Monday, April 13, 2020

A call to action during COVID-19

Mayor Tory and the Toronto Public Health team,

Recently, cities such as Bogota, New York, Berlin and Calgary have closed traffic lanes to provide extra space for people who walk or bike. There’s no reason why Toronto shouldn’t do the same particularly on streets such as Yonge where in the downtown 75% of the users are pedestrians but are given only 25% of the space. While I respect the tireless work done Dr. De Villa and the Toronto Public Health team to stop the spread of COVID-19, I am disappointed to find out Toronto would not consider this.

In the case of Yonge Street, it’s worth reminding public consultations were under way to pedestrianize the stretch from College to Queen Streets. Other studies already happening which would make great candidates for traffic lane closures include the Danforth Study (from Broadview to Victoria Park Avenues) and the Bloor bike lane extension to Runnymede Road. With those streets being studied anyway, why not accelerate the process at this time of need to make these traffic lane closures a reality now?

Without gyms or parks, people still require a way to remain active and many may choose to avoid crowds on public transportation by walking and biking. This is particular true as temperatures rise and the COVID-19 pandemic persists. Now is the time for you and Toronto Public Health to temporarily close traffic lanes on Yonge, Danforth, Bloor, and Lake Shore to help people who walk or bike maintain physical distancing on these busy arterials. I also recommend identifying other streets through a data driven approach which could be good candidates for closures during COVID-19 and future pandemics.

I thank you for your consideration and feel free to contact me should you have any further questions.

Peter Rogers
Ward 13 Resident and Toronto Centre Cyclists Advocate

Friday, October 12, 2018

Building the Grid, One Candidate at a Time

Cycle Toronto is asking municipal candidates if they would commit to building cycling infrastructure with their #BuildtheGrid campaign. You can sign the pledge here.

In Ward 13 (aka the ward previously known as Ward 28) the local Cycle Toronto Advocacy Group asked candidates how they were respond and here are the ward 13 candidate responses (so far) - including a bonus question about Shuter Street, compiled in the Google Sheet below.

If you want others to see the document you can use either the original Google Sheet URL:

…or the shortened version:

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Dear Mayor Tory,

Dear Mayor Tory,

I’m writing to you in the hopes that you will support the Transform Yonge recommendation for Yonge Street in North York.

Former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg famously said in God we trust but everyone else bring data. Except we all know the data. Over 80 pedestrians or cyclists have been struck on this section of Yonge since 2010 with 8 deaths. I suppose one death a year isn’t bad – it’s very bad. North York Centre is a heavily populated urban area with a 6-lane expressway running through it. Almost 80,000 people live in this neighbourhood and they and their councillor want to see Yonge change. We all know the numbers and it’s not about numbers.

You’ve proposed moving the bike lanes to Beecroft, or “just feet from Yonge” but it’s not about bike lanes. Bike lanes are just one tool in the design to make this part of Yonge a safer, more humane street. Reducing the number of lanes and sidewalk improvements will make this a street where people live, work and shop instead of a place other people drive by.

Yet, it's not about cars. Residents of Willowdale aren’t buying more cars. Like other parts of the city, they are buying fewer. They don’t want to spend their lives stuck in traffic. They don’t want to risk their lives crossing a highway to get home. They don’t want their children to die on that street. Your proposed option will cost residents more in construction time thanks to a poorly conceived hybrid solution - unless of course you want to cut that time by allowing overnight construction which will cost residents lost sleep. It will cost all of us more money, but it’s not about money.

What is it about? It’s about commitment. A public commitment you made. You publicly committed to Vision Zero and yet whenever you have the opportunity to prove it, you work against it. Why exactly are people in cars driving somewhere else so much more important than the people who live, work and shop in the very neighbourhood we’re talking about? It’s about who we are and being the kind of city where people can live, work, play and prosper. Can you help do that for us? "Getting Toronto Moving” shouldn’t be about keeping cars moving. Help get people moving by walking, biking and using public transit like the TTC and Go and by making those options faster, accessible and affordable.

This is why I’m asking you to follow the wishes of the residents, their elected representative and the recommendation of City staff to support the Transform Yonge option for Yonge Street North.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Transform Yonge

It’s been said March comes in like a lion, out like a lamb, but this month we’re asking you to finish March by roaring lion-like about an important issue. Back in 2016, City officials proposed to "reduce Yonge from six to four lanes between Sheppard and Finch, while adding bike lanes, a landscaped median, wider sidewalks, and cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.” Essentially, the goal was to Transform Yonge from an expressway that ran through a neighbourhood to a neighbourhood street that anchors North York Centre.

The project would reconstruct crumbling infrastructure, make more space for pedestrians and outdoor cafes, add trees & planters, add separated bike lanes, expand the Toronto Bike Share network, encourage office and retail space and reduce vehicle lanes and on-street parking. In short, the plan would make this part of Yonge the street the neighbourhood wants and needs.

