Ring & Post: A Summer Bike Boom in TO
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July 11, 2020
A Summer Bike Boom in TO
We're seeing safe infrastructure roll out faster and better than ever before in Toronto.
Transforming our Streets
Toronto has entered Stage 2 of the Province’s pandemic recovery plan, but COVID-19 is still part of our daily lives. We’re still practicing physical distancing by staying two metres apart, we’re still washing our hands, and we’re wearing cloth or non-medical masks when indoors or in crowds. But we’re also beginning to get out more, and rediscovering what our city has to offer (if you need some ideas where to ride, check out our post: “Cycling Infrastructure Outside the Core”). Literally overnight, streets are being transformed this summer. CurbTO, CafeTO, and ActiveTO have begun rebalancing our streets to prioritize people while supporting our economic and social recovery — and there’s more work to be done.
What can you do?
We need to keep the momentum going. Donors and members are crucial to our success. Your support helps us advocate to expand ActiveTO to accelerate building more bike lanes across the city this summer. Even $5 a month helps us work through the pandemic toward a safer, healthier and more vibrant cycling city for all.
Every contact we have is one more person to add to the call for safe streets, to ensure ActiveTO projects are a success, and to expand the cycling network beyond the downtown core. Start by signing our Yonge Loves Bikes Pledge and sharing it with a friend.
Make sure you’re on the Action Alert mailing list and your district is selected so that we can get the most important information to you.
Do you represent a group interested in mobility, equity, or active transportation? Are you part of a community organization and want to expand options for getting around your neighbourhood? Or are you a business owner or part of a BIA that wants to know more about how bikes mean business? We want to hear from you. Cycle Toronto is expanding our network of community and business partners to truly make Toronto a safe, vibrant cycling city for all. Email our Community Engagement Manager, Tamara.
If you see something happening in the city, like a new bike lane being installed, tell us! Take a picture and send us an email (email@example.com), or hit us up on social media (@CycleToronto).
Installation of the ActiveTO bike lanes began almost immediately after approval. Cycle Toronto worked tirelessly with the mayor, local councillors, city staff, and community groups to champion these bike lanes. The new lanes were essential to get the ball rolling, and ensuring there is an expansion will be critical to building a more equitable network as part of the pandemic response.
Although these lanes are temporary until Council votes on their future in late 2021, they have been engineered with a wide painted buffer and physical dividers to make them safe and accessible for all ages and abilities, while minimizing disruptions to car traffic and providing space for parking and loading. They’ve immediately started changing the way people move through the city. Dundas Avenue East was the first temporary bike lane to be installed, followed by University Avenue / Queen’s Park Crescent, Bloor Street East, and yesterday Brimley Road was added to the mix.
Four more ActiveTO bike lanes are on their way on Huntingwood Drive in Scarborough, Wilmington Avenue / Faywood Boulevard in North York, Bayview Avenue, and Danforth Avenue, plus Overlea Boulevard for further study. Plus, the Bloor West Bikeway extension to Runnymede will be installed soon, but not as part of ActiveTO; you can read more below!
We’ve written about where the existing lanes stand, what’s next, and when to expect them.
Photo by Amber Mac
The ActiveTO Major Road Closures have been a massive success. Tens of thousands of people of all ages and abilities every weekend have enjoyed space to walk, roll, and ride safely and maintain physical distancing. Closing the roads has spurred more people to use them now than cars did on a typical pre-pandemic weekday.
While the success of Major Road Closures is clear, ActiveTO Quiet Streets have seen mixed results. We still believe in their potential, and the City wants to know what’s working and what is not. They’ve put together a short survey to find out how Quiet Streets are working for you.
Artist's rendering of Bloor West Bikeway Extension
Thanks to many people’s hard work and advocacy for many years, the Bloor West Bikeway Extension was passed by council at the same time as the ActiveTO pandemic response bike lane package. It will stretch from at Shaw all the way past High Park to Runnymede. Together with the Active TO Bloor East gap and Danforth bike lanes, this will form a continuous 15 km east-west bike lane across our city along TTC subway Line 2. Ensuring the Bloor West Bikeway Extension vote and implementation was not delayed or jeopardized was a key priority for Cycle Toronto since the start of the pandemic. We now know that the separated and permanent lanes are expected to be completed by the end of August.
Many of our dedicated volunteers from Cycle Don Valley Midtown and Cycle Toronto Midtown have come together to help support Midtown businesses during reopening. The Bikes Love Yonge campaign is in the early stages, raising awareness that people do in fact shop by bike in the area. Plus, it’s fun to get outside after months of having most of the city shut down!
You can do your part by checking out the supportive businesses (or any business for that matter) and posting to social media. Instagram is a favourite among many shops! Use the hashtags #BikesLoveYonge and #BuyLocalBikeLocal and tag the store you stopped at.
We’ll never see bike lanes on Yonge without business support, so please help this important work — shop on Yonge by bike and you will be helping us build support for bike lanes on Yonge!
TTC subway Line 1 beneath Yonge is the busiest subway line in Canada and one of the busiest in North America. So far, Yonge has no protected bike lanes for transit capacity relief which leaves midtown disconnected from the rest of the city.
The bike-up gelato stand at @capocacciatrattoria has become my favourite thing in @yongestclair. One scoop or two, an agonizing decision! #BikesLoveYonge #BikeTO #BuyLocalBikeLocal
Artist's rendering of YongeTOmorrow project
Before the pandemic, our primary focus on Yonge was the downtown YongeTOmorrow project. Back in the winter, the City was in the consultation process that could see parts of Yonge transformed into a pedestrian boulevard between Queen and Gerrard Streets, and even protected bike lanes from Gerrard to College Street. Last week the consultations resumed and we saw a hint of what was possible at a Ryerson City Building Institute webinar with Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. Stay tuned for the next public meeting to be held in mid-September!
