Posts Tagged ‘biking’
NOW Toronto‘s Andrew Reeves wrote favourably about the Toronto manifestation of the “ghost bike”, a memorial to a cyclist killed in an accident at that location. I photographed one here, on St. Clair at Wychwood. There are controversies surrounding the ghost bikes as obstructions to movement and as potentially unsightly, with many people relating to the issue in ways that reflect their alignments on the issue of bikes in Toronto.
Ghost bikes are seen by family members as sad tributes to lost loved ones, and by cycling advocates as reminders to bike safe. The fate of the bikes has become an issue for the Public Works Committee since City Hall started receiving inquiries from cyclists and families opposed to their removal last year.
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Ghost bikes were introduced in Toronto in the mid-2000s after a 2003 bike crash in St. Louis, Missouri, inspired a witness to install a white-painted bike as a sombre reminder of the safety challenges for cyclists. Toronto’s versions are crafted by Geoffrey Bercarich, a volunteer with Bike Pirates.
“They make people understand that this intersection is dangerous,” he says.
Bercarich would like to see them protected and honoured as permanent landmarks, because “they’re a powerful tool for advocacy,” he says. “That’s why I keep building them.”
Mike Layton also thinks they should remain. The Ward 19 councillor brought forward a motion last October asking staff to study changing existing bylaws to recognize ghost bikes as “art and memorials” rather than rusting eyesores.
“Some families want them taken down because they don’t want to be reminded of a tragic incident,” but others want a reminder that “it’s dangerous out there.” Layton’s hoping to find a solution that addresses everyone’s needs.
Torontoist’s David Hains writes about a poll claiming that a majority of Torontonians would approve of licensing cyclists. This is unworkable, as Hains points out. I suspect it might be a reaction to the regular violation of the rules of the road by cyclists–biking on sidewalks, biking in the wrong direction, et cetera–as it is to general conflicts on the road.
A Leger poll commissioned by insurance provider Kanetix has found that 66.7 per cent of Torontonians approve of the idea of licensing cyclists. The poll results are consistent with a 2012 Forum poll, which pegged the approval rating at 65 per cent.
The idea of licensing cyclists as we do car drivers has been around for over 80 years—in fact, Toronto cyclists were licensed from 1935 to 1957. According to an amendment signed by Mayor Nathan Phillips, the program ended up being discontinued in part because licensing caused “an unconscious contravention of the law at a very tender age” in that the law was so consistently ignored by young people. The same amendment noted that the licensing also created “poor public relations between police officers and children.”
Council has revisited and rejected the idea of licensing cyclists at least five times since 1984. Staff reports produced throughout the years cite concerns about its prohibitively high cost, the practical difficulties of licensing young cyclists, and the possibility that licensing would act as a deterrent for casual cyclists—and point out that cyclists are already subject to the rules of the road.
The Toronto Star‘s Andrew Livingstone writes about the new bike lane on Sherbourne.
[A]s part of $4.1 million upgrades along the street, the $2.5 million bike lanes will provide a necessary dedicated north-south route for the growing number of cyclists in the downtown area.
“We use them all the time,” said Meldon Lobo, 27. “Sherbourne is in much better condition than it used to be before.”
[. . .]
Sherbourne was touted as a safer route for cyclists than Jarvis St., where painted bike lanes, added in 2010 under former mayor David Miller, have been a hot-button issue for drivers.
Council voted 24-19 in October to remove the $59,000 bike lanes to restore a reversible fifth lane at a cost of $300,000 to improve commute times for drivers.
The Sherbourne lanes are the east route in what Minnan-Wong said will be a square network of dedicated lanes in the downtown core. Designs for Wellesley St. have been completed and he said construction will begin later this year.
