June 07, 2017

Capital Cycling Charms - Part 1

Ottawa River and O-Train Pathways
When I attended Spring Bike Ottawa in March 2015, I couldn’t properly evaluate their cycling facilities due to the weather and lack of bike share. After cycling in Montréal in February, it was only a matter of time Ottawa would be revisited; something Helen and I did in late May.
Approximate map of our route
The first day’s ride of approximately 35 kilometres (including detours) sampled the following routes:
  • Albert Street multi-use path
  • O-Train and Ottawa River Pathways
  • Champlain and Portage Bridges
  • Voyageurs Trail (Gatineau)
  • Cycle tracks on Laurier and Mackenzie Avenues
  • Rideau Canal
  • O’Connor Street
Traffic calming on Rochester Street
Accessing the Ottawa River Pathway from our Airbnb place was reasonably safe. Both Rochester and Booth Streets use traffic calming measures such as curb bumpouts and centre posts – something recurring throughout our ride – though speed limits could be reduced to 30 km/h.
Albert Street multi-use path at Preston Street
Albert Street has a multi-use path on the north side of the street, with the Preston Street crossing being unconventional including a temporary pedestrian island for those crossing south and useless “cyclists dismount” signs. Due to Confederation Line station construction, the short link from Albert Street to the O-Train Pathway was not paved, though the Ottawa River was only a couple of minutes away.
Canada Geese family by the Voyageurs Trail in Gatineau
Once on the Ottawa River Pathway, you could almost forget you were in a city of one million people with the abundance of nature including river rapids and animals from rabbits to baby Canada Geese. A similar experience was found on the Gatineau side with their Sentier des Voyageurs (Voyageurs Trail). The beaches on both sides had some flooding, while the Gatineau side has some wayfinding confusion with one sign pointing back to the waterfront and the Eddy-Laurier intersection not clearly marked for cyclists. Their trails also had signage right on the pavement.
Portage Bridge - Counters are good but safety needs work
The Ottawa River crossings need work. The Champlain Bridge used only painted lanes with 60 km/h posted speed limits, though the Québec side does provide some green bollards for protection. The Portage Bridge has a raised bi-directional cycle track, but a similar design on Toronto’s Martin Goodman Trail proved it is insufficient given the recent death of five-year-old Xavier Morgan. (link to Jun N's post on related memorial ride) Additional barriers are needed on that bridge to prevent such a tragedy from happening in Ottawa.
Left - Ring-and-post parking placed next to walls
Right - Laurier Avenue cycle tracks (before the race blockade)

Two more shortcomings were seen after leaving the Portage Bridge. One is the poor placement of ring posts against certain walls; meaning only one bike can be parked instead of two. The other is mediocre detour markings. The flood related Ottawa River Pathway closure lead to Laurier Avenue – itself an example of how pilot projects should use parking curbs instead of bollards – which then went through the Race Weekend route near the Rideau Canal.
Mackenzie Avenue next to the American embassy
One of the more recent cycle tracks – Mackenzie Avenue – was difficult to access from Laurier Street. We ended up going through Cumberland Street and walked our bikes along several streets before reaching Mackenzie. Along the American embassy, that cycle track featured large green bollards which are great for protection, but those placed in the middle could cause problems for cargo bike users. A lack of connectivity was noted at the northern terminus, though it was the first place we saw a VeloGo bike share station. Going south to the Rideau Canal was seamless.
VeloGo bike share - A similar system is used in Hamilton
The VeloGo bikes operate differently than those from Bike Share Toronto. While traditional docks are provided, the bikes can also be locked elsewhere should riders like to make a stop where no docks are nearby. Payments are done via online, mobile, or directly on the bike instead of a central kiosk. The bikes appear lighter and do not have any visible chains.
Rideau Canal pathway
Echo Drive is a dead end for vehicles at Clegg Avenue, but not for cyclists
The Rideau Canal trail could use separate pedestrian and cycling areas given the large number of trail users. The trail was closed at Clegg Avenue for the race, but Echo Drive is a good example of a bicycle boulevard with motorists blocked from going through. The view of the Canal is maintained all the way to Bank Street, where the detour lacked proper markings and Echo had a “do not enter” sign.
Speed and bicycle priority signs at the Bank Street bridge
The Bank Street bridge encouraged cyclists to take the lane with bicycle priority signs and speed control displays. Bike lanes are provided on Bank Street until the contraflow bike lanes on Holmwood Avenue and O’Connor Street.
Traffic diversion on O'Connor Street
O’Connor is a showcase for different kinds of bicycle infrastructure including traffic diverters – another bicycle boulevard characteristic – bumpouts like those on Toronto’s Roncesvalles Avenue, unidirectional bike lanes, and bidirectional cycle tracks with green paint identifying conflict areas.
Roncesvalles style bumpouts on O'Connor Street
O'Connor Street switches from unidirectional to
bidirectional with green paint across the intersection
One last observation I noticed is Ottawa’s use of bike racks with signs identifying the local business area or general advertising. Toronto’s Community Bicycle Network used to have them at their old do-it-yourself shop; something the Foodora delivery service should consider using instead of their wheel-only racks.
Bicycle parking on Laurier Avenue
While Ottawa needs to work on improving bridge crossing safety, providing clear cycling detours, and fixing bike parking placements, the city was surprisingly pleasant to bike with a reasonably well-connected grid. Perhaps Copenhagenize may want to revisit their index ranking Montréal as Canada’s most bike friendly city should Ottawa keep their momentum?

