bike infrastructure

Rush hour sharrows installed and testing on College

Parking on sharrows: Courtesy of Peter of Why are We Alive?

Peter of Why are We Alive? let me know the City is installing rush hour sharrows on College between Lansdowne and Manning.

The City is experimenting with sharrows along this difficult stretch. Without a political shift towards bikes, the staff have to make do with trying to accommodate streetcars, non-rush hour parking and bikes. They are conducting a survey of College bike commuters to gauge their perceptions before and after the sharrows are installed. Do people feel like the sharrows make them feel more comfortable? Do drivers give you more room? Or are they just confusing?

I'll give the transportation staff for trying something new - it might not be ideal and it may evolve into something better, but given the circumstances they're on the right track.

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.

Complete Streets Forum this Friday - it's about mobility for all

The Complete Streets Forum is taking place this Friday. It's not too late to sign up. Even the Mayor is going to be there!

What are complete streets?
From Wikipedia (as of April 21, 2010):

In urban planning and highway engineering, complete streets are roadways designed and operated to enable safe, attractive, and comfortable access and travel for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transport users of all ages and abilities are able to safely and comfortably move along and across a complete street. Proponents claim that Complete Streets also create a sense of place and improve social interaction, while generally improving property adjacent land values.

Here's the media release of the forum:

(Toronto, Apr 20, 2010) -- Transportation stakeholders from across Canada will meet on Friday, April 23 at the inaugural Complete Streets Forum to discuss how to improve city streets in Toronto and other municipalities across Ontario to take into consideration all users including pedestrians, cyclists, public transit users and motorists.

Date: April 23, 2010
Time: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Location: Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Ballroom, C floor

Complete Streets Forum is organized by the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation (TCAT), a project of the Clean Air Partnership, in partnership with Transportation Options and the City of Toronto with the generous support of our sponsors.

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):

Most Torontonians support bike lanes on major roads

It appears that Rocco Rossi may have miscalculated in coming out strongly opposed to bike lanes: almost 60% of Greater Torontonians strongly or moderately support bike lanes on major roads like Bloor and Jarvis, as discovered in a new Angus Reid poll of residents of the Greater Toronto Area. If one were just following the pundits and media comments one would have arrived at a much different conclusion than from this poll.

In the burbs support for bike lanes and transit is lower, but in the city proper (where Rossi and crowd need to get votes) support is strong:

“Commuters who are concerned about threats to the smoothness of their commute overall have less support (for tolls or bike lanes). Whether it’s, ‘I have to pay money to drive my car into the city’ or ‘I have to contend with bikes on major arteries,’ support is lower in those regions,” [Angus Reid senior vice-president] Shanoff said. “But in the city proper, support for more bike lanes is 59 per cent.”

Candidates seeking support from younger voters might want to look at expanding bike lanes, she added.

If a motorist hits a cyclist...

If a motorist hits a cyclist, they often try to excuse themselves by claiming they "didn't see" the cyclist.

Why, therefore, do any motorists expect us to take them seriously when they oppose bike lanes because they claim they "don't see" many cyclists using them? Personally, I think the best answer to a motorist who claims not to see cyclists in the bike lanes goes like this: since you need to look where you point your car, and you shouldn't point your car into the bike lane, your not seeing cyclist in the bike lanes just proves you drive carefully. It does not, however, prove anything about the number of cyclists using those lanes.

You can't take a census and drive at the same time. Even Statistics Canada doesn't drive and take the census at the same time; they get out of their cars to take the census. Why some motorists think we should believe they can take a census of bike lane users as they drive I don't know.

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.

John Forester: the "vehicular cycling" approach, or behave just like a car

John Forester: from Momentum

John Forester is a "cycling transportation engineer" and the father of "vehicular cycling", the concept that cyclists are safest when they behave as a vehicle. Vehicular proponents tend to be vehemently against most bicycle infrastructure - bike lanes and paths - as opposed to the "facilitators" who are in favour of special infrastructure for cyclists.

Most people likely don't identify with either view since they don't see them as being mutually exclusive: cyclists need to learn some skill as well as be given infrastructure to make them feel more comfortable and safer on the road. Forester, however, takes an extremely negative view to any special favours for cyclists. It's interesting that Forester calls himself a cycling transportation engineer yet seems to never propose any actual unique cycling infrastructure. (It strikes us as similar to laissez-faire government - governing by not governing).

Darren of Toronto Cranks and I will be exploring Forester and his views over a few blog posts. We'll look at some of his central views such as:

  • "cyclists fare best when they behave like regular traffic"
  • the belief that education alone is needed
  • no special treatment should be given to cyclists
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