Ring & Post: We're riding through a pandemic to get to a better Toronto
The Ring & Post is our monthly newsletter updating you on everything cycling in Toronto. Make sure you get the first look.
May 2, 2020
We're riding through a pandemic to get to a better Toronto
COVID-19 has changed the way we use our public space. This street is a blank slate where we can imagine and plan for a better future. Photo by Laura Bilger.
It’s been almost two months since Toronto went into lockdown and we shut down non-essential businesses to reduce the burden on our healthcare system as a result of COVID-19. Since then, Cycle Toronto has been engaging with City of Toronto staff and councillors and our partners to advocate for rebalancing streets.
COVID-19 has magnified our challenges, and we are all feeling the consequences of a lack of space and an inadequate cycling network. While we are a long way from done with COVID-19, now is the time to move forward. For too long Toronto has struggled to build sufficient infrastructure for people to walk and roll. It is time for Toronto to learn from past mistakes and position itself for a speedy recovery and a prosperous future. Active transportation will be essential to the economic and social recovery of Toronto. It’s time to be bold.
Cycle Toronto wrote an open letter to the City’s Office of Recovery and Rebuild laying out what we would like to see in Toronto’s future.
City Council in session
Weeks of advocacy led up to this week’s City Council meeting where an important step forward was made toward our mission of making Toronto a safe, healthy and vibrant cycling city for all. In the first ever Special Council meeting held online, City Council passed motions for City Staff to look into providing more space for cycling, walking, and transit to allow for physical distancing. They also successfully moved to report on fast-tracking Vision Zero and cycling infrastructure. Several neighbourhood cycling projects were also approved for construction in 2020.
Curb and Bollard
Despite the state of emergency, many City construction projects keep moving forward. Last week we watched as concrete curbs with bollards mounted on top were installed on both Woodbine Ave and Bloor St. The Woodbine curbs are permanent and stretch from Mortimer Ave to Danforth Ave. The Bloor St.curbs are part of a one-block pilot on the north side from Palmerston Ave. to Euclid Ave. to test the feasibility of having concrete curbs in spaces tighter than we’ve previously seen in Toronto. Future implementations could mean bike lane protection upgrades in many more places across the city.
Woodbine Ave with new curbs
Bloor St curb pilot
Low Concrete Walls
In addition to these, we’re already anticipating that curb and bollard protection will be installed on River St and Hoskin Ave.
We are looking forward to seeing low concrete walls like the ones seen on Lake Shore Blvd being installed on Richmond Ave in early May. Following that, we will see low concrete walls added to the bike lanes on Shoreham Dr, Scarlett Rd, and Conlins Rd, as well as Adelaide St once that bike lane is moved from south to the north side.
Low concrete walls on the Lake Shore Blvd cycle tracks
Scarlett Ave looking south
Humber Trail underpass at Highway 401. Cycling under Highway 401 is a bit surreal—and also grade separated!
Cycling continues to factor heavily into our daily lives, but many of us have changed the way we get around, where we go, and why we ride. There is a lot of cycling infrastructure throughout the city — sometimes in places you might not expect! As we strive to expand infrastructure to every corner of the city these places provide a small glimpse at the huge potential for cycling outside of downtown.
The City of Toronto and Toronto Police Services have reported a spike in speeding and a huge increase in stunt driving in recent weeks despite fewer cars on the road. Early in the year we had expected Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE or photo radar) to play a role in increased traffic law enforcement. This wasn’t the case. COVID-19 struck and the ASE pilot was deemed non-essential and temporarily shelved. As soon as we learned of this, we wrote to our elected officials at the City and Province, and reached out to the media asking for two actions that would enable the program to be brought back online to reduce the strain on public health and make our streets safer:
We’ve seen the COVID-19 pandemic affect our daily lives from the way we interact with each other to the way we shop for groceries. With the Province extending the state of emergency until at least mid-May, it is clear our annual Bike Month programming between the last Monday in May to the end of June is neither feasible nor appropriate. It is for this reason that we’ve decided to postpone Bike Month until September 2020.
