Category Archives: Bikes are Beautiful

Salt in the Wound • Jarvis and the City’s bike budget

Over the last year, I’ve written extensively about the pending removal of the Jarvis bike lanes.  There are so many reasons why Council should back down on this plan: reasons related to safety, fair process, wasted dollars, and community support for Complete Streets.

Now, we can add another reason.  Not only is the removal of the Jarvis bike lanes a colossal waste of money (the lanes are brand new) – but guess where the money is coming from?  I’ve been able to confirm with the City that the money to REMOVE the lanes is being pulled directly out of the limited budget the City has to INSTALL bike lanes!  So not only are cyclists losing a major bike lane, serving 1000+ cyclists during rush hour, … but we’re seeing our own capital budget reduced at the same time.

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“I’ve got no quarrel with that” • Would the real John Parker please stand up?

“Do you think we should be consulting the local residents before we make this decision?”
~ City Councillor Mike Layton

“I’ve got no quarrel with that”
~ City Councillor John Parker

During the 13 years that I’ve been following meetings at City Hall, I’ve learned a lot about how the democratic process is supposed to function.  It’s a complicated process – one that I’ve tried to de-mystify for my readers last year by writing “Inside Baseball: The rules of City Council” and a chapter in Local Motion called “Finding your way through City Hall”.

The process can seem complicated and burdensome, but every part of it exists for a reason.  The process is designed to include input from a variety of sources, such as from expert staff or from residents who will affected by a decision.

When procedural steps are avoided, or ignored, the system breaks down and the process is no longer democratic.  One of the worst cases I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been watching Council meetings since Mel Lastman was mayor, and Jack Layton was a rogue Councillor), was last year when John Parker moved the motion to remove the Jarvis bike lanes at the June meeting of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee.

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Drivers for Jarvis • Batch #3!

Since I first posted about Drivers for Jarvis, I continue to receive new requests from across TO from those who want to join the campaign!

I’ve pasted some recent photos below, and the full list can be found on the Cycle Toronto website.

Wanna add your name to the list?  Get in touch:

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Two perspectives • One goal

Nick Cluley (a great guy, in my opinion) has written a long blog post explaining why he supports changing the name of the Toronto Cyclists Union to ‘Cycle Toronto’.  As I’ve already written, I’m a fan of keeping the name as it is.  But more importantly, I’m a fan of democracy and debate, and I’m glad Nick has contributed to the online debate, and I think it’s great that this choice is being carried out in a democratic way, with all members having a say.

I encourage members to take the time to read Nick’s post, and then vote however you wish.  The main thing is that after the vote, we all get back to work and focus on our shared goal: more bikes on the streets, and safer roads for everyone.  Continue reading

Stickin’ with the Union

On May 2nd, members of the Toronto Cyclists Union will vote on a proposal to re-brand the organization and change the name to Cycle Toronto.  I’m encouraging members to vote ‘no’, and this blog post explains why.

First, let me say that I think the discussion is a healthy one to have, and I think it’s great that the Board of Directors has put this proposal forward.  Re-evaluating a brand, and exploring re-branding is a positive exercise for any non-profit or corporation.

In the end, there will always be benefits and drawbacks to a name-change.  So, the question is simply: do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks?  So, let’s explore both. Continue reading

Drivers for Jarvis • Moving beyond rhetoric

Last year, Toronto City Council voted to remove the bike lanes on Jarvis Street.  This was done without any public consultation, without the support of the local Councillor and against the advice of City Staff.  It was a political move that puts the safety of hundreds of cyclists at risk. Luckily, the bike lanes have not yet been removed.

I’m working on a project, with Cycle Toronto, called ‘Drivers for Jarvis‘. We want to show that the debate about Jarvis Street isn’t about cyclists vs drivers.  It’s about safety vs rhetoric.  It’s about sharing the road vs hogging the road.  It’s about common sense. Continue reading

Re:Cycling • This is how bike lanes save lives

Two weeks ago, I found myself standing on Sterling Road looking at Jenna Morrison’s twisted bicycle.  Just a couple of hours earlier, she had been crushed under the wheels of a large cargo truck, at a tight intersection with no markings for cyclists.

Yesterday, I went back to the site with my buddy James Schwartz (local advocate and blogger).  We wanted to measure the street and see if there was enough room at the intersection for a proper bike lane.  The answer is YES.  There is actually ample room for proper bike lanes – in both directions (9.6 metres is required).

But we went a step further.  We also wanted to see how traffic would behave, with a bike lane.  So we picked up pieces of trash that were lying around and created our own bike lane (also taking advantage of the bike symbols that have been painted by community members since Jenna’s death).
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Ten simple reasons to join the bike union

10) For those who ride bikes, we know how dangerous our streets feel each day.  Only with a unified voice can we create safe space and transform the city.

9) It only costs $2.50 per month.  Is your health and safety worth the price?

8) Starting last week, bike lanes were being removed by constructions crews on Pharmacy and Birchmount – against the advice of city staff. Jarvis is the next scheduled removal.

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My birthday wish • Join the Toronto Cyclists Union

What a horrible way to begin my birthday.  Just as midnite was approaching last night, I received a message in my inbox: “Construction crews have begun to remove the bike lanes on Pharmacy Avenue”.

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Kites and Bikes: Two approaches at city hall

This op-ed appeared in the Toronto Star on July 11th.  I’ve included the amazing illustration by Lola Landekic, which was not included in the Star’s online version of the piece. I’ve also included a short update at the bottom.

One year ago, a slow summer afternoon was interrupted by a stream of unexpected phone calls. New signs had been installed in Scarborough’s Milliken Park stating “No kite flying allowed” and as the official spokesperson of the Toronto Kite Fliers Association, journalists were calling me for a quote.

The kite ban was an exaggerated response to genuine safety concerns that had been raised about the growing sport of “kite fighting” and the abrasive strings used by competitors. Most kite flying is completely harmless and the ban unfairly punished the majority who were flying safely. My initial comments were not positive in tone. Continue reading