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General cycling issues (Is Toronto bike friendly?)

I guess it's worth nothing that there will soon be stations in Etobicoke and Scarborough (barely).

I wonder what the usage is like along the Danforth. Seems of limited use to me, personally. If I take the subway out there, I would consider using a bike to get to a final destination north or south from Danforth Ave. But then there's nowhere to dock, other than Coxwell/Mortimer. Or if people from the neighbourhoods around there could pick up a bike to ride to the subway. Perhaps I'd use it if I had multiple destinations along Danforth.... But I'm genuinely curious about what people use it for now.
 
After spending a week in Barcelona, I've come to the realization that Toronto has a long way to go in terms of bicycle infrastructure. The paths were either clearly separated or painted a bright colour for visibility. I think bloor is a great first start, but we need more of this, especially on main roads. Bloor, Queen, King, Dufferin, Yonge are a few that come to mind. As someone who is pretty comfortable biking downtown, biking on Queen and King downtown is a nightmare.
 
I guess it's worth nothing that there will soon be stations in Etobicoke and Scarborough (barely).

I wonder what the usage is like along the Danforth. Seems of limited use to me, personally. If I take the subway out there, I would consider using a bike to get to a final destination north or south from Danforth Ave. But then there's nowhere to dock, other than Coxwell/Mortimer. Or if people from the neighbourhoods around there could pick up a bike to ride to the subway. Perhaps I'd use it if I had multiple destinations along Danforth.... But I'm genuinely curious about what people use it for now.

Yeah, it's a terrible set up for last mile type rides. It's useful as an alternative to the subway (can get almost anywhere downtown in the 30 mins allotted, depending where you start), the way it's set up, but it's not designed to be used as a compliment to it. Hopefully it gets there as the system keeps expanding outward and then filling in by adding more station density.

I use it a lot because I live across from a subway station and bike share station, so I have my choice if I want to go downtown, or even just along the Danforth. It's fine for that, but I'd really love to be able to go north or south. I've been lobbying for that expansion soon. I'll take what they've given me, but I'd like a little more freedom to visit businesses on Gerrard East, Queen East, Pape Village, Coxwell Village, etc. Apparently 2018 is supposed to bring eastward expansion.
 
.I was surprised how busy it was since I don't usually ride out of the city during rush hour. I also liked that there were all types of people on bikes. People in suits, people with carriages for their kids, and lots of other normal looking people.
I've been noticing this more and more. It's awesome.
 
I wonder what the usage is like along the Danforth. Seems of limited use to me, personally. If I take the subway out there, I would consider using a bike to get to a final destination north or south from Danforth Ave. But then there's nowhere to dock, other than Coxwell/Mortimer. Or if people from the neighbourhoods around there could pick up a bike to ride to the subway. Perhaps I'd use it if I had multiple destinations along Danforth.... But I'm genuinely curious about what people use it for now.

Cheaper alternative to the subway, at least for me. I don't live anywhere near bike share, but if I'm doing a few things downtown it's a lot cheaper to do two subway trips and bike around than to constantly hop on/off buses and streetcars. Also has the added benefit of no transfers, and being able to get to random spots with annoying bus service (i.e. Dupont/Davenport).
 
I did the Uthoff Rail Trail from Coldwater to Orillia and then the Oro-Medonte Rail Trail from Orillia to Barrie yesterday. Made very good time, and haven't seen Orillia and Barrie for years, and Coldwater is a very pretty town, but had some problems with the surface used on the Uhthoff Trail. As happens on some trails, the local jurisdiction in charge of maintaining the trail used the wrong surface material: coarse gravel instead of crushed limestone. It made cycling hell in spots.

Here's how the original trail surface was:
The surface is crushed limestone which is quite good for most types of bicycles.
http://www.ontariotrails.on.ca/trails/view/uhthoff-trail

This is the standard for Ontario Trails that claim to be 'cycling rail trails'. Even road bikes with road tires can make very good time and progress on such trails. I use beefed up hard-case fibre reinforced tires good for on and off-road.

