Thursday, May 28, 2015

Advocacy in Action! Keeping Bike Lanes During Construction Projects

It started in early January 2015.

The councillor's office emailed us to ask for some input on a section of the Dundas East bike lanes at Carlaw that would be impacted by a condo development.  The request from the developer was to close part of the bike lane as part of the staging area for the construction of their second phase condo.  A few hundred meters of bike lane closure would result in cyclists having to merge with motor traffic, a safety issue the councillor's office was looking to mitigate.  And this closure would last almost a year, right on the back of the bike lane closure right next door at the first phase of the condo development.  We were potentially looking at a grand total of 2 years of partial lane closures in what is in our opinion, the most heavily used bike lane in the east end.

So, a few ideas were suggested.  Maybe some sharrows and some signage that stated 'shared usage lane single file" would help motorists to stay alert for merging bike traffic.   But then one of Ward30bikes' members Vivien suggested something much safer.  On the south side of Dundas, directly across from construction  site were 4 on street car parking spots.  If we could temporarily remove those 4 parking spots during the construction period and restripe the road, all the lanes could shift south and remain open.  Bike lane, car lane, car lane, bike lane.    This sounded MUCH better than:  merged bike/car lane, car lane, bike lane, parking spots.

So we proposed it, and to our delight the councillors office and Streetcar developments were supportive.  A site visit was organised in February for us and also bringing in city staff.  The site visit went very quickly.  All parties agreed it could be done.

So, with a plan, things were underway.  Council approvals happened, but then we had to wait.  Mostly for weather conditions to improve to do the scraping and painting, but there were also some misunderstandings between city departments thinking it couldn't be done, but then in fact it could.    The group of us working on this really were hoping this would have happened in April, but such is life with city processes sometimes.

Eventually it did happen, and in early May our bike lane re-opened (to lots of cheers from us!).

A big thank you to Paula Fletcher's office for being pro-active on dealing with cyclist safety issues and asking for our input at the beginning.  Also a very big thank you to Streetcar Developments for being open to our ideas for keeping cyclists safe during their development work.

This story was picked up in the Beach Mirror:

But also, just today PWIC voted unanimously in favour of improving cyclist safety during construction. Thank you to  Councillors Joe Cressy, Mike Layton, and Mary-Margaret McMahon for championing this at the committee.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

W30B's deputations at PWIC May 13 meeting considering the Gardiner Expressway East, Remove vs Hybrid options

 Post by Michael Holloway - W30B

Ward 30 Bikes had 2 disputants at the May 13 2015 Public Works and Infrastructure Committee Meeting #4 (Special). Gerry Brown spoke early; and Ward 30 Bikes co-chair Brandon Quigley deputed late.

Gerry's deputation starts (automatically) at 1:58:04 and concludes at 2:03:36 - and after several questions and answers, ends at 2:10:32.

Brandon's deputation starts (automatically) at 8:12:49 and concludes at 8:18:14 - and after several questions and answers, ends at 8:25:30.

Committee Members Speech Time (9:22:50).

Worth watching parts of the whole 9 hours.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Riverdale Ave - a new east/west bicycle route that makes Riverdale streets safer

A group of residents here in Ward30 got together a few years back to put their heads together on the increasing traffic problem in Riverdale.  They've since put together a draft proposal that aims to reduce traffic speeds, reduce total vehicle volumes, and discourage non-residential use of local streets.

As advocates for safe streets, we couldn't be happier to see like minded neighbours put their volunteer blood, sweat, and tears into making Riverdale safer.  We are thrilled with proposed speed reductions and bollards along the sidewalk in front of schools  - great idea!

But, there are also some issues with the plan that need to be addressed. Reversals of one-way streets in the current plan may compromise the ability of people to get around safely on bikes. Even more troubling is that one part of the plan includes adding "island parking" to the north side of Riverdale Avenue.

Here's the problem with island parking

On-street island parking compromises pedestrian, cyclist and motorist safety by creating visibility barriers. People crossing the streets, both on foot and on bike, especially young children, become hidden to motorists. One study of child pedestrian injuries found that "the number of parked vehicles was the strongest risk factor on residential streets." Island parking could also make the entire roadway a "dooring" zone, putting cyclists at further risk. We need a solution based on evidence, not on creating a false sense of security.

We think this plan can be even better!

The solution: bike lanes

We've got something else that can narrow streets, benefit all road users... AND encourage less vehicle volumes.  Bike lanes.  73% of Torontonians say the lack of cycling infrastructure in the city is holding them back from riding more.   73%!  We want to give people the infrastructure to meaningfully reduce vehicle volumes.

Even with negligible bike infrastructure, Riverdale is already a community of active cyclists:

Our proposal

Through a combination of bike lanes, we propose a bike route along Riverdale Ave / Boultbee Ave.

Please see map layer titled:  "Proposed Riverdale Bike lanes".  The proposal includes a combination of contra-flow bike lanes, protected bike lanes and sharrows.

