Sunday, March 30, 2014

"I advocate for "Liveable Cities" Re-development; therefore I advocate for GREAT Bicycle Parking."

At development meetings I get into trouble advocating for bike parking.

What they want to demolish – 1327 Queen East (right) and 1329 Queen East. The houses to the east of this are included in this proposal. They would disappear as well. 
(Image via The Ashbridge's Neighbourhood | Meeting next Monday March 24 – 7 p.m. at Maple Cottage on development proposal 1327 – 1339 Queen East

People think I'm one of those NIMBY's - just looking out for number one; the world's too complex - all you can do is express your own interest.

Enlightened residents think I'm just distracting from the 'Real' issues: the Character of the neighbourhood, the Enjoyment of one's property next to a big shadow-casting monster full of drivers with cars that will steal my Parking Spot. And not only parking - what about Parks!?

When I bring up Bicycle Parking people dismiss it - like many often do about cycling issues (a function I believe, of a subtle but oft repeated 'branding' in big car, energy and retail company advertising).

None of those impressions of what I'm about are even close to the truth of it.

I thought that before the next redevelopment meeting, I'd better explain myself.

I advocate for "Liveable Cities" Re-development; therefore I advocate for GREAT Bicycle Parking.

As a representative of Cycle Toronto - within all development proposal public consultations I support traffic calming and reduced parking on the streets - within an idea City Planners call 'Complete Streets' (which is Provincial and City of Toronto Policy).

Complete Streets tries to build 'Livable Cities'.

Planners have come to understand that 'Livable' means on major avenues we narrow or remove traffic lanes for cars in order to slow down the average speed of traffic through the neighbourhood; we take out parking so to widen sidewalks and add mass transit capacity (more and better) - and add Separated Cycling Infrastructure.

All this together encourages people who live in dense, urban places and who drive their cars everywhere, to change lifestyles from one dominated by car transportation, to one that allows people to choose a variety of ways to get around --- based on where they are going, and what they're doing.

So for example - with every street a Complete Street - parents with children could send their kids to school by bike. If the parent worked in the neighbourhood (or nearby - in a cycling sense that's considered a 7 km one-way trip - like from West Scarborough to Yonge & College) then parents could accompany their young children to school on bikes, or by walking - and then continue on into the core by bike or by walking, or catching a street car.

In a Livable City you would rather go shopping for food 3 times a week or more instead of driving to a big parking lot shopping Plaza and buy a whole weeks worth of groceries - spending an hour in the store, lining up at the cashier waiting for the person in front with a massive cart full; lugging a weeks worth of food in from the driveway, spending another hour unpacking and storing, and freezer bagging, and cupboard-ing all that stuff.

Instead in a Liveable City - on the way home from work you would rather park your bike just steps from the front door of a local vegetable place, right around the corner from where you live - and get just enough for 2 or 3 days (it's self-life anyway). The next night you might pick up meat (or beans and nuts) at the local store that sells those things - again just enough for a couple of days, right around the corner from your home.

In Liveable City you wouldn't think of traveling for an hour one-way to get to a Big Box store Theatre off the 401; instead you would ride with your family to a local theatre. Ten minutes after you left home after dinner you would rather park for free right next to the Theatre doors! After the film you might walk with your kids and grab a coffee and milkshakes around the corner from there - and perhaps walk back home too - walking your bikes and talking as you sipped your drinks.

To this end, I propose *Great* Bike Parking facilities and amenities at proposed Mid-rise and 'doubling the density' project Developments in my neighbourhood - toward a Liveable City.

Right now the Bike Parking spots rules say 20% of the required (which in total number are adequate) are supposed to be at ground level. That usually means outside in a secure paddock - with a roof to keep rain and snow off.

80% of Bike parking spots usually end up in the basement parking garage. This in anathema to the culture of cycling as one's main means of transportation. Greasy, black soot, dark, dangerous, toxic - no well-lit healthy area to perform daily, weekly, monthly, yearly maintenance that is required when you ride every day.

I would like to see plans where 100% of Bike Parking is on the first floor and outside in a secure and pleasant naturally lit area. "Tiered Bike Parking" technology can make this a Very efficient in terms of use of space.

Architects should double-down on this vision of Liveable Architecture, and while designing ways to make space for 100% first floor Bicycle Parking - create a Cultural Space that would encourage cycling culture as well.

I imagine an area that has glass garage doors that can slide up to the ceiling in summer like many cafe's have - as part of a spacious, naturally lit, indoor space that is open to neighbourhood sight-lines. A space about the size of those amenity rooms you see gated off (because no one uses them - and they become places of mischief) - and that is outfitted with a work bench, stools, a fixed-in-place bicycle pump, a couple of fixed-in-place Bike Work Stands for working on one's bike; a washing-up sink, even perhaps a small kitchenette area for making coffee; a small bar fridge for storing cream in... .

The lifestyle of the cyclist has to be very much encouraged to get people to make the switch away from the greatly advertised fantasy of car transportation.