But here's the present reality, and it echoes my experience yesterday:
Susan A.J. McTavish ·
University of Guelph
I want to share my observations about the Uhthoff trail between Orillia & Coldwater. (Heading out from Orillia...riding out about 1.5 hours on bike). About 10 years ago I used to love walking and biking the trail ... The trail was a joy to ride and although perhaps a bit weedy in areas... my bike moved easily over the compacted earth surface. Much seems to have changed starting about 5 years ago. ...There is very rough/course cut gravel placed along large lengths of the trail thus making bike riding incredibly uncomfortable and dangerous to keep upright. It is also unpleasant to walk on. It seem seems everything about the trail that I once loved has disappeared. The whole reason for being on a trail is to make a pleasant experience to reconnect with nature...and most of it appears to have disappeared. I wanted to share because I can't be the only one who has observed this. I'm not sure why this has happened exactly...but it would be worth analysing to help regain what it once was.
Like · Reply · May 5, 2017 5:40am
http://www.ontariotrails.on.ca/trails/view/uhthoff-trail

Some would retort that she's using the 'wrong' type of bike with the 'wrong' type of tire. They'd be wrong. I've done thousands of kms on trails, and the problem is the gravel being used, not the tires. I'm also an accomplished motorcyclist, and even a motorcycle would have problems with the type of gravel they're using in extensive spots of the trail. Stability is extremely poor, as well as the gravel being very rough and brutal on tires.

I note that this trail is considered part of the Trans-Canada Trail, as is the only other bike trail that I'm aware of that has used this grade of gravel: The Cottontail Trail north of Guelph. I highly suspect the gravel was a purchase covered by a TCT grant, as was the case with the Cottontail, and with no oversight or specs stated for material used, the local township used a grade suitable for local farmers to use it for tractor access to adjacent fields, not suitable for hikers, runners or cyclists.

I will never use that trail again until they correct the problem (which may be difficult, as crushed limestone will now wash through the gravel if placed on top). It's a shame, because the trail connects to the Tay Shore Trail and on into Midland and more:
http://www.ontariotrails.on.ca/trails/view/tay-shore-trail

The Oro-Medonte Trail uses crushed limestone, albeit it needs a bit of tending, but you can make very good time on it. Sections are very loose where the clay has washed out of the mix, and thus unpredictable for stability. The trail is very straight and monotonous, but worthwhile. I was thankful to finally get to do some new trails this year, weather has been non-co-operative to committing to distance. As it was, it's a good thing I got into Barrie very early afternoon, a storm blew through and dumped a fair amount of rain while I was on the GO bus headed south.

Compared to other trails I've done further south, both are nowhere near as beautiful as the Elora to Cataract, Cambridge to Hamilton/Port Dover or even the Caledon Trailway. Add even the Humber West Trail! Glad I did the Uhthoff and Oro-Medonte, but would not repeat doing them. If you do the Uhthoff, be very aware of the almost impossible gravel that makes you clamp onto your bars for dear-life, and cheats you from taking in some of the glorious surroundings that predictable, comfortable and safe quality crushed limestone provides.
 
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Not sure if this has been mentioned or not.......

I can confirm that another Bikeshare expansion is in the works for next year.

It will be along Queen St. East for sure, and I believe the broader eastend of the old City.
 
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NYTimes features this on their opening page:
If You Build It, the Dutch Will Pedal
By CHRISTOPHER F. SCHUETZESEPT. 6, 2017

UTRECHT, the Netherlands — When city officials unveiled the first section of the world’s largest bike parking garage in Utrecht, a small city in the center of the Netherlands, late last month, the feeling of accomplishment was short-lived.

While many of the 6,000 new, state-of-the-art bike parking spots filled quickly, city engineers focused on the work ahead: creating thousands more such spots and hundreds more miles of bike paths to ensure that even more Utrecht residents can comfortably commute by bike.