While we all must adhere to public health guidelines to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and to keep our communities safe, we also know that bikes have become more essential than ever to make weekly trips to pick up essentials and get your daily dose of exercise.
We can’t wait to celebrate cycling with you! Stay tuned for more details about September Bike Month events in your area.
Photo by Thomas Le on Unsplash
As public health guidelines around COVID-19 have evolved to include shopping for groceries only once per week carrying everything home in your hands can seem too much to handle. Shopping by bike can allow you to get all the supplies you need for a week and beyond. Read our tips that will get you thinking, “Bikes can do that."
Every day thousands of trips are made by active transportation in Toronto. People walk, roll, and bike to get where they’re going but the individuals making these trips are often lost in the conversation of how our city moves. Our profile series, High Visibility, aims to increase awareness of the people riding their bikes in our city.
Rosa works at a busy downtown hospital as a Medical Laboratory Technologist processing tissue specimens to help pathologists diagnose diseases. Up until recently her typical daily commute included hopping on the TTC. That all changed when public health concerns around COVID-19 ratcheted up and physical distancing became the norm.
Carmen is a nurse who started biking to work when she wanted to boost her fitness and reduce frustration with her daily commute. COVID-19 gave her trips to work new urgency.
In early February, Enbridge Gas announced that they would be investigating options for replacing a natural gas pipeline. One of the three shortlisted routes included a significant portion of Queens Quay, where the Martin Goodman Trail is located.
Recently, we were informed of the success in our advocacy: a chorus of voices resulted in the preferred route for the new pipeline being changed to Lakeshore Blvd.
Toronto Centre Cyclists is the Cycle Toronto Ward Advocacy Group representing Ward 13. Located in the heart of the city they’re fortunate to have plenty of great bicycle infrastructure than most areas, such as the Sherbourne cycle track and the Richmond-Adelaide bike lanes. They work closely with Councillor Wong-Tam to move forward projects such as the St.Lawrence - Distillery Cycling Connections and Yonge TOmorrow.
Toronto Centre Cyclists enjoying some pre-COVID19 socializing
These grassroots advocates have hosted a number of events to make cycling easier to access and a better experience in the city. Past events included Bike Day where they shared maintenance and safe cycling tips. They hosted a Bike Town Hall with all three levels of government represented where they served great food and raffled off prizes. They’ve also led Toronto History Bike Rides and conducted bike safety checks at many community events. They’re very much looking forward to getting back out into the community once we flatten the curve and can begin holding social gatherings again.
Toronto Centre Cyclists meets every second Wednesday of the month, typically at the Regent Park Community Centre, and currently meets using video chat. Meeting dates are posted on the Cycle Toronto Ward Advocacy Calendar, which include the virtual meeting information.
If you live in Ward 13, you can join them for their next meeting on Google Hangouts on May 13, 2020.
Check out Toronto Centre Cyclists for all their social media info.
Switchback Cyclery closed for business permanently this week and we're sad to see them go. The work they have done to support people entering the workforce has been great to see. We've been proud to have Switchback as a business member and wish everyone at the shop all the best on their next step.
We’re happy to say that Riverside will continue to have service as Ride On Bike Shop takes over the business. Welcome to the neighbourhood!
At first glance, VéloColour is a custom paint and cycling bag producer but they prefer to think of themselves as a satisfaction supplier. Owners Noah Rosen and Suzanne Carlsen love to create great things that make you smile and jump up and say, “Hell yeah!”
VéloColour's focus on sustainability, durability, longevity and distinctively smart design is hard to match. They pour their hearts into building an environment fueled by hard work and creativity, creating a product they are proud to stand behind. They offer a lifetime warranty and repairs on broken or damaged goods to ensure they stay in use and out of the land fill. That’s smart business and good for all of us. Check out the awesomeness on their website.
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.
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