Archive for January, 2010


Ontario’s Best Traffic Sign

This is Ontario’s best traffic sign. By ‘best’ I really mean worst.

I notice this sign often when driving along Bathurst St. and Yonge St. and always stare at it with amazement. In what situation does reserving a lane for buses, taxis, carpools, and bicycles make sense? In what situation does putting the largest vehicle on the road (a bus) and the smallest vehicle on the road (a bike) together in one lane make sense?

So imagine this: during morning and afternoon rush hour you have a cyclist riding in the same lane with a bus, which will stop every few blocks, pull over to the side of the road where the cyclist is riding, and drop of/pick up passengers.

Really Ontario? Is this your idea of a bike lane?


“A strip of paint at the side of the road”

The idea behind Cycle Toronto is to push for better cycling infrastructure in Toronto. I spent four months living in Copenhagen last autumn, and the cycling infrastructure was just amazing. The basic premise underlying their bike lane system is physically separated lanes. The idea is that with safe space for cyclists, more people will choose to use their bikes for daily commuting. According to the Copenhagen Bicycle Account 2008, 37% of people in Copenhagen (including residents of surrounding suburbs) cycle to work or education every day. Restricting this to just residents of Copenhagen, the statistic jumps to 55%. Brilliant!

There are many ways to build physically separated bike lanes. Here is a basic diagram to illustrate the idea:


Check out this Streetfilms video about cycling in Copenhagen:

In the midst of my Danish cycling exuberance, I put together a small proposal for physically separated bike lanes called “Cycle Toronto” which I sent in to my Toronto city councillor. The hope was to make use of cycling infrastructure in Copenhagen as a model for Toronto. (More on this to come in future posts)

Just a few days ago I received a refreshing article about physically separated bike lanes in Toronto. Our current lanes were described as “a strip of paint at the side of the road”.  Some good news: the article reports that the Toronto Cycling Committee (at City Hall) has endorsed physically separated bike lanes as the preferred design for the upcoming reconstruction of Sherbourne Street. It must now go through the city planning department and be approved by Council. The adoption of a physically separated bike lane would be precedent setting in Toronto, and may very well lead the future development of our cycling infrastructure.


Toronto Mayoral Race, Part I

Since Miller’s announcement that he won’t be seeking a third term as Toronto’s mayor, the race has begun for his successor.  According to the Toronto Star, there are 21 candidates currently in the running.

Earlier this month, Spacing Toronto posted a neat visual of the political spectrum of some of the main candidates. Using the Hans Slomp projection, which measures political leaning on a right-left/authoritarian-libertarian basis, you can get a sense of where the Toronto mayor hopefuls fall.

What does all this have to do with bikes? Not all of the candidates are as keen on growing Toronto’s transit system and cycling infrastructure as you and I would hope.  Rocco Rossi appears to be downright hostile to Transit City construction and bike lanes, as reported by another Spacing Toronto post. Guess we know who not to vote for.

Maybe Adam Giambrone will be able to inspire us?


Physically Separated Bike Lanes

The problem with bike lanes in Toronto is that they are nothing more than paint on the road. Although this paint may give the impression of an actual lane reserved for cyclists, it often ends up getting used for other purposes, like parking your car. Take, for example, this picture from a Toronto Star article about a newly painted bike lane in which sits a parked car.

For more photographic evidence of this phenomenon take a look at

More than an inconvenience-to-cyclists issue, bike lanes that are mere paint on the road do not provide a safe space for cyclists to ride. Unlike the picture above, many of the bike lanes in Toronto are on busy main streets where there are lots of cars going at fast speeds.  Anyone who has ridden on these lanes – take College St. for example – knows well the fight for space and the vigilance with which you have to ride.

What Toronto needs is physically separated bike lanes. Take a look at this great video on physically separated bike lanes, primarily set in NYC.

For more videos like this one, check out the excellent site I recently discovered: Streetfilms.


Welcome to Cycle Toronto!

“When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, what will I be…?”

While the future may not be ours to see, as Que Sera Sera would have us believe, it is ours to make.

Cycle Toronto, and its incarnation in blog form, is about shaping the future of cycling in Toronto. Maybe you feel it too, that Toronto is struggling to find its place as a great biking city, and is having a bit of trouble getting there. Cycle Toronto will help nudge it in the right direction.

This blog will be many things: a space for my comments and ramblings about all things cycling, a place to gather and compile information about cycling infrastructure, a way to communicate and interact with a broader cycling community, and maybe even a dorky part of my upcoming Land Use Planning class presentation.

Read, enjoy, comment, disagree.


Bike lanes, cycling infrastructure, and land use planning law