An upcoming council vote threatens to weaken this proposal with a counter plan that wouldn’t remove two lanes of vehicle traffic and would involve moving bike lanes west to a collector street, Beecroft. Additionally, this compromised proposal would increase the time of construction of the project and add approximately $20 million to the cost. Yet this is the plan Mayor Tory supports.

But you can change that. Cycle Toronto is asking that you contact your councillor and the mayor’s office voicing your support of the original Transform Yonge (for all these reasons) before the March 26 council vote.

Contact Ward 28 Councillor Lucy Troisi either by phone or e-mail and let her know that you support the Willowdale residents who greatly support the original Transform Yonge plan.

Councillor Lucy Troisi
Phone: 416-392-7916

You can also contact Mayor Tory
phone: 416-397-CITY (2489)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fractious Infractions

Each workday I ride about 3.5 km on some of Toronto's best cycling infrastructure. Lately I've been making mental notes of the typical traffic violations I see especially at the 12-14 intersections I go through twice a day. If you're paying attention you would note that my route has traffic signals every 250 metres. That is what downtown looks like. The stretches without traffic signals at that distance encourages dangerously fast traffic. Just saying. Here's what I saw last week.

Friday PM
9 - driving infractions: including 2 illegal lane changes, 1 illegally stopped, 6 going through red lights
8 - pedestrians who crossed mid-block
1 - cyclist riding westbound in eastbound lane without hands on handlebars also without shirt (if you’d seen this guy you would have known being shirtless was an infraction).

Monday PM
6 - driving infractions: people drove through red lights
1 - pedestrian crossed mid-block
1 - cyclist riding on sidewalk

Tuesday AM
4 - driving infractions: people drove through red lights including a large concrete truck that turned left on red.
0 - pedestrian infractions
6 - 5 cyclists went through red lights (all at Bay and Queens Quay), 1 rode on sidewalk

Tuesday PM
8 - driving infractions: 6 people drove through red lights, 2 blocked an intersection
3 - pedestrians stepped out into traffic mid-block
0 - cyclist infractions

Wednesday PM
8 - driving infractions: 6 people drove through red lights, 1 illegal stop, 1 turn without signalling
3 - 2 pedestrians crossed mid- block, 1 crossed against the light
1 - cyclist went through a red light

Thursday AM
9 - driving infractions: 7 people drove through red lights, 1 U-turn, 1 illegally parked on sidewalk
1 - pedestrian crossed mid-block
1 - cyclist rode south in northbound contraflow lane (Lower Sherbourne and Queens Quay)

Friday AM
5 - driving infractions: 4 people drove through red lights, 1 delivery van crossed a yellow line to pass a car on the left who was signalling and about to turn left (FedEx driver to be specific).
2 - 2 pedestrians crossed mid-block
1 - 1 cyclist went through a red light

Friday PM
6 - driving infractions: 5 people drove through red lights, 1 pulled a U-turn by turning north into a southbound 1-way street
3 - pedestrians crossed against the light
3 - 2 cyclists went through a red light, 1 rode on the sidewalk to ride around people getting on and off a bus at a bus stop.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

It's Complicated

I watched this video and was sort of surprised by its conclusion: that light rail or streetcars are built as economic injectors rather than actually moving people. This is incorrect and incomplete. Then I did something I never do, I commented on the video.

"The logic in this video is sort of upside down and inside out - much of new transit is built to attract development. Creating transit infrastructure is part of city building and an aspect of planning transit is future development. Trying to decide where will people live, work and shop in the future is complex. Unfortunately it's really difficult to add new transit infrastructure in a part of the city which is already developed which is why buses are a common solution. Yet, light rail, if given the right of way and planned and implemented properly moves more people, more quickly and offers lower operating costs than buses or subways. Huge budget and schedule over runs can often be traced to poor management or political obstruction rather than the type of transportation per se. It's hard to say if this Vox piece is over simplified, poorly researched (which it doesn't appear to be) or just intellectually dishonest when they say the "real" reason for building rail is to inject economic development into an area. The goals of transportation projects are varied and site specific and this kind of generalization is at best incomplete and at worst disingenuous."

That basically sums up my thoughts and I suppose sharing the video here will only increase its influence and reach, which in Internet terms means it also increases its veracity and authority. Yet I want to dispute the premise and hopefully you will focus on all the difficult issues that go into transit planning rather than accept Vox's editorial conclusion which, as I've said is either incomplete, dishonest or at the very least intellectually lazy.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Kind of Drivers You're Likely to Encounter When Riding

Below is a sample of the types of drivers I've met over the years whilst riding my bike. I assume these numbers would be different for pedestrians, streetcar operators and of course, other drivers.