bike lanes

Bike lane

I took this footage riding along the bike lanes taxi loading and unloading zones on College Street between Spadina and Bathurst.

Take all Traffic off of University

Four Bike Police Scuttle up the bike lane in the wrong direction

It has been well over two days since Toronto cyclists woke up to a shattered dream: the dream of a pilot bike lane project on University Avenue. No, it wasn't the right-wing bike hating extreme that put it down, but a bike lane loving councilor that blamed it on technology, or lack of sleep, or perhaps it was memories of communist day camps in the wilds of Manitoba, but regardless, Paula "fat fingers" Fletcher was the one to blame.

But if you looked on the Toronto Star website and read the story, or maybe the comments, you would think that Yahweh himself had come down and grabbed her hand and put it on the big red no button.

It was divine intervention, chimed in more than one of the many people who read the Star, comment on how crappy life is in Toronto, but don't really live here (those people who see fit to tell people who actually live here what they are supposed to think and how much Toronto sucks and everything else).

It seemed that every other member of the peanut gallery was going on how ambulances used University to get to the hospitals and how cyclists would slow them down and how putting a bike lane on University would cause the death of millions.

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 ( will be one of the Mayor's items! Good news indeed.

Sam James Update

What should be on every bike lane

Here is a fast update about what is happening in the world of Sam James and the bike lane that runs in front of his shop. For those not in the know, Emma, barista extrdinare had a wee bit of a run in with a car driver that really needed a coffee and had to park in the bike lane to get it.

Emma had informed the lady that if she continued to park in the bike lane she might get a fine. The woman returned to the coffee shop and talked with Sam, the owner, and told him that Emma was rude and should be dismissed. Sam in turn dismissed the customer.

After the incident Sam told me that he was going to get a no parking sign to inform customers who insisted in parking in the bike lane that it was a big no-no. He told me that he was having a sign made.

Well true to his word a no parking sign appeared on the sidewalk. Sam also added that if drivers insisted on parking in the bike lane then he would have to stop serving them. Kudo's to you Sam, Emma and the rest of the staff at Sam James Coffee Shop.

Support for University bike lanes in unusual places

There is support for the University bike lane in unusual places. Royson James makes a great case that the bike lanes will change the flavour of the whole boulevard, turning it much more into a livable street where people will be happier to use the "gardens down the centre". I didn't expect this of James, who's been critical of Miller and his projects.

And Councillor Karen Stinz, known for her right-wing views, makes a surprisingly supportive case for the lanes in her National Post editorial "Give bike lanes a chance". She commends Toronto for borrowing the good bike lane techniques from NYC, Chicago and elsewhere. See below for quotes.

Royson James:

There is much to gain from bike lanes on University Avenue, and so little to lose, that the prospects excite.

Along this, our city’s most European-flavoured boulevard, an attractive street aching for a few transformative tweaks to make it great, there must be room for the wonder of mobility, the two-wheeler.

A pedestrian-friendly city, a green city, a city with a burgeoning downtown population that is the envy of North American cities, and a city that cares about the quality of life for its citizens is a city brave enough to encourage safe cycling on one of its most prized drags.

How did Rossi bike to the Green Living Show?

This image has been altered to fit my worldview: Click on image for originalThis image has been altered to fit my worldview: Click on image for original

We all know by now, mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi's promise to Torontonians to remove all bike lanes on "major" roads (which he's left sufficiently vague to save face if things don't go his way). Rossi figures that biking on major streets is "insanity" and he promises to install bike lanes on side roads (which in a previous post we've shown would be quite an impossible undertaking, but let's not let facts get into the way just yet).

We've been lucky enough to get a photo of Rossi happily using the Toronto Cyclists Union's free Valet Parking at the Green Living Show this last weekend. It was probably not lost on Rossi that his own views on bike lanes are diametrically opposed to the bike union's.

I wondered just how Rossi got to the Green Living show: was he forced to arrive by the insanity of major roads, or did he manage to avoid them in his ride from his house?

Happy Earth Day

College and Manning 8:30 a.m. April 23, 2010. 'Mr. Green' sends his message.

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