The Toronto Star‘s Tess Kalinowski introduces the idea of the TTC taking over the Bixi bike-sharing program. I have to say that while the idea does appeal to me thematically–why not integrate all of Toronto’s transit networks?–I wonder whether the TTC can really take on Bixi with its debt of four million dollars. Noteworthy is the fact that the mass transit agency of Montréal, the city that introduced Bixi to Canadians, has chosen not to take on that city’s Bixi network despite its higher ridership (and, apparently, its own debt).
[Toronto Transit Commission chair Karen] Stintz said she will make a motion at this week’s council meeting requesting staff explore the idea.
“I absolutely see Bixi as being an integral part of public transit in the city,” the councillor for Eglinton-Lawrence told CP24 on Sunday.
It’s a natural fit, said Jared Kolb of Cycle Toronto.
“When you look at trips within our city, what public bike systems like Bixi do is they fill in the gaps for trips that are too short to take transit or too far to walk – that two-kilometre sweet spot,” he said.
Once the Presto fare card is launched across the TTC – something that’s supposed to happen by the Pan Am Games in 2015 – it could also be used to access Bixi bikes, suggested Kolb.
The Toronto Star‘s Patty Wimsa reported on the ongoing controversy about building a bike station at Toronto City Hall. This sound decision, like so many, has apparently been politicized by the city’s mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug. (So says the strongly anti-Ford Star, at least.)
The city spent $650,000 on a bike station under Nathan Phillips Square before the project was quietly shelved by staff in 2011, a decision some councillors say should have come back to council for approval.
“That seems very strange,” said Councillor Paula Fletcher. “The scope of work for the Nathan Phillips Square revitalization is part of a pretty public restoration. That should have been reported out.”
The station, with secure parking for 380 bikes, was a signature element in the revitalization and would have been one of the biggest in North America.
Council approved $1.2 million in funding for the station in 2010. The $650,000 was spent on design as well as electrical and mechanical servicing. The remaining money, $550,000, is still sitting in the budget, said city spokesperson Natasha Hinds Fitzsimmins.
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Both Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Doug Ford have said they will try to kill it when it comes up for approval at city council this month. They say the facility — complete with four shower stalls — is a waste of money and deprives the city of revenue-drawing parking spots. (The staffed station would charge fees for users but not earn a profit.)
“The Ford brothers should actually look at the drawings,” says Andrew Frontini, a member of the architectural team who won a design competition for the square. The showers are made of concrete blocks and finished inside with the “most economical porcelain tile you can get but that you can still clean,” said Frontini. As well, the storage area for the bikes is basically a metal cage.
[URBAN NOTE] “Judge Punishes Man for Blocking Bike Lane Removal By Allowing Him to Volunteer With Cycle Toronto”
Desmond Cole’s Torontoist article is funny.
Dr. Tomislav Svoboda (he’s the one in the black blazer) poses with family and friends at the College Park provinclal court yesterday.
When Dr. Tomislav Svoboda used his body to block the removal of the Jarvis bike lanes last November, he knew his act of civil disobedience would result in criminal charges. Yesterday afternoon, a judge agreed to drop those charges—namely, mischief and obstructing a peace officer—if Svoboda completes 50 hours of community service and writes a letter explaining his actions to the court within two months. Appropriately, Svoboda has chosen to do his community service hours with Cycle Toronto, a local bike advocacy group.
The agreement, formally known as “direct accountability,” means that for the next two years, the Toronto physician will be on record as having gone through a court diversion program. As long as he stays out of trouble during that time, he’ll walk away with no further record.
About two dozen of Svoboda’s supporters, including family, friends, and cycling advocates, showed up. They were too numerous to fit into the modest courtroom. To the astonishment of the crowd, the judge exchanged barely two sentences with Svoboda’s lawyer, Peter Rosenthal, before the deal was reached. His bewildered entourage shuffled loudly out of the courtroom, as court security officers scolded them.
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Health care professionals and active transportation advocates have seized on Svoboda’s arrest to condemn the removal of the Jarvis lanes and call on city council to speed up the implementation of bike thoroughfares across the city.