With great amenities for cyclists comes an identity, a cultural form unique to a neighbourhood ... it becomes that final straw that gets people to make the switch; a switch that makes good sense economically, ethically, towards one's own health and well being and for the state of the neighbourhood in general - physically, existentially and culturally.

Michael Holloway
Leslieville, Toronto
Captain, Ward 30 Bikes,
Cycle Toronto

Image: The Ashbridge's Neighbourhood | "Meeting next Monday March 24 – 7 p.m. at Maple Cottage on development proposal 1327 – 1339 Queen East" |


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

@Ward30Bikes 'Pre-Walk' of the @TTCLeslieBarns Public Liaison Committee's - March "Safety Walk"

The Leslie Street reconstruction configuration has changed.

The @TTCLeslieBarns Public Liason Committee is walking the new traffic re-routing as concerns cyclist and pedestrian detours from Queen Street down to Commissioners Avenue tomorrow night (2014-03-19).

To see it in day light - and to linger to see how drivers and pedestrians and cyclists are actually negotiating the new configuration - I walk the site in the day - as I have done four other times earlier in this project.

A Cyclist and Pedestrian 'shooting gallery' on Lake Shore Boulevard

As I noted in video here before ( - and at the last meeting of the Public Liaison Committee at South Riverdale Community Health Centre - the East side Multi-use crossing across Lake Shore Blvd is extremely dangerous - especially for northbound cyclists and pedestrians. As I explained before - when the construction moved to the South side of Lake Shore Blvd. on the East side of Leslie Street (from Lake Shore down to Commissioners) - it shifted the northbound Leslie right-turn lane 22 metres to the west from the Cyclist/Pedestrian crossing. No signs were added by City of Toronto Transportation to the roadway, even though the crossing is sitting out in no-man's land. As far as it is from the actual intersection - it is now like an unsigned, mid-block crosswalk on an arterial roadway - except this one is 5 lanes wide and much faster.

Here's a couple of images I took just as I arrived at the corner today at about 5pm.

A cyclists is waiting at the northbound crossing detour from the Martin Goodman Trail to the Lower Don Recreation Trail. I snapped his picture - and then exactly what I've been talking about - happened. By the time I looked up from putting my camera back to capture mode - the first car onto eastbound Lake Shore from northbound Leslie had already driven right through the cyclist's attempt to use the crossing - as I raised my camera to click a shot, the second driver in line turning onto Lake Shore from Leslie had stopped in the crosswalk blocking the egress of the cyclist. The cyclist had to get off his pedals and re-orient his bike so he could get around the nose of the car, that was completely blocking the bicycle/pedestrian crossing. The driver was obviously surprised to see the cyclist there, and had stopped as soon as possible.

Looking south east from the Wendy's Corner at Leslie and Lake Shore - a cyclist waiting northbound, east side of Leslie at Lake Shore Blvd.

Cyclist lifting his bike to negotiate around the nose of a car stopped on the cyclist/pedestrian crossing - east side of Leslie at Lake Shore Blvd. - on the detour of the Martin Goodman Trail that connects it to the Lower Don Recreation Trail (2014-03-18 5:00pm edt)
A few minutes later I walked across the crossing southbound - and meet there at the doorway in the fencing, a woman who was walking her dog - we got talking about how dangerous it felt - and how dangerous it Was. "You really have to be careful here!" she said.

So the crossing sign turns white-walking-man and we begin out into the hail of speed - I'm pointing like we used to do at those arterial crosswalks with the overhead big, yellow and black flashing crosswalk signs - we're walking slowly, on our toes - tentatively out there - to see if they see us.

I'm pointing, she's pointing - the dog is a Rottweiler/Doberman cross - but he's pointing too!

The first car doesn't stop; doesn't even slow - he really didn't see us. The next one does - finally - after slowing and then suddenly realizing it's a Crosswalk, stops short.


I saw this kind of thing 3 times in 1/2 an hour here - watch the video (I narrate 4 times but the guy in the yellow jacket has no conflict as no one was turning on that signal cycle at the moment he crossed) - the guy with the two dogs had to stop; the woman and I had to stop; and the original above - the cyclist in the pictures - had to stop.

At the last Construction Liaison Committee meeting Martin Maguire from Transportation  indicated - it seemed to me - that Transportation would look into giving the crosswalk a 6 second head start ahead of the green light northbound Leslie --- and Pomerleau said they'd see about taking down all the stuff in the way of pedestrians line of sight looking westbound as you proceed North out of the construction fencing, 'doorway'.

Someone said they should do one at a time. I retorted that I thought we should do both at once.

As per my request, the 6 second head start for cyclists doesn't seem to have even made it into Transportation's 'Action Items' list (only note about Leslie/LS: Nov 2013 signal length change - page 2/4 -


For their part, Pomerleau have taken down the blue tarp around the North end of the Leslie, South of Lake Shore Construction zone - and moved back the fencing to try and improve Westerly sight-lines - so much so, that even a section of broken road is visible outside the fencing now ... BUT - you still can't see cars coming, there is too much lineal fence mass in the way ...

