Thursday, February 26, 2015

Learn to Bike in Ward30

Spring / Summer registration for Toronto Parks and Recreation programs is almost upon us.  Parents who have been through this before know the fun and madness of trying to get their kids registered for the quality summer camps, swim programs and amazing selection of sporting and arts activities. Never done parks & recs programs?  You should!  There is so much on offer all over the GTA

But  - do you know you Toronto Parks and Rec can also teach you or your kids to ride a bike?

Bike Lessons

Learn to Bike Child with Caregiver
at Greenwood Park Spring 2014
The City of Toronto offers 1 hour lessons for a variety of levels and ages (yup, adults too!). Lessons can start as young as 4 years old (Learn to Bike: Child with Caregiver), but kids need to be 6 years old before they can take lessons without a caregiver. There is a big focus on safety, properly fitting your helmet, road rules, hand signals etc.,

Lessons start in Spring (May) and run in Summer (June - July) and late Summer (July - August).

Prices vary based on lesson type, but a child with caregiver lesson runs about $52 for 6 weeks of lessons.

In our Ward 30 we have Greenwood Park (209 Alton Ave Toronto ON, M4L 2P8), with its excellent covered hockey rink that keep lessons running even on rainy days.

Here's a summary of lessons on offer at Greenwood:

There are also 2 crash courses offered for Adults that run all day over 2 weekend days:
9am - 4pm
Saturday April 18, Sunday April 19th, Saturday April 25th

CAN-BIKE Instructor
9am - 5pm
Saturday Sept 12, Sunday Sept 13th, Saturday Sept 19th

If Greenwood doesn't work, you can also check out Dieppe Park (455 Cosburn Ave Toronto)

If you're looking to head west, you can find more lessons at Bob Abate Community Center (Bloor and Christie) or Trinity CRC (Trinity Bellwoods Park)

Check the Fun  Guide for more details, and remember registration starts March 11th at 7am!

Summer Bike Camp for kids!

Probably even less known is that the City of Toronto also offers full day Learn to Bike specialty camps for kids.  Albeit, there are not many on offer in the city, we're lucky that the only one in the East end is quite close to Ward30 residents.  East York Memorial Arena (888 Cosburn Ave, Cosburn and Pape) has three on offer:

Specialty Camp: CAN-BIKE 
9-14 yrs 
M-F 9am-4pm 
Aug 10 - 14
$179/5 days 
Barcode: 2728731 

Specialty Camp: Learn to Bike 
9-14 yrs 
Tu-F 9am-4pm 
Aug 4 - 7
$143/4 days (Civic Holiday on the Monday)
Barcode: 2728725 

Specialty Camp: Learn to Bike 
9-14 yrs 
M-F 9am-4pm 
Aug 10 - 14
$179/5 days 
Barcode 2728744

If you're up for heading a bit west, there are also bike camps at Bob Abate Community Center (Bloor and Christie)

Check the Fun  Guide for more details, and remember registration starts March 11th at 7am!

How to Register?

1. Make sure you have your Family and Client Numbers!
         You will need to register with the City of Toronto to get your assigned family and client        

2. Have all your program codes / barcodes noted down.  Each program has a unique code for registration

3. Register; Online, on the phone or in person.  Keep in mind some programs are in high demand, many a parent in the city will set their alarms for 6:55am to get ready to hammer that website come 7am.  But that's more often for swimming lessons and summer camps.

Registration for Toronto and East York is March 11th 7am

A few how-to guides:

Paula Fletchers office wrote a good summary about how to register here
A funny take on the process here