“We found that if you build it, people will use it,” said Lot van Hooijdonk, a vice mayor, about her city’s seemingly insatiable public demand for bike infrastructure.

Utrecht, with 330,000 residents, is the Netherlands’ fourth-largest and fastest-growing city. It is also one of the most bike-friendly places in one of the world’s most bike-friendly countries.

The city recently surpassed Amsterdam in a widely respected ranking of bike-friendly cities and is now second only to Copenhagen, which is more than twice its size.

Related Coverage
“What the Danes and the Dutch do now is what people in most cities in the world did for decades,” said Mikael Colville-Andersen, an urban design expert and chief executive of Copenhagenize Design Company, which releases the biennial index of bike-friendly cities.

Elsewhere in the Netherlands, more than a quarter of all trips are made by bicycle, and the federal government has been building up the country’s bike infrastructure over the last decade, despite cuts in other sectors.

The yearly investment of roughly 500 million euros, or about $600 million, pays for itself, proponents say, by reducing health, social and other costs.

The increased infrastructure has led to an increase in people using their bikes daily and contributes to the reduction of road accidents for cars and bikes.

While promoting biking used to be an issue for more progressive political parties, recent successes have made it one of broad agreement in mainstream politics.

“All politicians now take cycling seriously,” said Mark Wagenbuur, a well-known blogger and bike activist.

In a country where there are more bikes than people — 22.5 million vs. 18 million — daily usage has grown 11 percent in the last decade, mostly because of the introduction of electric bikes, which lengthens the time many older people can use two-wheel transportation.

Deadly bike accidents have decreased 21 percent over the last two decades, according to state figures. Much of that is attributed to less competition with motor vehicles — the more people ride, the safer it gets.

More important for the nation’s bottom line, the country’s preference for the bicycle could save its economy $23 billion each year, according to a recent study done at Utrecht University and published in the American Journal of Public Health. The study suggested that the Netherlands’ vigorous cycling habits prevented 6,500 premature deaths each year.

“Biking saves medical costs since biking contributes to people’s overall physical activity levels, and getting sufficient physical activity prevents against many noncommunicable diseases, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and some types of cancers,” Dr. Carlijn Kamphuis, the study’s lead author, wrote in an email exchange.

Frans Jan van Rossem, Utrecht’s head of bicycle programming, put it another way. “Our revenue is healthy people, less traffic and beautiful living,” he said.

On Mr. van Rossem’s watch, the city has expanded its bike network and made innovations that have brought the average number of daily bike trips to 125,000. The city estimates these are worth $300 million in socioeconomic benefits that include health care savings, reduced air pollution and increased productivity.

“It didn’t fall from the cold blue sky,” said Ms. van Hooijdonk, the vice mayor, whose yearly city budget includes an average $55 million for bike infrastructure projects and improvements.

Not everyone, though, thinks the battle is won. Milieudefensie, a crowd-funded group of environmentalists, took the federal government to court last month over air quality, which it says is far below that called for by the European Union.

Utrecht, like many other European cities, spent several postwar decades trying to make automobile use easier.

The effort included building a four-lane highway over centuries-old canals, making space for parked cars on its narrow cobblestone streets, and planning for a highway that was to cross the medieval city’s cathedral square.

Decades later, the concept of progress looks quite different.

At Dafne Schippers, a new elementary school named for the Dutch sprinter, the green roof serves as an access ramp to a bicycle and pedestrian bridge that stretches 360 feet across the Amsterdam Rhine canal, a major water thoroughfare. Yet children playing recently during recess hardly seemed to notice the steady stream of cyclists.

A 15-minute ride from City Hall (which, like all other new buildings, has its own biking garage — this one for 1,650 bikes), a small start-up, Springlabs, is trying to perfect a device that tells bikers how hard to pedal to catch the next green light.

“Cities want to innovate,” said Jan-Paul de Beer, the company’s director. “They want to do new stuff to make the cycling experience even better.”