You can view our full proposal here

A bike route connecting Broadview to Jones Ave will:

  • narrow streets (a riverdale traffic calming group goal)
  • reduce vehicle volumes by encouraging other methods of transportation
  • establish a safe east-west cycling connection to the existing Jones Ave bike lanes
  • traffic calm the section of Riverdale in front of Pape Ave Junior School with protected bike lanes
  • provide a bike to school route for:
    • parents cycling with their kids to Pape Ave Junior School
    • parents cycling with their kids to Blake Street Junior School
    • students going to Earl Grey Middle School
    • students going to Riverdale Collegiate Institute
  • provide a safe bike connection to Riverdale Park East and the Lower Don Trail

(note, we assume that elementary school children ride along the sidewalk, and caregivers and parents ride safely beside them in the bike lanes)

We met with the traffic calming group hoping they would include our plans in their proposal.  We were unfortunately disappointed to find that they did not put forward any bike routes in their draft proposal.

Riverdale is an awesome neighbourhood.  I live here, my kids go to school here.  And until our kids get drivers licenses, bikes will be primarily how they get around the neighbourhood.  Will my 5 year old use a bike lane now?  no... but when he's a teenager he will.  All our teens will.  Let's give them safe options to travel around our streets.

Why our plan works

We scouted the proposed route in November last year and then in February this year we went out with City of Toronto Cycling staff who have noted that it's a feasible route with no impact to parking.

Take action!

If you share our views and want to make this a reality, we encourage you to take action.

Attend the Riverdale Traffic Group community meeting
Wednesday, May 13th, 7pm
St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 415 Broadview Avenue

Make your voice heard, and ask for a bike route to be added to the plan, and make sure the final proposal achieves the goal of safer and more welcoming streets for everyone.

Write an email
Send your email to:
Please also cc Councillor Fletcher and Ward 30 Bikes at &

Comment on the proposal at
Go to to view the proposal, and add your comments in their news section:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Bike To School Week... we're up to 62 schools!

Ward30's local Withrow Ave Junior Public School has just joined Bike to School Week.  We've also got Riverdale C.I. signed up, Leslieville Junior Public School, and Earl Grey Public School.  Bike to School week is looking like its going to be lots of fun!  

Jane's Walk about Complete Streets Brings Lots of Community Interest

Did you make it out to a Jane's Walk this past weekend?  Several Ward30bikes members were out at the Complete Streets Jane's Walk on Saturday:

Pape Station, start of walk
I think the topic of complete streets really resonates with the community as the turnout was great.  The walk included many stops as we went from Pape Station down to Logan and Queen.  At each stop the leader asked several participants read out prepared notecards detailing the desires of various users of streets (BIAs, cyclists, pedestrians, cafe owners, EMS workers etc,) so as a group we could reflect on all the competing desires of users.

What was lovely to see was the amount of cyclists out, and the amount of cycling related questions posed to the walk leader.

3rd stop: Withrow Park Strathcona Contraflow bike lane / bike trail through the park.

A question was even raised about how to get better coordination amongst the city departments so  bike lanes don't get closed down to be used as temporary parking, under a film permit.     There were a few shout outs to the City of Toronto's latest bike survey (do it!), and encouraging people to join Cycle Toronto. Although I think if this gets offered next year, we as Ward30bikes should ask the leader to mention our local group.  Joining the city wide cycle advocacy is step 1, finding your local advocacy group that's working locally is step 2 (that, and we're a pretty fun bunch of people!)

Cyclists out for the Jane's Walk

Logan is an interesting street.  The leader talked about how it's an unofficial slow street.  We've got our ideas too that we are advocating to be put into the new City of Toronto Bike Plan.  I live in this neighbourhood, I would say Logan is also an unofficial cycling contraflow street based on the amount of cyclists you see going the wrong way down the street.  That's just how unappealing cycling down Carlaw can be.  

Also, the Riverdale Traffic Calming initiative got some air time on the walk.  Stay tuned for our proposals to make it even better.

So I'd say this was an excellent Jane's Walk for the community, one that I really hope gets run next year too.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Calling all Advocates: The Future of the Gardiner East!

The Future of the Gardiner East - What should drive this decision?
A Community Town Hall
Monday May 4th
7:00pm - 9:00pm
St Lawrence Hall, King St. E. at Jarvis
Sponsored by: Deputy Mayor, Pam McConnell & the West Don Lands Committee
For more information about the Town Hall, please contact Deputy Mayor McConnell’s office at 416-392-7916
open house 6:30 PM - 7:00 PM
On May 13th, the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee will consider the question of whether the 1.7 km stretch of the Gardiner east of Jarvis should be removed and combined with Lakeshore Boulevard, or whether it should be maintained but modified by the removal of the Logan ramps and construction of new ramps at Cherry Street (the Hybrid option). This decision will have a significant impact on the east downtown and the development of the waterfront. Come and join a community conversation about how City council should make that decision. If you haven't attended the public meetings on this issue, you can learn more
Featuring Commentators:
Ken Greenberg
Paul Bedford
Michael Kirkland