Archive for September, 2007

Traffic lights? We don’t need no stinking traffic lights!

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

It’s come to our attention that some cyclists and pedestrians regularly ignore traffic signals. In this, they are merely emulating their larger and more belligerent cousins, the cars and trucks that clog the nation’s intersections. Some cities have gone so far as to paint stripey patterns across the street intersections of their downtowns, and posted signs saying “only you can be the key to gridlock” and the like.

But there are other ways of intersecting. Our colleagues in the international bicycle conspiracy have put up the occasional example, in the form of video evidence, of how a street can work that has no signals: no signs, no warnings, no posts: “Well, we drew some lines because pedestrians complained so much” is the only exception at one location. Even here in Toronto, we know of intersections with no stop signs or other signals. Take the intersection of Queen Victoria and Condor Ave, just south of the infamous Phinn Parkette. What happens there? Well to our knowledge, no one has ever been hit or hurt by a car yet.

Today we heard tell of a whole town, a German hamlet of over 13,000 cars, that has eliminated all traffic signs and signals. From the story:

From September 12, all traffic controls will disappear from the center of the western town of Bohmte to try to reduce accidents and make life easier for pedestrians.

In an area used by 13,500 cars every day, drivers and pedestrians will enjoy equal right of way, Klaus Goedejohann, the town’s mayor, told Reuters.

“Traffic will no longer be dominant,” he said.

Good luck, Bohmte!

DeBaeremaeker takes action: ALLDERBLOB takes credit

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

It’s come to our attention (thanks, CrazyBikerChick!) that thanks to persistent lobbying by the esteemed councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, Ward 38, one of the long-held dreams for east end Toronto cyclists is to come true: the renovated Dundas Street bridge is to include bicycle lanes from Broadview to River (westbound only), completing a critical missing link. This stretch of Dundas was particularly dangerous, with cars rushing to turn onto the Don Valley Parkway northbound and cutting you off from behind and from the front. Together with the bikelane on River and Shuter streets, it will be possible to travel from Kingston Road in the Beaches all the way to Yonge Street and the Eaton Centre without leaving a bikelane.

[the fact that it’s westbound only doesn’t bother you? –ed.]

Thanks, Glenn, and thanks, Paula–and thanks too, to Martin Koob of BikeToronto for some serious work at exposing what would have been a sad oversight in the new bridge construction.

Only a few dozen more critical connections to be made, and Toronto will start to have some semblance of logic in its bicycle network.

Read on for the complete text of the article as it appeared in the Riverdale/Beaches Mirror and Car Advertiser:

City to complete missing link for cyclists
Single bike lane planned for Dundas Street bridge

September 6, 2007 10:58 AM

For years it’s been a missing link for bicycle commuters using the bike lanes on Dundas and Shuter Streets.

All that will change this fall when the city opens up a westbound dedicated bike lane on the Dundas Street bridge crossing the Don Valley Parkway.

The bridge has been closed all summer for a $8-million reconstruction, with just one sidewalk open for pedestrians. According to works and public infrastructure committee chair Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre), the city had originally intended to simply replace concrete and generally fix up the bridge.

But De Baeremaeker, who is also an avid cyclist who uses the bridge himself to get from his home in Scarborough to city hall, put pressure on staff to find some ways to enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety in the finished product.

“The plan is in a draft form, but now the westbound lanes will have a bike lane across the bridge, and not only across the bridge, but from Broadview Avenue to River Street, which is really the missing link in the east-end bicycle network,” he said.

Currently, there are dedicated bicycle lanes on Dundas Street from Kingston Road to Broadview Avenue. Bike lanes don’t pick up again until River Street on the west side of the Don Valley Parkway, and then continue across to Yonge Street along Shuter Street, a block south of Dundas.

The lanes weren’t in place over the bridge because of the streetcar tracks, which cross the bridge and go north on Broadview. But the re-configured bridge will allow just a single bike lane going westbound.

Dundas eastbound won’t be able to accommodate the bike lane, because the streetcars, combined with the left turn onto the Don Valley Parkway on-ramp, would create too much traffic congestion without a right passing lane, De Baeremaeker said.

However, De Baeremaeker has a solution. He’s asking staff to look at building a separate bridge across the parkway, just south of the existing bridge, for cyclists and pedestrians.

“The logical place to build that bridge would be on the south side, completely separate from the existing bridge,” he said. “The cost of fixing the bridge is $8 million – it might be another $2 to $3 million to build the bridge.”

East end Toronto: unsafe for cyclists?

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

The east end: home to councillors De Baeremaeker, Heaps, Fletcher, Bussin et al, and no longer home to the latest two cyclists killed in this city of 2.5 million.

A few days ago it was a little girl, run down and killed while pedaling in front of a stopped car in a crosswalk near Warden and Sheppard avenues. And now yesterday, a cyclist was killed on Pharmacy Ave, the victim of a truck traveling south in the northbound lanes.

People will blather about helmets, but perhaps the critical question is about blinders:
cyclist with blinders click for larger image
those on the heads of our so-called “cycling champions” at city hall. We’re talking about Councillor Heaps, the erstwhile leader of the city cycling committee, who has yet to call a meeting since his appointment after last October’s election. We’re talking about Councillor De Baeremaeker, profiled in the Toronto Star and Car Advertiser as a hero for cycling to work at city hall although terrified of taking Eglinton Ave E. in his ward (where there’s a “diamond lane” reserved for carpoolers, buses and cyclists, and just beyond where a cyclist was killed during last year’s election campaign). And we’re talking about Councillor Fletcher, a “big supporter” of the environment and of cyclist issues, who together with her ward neighbour Councillor Bussin, deputy mayor, has yet to define just why a critical two-block stretch of Leslie street in her ward (which links residential neighbourhoods to the north to the Leslie Street Spit, one of the most-used car-free infrastructures in the city) is not on the table for immediate creation of bikelanes. This part of Leslie street, of course, was the site of another cyclist fatality, where a truck hit cyclist Isaac Morkel head-on as Morkel was riding through a green light south to do some shopping at the Loblaw’s and PriceChopper grocery stores. It carries fewer cars at rush hour than many other four-lane streets in Toronto where two car lanes have been removed to provide bikelanes.

Two cyclists in the space of less than a week, dead by motor traffic in Toronto’s East End. Who’s looking out for us? Councillor Case Odious with your twenty-vote margin of victory, there’s a vacuum to be filled.