bike parking

A business that understands bike parking is good for biz

Stone Canoe, an advertising agency on Richmond St. West, understands the need for good bike parking. Most of its employees bike to work. But instead of just buying a commodity bike rack they instead used their creative juices to build their own. The result was impressive: a quite functional bike rack that also represents the company's brand (a stone canoe no less). (Image: Jacques Gallant)

Stone Canoe commissioned a half-ton piece of artwork geared to give cyclists in the area a beautiful place to park their bicycles. The bike rack, reminiscent of a stone canoe, has been installed on the northwest corner of Walnut Ave. and Richmond St. West. The Toronto Stone Canoe team worked closely with Montreal jewellery designer, Pilar Agueci (pilaragueci.com), and Montreal metalsmith, Jacques Gallant (solutionsgallant.com), who designed and built the rack. It serves as a functional roadside attraction, and an indication of the boutique advertising agency’s commitment to creativity, and standing out.

Cycling staff want your opinion on new parking on Queen West. Hold the panic and rage

The City recently installed a number of bike stands along Queen Street from Gladstone to Markham. Brian Park, Toronto Urban Fellow at the Cycling Unit, told me about their survey of the bike parking, asking that people fill it out:

Transportation Services is installing new bike parking infrastructure between Markham St and Gladstone Ave on Queen St W as part of a special study being conducted by Transportation's Cycling Infrastructure and Programs Unit. We recently updated our webpage - please take a look.

Please be nice be nice in your comments. It's amazing how jerky people can get. The City has already been forced to take remedial action on one installation because of a panicked response from some people.

Pylons repurposed as doomsday signs. Conveniently you'd have to dismount to read them.

This bike rack was installed at the southeast end of Trinity Bellwoods. Brian happened to be there when a furious Dorian approached him, outraged at the bike rack placement and that it would cause disaster and mayhem to rain down on people using the park path. Dorian was kind enough to record the interaction on the Facebook page for City of Toronto Cycling for posterity:

Dorian commanded Brian to "remove it today" preceded by a nice "F you". It appears that Brian did neither, thankfully. Dorian then followed up with his threat to put up signs and create a petition. It appears that Dorian managed to sign up enough panicked people to get City staff to trim the hedges to increase the sight lines around the corner. The bike rack is still there and being used last I looked. I also haven't heard of any tragic deaths due to bike rack impalement. So that's good news.

It doesn't seem to have concerned Dorian that this path exits out onto a sidewalk. If it wasn't a bike rack there it could just as easily have been a child or your grandma. Maybe the path is badly placed but until that gets fixed (not any time soon) only a jerk would take that corner at full speed.

Anyway, space is precious in this City what with businesses generally trying to keep all their sacred curbside parking so putting in bike racks anywhere is tough. It's encouraging enough that City staff are finding parking spots and boulevard space to place some bike racks. So I encourage you to go fill out the survey to help us get more of them. Just be nice about it.

Some new bike parking alongside Loblaws: late and not enough

Thanks to some warm winter weather and possibly to a bit of persuading on my end (by directing some emails to Street Furniture and to Councillor Vaughan's office), City staff have installed post and rings along Portland and Richmond next to the new Loblaws.

As I noted in the other post, Councillor Vaughan and Jennifer Chan of his office were quite helpful in pursuing the case of the missing bike parking to get it solved. Lisa Ing of Street Furniture was also helpful in spelling out the details of this location and the limitations of her office.

It's super that we now have some bike parking for Loblaws. Now what about the rest of the stores along that block on Queen? Short-term bike parking should be no more than 15 metres from the entrance of destinations, according to the Bicycles at Rest design guide. Are post and rings just not "aesthetic" enough to get installed there?

The "season" for installation of bike parking ends in the fall - it gets too difficult to install with lots of snow and the City ends its contract with the company that installs the bike rings. It is remarkable, then, that these post and rings appeared. Who installed them? There were plans in the works to install them but not until the spring. Did public pressure on City staff quicken that process?

Parking at Queen and Portland: is the city taking bike parking seriously?

The new Loblaws, Winners, Joe Fresh at Queen St West and Portland have been open for a few months. In the inscrutable ways of the City, the stores opened with absolutely zero bike parking. The sidewalk was finished, trees were installed out front but no one felt the need to install bike parking anywhere surrounding the building. I like trees but wouldn't it have been even more important to install bike parking? Now we've just got people slowly killing the trees by locking to the trees.

I followed up with planner Lisa Ing of Street Furniture at the City, the area which is now in charge of post and rings (you can email your bike parking request to them). They are still figuring out how they will deal with post and rings. Lisa Ing told me about this location by email:

The post-and-ring locations were approved as part of the Site Plan Control process for this development. Our staff are typically not involved in this process. However Forestry and Urban Design staff do take into consideration bike parking issues.

I do not know the reasons why post-and-rings were not identified on Queen Street West as part of the site plan process. I am presuming there may be other street elements proposed or it could have been for aesthetic reasons.

Anyways, we can list this location in our database for future review.

Toronto needs more bike parking: here's how we can push for it

Post and ring bike parking is lacking in many heavily cycled parts of Toronto. The City of Toronto was once in the forefront of supplying short-term parking for cyclists and this may help explain why so many people bike despite the poor cycling infrastructure otherwise.

We've got to hold onto the parking we've got and push for more. Currently the City is slow to re-install the parking removed when sidewalks are reconstructed (or for other construction). And they seem slow to put in enough parking otherwise.

Here's a neat website, SeeClickFix, that allows people to post issues with their city and to get crowd-support. If people mark down where they think bike parking is critical, use the keywords "bike parking" or "post and ring", or vote on an existing issue then we can gather all this information to send to councillors and staff.

It's clear that there's more demand for parking than is being met. If the city doesn't want cyclists to lock to gas meters, trees or fences then we want them to take bike parking seriously.

Try it out! And while you're at it also submit your suggestion directly to the City through their online suggestion form. It would be good if they also get flooded with requests.

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:

Toronto designer creates secure bike with unconventional integrated lock

Andrew Leinonen has a passion for bikes and recently created a locking design that goes beyond our commonplace perception of what a bike lock is and how it should work. Andrew's inspiration was trying to solve the "endemic problem" of bike theft in Toronto. His StayLocked bicycle is a working concept that has yet to be proven as a real product but breaks the mold by making a part of the bike do double-duty as a bike lock. If a thief tries to break the lock, they also make the bike unridable.

Putting my mind to the endemic problem of urban bike theft, I realized that in a big city like Toronto or NYC, any lock (no matter how bulky or heavy) can only serve as a deterrant for a determined thief with the right tools. This challenge was the inspiration for the StayLocked bike, a design that integrates the lock directly into the frame. The bike's seatstays have been replaced with a U-lock on a pivoting joint. This is a 'scorched earth' approach; any thief that breaks the lock breaks the bike as well, rendering it unrideable and without value.

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