Riverdale Park East Revitalization - Ward30bikes was there

Last week a second community meeting was held wiht regarsd to improvements oplanned for the north east quadrant of Riverdale Park East (north east end of Ward 30).  On the list is a new hockey rink, pleasure skating pad, playground, zamboni storage and much needed improved access to the park.
The first community meeting was last summer in August 2014.  The second meeting was last week on February 17th.  A copy of the presentation from last week’s meeting has been posted here on Paula Fletcher's website.
And Ward30bikes was there! 
Ramp access!First excited thing to report, is that with regards to improved access the plan includes a new fully accessible switchback ramp access at Millbrook end of the park.  Anyone who has biked over for a tennis match or a swim in the pool should be happy to hear this news.  And I speak on behalf of families with strollers - it's about time!  I know plenty of parents who chose not to use the playground here because stroller access is extremely difficult.  So, if the plans get built, by 2016/2017 the switchback ramp will be in!
Covered hockey rink?
I think I raised this issue enough times at the meeting that the design team knows my sadness.  Unfortunately with budget (although they were cagey about how much is actually approved) there will be no covered ice hockey rink like Greenwood.  We were assured however that the design has been incorporated to allow a roof to be added in the future (should we hold our breath?)  Visions of CanBike lessons in the spring at this rink took a different shape in my head.  Sure there are lessons on uncovered rinks throughout the city, but having done a session at Greenwood last spring every time it rained (which was like almost every week), that covered rink was awesome!
Broadview cyclepath dreamsSecond, for better or worse the scope of this redevelopment has been tightly contained to the NE quadrant of the park and really only to the facilities mentioned above.  Desires for a multi-use bicycle path running along the top end of the park from Moncrest Ave to Jack Layton Way cannot be put into this plan.  But our dreams don't end here.  We'll keep pushing for future inclusion.  
Call to action
The time has come to have your say!  The design team has 2 options proposed and is asking for community feedback. Your feedback matters! Have a read of the presentation, and please complete their survey.
Survey closes March 3rd, 2015. Click here to fill in the online survey. (although it helps to read the presentation first)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ward30 Planning Matters Open House - Ward30bikes was there

Last week Councillor Paula Fletcher and her office hosted a Planning Matters Open House.  The open house included representatives from the city, and local developers to speak about the on going and planned projects for our ward.  Portlands, Broaview Ave extension, Downtown relief line, the fate of the Gardiner, new condo developments - all there in one room.

It was a great community information night, and gave residents the opportunity to ask questions  and make suggestions directly to the people working on these projects.

And Ward30bike was there!  Questioning the plans, reiterating the desire for safe cycle infrastructure to the waterfront (had a great chat with the city planner about the Broadview Ave extension plans and getting access to that little Ward30 jewel Cherry Beach), bike parking along Queen St, and cycle connections across the DVP.    It was also great to see that Councilor Fletcher's office invited a familiar face from the City of Toronto cycling department.  When you get all these people in one room you can hear things like:  '...well we would want to work with the city on that bike lane connection' ' ... so you mean me?' and friendly laughter.

Aside from what we were advocating, it was nice to hear so many residents also express their desires for cycling infrastructure incorporation into these projects.  On the positive, Streetcar developments has in their plans underground weather protected bike parking for residents of their condos. Streetcar also has some ideas on their presentation board for building multi-use connections to some new (to be developed by the city) park space nestled around the DVP eastern Ave pocket (like a smaller version of Corktown Common). They had some big ideas up on their board including a new pedestrian / cycle bridge connection across the dvp parallel to Eastern Ave. The reality (and funding!!) of such an ambitious idea remains to be seen, but when they dream, they dream in fully accessible urban planning.

A note for councilor, I would encourage that funding and implementing these multi-use connections, parklands and greenery be conditional on any development permits.  As one resident that night said, it would be a tragedy for our neighbourhood if this development took shape like the "ghetto-ized" concrete Liberty Village.

Speaking of Liberty Village, overheard was a few residents expressing concern of the potential congestion on the Queen Streetcar line that could result from all the planned condo development.  Definitely a concern that Queen could become the new King Streetcar.  The city of Toronto's planning department representative confirmed that they are running traffic studies for the area, so it's a start.

Finally a note of shame on the presentation of the former Jilly's landmark.  I wish I caught a photo of the Streetcar Developments presentation board that showed Queen Street with a fully redeveloped Jilly's. The street scene showed 2 streetcars slinking down the middle of the road.  On the north side two cyclists pedaled joyously. On the south side a carefree jogger crossed the street, with their delightful golden retriever in tow.  Pedestrians lined the streets casually walking and enjoying this car free utopia.

I questioned the developer.  'Are you proposing that Queen East become car free? '  'Oh no.  Hmm, you know developers... we'll get that picture changed'.

Looks so much like this:  designing nice streets is easy when you pretend cars do not exist

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Connecting Riverdale to the Lake

Great turn out last night!  Thanks to all that came and especially to the students and their prof for putting together this amazing report.  

Full blog post to come...

Friday, February 6, 2015

Toronto Cyclists Feel Safer on Simcoe!

The city of Toronto has put out their 2014 Year in Review for cycling.
Let's take a moment to note the Simcoe Cycle Track.  A pilot project yes, but it is Toronto's first cycling facility where the on-street parking supply is in between a travel lane and the curb-side Cycle Track.  (Hopefully the first of many!)
And here's a great stat that came out of the survey:
Users of the pilot facility stated that they rated their safety and comfort cycling on Simcoe as 5.3 out of 10 before the Cycle Track installations, and rose to 8.7 after the Cycle Track Installations.