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General cycling issues (Is Toronto bike friendly?)

You do this. Bloor and Bay at 5:15 pm, preferably.
Not too sure what this post is implying. Let me state this: Using the left turn lanes at lights is, in many cases, very dangerous, even though the cyclist has full weight of the law. It's one thing when a driver(s) don't see you when you're next to the curb, quite another when flying on an arc through two directions of multi-lane traffic. It is now very rare that I use left turn lanes, just not worth the risk. I haven't had a major accident now for over three decades of serious cycling. Ones sixth sense is as important as protocol and procedure, and many left turn lanes put you in the line of fire from multiple directions.

Again, my point was to cycle through the intersection in the curb lane to the opposite corner on your right, stop at the curb, wait for light to change in the direction to your left, and then proceed in the curb lane of that direction. It means being slowed somewhat waiting for the lights to change, but it is also far safer.
 
Bicyclists can make a left turn from the left of the center line.

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And if they position their bike over the black lines (signal light sensors), they can trigger the advance left turn.
signal_emptyloopdetector.jpg
 
Bicyclists can make a left turn from the left of the center line.

f2pyf.png


And if they position their bike over the black lines (signal light sensors), they can trigger the advance left turn.
signal_emptyloopdetector.jpg


I've seen far too many car accidents caused at intersections with cars turning and cars running reds in my life. At least that have a chance to survive in a car. No bicyclist should be in that position of the road. Way too many car loons in a rush and driving with traffic road rage these days. Just take the sidewalk
 
Bicyclists can make a left turn from the left of the center line.

And if they position their bike over the black lines (signal light sensors), they can trigger the advance left turn.
Of course they "can", but look at that pickup truck coming up behind. Chances are he'll stop. But there's a chance he won't. You can't see him, and the other traffic, and know what they're going to do. I'm beyond the point of taking those chances, because they are needless purely for the sake of saving seconds. Not to mention that once turned, on multi-lane roads, to turn legally, you find yourself in the outside lane, not a good place to be. I was looking for the diagram MTO used to publish earlier, can't find it right now, but it's a cross between moves 2 and 3. Don't cycle through the pedestrian walkway lines as shown in 2. MTO is ambiguous on showing that.
 
I've seen far too many car accidents caused at intersections with cars turning and cars running reds in my life. At least that have a chance to survive in a car. No bicyclist should be in that position of the road. Way too many car loons in a rush and driving with traffic road rage these days. Just take the sidewalk
Absolutely agreed. It's as dangerous as cycling on a two lane highway with trucks passing you with just inches. Sooner or later, you're gonna get hit, but even if not, who wants to cycle with a gun pointed at their head? Ffff em all. I'll play it safe and enjoy my miles, which is one of the reasons that rail trails are exquisite. You can do a hundred plus kms without having to do it in fear.

I've actually walked many kms on the shoulder of a two lane highway or arterial road as I refuse to put myself in the position of potential massive injury. It's added over an hour on some trips, but if that's the price of not gambling and/or having a gun pointed at you, so be it. Who needs the stress?

I disagree with "taking the sidewalk" though, unless it's on one of the outlying regions where there's no pedestrians. When I do the Caledon Trailway accessing it via Bolton on the GO bus, I take Columbia Way east from Hwy 50, and the sidewalk is almost provided for cyclists to use to avoid having traffic breathing up your back. Once I hit a quiet two lane ahead (Mt Hope Rd) then I take it up to the trail. I admit to breaking the law on occasion, fully knowing that it is a rational and safe move. If ticketed, I know a JP or Judge will dismiss the charge if it is for the cause of safety.
 
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Has there been many pedal assist bikes on the MGT or other cycle infrastructure this year? With the relaxing of the e-bike rules I thought there would be a big uptick but I have not seen many. And with the new batteries the "pedal assist" can be more than just assist. Complete power for up to 30 km.
 
Cross a street. Look at the cars coming up to the red light. They'll probably stop, but there's a small chance they won't.

Does this mean you'll never cross any streets?
If there's an alternative to getting hit crossing the street *by any means*, then I take it. What is it you don't understand about minimizing risk? Not to mention that being a pedestrian, my angle of vision is vastly greater as is my ability to jump out the way if some bozo is barreling through a red. A cyclist stopping in the outer lane is like a pedestrian standing in the middle of the road. Do you stand in the middle of the road Amnesia? Why not?

What astounds me, although I shouldn't be surprised, is that some 'don't get it'. And frankly, those people shouldn't be driving, let alone cycling:
Left turns are one of the most dangerous manoeuvres to execute on a bicycle in North America. Of course, this doesn’t have to be the case. Many cities have engineered infrastructure to make left turns safe and comfortable for bicyclists.