Part 2 of this series will discuss suburban cycling and other things done during the trip.

Carry on!
Rob Z (e-mail)

May 17, 2017

A Flooded Commute

Last week, Ontario and Québec were subject to heavy rain and flooding with tourist attractions such as the Toronto Islands closed to the public until at least July. During my bike commute to work this week, I got a close hand encounter of flood conditions by the mouth of the Rouge River.
Submerged access to Toronto-Pickering bridge
The Waterfront Trail was dry from Rouge Hill GO station to the Rouge River. At the Rouge River, the trail access to the bridge linking Toronto to Pickering was submerged with water. While the water was shallow enough for bicycles to get to the bridge for now, there are concerns about water levels still rising which could rule out bicycle access in the future. In case this bridge does get closed – I will revise upon confirmation from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority – here are a couple of alternatives to continue getting around.
Graph showing rising Lake Ontario levels (via Fisheries & Oceans Canada)
From Rouge Hill GO station, cyclists would need to travel almost seven kilometres by going west on Lawrence Avenue East, north on Port Union Road, east on Kingston Road, south on Rougemount Drive, and south on Rosebank Road to get back on the trail on the other side of the railroad tracks. It is not a pleasant alternative with high speed traffic (often exceeding 90 km/h) and steep hills on Kingston Road by the Rouge River. With the detour adding 4.5 kilometres (or 15 minutes) to cyclists’ journey compared to the 2.5 kilometres via the bridge, no wonder why that bridge is a vital cycling and pedestrian connection!
When the bridge is accessible, the same trip takes only 2.5 kilometres!
Two public transit options are available for those wanting to avoid riding on Kingston Road. For those already on the GO train, it is recommended to go to the next stop – Rouge Hill if going west or Pickering if going east – to bypass the flooded area. The other option is to take the DRT Pulse bus along Kingston Road from Port Union Road to Rougemount Drive (or another Pickering street of your choice) at a cost of $3.75 cash or $3.10 with a PRESTO card. From Pickering GO, you can take Liverpool Road to get back on the Waterfront Trail.
Flooding covered entire parking lot at Rouge Beach!
This flooding situation by the Rouge River revealed the need for trails to be complemented with a robust on-street bike lane network to help provide cyclists safe alternatives in the event of trail closures. Alternate routes need to be clearly marked to help cyclists get back to the original trail. With climate change expected to cause more flooding in the years ahead, Toronto cannot afford to drag its heels any longer in order to build out the Minimum Grid!

