bike infrastructure

Bikesharing: effective tool for encouraging citizens to cycle

In a recent email discussion on Bixi and bikesharing in Toronto, Mikael Colville-Andersen
of, made some good points about bikesharing: 1) bikesharing, to be successful, is aimed at citizens, not tourists, 2) bikesharing needs to be ubiquitous within the launch area, 3) the sudden surge of bikes makes it an effective tool for change and triggering better bike infrastructure. Just to clarify, Mikael is responding to some other comments that bikesharing was meant only for tourists, and it's not to imply that City staff were ever focusing on such a narrow demographic, quite the contrary.

Read his comments below:

Interesting following the discussion from the sidelines.

One thing that is worrying is the focus on tourists.

Every successful bike share programme in the world is not aimed at tourists, but rather the locals. There are 26 cities in France alone with successful bike share programmes and the local population is the focus. In fact, there are cities that make it difficult for tourists to rent them. In Seville, in Spain, your application takes a week to process. The main reason is to discourage tourists from using it. Otherwise it'll just end up as a gimmick.

Another thing is that visitors to a city won't use a bike share system if they don't see locals riding around on the bike share bikes or private bikes. Especially without sufficient infrastructure. So it's unlikely that tourists will be the main users in Toronto.

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."

Bikeway plan politically ambitious

City staff revealed a politically ambitious bikeway plan for downtown to a very packed house, Monday evening at Metro Hall. Even though the plan includes a number of items which don't require council approval, including bike boxes on Harbord and bike sharrows along streetcar routes, the most politically controversial may be such items as bike lanes on University (as the Post predicts as well). See the whole plan on the City's website (pdf) [this links only to the announcement and not the plan. oops!].

Councillor Joe Mihevc commended the staff for their ambition (even if it may still be just a stepping stone since some activists pointed out that it was still a fractured network). Then Mihevc explained how it was a really politically tough year; if cyclists present a strong, single voice to politicians, we may have a chance of getting this program implemented.

Cyclists seemed to be divided on whether this represented a turning point or not, but it is apparent that even if some cyclists see this as too little, there is a certain segment of voters and certain mayoral candidates (Rossi, and possibly, Smitherman) who see this is way too much "coddling" of cyclists.

More and more Torontonians cycle: up to 54%

Us cyclists have been saying for awhile: "Doesn't it look like there are more cyclists out there?" Well it's true. Cycling in Toronto is up 13% over the last decade - from 48% to 54%. The number of utilitarian cyclists - those who use their bikes to get to work, school, visit, or run errands - rose an astounding 45%: from 20% in 1999 to 29% in 2009. How do we know this? The City of Toronto has released their 2009 Cycling survey and all the numbers are up.

Will we have to wait another 10 years for an update? The plan now, says Dan Egan of Transportation Services, is to do the survey every 3 years, timed to coincide with municipal elections. Get the numbers out just before an election and you've got some good fodder for pushing politicians.

Some other interesting finds: motorists and cyclists feel that there is more respect for each other, despite the proverbial "War on Cars"; the largest increases in utilitarian cyclists is in the burbs: up about an average of 83%!

The War On The Bicycle (Hungarian Style)

There was a lot of trash talk about the supposed 'War on the Car' this year. There will be more next year I am sure. Last time I checked it was you and me and dare I say even those who drive
who suffer the effects of car culture, or shall we say, high-carbon consumer capitalism. So get ready for the next stage when car drivers fight back against bike lanes. You know it's coming.

Memorial For Cyclist Killed In Mississuga

The first ghost bike in Mississauga, as far as I know, was installed by ARC this morning at the corner of Riverspray Crescent. and Bloor Street. On November 25, a cyclist was killed on his way home from the beer store. I went along for the ride this morning to pay my respects to the fallen cyclist and document the work of installing a ghost bike. His name has not been released.

News story:

"A male cyclist, 45, has died after being hit by a car in Mississauga on Tuesday evening. The crash happened after 6:30 p.m. at Bloor Street and Runningbrook Drive, between Dixie and Tomken Roads. The cyclist was pronounced dead at the scene. The intersection was shut down for the investigation. The driver remained at the scene."

Another media report:

No charges are expected in this incident. This was the 9th cyclist in Ontario to die on a ride.

Top 10 Complaints: BlogTO cyclist

From Derek at BlogTO as a response to Sgt. Tim Burrow's Top 10 list of driver complaints. (BlogTO is good at these lists):

10 - The close pass

9 - Lack of bike lanes

8 - Cars parked in bike lanes

7 - Potholes

Yes, potholes, but also utility cuts, which in some way are even more irritating. A utility cut can create a wide, sharp drop from which you can't easily escape; or the cut can run below you for blocks creating the roller coaster, or "mutton bustin" (sheep riding), effect - also unavoidable.

6 - Winter

5 - Other cyclists

4 - Car doors

3 - Streetcar tracks

Derek suggests the bunny hop, but that's a bad idea. CAN-BIKE recommends taking the tracks as close to 90 degrees as possible - slow down and cross the tracks at a sharp angle.

2 - Oblivious pedestrians

1 - Sudden right turns (without signaling)

This is Derek's key complaint, and though it is rarer than the others, it's a biggie. I agree, complete disregard for a life. A more minor but related complaint is the right turn from the left of cyclists at red lights - you wouldn't do that with a car so why do you think it's okay with a bike?

Honourable mentions: jerks who bypass the line of cyclists at red lights, slow e-bikes that need to be passed (but that can be nice to draft!), riding north from downtown (it's all uphill), and the constant threat of bike theft.

Bike lanes: lax enforcement

Riconroy, in this video, shows us the daily conflict between drivers and cyclists in Toronto bike lanes.

There is conflict between cyclists and drivers in the city; one of the ways it shows itself is in sharing space, especially bike lanes. Are they exclusively for cyclists, or can cars and trucks use them to get a coffee, or make a delivery? Cyclists maintain that having to swerve out of the bike lane to get around a stopped vehicle is more dangerous than having no bike lane at all. Enforcement of no-stopping by-laws is at best lax.

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