His traffic control system, Flo, is being tested in Utrecht, in Eindhoven and soon in Antwerp, Belgium.

Finding bike parking in Utrecht’s medieval downtown can be made easier by a smartphone app or a glance at the large digital street signs that show those garages with empty bike parking spots.

“These old cities weren’t made for cars,” Mr. Wagenbuur said.

Utrecht’s cycling network includes nearly 250 miles of dedicated bike lanes. Large signs alert car drivers that they are merely guests on these roads and should limit their speed to less than 20 miles per hour.

Besides its sheer size, the Utrecht Central station biking garage boasts several innovations. Cyclists can check in and find their spot while riding their bikes. Sensors on the racks give real-time information, making finding a free spot during rush hour much easier.

The project’s cost, $48 million, was paid not just by the municipality, but also by the region and the national train service, which recognizes that increasing the availability of bike parking leads to an increase in riders.

“Cycling is like a piece of magic: It only has advantages,” said Ms. van Hooijdonk, who like the majority of Utrecht’s residents commutes to work by bike.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/...ikes-worlds-largest-bike-parking-garages.html

Photos deleted to conserve character length. Access link to see them and captions.
 
I wonder what the usage is like along the Danforth. Seems of limited use to me, personally. If I take the subway out there, I would consider using a bike to get to a final destination north or south from Danforth Ave. But then there's nowhere to dock, other than Coxwell/Mortimer. Or if people from the neighbourhoods around there could pick up a bike to ride to the subway. Perhaps I'd use it if I had multiple destinations along Danforth.... But I'm genuinely curious about what people use it for now.

I live an 8-minute walk from Danforth and I have a bike share membership as well as a Metropass. For me the bike-share membership is almost entirely peace-of-mind for when the subway shuts down so I can still get to work relatively on time. It's also handy on the weekends where the subway is shut down St. George to Broadview, because there aren't many good transit options other than the Bloor Viaduct into town from East York. Overall I use it relatively infrequently but at $90/year it doesn't take that much use to be worth it.

If they had bikeshare hubs off of Danforth, I would use it constantly to get to and from the subway, as would I'm sure tons of other people. Though that might be bad for me - relatively few people currently use bikeshare in the east end which means that I still actually have a chance of getting a bike when the subway is shut down.
 
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Coming to Ontario soon?
British cycling safety laws under 'urgent' government review after series of deaths
Ministers looking at whether charges that apply only to drivers should be extended to bike users

The Government is to carry out an “urgent” review of laws covering reckless cycling after a spate of road incidents involving bikes, ministers have announced.

The probe will consider whether dangerous driving laws that currently apply only to people in motorised vehicles should be extended to cyclists.

Jesse Norman, the transport minister, said other changes to make roads safer for cyclists and those around them will also be considered.

The announcement follows several high-profile incidents involving cyclists, including the death of Kim Briggs, a 44-year-old mother of two, who was killed in central London last year by a man riding a bike without front brakes.

Last month, Charlie Alliston, 20, was found guilty of causing her death and was later jailed for 18 months.

During the trial, prosecutors had to rely on an 1861 law that was designed to cover offences by drivers of horse-drawn carriages, because there are currently no charges that apply specifically to cyclists who cause death or injury.

Ms Briggs’ husband, Matthew, has campaigned for the introduction of new offences such as causing death by dangerous cycling or causing death by careless cycling – the equivalent of which already exist, under the Road Traffic Act, for drivers of motorised vehicles.

Under current laws, cyclists can only be charged with careless or dangerous cycling, which carry maximum fines of £1,000 and £2,500 respectively. Riders who cause bodily harm can only be convicted under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, which covers “wanton and furious driving”.

Earlier this month, Theresa May hinted that ministers were considering making changes to laws on cycling. The Prime Minister told MPs it was important that “our legislation keeps up to date with developments that take place” and said the Department of Transport was “looking at” the issue.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/u...angerous-careless-driving-jesse-a7957996.html
 

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