Stay dry, folks!
Rob Z (e-mail)

May 02, 2017

REimagining Yonge Street

Last summer, I had the chance to bike the entire length of the Toronto portion of Yonge Street to make the case for bike lanes there. The resulting blog post lead to an article in Metro Toronto citing Yonge as the next cycling battleground. With an interim report for REimagining Yonge – which calls for the complete transformation of Yonge Street from Avondale to Bishop Avenues including bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and public realm improvements – coming to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday, May 9, a progress update is in order.
Yonge Street at Elmwood Avenue (North York Centre)
The report was originally expected to reach the committee in February and city council in March. Unfortunately, Ward 24 councillor David Shiner introduced a motion to defer the project for consideration during the 2018 budget process, which passed city council with a 24-20 vote. Not only did this motion go against the city’s so-called Vision Zero road safety plan to eliminate pedestrian and cycling deaths, but it also put $2 million in federal funding from their Public Transit Infrastructure Fund at risk. To keep the project alive, the councillor whose ward includes the project study area – John Filion of Ward 23 – organized a town hall on April 5, 2017 at the North York Civic Centre.
REimagining Yonge town hall on April 5, 2017
The REimagining Yonge town hall saw between 100 and 150 concerned residents attend that evening. A large piece of paper was put up in front of the former council chamber for participants to write what they want for Yonge Street, while a few Cycle Toronto volunteers collected signatures for their Yonge Loves Bikes pledge which has over 2100 signatures so far. Several other people joined Filion on the panel including the following:
  • Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati (Director, Transportation Infrastructure)
  • Jennifer Keesmaat (Chief Planner)
  • Barbara Gray (General Manager, Transportation Services)
  • Ken Greenberg (Principal, Greenberg Consultants)
  • Michael Koor (West Willowdale Neighbourhood Association)
Gulati provided some technical background of the project, including results from three previous public meetings in May, June, and September 2016. That section of Yonge was due for reconstruction given the street’s current layout is at least 50 years old. While cars reigned supreme at the time, driver mode share declined from 66% in 1990 to 45% in 2015. There have been calls to study bike lanes on Doris Avenue and Beecroft Road as alternates to Yonge Street, which were ruled out early due to the traffic impacts being too significant. Instead, staff now prefer reducing Yonge Street from six traffic lanes to four between Sheppard and Bishop Avenues to accommodate raised cycle tracks. (see diagrams below) From a road congestion standpoint, this would end up being no worse than under the status quo. A couple of surprise elements Gulati brought up include opportunities for new bike share stations and completing the gap in the Finch hydro corridor trail.
SOURCE (both images): City of Toronto
The remaining speakers’ remarks were relatively short. Keesmaat commented on the need to use centres to develop suburban areas with North York being the most developed, Scarborough being a mall, and Etobicoke in the process of transforming their spaghetti junction. Gray may have been a newcomer – having previously worked in Seattle – but she acknowledged how roadways divided cities and the need to be bold. Greenberg noted how North York was ahead of downtown regarding transforming Yonge Street and acknowledged how lucky Toronto was to have two women in charge of transportation and planning. Filion admitted he originally dismissed the idea of transforming Yonge Street. However, he realized his thinking was in the past and acknowledged the bleak nature of Yonge, which lead to difficulties in finding commercial tenants. He drove the point home by saying traffic will be congested regardless of whether you have eight, six, or four lanes! Koor – a long time resident of the area – acknowledged he never walked on Yonge; instead preferring Beecroft.

The initial remarks from the subsequent Q&A session were from opponents; citing congestion, lack of consultation, and preferring bike lanes on Doris and Beecroft instead of Yonge. Eventually, a speaker who supported the project pointed out opponents tend to be more vocal while correctly referring to the strong public support for the project. After that point, the mood shifted with more people speaking in support to help balance opinion.

Motion PW21.9 is an interim report authorizing staff to study additional options (e.g. bike lanes on Doris and Beecroft) and conduct more consultations with the final report due in the fourth quarter of 2017. Supporters are still encouraged to not only e-mail PWIC (pwic@toronto.ca), but also Mayor John Tory (mayor_tory@toronto.ca) and their respective city councillors to support bike lanes on Yonge. Yonge is a key part of building a city-wide Minimum Grid for cyclists and has the potential to link with proposed bike lanes in York Region.

