Councillor Vaughan recently sent this note out via Facebook. I've been hammering on Vaughan recently for his opposition to the separated bike lane plan (he's still not clear if he opposes the whole thing or if he just wants to protect his John pedestrianization project). I've known that Vaughan has been relatively supportive of cycling in his ward (though really how can a politician come out as anti-bike downtown?) but I still think he's making a mistake by coming out so strongly against this plan instead of working with the cycling community to come to a compromise. Anyway, I'll let you read his letter:
Dear Ward 20 residents, cyclists and Facebook friends,
A recent National Post article has called into question my position on cycling in the City. Some of you, who may not have worked with me personally on local matters in Ward 20 may not be familiar with my approach to inclusive, neighbourhood based planning or my record on cycling infrastructure and complete streets.
For the record:
I have voted in support of every bike lane ever in front of me at Council.
I initiated plans for a network of new connecting bike lanes in Ward 20 - on Simcoe, Peter, Bremner/Fort York, Portland, Rees, Soho and Dan Leckie Way.
Based on recommendations from the Ward 20 Cycling Committee, the first "Bike Boxes" in the City have been implemented in Ward 20.
I have advocated for and voted for better cycling infrastructure on Spadina, Harbord and St George and Queens Quay in Ward 20.
I have supported BIXI at Council and in the community.
I delivered the City's first on-street bike parking corral to my ward, on Spadina Avenue. Two more bike parking corrals are planned for installation in Kensington Market this summer.
I advocated for and created higher bike storage standards in condominiums and new development.
I spearheaded programs to have artists design sculpted bike rings, which were then commissioned and installed on Queen West and in Kensington Market.
I ensured the Portland Pedestrian Bridge to the rail lands in Ward 20 was designed to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians.
On the Police Services Board I moved motions to ban parking in bike lanes.
In partnership with residents from the 15 + distinct neighbourhoods in Ward 20, I organized a Ward 20 cycling committee that developed and tested the recommendations for many of these initiatives.
I fought successfully to include bike lanes in the recommendations of the Bloor Visioning Study.
Most recently, I am working to create new lanes through Clarence Square Park, separated bike lanes on Wellington (to connect Blue Jays Way, Portland), and on the south end of Spadina Avenue. I am also working with City Transportation staff to improve north-south crossing connections across Queen Street.
I am not sure how anyone can characterize this record as "opposition" to cycling infrastructure.
I am a cyclist, I have been all my life. I support bike lanes.
Despite all of this evidence, some still claim and continue to characterize me as being opposed to bike lanes.
I have publicly expressed concerns about how bike lanes (and sidewalks, parks, bridges and buildings) are designed and configured. This is not opposition; it is part of planning complete streets and neighbourhoods.
I ran for Council on a platform of community-based planning. Over the past four years, with the support, encouragement and involvement of hundreds of residents – we have changed the way communities think about, talk about, accommodate and welcome change.
I believe that community-based planning, driven by strong design principles is the best way to solve problems. Simplistic top-down planning with no approach to design or functionality is a good way to create conflict.
Our streets must function both as thoroughfares and destinations, places for vehicles and people. Good streets accommodate multiple uses safely and beautifully.
I remain true to these principles.
Martinho (not verified)
He forgot to mention:Fri, 05/13/2011 - 09:57
He forgot to mention: "I made sure here would be NO bike lane on Harbord between Borden and Spadina so that cyclists can continue to pay with the their blood and bones for business as usual on Harbord." "Anyone who disagrees with will be treated like an idiot."
Larry (not verified)
'And also so that I would notFri, 05/13/2011 - 11:40
'And also so that I would not lose votes from the Harbord BIA and especially the shortsighted, small-minded owners of the Harbord Bakery'.
hamish (not verified)
I always try to give coreFri, 05/13/2011 - 12:03
I always try to give core councillors a bit of slack, as the intensity of their workload/issues is far far beyond what other councillors have to deal with. And I've just gone through Mr. Vaughan's May newsletter, trying to see this above text - but maybe he didn't send it out on his email list or took my name off.
Because he hasn't done enough for bikes, though he's done some things.
Where are the bike lanes on Bloor St. W., of Dundas St. W. that he voted for? Not present....