But here in Toronto – and most other cities in North America – turning left legally is unsafe.

Here’s why: In order to make a legal left turn on a two-way street in Toronto, you must first merge from your normal riding position on the right side of the road to the left-most lane. This in itself can be dangerous and is unnecessary.

Next, you need to wait for oncoming traffic to clear before you can proceed with your turn. If you are fortunate enough to have a separate turning lane, then you will be immune from impeding traffic behind you.

However, in many cases in downtown Toronto, you will not have the luxury of a turning lane – so you will inevitably be unnecessarily holding up already-frustrated motorists.

Being someone who avoids unnecessarily dangerous situations, I rarely make legal left turns on busy streets in downtown Toronto for the reasons stated above. In a 2009 commute to work video I posted on blogTO.com, I was criticized by a commenter for doing a hook left turn using the pedestrian walkway.

In the absence of proper infrastructure for left hand turns, I recommend that bicyclists enter the pedestrian area to make a hook left turn (when it is safe to do so). This involves staying to the right, and pulling into the pedestrian crossing area, then waiting for the alternate light to turn green.

A hook left turn could easily be accommodated with a tiny bit of infrastructure. Here is a diagram of the safer hook left turn bike box – courtesy of Inscrutable Ted:



This infrastructure reduces unnecessary conflict between motorists and bicyclists because the bicyclist isn’t forced to hold up traffic while making a left turn.

Here is a video from our friend AlexWarrior that nicely demonstrates a hook left turn in Vancouver. Watch the video in the bottom left corner:

Instead of accommodating the hook left turn, the City of Toronto seems to think that traditional bike boxes are the solution for safe left turns.

A bike box is a painted area that allows bicyclists to gather at a traffic light in front of automobiles. This helps improve visibility and reduces the chances of cars right hooking bicyclists while turning right.

Here is how Toronto is proposing to accommodate left turns using bike boxes.

TorontoBikeBox1.jpg


Courtesy of City of Toronto bike box postcard

One can imagine the hostility of the motorist in the blue car for having to wait for a bicyclist to turn left while he is trying to proceed straight. This is an avoidable and unnecessary conflict.

Here is a photo of a recently implemented bike box with a left turn area in Toronto:



Photo by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country

Fortunately this left turn lane for bicycles includes a separate left-turn lane for automobiles, so a left-turning bicyclist wouldn’t be forced to hold up traffic to make her left turn.

However, these bike boxes are inadequate because the markings don’t make it obvious enough to motorists that they need to stop behind the first white line.

Here are two photos of a typical bike box in Portland, Oregon that take this into account:

PortlandBikeBox26.jpg


Photo courtesy of itdp / Flickr

PortlandBikeBox13.jpg


Photo courtesy of Rich & Cheryl / Flickr

Toronto’s implementation seem to cause confusion for motorists. While taking these photos, it didn’t take long for me to witness several motorists ignore the bike box markings:





Photo by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country

Bike boxes aside, other cities support left turns for bicycles in different ways.

The Chinese approach is fairly simple and doesn’t hold up motorists: Bicyclists have a left turn signal that allows them to turn left from their bike lane to the other bike lane on the perpendicular road.

This bicycle turn signal works in conjunction with the automobile left turn signal so that bicycles and cars can both turn at the same time – each staying within their own painted lines while making their respective turns.

This approach eliminates the need for bicyclists to merge into traffic, but one must still be cautious while making a turn because motorists are turning at the same time. The Chinese aren’t known for staying within the painted lines.

IMG_45481.jpg


The ideal implementation for left turns of course comes from the Dutch. Some Dutch cities have physical separation between motorists and bicyclists even for left turns to avoid any possible conflict between the two. Here is a typical Netherlands junction with separate signals for bicyclists:



Photo courtesy of markenlei’s Youtube video on safe junctions

Bicyclists are able to proceed and immediately make a protected two-phase hook left turn while motorists wait. This wouldn’t be a hot seller in North America’s car-centric culture, but perhaps this will change as more people start using bicycles for transportation.

This type of implementation also requires a significant amount of space to implement, so it wouldn’t work on all streets. In dense cities where space is limited, a hook left turn implementation would suffice for safe left turns, and would be substantially better than our current method of forcing bicyclists to merge into traffic to make a left turn.

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com.

