Thursday, October 27, 2016

New Bike Infrastructure Lately

I think we can safely say, Toronto is in the midst of a new era for bike improvements.  Wait, wait, before you start crying foul (yes, yes, we have a LONG way to go), let's stop and think about all the good that has come over the last few months.  Bloor, Simcoe, Bayview, and the Viaduct.  In the midst of being frustrated about the slow pace of change in Toronto, take a moment to think about some recent successes.

The new pilot project protected bike lanes along Bloor sure did cause quite the media hoopla in August. Never has road works been so heavily reported!

September there was the Bells on Bloor victory celebration lap, and Ward 30 Bikes co-hosted with Scarborough Cycles a feeder ride from Logan / Danforth to meet up with the main ride - great turnout in the east end:

Danforth & Logan feeder ride

Bells turnout was huge!

Councillor Layton speaks at Bells on Bloor, photo: Cycle Toronto

Bells on Bloor Photo: Toronto Observer

And then in early October we learned that a new Forum poll shows that 70% of respondents approve of bike lanes in Toronto!

But since then, quite a few other improvements have been installed to much quieter media reaction. Here's a rundown of what's happened lately:

Simcoe upgrade
Last year Councillor Cressy put forward a motion to separate the rest of Simcoe Street bike lane.  For those familiar, what was there before was mostly separated lane (with planters!) from Richmond St to Wellington.

The better parts of Simcoe

After that... the bike lane down to the waterfront trail was left to your faith in the magic repellent powers of painted lines.

Before: Simcoe Bike lanes - the painted lines, they do nothing!

Well, in October, we got better separation:  bollards.  Not the best, but better than before (note: can't find a good after photo)

Upgrade in process.  After the buffer, bollards were installed

And on a personal note, I biked my son to the 2nd last Jays game of the post season and was super thankful that coming up from the waterfront trail I had those plastic sticks to keep vehicles (mostly) in check, what a difference it made for that section leading up to major family destinations.  It's actually kind of shocking that major destination like Rogers Centre, Steamwhistle Brewery and Train Museum, Ripleys Aquarium and the CN Tower didn't have a safe way to get there by bike.  From now on, Waterfront Trail to Simcoe Bollards and I'm there!

Bayview near Brickworks

The media picked up on this one, and called it a game changer.  Given that the connection is only from Pottery Road to Rosedale Valley Road, and doesn't go all the way south to the Corktown Common trails down there, or north towards Moore and the paths in the Mt Pleasant Cemetery, i'm going to say calling it a game changer is bold. Or it's just click bait.  Also... a metal guard rail?  That a'int no game changer.  Ya! Way to reinforce that feeling of riding beside a highway!

I will concede however, it's a game changer specifically for getting to the Evergreen Brickworks. Because if you've ever done it from Ward 30 with kids in the past.... your heart palpitations may still not have stopped.  Ride down Pottery, then a poorly paved Shoulder-Of-Death and a blind corner right before the Brickworks.... ya...   So then you probably did what we did, crossed the viaduct went on an extended detour through Rosedale and picked up the Milkman's path.  Which is fine and dandy until you need to get out of the valley and your kids can't push their bikes up the rough wooded trail let alone bike it (and your dutch cargo bike can't make it out either - to much pretty nature!)  So you try one more time by going deeper through Rosedale, find the switchback ramp over the tracks at Summerhill and make your way up to Moore and try to get to Brickworks from the north via the Beltline trail.  Only to find not only do you have the same rough wooded trail problem on your way home, but by now your young kids have biked 5km out of their way just to find a safe way into Brickworks.

So, yes... for us folks in Ward 30 trying to safely get to Brickworks, this is indeed a game changer.  The most direct route now has significant safety improvements.
October view of Bayview bike paths across from Brickworks, note the bike traffic signals too! Photo: @Sean_YYZ Twitter

And the new pottery road multi use bridge is a HUGE improvement as well.

But I need to have another go at the guard rail protection of Bayview bike paths:

Not good enough! I feel that living in Toronto I am condition to cheer for whatever we can get.  Our love affair with plastic flexi-post bollards are not going to win any best practice awards in Denmark or the Netherlands.  So a metal guard rail is better, yes... but, we can do so much better!!

Grass buffers perhaps?  This is the Don Valley, there is space.

Netherlands - family friendly bike heaven

The Viaduct
Well this was a surprise to I think almost everyone.  Protection for the viaduct was approved YEARS ago, but we've been forever told that the membrane of the Viaduct cannot be drilled into, so protection couldn't happen.  And then city staff quietly went x-rayed the bridge and figured it out. Install happened over one weekend, with a giant crew of TWO workers and ONE hand drill.  And ta-da, protected-ish.

My safety assessment:  I won't let my 6 year old ride on this, but when I ride I have less fear of orphaning my 2 kids.   Let us know in the comments how you feel about the width of the bike lane for passing etc.,

Still under construction and finishing asap:  upgrades to Gerrard bike lane between Sherbourne and Ryerson (spoiler... protection with trees!) and Peter Street.  Stay tuned, we'll report back soon.

1 comment:

  1. When near Steam Whistle Brewing, don't forget about our public bike repair station outside our front doors - an 8-tool stand and heavy duty tire pump for quick fixes on the fly.