Photo courtesy of Owen McGaughey
Part of the pre-pandemic 2020 plan, installation has begun for physically separated bike lanes on Willowdale Avenue in North York. Running parallel to Yonge Stree and Bayview Avenue these lanes make a good neighbourhood connection running between the hydro corridor at Bishop Avenue (north of Finch Avenue) and Empress Avenue in the south. It’s a good option for people wishing to travel around the neighbourhood while we work toward gaining safe bicycle access to businesses on nearby thoroughfares.
Low concrete walls have been installed on Shoreham Drive and they’re beautiful! They truly showcase how infrastructure can be functional and attractive. Thanks to StreetARToronto and many wonderful artists involved for making our city a better place to be. These walls are part of the York University and Downsview Cycling Connections project and provide protection on the bridge crossing Black Creek.
Installation of low concrete walls has begun on Conlins Road! This will make a much safer connection for The Meadoway, which will tie together routes from the Don Valley to the Toronto Zoo. On Conlins, there will be protection from Sheppard Avenue to Canmore Boulevard over the 401 with unprotected bike lanes continuing to Ellesmere Road. There are plans to makeover the walls with an artistic touch next year.
The Wellesley bike lanes have been upgraded with curb and bollard separation we’ve seen recently installed in many areas. Right now it’s only between Ontario Street and Parliament Street, and we’re looking forward to more upgrades once ongoing construction is completed.
Shaw Street at Bloor Street.
Shaw Street improvements are almost complete between Harbord and Dupont Streets. The road has been resurfaced. Parking is now on the opposite side of the street from the contraflow bike lane. Driving direction now changes at Bloor Street and again at Essex Street while people on bikes can travel through. Physical barriers will be added at the Essex direction change to prevent drivers from passing through. In rush hour, there are already more people riding bikes on Shaw than there are driving, and this will only make it a better place to ride.
Shaw at Essex Street.
Argyle Street has been upgraded to allow two-way traffic between Ossington Avenue and Shaw Street There’s a new bike signal at Ossington, a new contraflow bike lane between Givens Street and Shaw, and two-way sharrows between Ossington and Givens. This was previously a missing connection and the change makes it legal to cycle both ways on Argyle between Ossington and Shaw.
The City of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee (IEC) makes recommendations on the city’s infrastructure needs and services, parks and forestry, and the sustainable use of its environment. Thursday’s virtual IEC meeting had three items particularly relevant to cycling in Toronto.
With strong support from Councillors Fletcher and Bradford, IEC passed a motion for Council to approve temporarily upgrading the existing (but outdated) painted bike lanes on Dundas St. E. from Broadview Ave. to Kingston Rd. in order to meet the city’s current standard of parking protected cycle tracks where possible. Cycle Toronto also recommended the city consider temporarily closing the DVP ramp on Dundas E as part of ActiveTO.
E-cargo bikes have the potential to transform how goods move through our city, and some of the biggest delivery companies are eager to get out of congestion clogging trucks and into more nimble, economical, and environmentally sustainable e-cargo bikes. Building on a motion from Councillor Pasternak at last the council meeting, IEC voted to start cutting regulatory red tape to enable e-cargo bikes to use bike lanes and cycling infrastructure. With commercial partners relying on cycling infrastructure, we’ll be able to advocate for wider, higher-quality bike lanes across the city.
Shared kick-style e-scooters are coming to Toronto… maybe. IEC approved a motion for staff to report back in fall 2020 about Toronto Parking Authority (TPA), who currently also oversees the Bike Share program, to also potentially add an e-scooter rental pilot program to their duties starting in spring 2021. As the pilot is considered, Cycle Toronto stressed the importance of the City to prioritize equity, accessibility, and safety in the program while continuing to build a connected network of protected infrastructure across Toronto to ensure the pilot’s success and the safety of all road users.
Business member profile: Sweet Pete's Bicycle Shop
Sweet Pete's believes there is a bike out there for everyone and they make it their job to find it for you. They want to inspire people to ride bikes. All of their new bikes come with an unlimited one year service warranty and a lifetime warranty on the frame.
During COVID-19, you can book service appointments at both Sweet Pete’s Annex (517 Bloor St W) and Bloordale (1204 Bloor St W) locations and arrange for curbside pickups for parts and accessories at their Bloordale location. Please note that the Bloordale showroom is closed. The customer zone at the front of the store is for one person at a time and is for e-commerce 'curbside' pickups and service drop offs. All sales are through the online store, and all sales support is being handled by phone, 416-533-4481, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Service at Bloordale and Annex locations should be sent to email@example.com. They’re working towards changes so please check their website check their website regularly for updates.
Photo by: @chinseye/Instagram
Torontonian Matthew Cuesta is riding his bike 46 km (or running 4.6 km) every day for 46 days to honour the life of George Floyd. Tuesday, July 14 will be day 46 and he is asking people to join him for the final ride.
Date: Tuesday, July 14
Organizer’s Note: This is not a group ride, so please keep some distance and ride with a mask. There will be a police presence at intersections along Exhibition Loop to keep the space closed to vehicles, and some officers may participate riding in the event.
To join any of these events, click or tap the link. This will bring up a Google Calendar event where you can click or tap “Join Hangouts.” Once you’re set up, click or tap “Join Hangout” and you’ll be able to take part in the meeting.
Platinum Business Members