Ride safe!
Rob Z (e-mail)

April 03, 2017

Prioritizing Cycling Projects

For cycling advocates, it can be tempting to push for bike lanes everywhere. However, there can be such a thing as pushing too far; especially when support is lacking or our pedestrian and transit user allies risk being alienated. Two recent projects – the King Street Pilot and pedestrianization on John Street – prompted this concern and lead to this question which needed to be asked.

In light of limited advocacy resources and political will, how should advocates prioritize their efforts?

KING STREET PILOT
The 504 King streetcar on Roncesvalles Avenue
Having used Toronto’s busiest streetcar route – the 504 King – on several occasions, I have seen first hand how crowded and slow it is. Especially during the morning rush hour. To improve service, the City of Toronto proposed a pilot project restricting motor vehicle traffic within the study area covering Dufferin to River Streets. Given cycle tracks and quiet routes exist on Richmond and Adelaide Streets east of Strachan Avenue, as well as the pilot project’s primary goal of improving transit, bike lanes on that stretch are unnecessary. However, special care is needed to ensure cycling conditions do not get any worse for those accessing local destinations. Certain proposals called for allowing street furniture on wider sidewalks, which could endanger cyclists and force them onto the streetcar tracks; leading to safety risks and possibly defeating the main goal of improving transit.
King Street Pilot options - Yellow denotes pedestrian areas (link to slides)
A connection through CAMH allows cyclists to access the planned West Toronto Railpath extension from Richmond-Adelaide. However, there are no safe east-west routes west of the rail corridor, which is a key challenge for residents of the Parkdale priority neighbourhood. The proposed Liberty New Street does not have a firm timeframe nor does it adequately address east-west connectivity.

The King Street Pilot could provide an opportunity to test protected bike lanes from Strachan Avenue to Dufferin Street. No parking is allowed from Sudbury Street to Fraser Avenue, while off-street parking facilities are available at both ends with wayfinding improvements needed at Shaw Street. If successful, it could become easier to justify extending the bike lanes through Parkdale to the Roncesvalles bridge; something easier to accomplish than on Queen Street due to the width.

JOHN STREET PEDESTRIANIZATION
John Street (via Torontoist)
During the summer months, John Street is reduced from four lanes to two with the extra space being used for increased pedestrian (and patio) space. A recent count done on John Street found bicycles made up of over 70% of rush hour traffic. Given this was completely different from the 2% found in the initial study in 2012 – thanks in part to the Richmond-Adelaide cycle tracks – local advocates called for the reopening of the environmental assessment.

While I respect the hard work done by local advocates there and it would be nice to have some car-free streets (especially in Kensington Market), I disagree with the idea of making reopening John Street a priority. Not because of local councillor Joe Cressy refusing to support the idea, but there are more important projects at stake such as making the Bloor bike lanes permanent and extended, as well as Reimagining Yonge which has a public meeting scheduled for this Wednesday. Not to mention, the cycle tracks between nearby Simcoe and Peter Streets are only 500 metres apart, which is already consistent with best practices in Delft (Netherlands) which spaces their bikeways 400 to 750 metres apart when crossing various barriers.[1] Having bike lanes only 200 to 300 metres apart – which would be the case if John Street were to get them – would not do justice for the other parts of Toronto with significant gaps in the bikeway network.
Only 500 metres separate Peter and Simcoe Streets
Given this pedestrianization initiative and proximity of nearby cycle tracks, it would make more sense to reduce the speed limit on the entire length of John Street – not just north of Queen Street – to 30 km/h with traffic calming measures to make the limit self reinforcing.

PLANNING AHEAD

The fact Harbord and Bloor Streets are 400 metres apart did not stop the City of Toronto from installing bike lanes on both streets. Bloor-Danforth is one of the city’s few continuous east-west corridors while Harbord primarily serves the University of Toronto and only goes from Queen’s Park to Ossington Avenue. The question of how close to space bike lanes is dependent on relative utility. In the case of Bloor, the 36% increase in cycle traffic per city statistics did not stop Harbord from getting high cycling volumes.
Toronto's Cycling Network Plan
Before we can make the cycling network in the downtown core even more dense, we need to keep in mind the need to provide all of Toronto a minimum grid of cycle tracks and bicycle boulevards. Ideally by placing all residents within one kilometre of cycling facilities.