And, as the stories I related above show quite well I think,


I'm afraid - as the volume of Trail users grows with the weather turning warmer and warmer; and the evening light significantly longer all of a sudden - that the probability that someone is going to get hit at this spot is arcing up to 1:1 really fast. Cyclist volumes on the Trail have doubled since January. I saw three walkers off the Trail in the 20 minutes that I was there today. Zero in January when I was there for 3/4's of an hour.

Weather today - 2014-03-18 - at 17:00 edt: 0°C, Wind 28km/h - Wind Chill: -7°C
(a dynamic page - for this data in the future see 'historical weather')

I took a couple of videos of the pedestrian/cyclist 'shooting gallery'.

I began to shoot this video in the same traffic signal cycle as in the 2 photographs above (of the cyclist in conflict on the crossing) - you can see the pink cement truck from the images pull off the light at about 30 seconds in):

Northeast corner of Leslie/Lake Shore Looking South - 2014/03/18 17:00 edt

Northwest corner of Leslie/Lake Shore looking Southeast - 2014/03/18 17:10 edt


Some less bad news for pedestrians; the East-side sidewalk from Eastern Avenue southbound, is still a sidewalk to nowhere. Cyclists and Pedestrians (by the tracks in the mud) are using the one-way southbound driveway in order to walk South.

East side of Leslie, South of Eastern - a sidewalk to nowhere

Good News!

The Plaza Entrances Intersection now has a separated pedestrian crossing!

Plaza Intersection separated pedestrian crossing - looking West from the Loblaws Parking Lot...

.. unfortunately, it's not all that intuitively placed - or something.

I watched people use this intersection for about 1/2 an hour. Coming from the North down the West-side sidewalk; or across the North edge of the FreshCo Parking Lot - the crossing does appear to work. The entrance way into it, and it's position in the landscape is understood by those approaching it.

But from the East, from the main island at the Loblaws Grand Entrance for example - or from the parking lot to the Southeast, or south up from Burger King, or a hike on the Lower Don Recreation Trail - all you see is a jumble of road cones. Your mind doesn't see a Pedestrian Crossing.

I think the smaller, thin cones would work better along the line separating traffic and people. That might better high-light that it is a Pedestrian Way.

Perfect capture of what I saw. Every time someone approached from the East they didn't see the crosswalk. A man walking westbound in the car lanes, doesn't see the pedestrian crossing.
A woman and two kids coming from the East, they find their way intuitively.

Next I walked across the pedestrian-way and took up a viewing station on the West side. Immediately I saw people walking across on the South side of the Plaza Intersection.

As I watched for about 5 minutes, and after a number of people did the exact same thing - I realized that all those coming from the South along the West-side sidewalk - and those coming across the parking lot from the Southwest - were walking into the intersection from the Southwest corner and across the South side of the intersection.

I think I figured out why; this series of five images describes it nicely:

1. Pedestrian Route inadvertently leads pedestrians into danger. West-side sidewalk, woman walking northbound towards the Plaza Intersection

Image 1

2. The same woman walking towards the intersection a couple of seconds later... .

Image 2

3. You can just see her behind the sign stepping into the Plaza Intersection from the South-West corner curb area (where the crosswalk normally is when Leslie Street is open).

Image 3

4. Now you can see she's walking diagonally across the intersection towards the North-East curb and the sidewalks that lead to the Grand Entrance into Loblaws (or the one-way southbound driveway that doubles as a sidewalk on the West side of the store).

Image 4

Here's why. 

I followed up to the spot where she stepped into the intersection and took a picture of the panorama. I marked up this image. The curb cut, the non-slip grooves - and the vista in front - all say, 'Walk This Way!!!'

Image 5

I didn't mark it on 'Image 5' - but where the purple line meets the sand bags on the right, you can see that the fence just happens to be on the same line. It helps inadvertantly, to indicate that this is where one is supposed to walk!

Perhaps Pomerleau can square it up a bit; that will also slow cars down around the turn there - which is a good thing.

But I think the ultimate solution is to run the cones along the edge of the West-side sidewalk, all the way to the point where cars and trucks out of the FreshCo Plaza make their turn southbound.

The cones should be connected with yellow tape (like the crosswalk); and a sign added: "Pedestrians use North-side Pedestrian Crossing" ... with a map of the intersection perhaps, and a big "Cross Here!" pointer arrow.

That's it for the Pedestrian gauntlet at the Plaza Entrances.

Here's some concrete cut-offs that were left in a snowbank by accident one snowy day. Now as the snow recedes, they're a trip hazard. Northwest corner of Leslie and Lake Shore.

Watch your step, Northwest corner, LS & Leslie

That is all.

Walking it with the Committee again tonight (Wednesday, March 19th 2014).