Thursday, August 27, 2015

Advocacy in Action: Ramp to Lower Don Trail

It's coming! Success!

Remember our ongoing work on the Lower Don Trail? This struggle to access the Lower Don Trail will soon be a thing of the past!

First Attempt
In 2012-2013, when the City of Toronto commissioned a Master Plan for the lower Don Trail, public consultations were held. At that time we advocated for accessible ramps to the trail.  But when the final plan was released we were all disappointed to see that more staircases were proposed to access the Lower Don Trail at Gerrard Street East and Dundas Street East, but without including ramps to provide universal access.

Second Attempt
Not satisfied with the result, advocates from across the community came together. With Ward 30 Bike's Michael Halloway taking the lead.  We did some scouting, mesasuring, calculating, and sketching, and came to the conclusion that a ramp option is absolutely viable. Ward 30 Bikes authored the April 2014 report “Creating Accessible Connections: Ramps to the Lower Don Trail at Dundas and Gerrard,” which was endorsed by Walk Toronto, Cycle Toronto Trails Working Group, Ward 28 Cycling Advocacy Group and Ward 29 Bikes. The Lower Don Trail project team reviewed the proposal and other community comments received. The project team unfortunately concluded that ramps could not be included in the project.

Third Times' the Charm
Still not satisfied, we took our concerns to our local councillor Paula Fletcher who in turn organized a site visit and then put in a formal request to the Parks and Environment Committee to reassess the accessibility issues.  Walk Toronto also submitted its own “Lower Don Trail Accessibility” report in August 2014. 

Paula Fletcher shares the good news at Bells on Danforth
And then we heard the good news.  In March 2015, the city confirmed that a budget had been allocated to make the pedestrian bridge at Riverdale Park fully accessible with a ramp! Paula officially made the public announcement in June at the Bells on Danforth ride, and the design consultation process is underway (yes, we are part of the design process!). If all goes to plan, we could have the bridge done by next year! Stay tuned for results of the design process and celebrations when it opens.

Thank you to all the advocates involved!  Ward 28 and Ward 29 bike advocacy groups, Cycle Toronto's Trails Working Group, Walk Toronto, South Riverdale Community Health Centre, the Riverside BIA and everyone in the community who voiced their support for accessible ramps.  

Get involved
Want to be part of projects like this?  Join us! Help bring positive change to the community, and positive improvements to our neighbourhood!   We meet the first Tuesday of every month at the Ralph Thornton Centre.

** note, this is a post I thought we'd published back in July, turns out it was still sitting in draft!  Oops... it's old news now, but it's still exciting news to share! **

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Better Placed 'Bike Rooms' needed in StudioCentre proposal on Eastern

 - to reduce the rate of increase in neighbourhood motor vehicle volumes 

Ward 30 Bikes' "Eastern Avenue Working Group" is making steady progress on our submission to City Planning about the proposed StudioCentre development on the south side of Eastern Ave between Pape and Larchmount.

From our still-in-draft report, this is a snippet about the Bike Rooms indicated on the drawings near loading docks in 5 buildings:

Bike (parking) Rooms in drawings submitted by StudioCentre are located right next to loading docks. This is the worst place to put them.

Best Practice says they should be view-able from the street like an apartments' front entrance door --- and especially not in a narrow service alley shared with loading docks and a parking garage ramp connected to the street grid via a rear roadway intended mainly for solid waste and delivery trucks.  

As an example of this (and other*) best practice - translated into a retail/office box development context, I sketched a better placed StudioCentre Bike Room on their most recently submitted ground elevation drawings (June 2015).

Full Size:

As an example, I moved the Bike Room in Building 03 (southwest corner of Eastern and new lower Caroline) such that it now it has:
  • Two sets of double wide doors right beside the main entrance to the buildings' Foyer (perhaps grocery store style sensor-opening sliding doors?);
  • Two doorways to the Foyer, one that leads directly to the elevator banks, and one that leads to the stairs (totally integrated);
  • Propose a glass street-front wall, and a glass divider wall between the Bike Room and the Foyer (this keeps 'eyes' on the Bike Room and advertises the developer's sustainable transportation amenity - which helps to create buy-in by tenants and employees);
  • Propose a washroom in each Bike Room - which should include a shower and lockers (might consider a cost effective, unisex facility: common counter and sinks; locking, single toilet rooms; locking shower room; a wall of half-high lockers).

* (and other best practice about bike parking) - separate motor vehicle spaces and bike spaces wherever possible; locate bike parking as close to the main entrance as possible; create a safe, accessible, well lit, calm egress to the amenity; create a warm, bright, visible, welcoming bike parking space - via:

City of Toronto May 2008 | "Guidelines for the Design and Management of Bicycle Parking Facilities" - ideas sprinkled through-out the report, specifically see Part 2.4.4 - Indoor Bicycle Parking (Bike Room) - p. 10 |


Image source: 629 Eastern Developer Changes (presentation at a June 25, 2015 public meeting at Revivals' newly renovated digital arts studio space off lower Winnifred) |


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Separation solves all Modes

Cyclists look out for cars all the time - but it seems, drivers don't notice.

Pinch points created by 'bump-outs'

I just watched a cyclist come off off the light at Queen and Leslie, the cyclist came off the light faster the cab driver, and as he approached the curb lane parking he paced his ride while eyeing the cabs' progress to the right of his progress.

The cab matched the cyclists' speed until the pinch-point and then, at the point where the pinch point was most dangerous - overtook him.


If there was separate infrastructure (a painted line) then the cab would have over-taken the cyclist right off - no pinch-point.