While Harbord St. is better than it was, why couldn't we get bike lanes in there? The Ward 20 CU group wasn't really armslength, so much so that the email addresses weren't released to Ms. Garcia as they were civic property/privacy.
Only because we spent $25 to get the RFP for the Bloor EA did Wad 20 Bloor bike lanes get included in the EA RFP, as somehow, who knows how?, ALL of Bloor in Ward 20, going beyond the Bloor Visioning study, was omitted from the RFP. Yes, he corrected it. But after nudgings.
He was kinda abusive personally and publicly when I was at a commtte hearing of last Council fussing abuot bikes within that Bloor Visioning study.
The Richmond St. new sidewalks by 401 also have trees, and there wasn't interest in giving us bike lanes instead of trees, which will likely die off anyways, given exhaust/light.
And while he's changed a bit there's this quote about Bloor biking from Sept. 08 in the Annex Gleaner, not online. "First you get the pedestrian realm right and then with the leftover space, you deal with the argument between bikes and cars. I'm not going to thin sidewalks to put cycling paths in at the expense of the needs and the health of the local community. It doesn't make sense. If you have trouble getting through Bloor St. on your bicycle, do what they do in Kensington Market and walk.
Mr. Vaughan's done some really good hard work on many issues, and I think all of us would be very very challenged to perform as able on so many issues. But absolutely some of this criticism is valid.
Antony (not verified)
Community based planningFri, 05/13/2011 - 15:00
Community based planning minimizes conflict and gathers important information that can make better designs. That's perfect for parks and sidewalks, when the users and affected people are all local. For transportation infrastructure, where affected people are local but users are from "away", it bleeds into NIMBYism.
Minimizing conflict in Ward 20 keeps Adam Vaughan his job. Improving the overall safety and effectiveness of transportation through his ward doesn't.
We're not talking about an 8-lane Spadina expressway here. Protected bike infrastructure isn't going to displace a single resident, and at most will be an inconvenience.
However this minimal conflict is a problem for Vaughan since the benefits go to voters in other wards. For example, I don't vote in Vaughan's ward - I just ride through it everyday to and from work, and spend a lot of money there. I'd rather not leave teeth and bone fragments behind.
Kevin (not verified)
I appreciate Vaughan'sFri, 05/13/2011 - 15:05
I appreciate Vaughan's positions as outlined in his letter....and for that matter those that Hamish complained about...
The sidewalk on Richmond was very much needed, and is not all that wide....and there was no bike lane to be had there without subtracting another lane of traffic. (which I would support, but pick your battles)
John St. should not have bike lanes....... and while I support bike lanes on Jarvis, I did think it was the wrong battle at the time.
Alienating pedestrians and ugilfying the city by removing streetscape for more pavement is hardly the way to achieve nirvana for cycling!
AS someone who supports cycling (and cycles....don't even own a car) and is a champion of more bike lanes....I want to make sure we're not gaining a step at the expense of a mile....
Where Adam can be rightly criticized is that he's moved too slowly on some easy bike lanes in his ward....one's that no one really objects too, no BIA, no pedestrians, hell, few car drivers either.
Where is that Peter/Blue Jays way bike lane? The proposed Simcoe lane is not feasible north of Adelaide until the construction hording comes down.....however that's no reason not to paint the lanes in (with 2-way traffic conversion) from Front to Adelaide.
Even the approved bike lanes from last year....portions of Bay and Spadina...have yet to materialize. In fairness, this is an issue for City staff, however, given an election last fall and the need to show progress, I'm sure Adam could have leaned on City staff to get at least some paint done by fall.
I can only imagine though, that Adam is frustrated by slow movement on installation of approved projects, and the failure of certain cyclists....AHEM ......to support the bike lanes in the Bike Plan and that he, himself has expressed a willingness to push for (Peter/Blue Jays Way, Simcoe, etc. etc.)
Instead they were preoccupied with messing up another one of his projects aimed at pleasing pedestrians and encouraging tourism (John St.)