Choose wisely!
Rob Z (e-mail)

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[1] John Pucher & Ralph Buehler. City Cycling. Page 133.

March 22, 2017

Let's Get The Feds Involved

The notion of cycling infrastructure being primarily municipal responsibility is being challenged across Canada. New Brunswick’s advocates are pushing for a one metre passing rule (a.k.a. Ellen’s Law), Vélo Québec celebrates their 50th anniversary this year, Ontario is developing their second #CycleON action plan, and the British Columbia Cycling Coalition has their $1 billion for bikes petition. But what is the federal government doing to support cyclists? That is the focus on this post, including the national group called Canada Bikes and their call for a national cycling strategy.
CURRENT FEDERAL INITIATIVES

When the Trudeau government announced eligible projects for their Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, it marked the first time a federal government funded active transportation projects. Toronto received almost $42 million in federal funding for cycling projects such as the West Toronto Railpath extension, Eglinton Connects, and new bike share stations. Federal funding covers up to 50% of infrastructure costs – total Toronto projects come to $84 million – and projects must be shovel ready by March 31, 2018.

Further to federal funding, Transportation Minister Marc Garneau established a road safety task force last September. While more focused on heavy trucks, it plans to look into measures such as truck side guards; something the federal NDP had called for with Olivia Chow’s Bill C-344. Cycling infrastructure funding and a road safety task force are good steps, but need to be followed up with a national cycling strategy.

A NATIONAL CYCLING STRATEGY

Shortly after Toronto’s Bikestock in September 2014, then Parkdale-High Park MP Peggy Nash introduced Motion M-527 supporting the creation of a national cycling strategy. At that time, the motion called for a policy framework promoting cycling as a key part of transportation planning, introduction of legislation and funding measures, data collection, and dissemination of best practices. However, parliamentary motions only allow for debate and are not binding on the government.

Despite Nash losing her seat the following year, work on a national cycling strategy continued, which Toronto-Danforth MP Julie Dabrusin announced along with the pending formation of an all-party cycling caucus at Bells on Danforth in June 2016. The official launch for both initiatives happened last October, including the introduction of Bill C-312 by Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns. During last month’s Winter Cycling Congress, Johns announced the bill would likely reach second reading sometime in 2018.

Compared to other OECD countries, Canada has been a laggard with their lack of a cycling strategy. Even in the United States – home of General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler – annual active transportation funding increased rapidly from $5 million to over $1 billion over a twenty-year period.[1] Upon reviewing the updated Dutch “Tour de Force” strategy, several components of effective strategies were identified.

1 – Clear Objectives – The Tour de Force calls for a 20% increase in cycling in the Netherlands by 2027.
2 – Diverse Stakeholders – In addition to governments, the Dutch strategy was developed with the NS railway company, Fietsersbond (Dutch Cyclists Union), Dutch Cycling Embassy, and CROW-Fietsberaad which developed their world-renowned transportation manual.
3 – Broad Themes – Cycling strategies often bring up arguments such as public health, climate change, cycle tourism, and supporting local economies. However, they must be backed by …
4 – Specific Goals – The Tour de Force identified eight goals to help achieve a 20% increase in cycling. These include improving integration between bikes and other transport modes and addressing theft.

To help make a Canadian cycling strategy a reality, we need a national voice for cyclists.

ENTER CANADA BIKES

Canada Bikes was established in 2012 at the Vélo-City conference in Vancouver. Groups such as Cycle Toronto are members, though individual memberships are also available. Last year, they launched the “Towards a Bike Friendly Canada” brochure calling for a national cycling strategy, as well as a cycling and walking funding proposal. The proposal called for $694 million annually; tiered based on the size of municipalities and a separate portion for infrastructure next to provincially managed rights of way.
To help reach out to the community and elected officials at all three levels of government, Canada Bikes organizes the annual Bike Day on the Hill. This year’s event – a National Bike Summit – will take place on June 1; coinciding with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference. With the Conservative and NDP leadership races under way, Canada Bikes issued surveys with Chris Alexander expressing support.

