanes beside the median would allow the curb lanes to continue to be used for stopping, parking, vendors and taxis, the report added.

Mississauga to build 30km of bike paths per year for 20 years

Mississauga's gonna put in 30 km of bike paths/lanes a year for the next 20 years. Wow. Meanwhile in Toronto, some people trying to get the top job are trying to stop the Bike Plan. What kind of topsy-turvy world do we live in?

This isn't that unusual. Mississauga is likely building most of its bike paths and lanes so they don't impose on car traffic lanes, whereas Toronto doesn't have this choice since the only choices often are to ride on major roads. Just take a look at their site, which puts trails front and center (which means it still has to grow up quite a bit to be a real cycling city).

The city currently has 350 kilometres of bicycle paths, but they’re mostly in parks. It wants to add a further 600 kilometres, at a rate of 30 kilometres per year over the next two decades, including bike lanes and paths connecting major arterial streets throughout the city.

The system would connect major transit hubs and other key destination points, the goal being to get people cycling to work, school and other major destinations. The project, which aims to put 95 per cent of residents within a kilometre of a major cycling route, would also include parking facilities at transit locations and city facilities.

Currently only about 0.3 per cent of all vehicles on the roads in Mississauga are bicycles; the city hopes to boost that to 10 per cent.

Rossi: big fan of bike lanes, just don't build them anywhere

In case you haven't noticed, it's an election year in Toronto, and right-wing candidate Rossi in a bid to win some right-wing votes has made some bold statements about stopping unsafe and environmentally unsound bike lanes.

Rossi doesn't want bike lanes on arterial roads like University, Bloor and Jarvis. But apparently he's a big fan of bike lanes all the same, so long as they are only installed where they aren't needed: on cul-de-sacs and quiet residential streets, apparently.

“I’m not only OK with bike lanes, I’m a big fan,” Rossi said. “I do believe in an expanded bike lane network, but we need to do it on a grid basis and we need to use safer routes to travel.”

He’d prefer to have a fact-based discussion about bike lanes rather than a mud-slinging fight, and base it on getting everyone around the city safely and quickly.

Of course, Rossi isn't engaging in some sort of urban planning, based on studies and reason; he's engaging in vote winning and he's willing to say whatever it takes. Rossi is trying to shape the conversation with a "father knows best" approach: "You poor cyclists, why do you want to risk yourselves on the all those fast cars? Those city planners are so irresponsible by trying to put bike lanes there instead of quiet side roads."

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