If you want more bike lanes, pick realistic choices...........make nice with the staff and councillors whose support you need to get them through, keep similar, related constituencies happy w/you (pedestrians) so they can and will support what you are doing/asking for; then push like hell to shield councillors and staff from bike lane opponents by stacking a public meeting on bike lanes (politely) ; by writing emails and offering phone calls to staff and councillors alike.....and try to be accommodating of any concerns raised by others, so you can't be called unreasonable. (ie. parking an issue, check how many spaces are free now.....if there really is a shortage....suggest a green P lot or adding spaces on a nearby street with room)
More honey, less vinegar...............and when using both, be strategic.
Kevin writes: John St.Fri, 05/13/2011 - 16:01
How do you propose to connect St. George/Beverly to the other proposed south-of-Queen bike lanes? At least John crosses Queen with traffic lights, and can be linked via Stephanie. Good luck getting to and from Peter, or Simcoe. You're going to be doing some hardcore riding along Queen. In particular, turning left from Queen is impossible to do safely if there's significant car traffic.
Kevin (not verified)
How do you propose to connectFri, 05/13/2011 - 20:30
> How do you propose to connect St. George/Beverly to the other proposed south-of-Queen bike lanes? At least John crosses Queen with traffic lights, and can be linked via Stephanie. Good luck getting to and from Peter, or Simcoe. You're going to be doing some hardcore riding along Queen. In particular, turning left from Queen is impossible to do safely if there's significant car traffic.
Why not use Soho and Phoebe?
The intersection alignment isn't that bad....and could easily be improved.
But you could also make that connection any number of other ways.....
If you go up Simcoe...you can cut along Renfrew to John....then up and over using Stephanie (possibly w/ contra-flow lane in there) or a path via Grange Park...
There are a mix of streets and lanes allowing that connection.
Aside from which, I will also agree that more needs to be done in the long term.....my position is not that we shouldn't get bike lanes (as I clearly noted) its that we should be pushing to get the ones we CAN get so that we will increase the number of cyclists and get others used to cyclists and bike lanes, then gradually take more as time passes.
Though I'm still not huge on John St........if I'm going to go off on a dreaming tangent......how about busting Widmer through to Queen, it aligns almost perfectly with Beverly.....and could align perfectly with some minor tweaking......
But that's not a battle for this year or next............
One thing at a time. My problem with John, beyond personal preference is that the Councilor is clearly against it, so is the BIA....your chance of getting it is effectively ZERO, and will only serve to annoy said stakeholders, whose good will is required to get bike lanes on Simcoe and Peter........
Fight winnable wars.
Any other kind are quite pointless and generally inflict a great deal of needless harm to all concerned.
Why not use Soho and Phoebe?Sat, 05/14/2011 - 11:55
I've used Soho-Peter dozens of times, and it's bad. I found the turn intimidating and sometimes I'd have to wait a long time to be able to make it. I don't generally have problems mixing it up in traffic; so the other 95% of cyclists are going to walk their bikes (or ride in the crosswalks or do some other funny thing).
If you extended the traffic signal to cover both Soho and Peter, that would work. It would resemble Lansdowne/Jameson.
It would make sense to put a contraflow lane on Phoebe (which is one-way). The street is too narrow for a whole lot of bicycle infrastructure, and there isn't room for expansion.
Kevin (not verified)
I am someone who was a memberSat, 05/14/2011 - 03:47
I am someone who was a member of the Ward 20 Cycling Committee to which Mr. Vaughan refers. All of our recommendations were cheap, easy common-sense fixes. Most of them were simply blown off.
For example, let's look at just one intersection. Fixing the intersection of Queen's Park and Hoskin Avenue where (among other absurdities):
*Cars turning right onto Hoskin have permanent right-of-way over pedestrians going straight through. Crazy!
*Cyclists travelling east from the Hoskin to the Wellesley bicycle lanes have to merge through a three-lane "shooting gallery" of cars. Insanely dangerous!
*There is zero provision for cyclists going eastbound straight through into Queen's Park. They have to share the curb cut with pedestrians. All it takes is some paint and a new curb cut for cyclists in order to fix this. Stupidly short-sighted!
The entire list of recommendations is on-line. This one intersection is just an example. Bottom line: Cheap, easy fixes that a lot of people put a lot of work into were simply blown off.