Canada Bikes is planning to launch a petition supporting a national cycling strategy, but it wasn’t ready at the time of writing. Stay tuned on their website for more updates.

UPDATE (2017/05/07) - Instead of a petition, Canada Bikes launched a fundraising campaign to help achieve their goal of a bike friendly Canada. If you donate $30 or more, you get an individual membership.

ONE MORE FEDERAL ISSUE

I will close this post with an initiative from Laurier-Sainte-Marie MP Hélène Laverdière. Her bill C-322 – which started second reading on Monday, March 20 and will resume on or after Tuesday, April 11 – would give Transport Canada the authority to order the construction of safe railway crossings. Upon reading the recent debate, the Liberals’ Karen McCrimmon opposed the bill claiming such tools already exist via the Canadian Transportation Agency, while the Conservatives’ Luc Berthold called for a broader approach. Until debate resumes, there is a petition supporting the bill which you can sign and share.

Let’s continue reaching out to cyclists across Canada in making our country safer to bike!

Rob Z (e-mail)

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[1] John Pucher & Ralph Buehler. 2012. City Cycling. Page 24.

March 18, 2017

Get Ajax Moving - Harwood Cycle Tracks

During my interview with Ajax Mayor Steve Parish last fall, he mentioned cycle tracks on Harwood Avenue South were among the town’s most recent installations. Today, I stopped by to get a first-hand encounter of the town’s first cycle track.
Harwood Avenue South at Lake Driveway
Cycling facilities were installed for 1.1 kilometres from Westney Road to Ajax Waterfront Park at Lake Driveway. Buffered bike lanes were used for 900 metres from Westney Road to Cumberland Lane. No parking is allowed, but no bollards or planters are present to prevent vehicles from parking in the bike lane. Maybe this could be a consideration as spring draws near?
Buffered bike lanes are used from Westney Road to Cumberland Lane
Green paint clearly marks conflict areas
At Harwood Avenue and Clover Ridge Drive, the intersection is raised with pavement yield markings to warn drivers to slow down. Green paint is used to mark the conflict area next to the right turning lane. While not ideal, green paint can be effective in alerting drivers to watch for cyclists.
Pavement raised intersection at Clover Ridge Drive
A raised cycle track is provided for the remaining 180 metres from Cumberland Lane to Lake Driveway. This unique design doubles as a sidewalk allowing two-way pedestrian travel and one way cyclist travel on each side. Parking bays are provided for additional protection, as well as rain gardens which improve streetscaping.
Parking bays are provided along the short cycle track
Cycle tracks double as sidewalks - good for suburban arterials
Overall, it is an excellent design which can put some of Toronto’s cycle tracks to shame, though they do have similar raised (and parking protected) cycle tracks on Sherbourne Street south of Front Street. Aside from the Highway 401 crossing, it’s only a matter of time when the entire stretch of Harwood Avenue gets cycling facilities.
A warning to drivers turning into the cycle track
Separate crossings for pedestrians and cyclists
Toronto should also seriously consider using Ajax’s design on some of their suburban arterials in Scarborough, North York, and Etobicoke in order to quickly build their Minimum Grid!

Copy and paste!
Rob Z

March 06, 2017

Copenhagen Does Toronto

Seeing a world-renowned planner like Copenhagenize's Mikael Colville-Andersen speak at last month’s Winter Cycling Congress is one thing. But twice in one month? That happened when he spoke in Toronto on February 27, 2017 during the Ontario Good Roads Association summit. Following Colville-Andersen’s “Getting Cycling Right” keynote was a panel he participated with Straphanger and Sacré Blues author Taras Grescoe and Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat. After Albert Koehl and Bart Hawkins Kreps wrote their takes, here’s mine covering some points that may have been missed.
Panel discussion with Colville-Andersen, Keesmaat & Grescoe
Burlington MPP and Share The Road Co-Founder Eleanor McMahon kicked off the keynote. She recalled Share The Road’s beginnings from a tragedy when her husband OPP sergeant Greg Stobbart was killed while riding his bike. Some of her work included lobbying for the 2009 Greg’s Law on driver suspensions and repeat offenders, organizing the first Ontario Bike Summit, establising an all-party cycling caucus, and developing #CycleON. McMahon reminded participants they need to change the conversation before putting in one line of infrastructure. She was followed by Cycle Toronto executive director Jared Kolb, who talked about his trip to Copenhagen in October – which he recommended sending all councillors there to some laughter – and how too many plans get ignored in Toronto.