24 thoughts on “Safe Left Turns for Bicycles”[...continues at link posted...]
http://www.theurbancountry.com/2010/11/safe-left-turns-for-bicycles.html
 
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And left turns aren't just dangerous for cyclists (there's a lot on-line for those so vacuous as to not 'get-it'), it's also very dangerous for pedestrians and other drivers:
[...]
According to WNYC data, 17 pedestrians and three cyclists were fatally struck by vehicles making left turns last year. In fact, New York has the highest number of pedestrian fatalities caused by left-turning vehicles of any state in the country, according to federal statistics (see below PDF.) And a recent city Department of Transportation presentation stated that left turn crashes outnumber right turn crashes 3 to 1.

For the past few years, the city’s Department of Transportation has been redesigning dozens of intersections to make left turns safer. But at a hearing in March, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told City Council members there are limits to what can be done.

"Left turns are a big source of crashes," Trottenberg said. "But there's another way to look at it: speeding and failure to yield, which are also pieces of the puzzle, are also sources. There's no question, in cases where we can minimize left turns, or give vehicles their own turning phase, we want to try to do that."

She added, however, "We won't be able to do it everywhere in the city. You can't create a special turning lane and a special signal in every intersection for left turns."

Even those measures don’t guarantee safety. The Brooklyn intersection where Emily Miller was struck has both a turning lane and a dedicated traffic signal. In fact, Fourth Avenue is so dangerous it is one of four city streets slated to receive a massive safety overhaul.

United Parcel Service has another way to deal with left turns: just don't do them.

UPS plots its delivery routes in a right-turning loop, because the company does not want its drivers to waste time and gas waiting for a gap in oncoming traffic.

Dan McMackin, now a spokesman for UPS, got his start with the company driving a truck. The habits he picked up then are ingrained in his routine now. [...continues at length...]
http://www.wnyc.org/story/left-turns/

But hey, nothing to worry some drivers about, they just don't get it, and never will. It takes a degree of acumen absent from some.
 
They're not allowed on the MGT.

toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=aaf885d32acd1410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD&vgnextchannel=f4d4970aa08c1410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

Pedalecs are allowed on all bike infrastructure. However you have to only have assist on (and not the throttle)

It's too hot in the summer to bike to work (my work does not have a shower). Just was wondering if anyone has seen or used one on the MGT.

Debating if I get one will it be out of place? I want to avoid the crazy and smelly streetcar and subway in the summer
 
I wasn't referencing pedalecs, I was referring to more traditional types of e-bikes; sorry if I read that wrong. I've seen a few on the MGT but not many -- but I haven't seen many anywhere for that matter.

I've read blog posts and comments from people who say they ride to work in the summer and don't need to shower and explain how to stay fresh, but personally, I don't get it -- I'd be a sweat ball.
 
I wasn't referencing pedalecs, I was referring to more traditional types of e-bikes; sorry if I read that wrong. I've seen a few on the MGT but not many -- but I haven't seen many anywhere for that matter.
@muller877 poses an interesting question. Just to make sure I had the term understood correctly, I had to reference it:
A pedelec (from pedal electric cycle) is a bicycle where the rider's pedalling is assisted by a small electric motor; thus it is a type of low-powered e-bike. However, unlike some other types of e-bikes, pedelecs are classified as conventional bicycles in many countries by road authorities rather than as a type of electric moped. Pedelecs include an electronic controller which cuts power to the motor when the rider is not pedalling or when a certain speed – usually 25 km/h (16 mph) – is reached. Pedelecs are useful for people who ride in hilly areas or in strong headwinds. While a pedelec can be any type of bicycle, a pedelec city bike is very common. A conventional bicycle can be converted to a pedelec with the addition of the necessary parts, i.e. motor, battery etc.

Many jurisdictions classify pedelecs as bicycles as opposed to mopeds or motorcycles. More powerful e-bikes, such as the S-Pedelecs and power-on-demand e-bikes (those whose motors can provide assistance regardless of whether the rider is pedalling or not) are often classified as mopeds or even motorcycles with the rider thus subject to the regulations of such motor vehicles, e.g. having a license and a vehicle registration, wearing a helmet etc.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedelec

I also haven't noticed an increase in these. They may have increased, but it's not been noticeable, the amount of them is still apparently small. About the only time I realize it's a pedelec is when they're moving, and not pedalling, unlike e-scooters which I and many other cyclists resent being on cycle paths, not least since they are so silent, move with speed and inertia, and are usually ridden by persons who have no sense of protocol or acumen. Many of them have lost their licence to drive, and so they resort to the same poor habits on an e-scooter. E-bikers usually are much more courteous and conform to expected cycling protocol. I've Googled a few times to see if there's any indication of popularity, and other than articles three years ago promising a great future for them in Canada, I can find nothing.

