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" |


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