bike lanes

Car doors shouldn't have a "zone"

Last week, riding home on College Street, I encountered a territorial idiot in the bike lane. This individual decided to open his car door into the bike lane, then stand beside it chatting on his cell phone. On seeing me, he closed his car door enough to leave me six inches to pass. I told him, politely but stiffly, that I needed more room than that, and he closed it almost completely. I rolled by him. From his comments about me not leaving the bike lane, he clearly thought he had the right to use it as a substitute living room.

Today, I ready the comments of Kerri from the CommuteOrlando Blog about "door zone" bike lanes, and I thought on one hand she has a point, but on the other hand, the term "door zone" seems to concede public space to the motorists who open their car doors carelessly, and leave them open.

Toronto does not have the road space available to give motorists who chooses to park on the street permanent control of the space a metre to the right of their cars. If we tried to exclude vehicles (all vehicles, including bicycles) from the zone three feet from any (legally or illegally) parked car, our traffic problems would go from bad to terminal. For that reason, the HTA quite properly places the onus on the person opening a car door or proposing to use a travel lane for chatting on a cell phone or looking for their keys, not the traffic trying to move.

Accidents in which cyclists get hit by car doors cause plenty of injuries and deaths. Good infrastructure design definitely plays a role in keeping cyclists safe. But in calling for better infrastructure design, it matters that we not use language that has the effect of conceding to motorists public space that the law does not grant them and which we cannot afford.

Bells on Bloor, I like the sound

Saturday brought good weather and a couple thousand cyclists to Bloor Street for another year of asking politicians to put in bike lanes. The Cyclops troupe of Clay and Paper Theatre led the multiple musical groups in chants and singing along the way.

A nice job by everyone, now the politicians just need to get their act together.

Pancakes on Bloor

I was lucky enough to get in on some delicious pancakes on Sunday morning. Albert Koehl, Angela Bischoff and the rest of the Bike Lanes on Bloor gang held a little fundraiser. For twenty dollars you could have as many pancakes as you could stuff in your face, fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee and the company of some really great people.

I arrived around 9:30 and the back yard of Mr. Koehl's house was already bustling with activity. I hunkered down and was fortunate enough to share a table with Martino, Wendy and Davide Anderson of Clay and Paper Theatre Company.

The food was delicious, the coffee hot and the company enticing. I am sure money and spirits were raised because of the event. For those not in the know, Bells on Bloor (video) is a yearly reminder to the city that we really do need bike lanes on Bloor Street.

This year the event is on a Saturday and it will be on May 29th. It starts at Noon at the entrance to High Park. Just look for thousands of cyclists itching to remind drivers that yes, we deserve a part of the road as well.

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.

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