Part of the lack of hits might be confusion over the terms:
Power Assisted Bicycles

e-bikes.jpg




The Province of Ontario has amended the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, so that power assisted bicycles (e-bikes) may travel on public roads and highways. Bicycle lanes and park paths are governed by City of Toronto bylaws, not the Highway Traffic Act.

Types of Power Assisted Bicycles
Legislation passed by the province of Ontario classifies a wide range of vehicles as power assisted bicycles. Some look like conventional bicycles and some resemble motor scooters.

Please review the Ministry of Transportation's E-Bike webpage or the Toronto Police's emerging vehicles information sheet

Electric Bikes in the City of Toronto

Municipalities may pass by-laws specific to power assisted bicycles that prohibit them from municipal roads, sidewalks, bike paths and trails, and bikes lanes under their jurisdiction. City of Toronto Municipal Code bylaws prohibit motor powered vehicles from being used on multi-use paths and in cycle tracks. Only electric bicycles with a wheel diameter of 26" or larger are allowed on the ferries to the Toronto Islands.

Types of "E-bikes"
pedelec.jpg

Pedelecs

E-bikes which are similar to bicycles ("Pedelecs") are considered to be bicycles by the municipality of Toronto, and may be used on all types of cycling infrastructure. This includes painted bike lanes, Cycle Tracks (separated bicycle lanes) and multi-use trails where regular bicycles are allowed. By it's definition in the Toronto Municipal Code, a "pedelec" must weigh less than 40kg and requires pedaling for propulsion.

e-scooter.jpg

E-Scooters

"E-scooters" may not be used on multi-use trails or Cycle Tracks (separated bike lanes). E-scooters are vehicles which meet the Provincial definition of an e-bike, but not the City's of Toronto's definition of a Pedelec.

In February 2014, Toronto City Council adopted the recommendation that a two-year evaluation to monitor the operation of e-scooters in painted bicycle lanes (which are not separated from motor vehicle traffic) be undertaken. In consultation with the Toronto Police, Transportation Services will report back to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee within two years, and if required amend the Toronto Municipal Code to address any observed safety concerns related to the operation of e-scooters in painted bicycle lanes. [...]
http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/c...nnel=f4d4970aa08c1410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

Here's an example of the term being used incorrectly by TorStar:
By Dana FlavelleEconomy
Fri., Aug. 1, 2014

Car drivers blast their horns as they swerve to avoid him, cyclists admonish him to “get in shape.”

When Gary Salo rides his electric bike on Toronto’s city streets, he experiences a conflicting sense of freedom and frustration.

“People try to run me off the road. You’re not allowed in the bike lanes and nobody wants you on the road. It’s really an experience,” says Salo, who posted a video on YouTube of his ride through Toronto’s west end that demonstrates many of the dilemmas e-bike riders face.

Proponents of Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs) insist they’re not only here to stay but see them as the wave of the future, despite the ongoing confusion over the rules of the road – not to mention the culture clash between cars, bikes and e-bikes.

Whether they’re the type that looks like a traditional bicycle, or more like a Vespa-style scooter, these battery operated vehicles offer low cost, clean transportation ‎in an increasingly congested city, advocates say. [...]
https://www.thestar.com/business/2014/08/01/ebikes_face_uphill_climb.html
 
@muller877
I also haven't noticed an increase in these. They may have increased, but it's not been noticeable, the amount of them is still apparently small. About the only time I realize it's a pedelec is when they're moving, and not pedalling, unlike e-scooters which I and many other cyclists resent being on cycle paths, not least since they are so silent, move with speed and inertia, and are usually ridden by persons who have no sense of protocol or acumen. Many of them have lost their licence to drive, and so they resort to the same poor habits on an e-scooter. E-bikers usually are much more courteous and conform to expected cycling protocol. I've Googled a few times to see if there's any indication of popularity, and other than articles three years ago promising a great future for them in Canada, I can find nothing.

The European pedelac is more of an pedal assist bike (what the City is expecting on the path). However, the Asian designed pedelac's go above this. You can select either assist or throttle mode. Throttle mode lets you sit back and go without any effort (a good quality one can travel 50 km is pedal assist and 30 km in throttle mode).

Reading the bylaws it appears as if they would only let you on the MGT if you are in pedal assist mode. I assume many people just add a bit more than pedal assist and that's why you see them not pedalling. As long as they aren't stupid about it and keep with the flow of traffic. But all it takes is a handful of idiots who use full throttle mode and go 50 km/hr weaving around bikes and walkers alike.

I'm probably going to hold off and suffer in the stinky TTC this summer. Let the bylaws and the tech mature for a year. I'd hate to buy one and then the city changes the bylaws. Next spring if its still OK i'm going to purchase a pedelac.
 

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