Instead of focusing on one city such as Almetyevsk, Russia, the keynote covered basic design principles. He started by claiming he was just an ordinary guy who likes to ride a bike and how that evening felt like an echo chamber. Until cars arrived in the 20th century, streets were considered the most democratic space in human history. The auto lobby used public relations to decry jaywalking; leading to crosswalks and playgrounds. Considered as the biggest paradigm shift ever, it is gradually being reversed with a former Paris mayor saying cars no longer have a place in large cities.
Colville-Andersen consistently emphasized the need to change the conversation to moving people (and logistics), in which bike campaigns are a waste of time until you make biking (and walking) trips direct and driving more difficult. (see above graphic) Since 51% of goods can be transported by cargo bike, this could be facilitated by building depots outside of city centres – ideally at ports – so cargo bikes can do deliveries around town. The need to move people exposed the space wasted by automobile oriented infrastructure; especially a slide on sneckdowns which Colville-Anderson called the Edward Snowden of urbanism! Another example of arrogance of space involved wide traffic lanes, which Calgary and other cities narrowed to accommodate cyclists.
Sneckdowns - the Edward Snowden of urbanism!
Colville-Andersen recalled the broken chair analogy when discussing design, given many urban cycling networks – including Toronto’s – are disconnected. He ridiculed the placement of bike lanes in the door zone and steered clear from sharrows. Regarding bi-directional bike lanes – a Montréal staple – he believed they are only acceptable on motorways with 70 km/h or higher speeds and are fully separate. (see below) He emphasized the need to ensure proper care and reliability of beautifully designed things such as cycling infrastructure, and that it already existed as far back as 1915. Finally, a 2.3-metre wide cycle track can move four times as many bikes (5900/hour) as cars (1300/hour).
Simple bicycle planning from Copenhagenize
Colville-Andersen refuted the political arguments against cycling given even Copenhagen’s right understand thanks to data. He encouraged participants to listen to kids with his own once asking “when will the city fit me?” He recalled a kids’ urban workshop where they suggested making cars ugly, limiting cars to 15 km/h, and glass roofs to keep everyone dry. While glass roofs may be unrealistic, Copenhagen adjusts signal timings in inclement weather to help cyclists get home faster, as well as implement a green wave so cyclists never hit a red light. While many cities insist on statues, the keynote concluded with him saying bicycle infrastructure is the best monument.

During the panel discussion, Jennifer Keesmaat cited finding the money is the easy part (e.g. over $1 billion to rebuild Gardiner East), but the hard part is identifying what we believe in. Taras Grescoe, who wondered how Canada could adapt from Copenhagen, pulled no punches by saying there is no need to study bike lanes. Grescoe called out Toronto for being too timid even before Rob Ford – a unique to Toronto hesitation (?) – and cited Montréal’s culture changing BIXI launch of over 5000 bikes in 2009 across that city, compared to Toronto’s 2000 bikes which are limited to downtown and subway lines. Despite Grescoe’s calls to be bold, Keesmaat believes Toronto needs to build constituencies and they haven’t reached the tipping point yet, while calling out Montréal’s over-built infrastructure.
Toronto's cycling network can resemble this broken chair
Having biked in Amsterdam and other European cities, I was curious to find out the difference between Dutch and Danish infrastructure from the Danish perspective. Per Colville-Andersen, both countries have similar best practices, but many Dutch cities have become “lazy”. While the Dutch have good examples including bike parking, Copenhagen is easier to copy and paste elsewhere.

In September, Colville-Andersen’s “The Life Sized City” will premiere on TVO. Until then, here’s his final quote which hit home. Getting from zero to five percent mode share is really hard. Getting from five to fifteen percent is a piece of cake.

The Life Sized City - Promotional Trailer from Copenhagenize on Vimeo.

Let’s talk!
Rob Z (e-mail)