Adam Vaughan is no friend of cyclists or pedestrians. If he were, he would have fought for the cheap, easy simple fixes for the intersection of Queen's Park and Hoskin and for the other recommendations of the Ward 20 Cycling Committee.
Random cyclist (not verified)
the Councilor is clearlySat, 05/14/2011 - 11:21
> the Councilor is clearly against it, so is the BIA....your chance of getting it is effectively ZERO, and will only serve to annoy said stakeholders, whose good will is required to get bike lanes on Simcoe and Peter........ Fight winnable wars.
Agreed, Kevin. I'm tempted to go to the upcoming TCU Ward 18/19/20 meeting to suggest they back off John.
Many Councillors areSun, 05/15/2011 - 22:26
Many Councillors are decidedly thumbs down on cycling - and while Vaughan isn't in that gang, there are many things he could have done better. At the risk of being repetitious, there is one way to sway a Councillor - build support for cycling in your community!
The more people who express their support for cycling, the more able a Councillor to act on their behalf without fear of reprisal.
Public policy is directed by democracy not virtue.
hamish (not verified)
There was another instance ofSun, 05/15/2011 - 16:32
There was another instance of frustration with Councillor Vaughan and biking on Bloor St. at the Royal Conservatory of Music last summer. Somehow, some indented parking was put in to the sidewalk and out into the road in an area of massive off-street parking provisions as well as at the junction of two subway lines.
This lay-by parking squeezes the road now, making it more difficult for bike lanes to go in to the most obvious spot merely since 1992, and also has a door zone. And somehow, it just appeared!
Even though one gets the sense that Nothing Can Ever Be Done for Bloor biking ahead of the EA, though seems that's kinda slow too....
And so there's a Ward 18,29, 20 bike union meeting upcoming? As someone who was in the ward 20 group when run out of Vaughan's office, and critical, yes, of both Vaughan and the CU, it does seem that we may be getting in to a closed door vs. public process of priorities. I'm a velocrat - I like public meetings for public street/space discussions - and how Harbord unfolded wasn't a good example of how well the more private process works in my view, though it's far better than how it was.
And as an example of how my independent streaks/thought manifest, some of the bike boxes along Harbord aren't really useful, and didn't have to be installed, except it was election time, and someone running had to be seen as "green" and actively bike-friendly to be on thread topic again.
John (not verified)
A vibrant, well-designed,Mon, 05/16/2011 - 12:06
A vibrant, well-designed, pedestrian-friendly *slow *street that encourages user interaction can indeed be safe for cyclists of all ages without needing to carve up the street into separate rights-of-way. John Street might become such a street, and so might St. George. So I have some limited sympathy for Vaughan's argument.
But multi-lane Richmond (2-way or 1-way) will never be such a street. And Harbord currently is not such a street either, with its narrow pedestrian-unfriendly sidewalks and because too many motorists use it as quicker alternative to College or Bloor, not to mention the folks who believe half the roadway should be dedicated to parking.
Vaughan describes bike lanes as something that you create using space left over after the pedestrian realm is completed. Fair enough to a degree, but his actions show that he thinks bike lanes should also come after the motorized traffic realm is completed as well. And Vaughan's quoted words on Harbord and his actions on Bloor, suggest that bike lanes even come after parking needs. Unacceptable!
I have no patience for people who dismiss the importance of cars in this town. And Woonerfs and other slow, pedestrian-friendly streets are always supported by busier arteries nearby. So car mobility is important, I don't demand separated bike lanes on every street, and I frame cycling issues in practical, not cultural or moral terms.
But segmented, unconnected and unsafe bike lanes are useless to ordinary cyclists. This city absolutely, positively needs a network of safe bike lanes that connect regular riders of all ages to where we need to go. This is a modest goal, but essential if we are ever to encourage regular people to get out of their cars and get on a bike. I believe this network is downtown Toronto's top transportation priority.
When I hear Vaughan repeating this last paragraph, and demonstrating support for such a network with action (even if it costs the Harbord bakery some parking spaces), only then will I believe he truly supports cycling as a practical transportation alternative, as opposed to a cultural activity that can be fitted in here and there, after real transportation priorities are dealt with, and only if the local community approves.