urban planning


I found the above illustration on the GOOD website.

According to the City of Toronto (Census) riding to work was up 32,6% between 2001 and 2006 from 1,3 to 1,7. Not bad but too slow for my likes. Wonder what the current stats might be. I think it's up despite everything we face. I am just thankful for everyone on two wheels.

Below is a graph for modal share stats for Ontario. [Editor: Toronto is at 1.7% while the second highest is Orangeville at 1.2%. Metro Toronto would be much, much higher since the burbs pull the numbers way down.]

Update: The Toronto Star has a published a map today with the percentage of commuters who ride bicycles to work, from the 2006 census

Video Letter From New York

A fellow fllmaker Clarence Eckerson, Jr. from NYC send this film with this note:

"Just sending out this quickie new Streetfilm on NYC Bike Lanes:

A good video to use if:

  • Your city needs bike infrastructure
  • Your city needs more or innovative bike facilities and they are not doing experimentation in design
  • If you want to show people in your neighborhood and community what is going on in NYC and the benefits to bike amenities.


Cycling versus parking on Dundas West

(Photo: Dundas West BIA)

Dundas West merchants really want their rush-hour parking, even as the new businesses readily admit they don't really need it. Their "NOPE" posters villifying Councillor Giambrone are still hanging in the windows of shops along Dundas West. Their campaign "Our Neighbourhoods are Destinations not Highways!" got a bit of press this last spring, and some renewed interest now. A few weeks ago I wanted to find out why the BIA is fighting to keep rush hour parking despite the needs of cyclists and transit users. What I found was a bunch of self-described progressive merchants, some of them even calling themselves cyclists. They are definitely a bunch of nice people, even if their rhetoric is disproportionate to the issue at hand. Lula Lounge's recent fundraiser, "Save the Dundas 71", is a case in point given that Lula isn't open until long after rush hour.

How do you like your streetcar tracks?

San Francisco is looking at how Toronto cyclists deal with streetcar tracks. The answer: not very easily. Toronto streetcar tracks have been the bane of many cyclists, both experienced and green. Being one of just a handful of North American cities with streetcars, Toronto could provide valuable information.

What can San Francisco learn from the Toronto experience? What ways can cities improve the safety for cyclists crossing tracks?

Experienced bicyclists tend to figure out the best way to navigate the tracks, but what can be done to prevent less-experienced bicyclists from getting stuck in the rail depressions so regularly?

In Toronto, where bicyclists also have to contend with a maze of tracks, several at-grade railroad crossings are equipped with a rubber flange filler that is jammed down into the cracks of trolley tracks. The rubber is firm enough that it doesn't compress when a bike passes over it, but when a streetcar comes it squishes down and doesn't cause the train to derail.

The material is not used for Toronto's extensive network of streetcar tracks in the city's core, however, and bikes routinely get caught in the tracks. "The at-grade railroad crossings do have some of that incorporated, but certainly not the main hazards to cyclists, which are the arterial road streetcar tracks," said Yvonne Bambrick, Executive Director of the Toronto Cyclists Union.

"There’s a lot of places where several tracks meet and turn. They’re trickier to navigate, but folks that have been at it for a while have figured out how to do it. It’s not that hard: you pay attention and learn how to do it, it’s all good. It does catch people fairly regularly."

Railpath is open!

After at least eight years of dreaming the West Toronto Railpath is officially open! This last weekend an opening party was held. Twitter user, skubie, provided the photo of the path from the south end of the trail where it meets Dundas, just north of College.

It's not a long path right now but there is potential for extending it to at least Dufferin, according to Metrolinx' plans for the rails next to it. After Dufferin it's all up in the air.

West Toronto Railpath Launch

The West Toronto Railpath will have its official launch on June 20, 2009, 2pm with a Party Parade! It starts on Wallace Ave., west of Perth (at the pedestrian rail overpass). Bring your bike, blades, strollers and kids to a party for the railpath.

Brought to you by: Friends of the West Toronto Railpath, Bike Pirates, Cyclops, Yasi's Place, Big on Bloor, and by the Letter D.

Ghettoes, Sanctuaries and War Criminals

–noun, plural -tos, -toes.
1.a section...inhabited predominantly by members of an ethnic or other minority group, often as a result of social or economic restrictions, pressures, or hardships...

–noun, plural -ar•ies.
...7.any place of refuge; asylum.

(Courtesy of dictionary.com)

Typically the popular imagination assigns these places opposite ends of the spectrum. Simply put, sanctuary is for the worthy few; a ghetto, the base underclass. You're expected to want into sanctuary, and expected to want the hell out of the ghetto. But things are rarely that simple.

There can be comfort and security among your own kind --no matter how low they may be -- and in 'knowing your place' though it be at the cost of greater possibilities and inclusiveness. The arrangement can also be expedient to the wider world: marginalizing problems is easier than confronting and resolving the dilemmas at their heart. Ask any politician. Just don't expect an honest answer.

Stripped of connotations ghettos and sanctuaries can appear as one and the same. And what would that look like? How about something like this?

Bikes on the brain: Bike Summit 2009 Wrap-up

Way back on May 28, Toronto had its Bike Summit. Better late than never. The presentations are now all on the TCAT website. You can also see a few photos on flickr. Instead of an exhaustive review, I'd like to provide a quick montage. There were other interesting speakers and ideas.

The above photo of a cyclists brain is from Keven Krizek's who emphasized the difficulty of getting accurate statistics of the benefits and costs of cycling infrastructure. The bike modal share in North America is just so low that a 100% increase would only bring it up to about 2%. There is no big impact on CO2 emissions or reduction in car use. The one statistic that we can be certain of (confirmed by Northern European experience) is that separated bike facilities increase the perception of bike safety --> which results in increased bicycle use --> which results in safety in numbers.

The big question (as we've learned with the fight for more bike lanes in Toronto) is: How do we convince the 94% majority that the effects are benign and allow better cycling facilities for the 6% that are going to use them? (Exact numbers may differ depending on location.)

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