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Urban Cycling in Canada

UrbanCyclingInCanada

Urban Cycling in Canada Map

UrbanCyclingInCanada-5_CommutersvsBiketrips UrbanCyclingInCanada-6_bikelanes_paths UrbanCyclingInCanada-6_women_bikeshopsCity and urban cycling is growing in Canada. Everything I’ve read and seen in the bike lane points to this. I wanted to get some numbers so I went to Statistics Canada to look at their cycling data from the last census in 2011. I also found this great report, Cycle Cities by the Pembina Institute, in 2015. While the numbers in these studies vary the trends are clear.

  1. Montreal, Toronto and then Vancouver are Canada’s biggest cycling cities. Victoria is also big by mode share. 5.9% of Victorians choose to bike to work. I’m sure their great weather is a contributing factor.
  2. Statistics Canada bike commuter numbers seem small. There are a number of reasons why these numbers might not jive with the growth you are seeing on the street. Statistics Canada only looks at how people get to work and only includes people over 15. This excludes people who bike to shop, to get around in their neighborhood, who bike on weekends for transportation and students. That is a lot of people who are unaccounted for. Plus this data is 5 years old now.
  3. In 2015 the daily bicycle trips number is more than triple that of the 2011 daily commuter statistics. To compare in 2011 Montreal had 29,000 commuters who bike to work versus 115,100 daily bicycle trips counted in 2015. The Pembina Institute looked at daily bicycle trips in five major cities. This is a better indicator of how many people are cycling because the calculations are based on real cycling counts done by each city. These counts are usually done over the course of a week at specific intersections and bike lanes in the city centre where they watch and count cyclists.
  4. While cities are always touting the great lengths of their bike lanes in reality the number of on street bike lanes is a very small percentage of the total infrastructure. In Toronto only 128km of the 640km of bike paths are on the street. Montreal 234 out of 648. Vancouver 62 out 289. Calgary 43 out of 1032. Ottawa 54 out of 221. And not all on street lanes are protected. They can be painted or just divided by a line.
  5. The percentage of women cycling is an important indicator for city cycling progress. The average of the 5 Canadian cities shown here is 33%. In Denmark, Netherlands and Germany the percentage is 50%+ women cycling.  Once cities implement safe infrastructure the percentage of women cycling increases. Canada has a ways to go.
  6. Why is ___ city missing from the map. Well I only had so much time and I looked at cities with over 2000 daily commuters.
  7. If you want to open a bike shop the city with the most daily bicycle trips, Montreal, is also the same city with the fewest bike shops per capita. There might be an opportunity there but you have to look at the impact of bike share programs as well.
  8.  Bike shares are also starting to play an important role in urban cycling and are being recognized a part of an integrated public transit system. In Montreal there are 5200 Bixi bikes and 460 stations. In Toronto there are 800 Bike Share bikes and 80 Stations. Vancouver is investing in a bike share program that is planned to start in 2016.
  9. The next Canadian Census is being held in 2016 so it will be interesting to see how the numbers have changed in the past five years. Again the only cycling data will be that of commuter cyclists, which is a vary narrow view.

 

Sources: Pembina Institute Cycle Cities 2015
Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey

Buenos Aires by Bike

We recently took a trip down to Buenos Aires to escape the winter and to take in the city, culture and sunshine. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city with many unique neighborhoods to explore by bike. The government has spent the past few years increasing cycling infrastructure and implementing the free Mejor en Bici bicycle share program.  You can spot the bright yellow bikes being used in the downtown streets and along the 70+km of bike lanes throughout Buenos Aires. The system was initially set up for locals but now tourists can easily sign up to get a free bike on an hourly basis.

Mejor en Bici Station - Pacifico Palermo

Mejor en Bici Station – Pacifico Palermo

How to Use the Buenos Aires Bike share program Mejor en Bici (Better By Bike)

You will see Mejor en Bici bicycle share stations around the city including tourist destinations – they are grey mesh containers with yellow & green signs saying Ciudad Verde. Usually the horde of yellow bikes outside is another good indication you’re at the right place. We chose to borrow bikes at the Pacifico Palermo station (Avenida Santa Fe & Avenida Int. Bullrich) because of its proximity to a network of separated bike paths and parks. A great resource is the real-time map of stations that tracks how many bikes are available at each station.

To register all you need is your passport, a photocopy of your passport, your address in Buenos Aires and a valid phone number. It takes about 20 minutes to register. They will take your photo, request a password, and have you sign a waiver. I’ve heard they issue you an ID but were just given a number and told to use our password. Unfortunately our Spanish is limited so I didn’t get more information on if/when a proper ID card would be issued.

As we registered the 2 bikes available were taken by other riders but we only had to wait about 5 minutes for more 2 more bikes to show up. The station employees adjusted my seat and pumped up my tires. Unfortunately the bike wasn’t the best fit, but since there weren’t any other bikes to choose from I took what was available. The station did not provide helmets or locks and the bikes were only available in adult sizes. The bikes do have front baskets which are good for holding a lightweight bag or water.

Once you take the bike you have one hour to use it but you can take it to any Mejor en Bici station to add another hour when your time is up. When you are done you can drop it off at any open station. There are penalties for being late and because the system is computerized excuses don’t cut it.

We rode up the bike path (bicisendas) to Avenida Liberator and along the hipodrome, past the parks and up to the MALBA where we looped back. We were impressed with the smooth, well-marked and painted bike lanes. The bike paths are always two-way and quite narrow compared to North America bike lanes but work just fine. Pedestrians seemed to respect the path and other cyclist were courteous. Other areas I would suggest borrowing a bike include Puerto Madero and the parks around Recoleta (especially to get up close to the Floraris Generica). These areas look small on a map but when you get there you realize how spread out they are and a bike would be fantastic for exploring greater distances.

You can find up-to-date tourist information on biking in Buenos Aires at EcoBici. Currently the hours for the Public Bike Share are Monday through Friday 8 AM to 8 PM and on Saturdays from 9 AM to 3 PM.

BsAS-Bici-Map Station

BsAS-Bici-AvenidaLiberator

If you’re interested in using a bike for more than an hour at at time there are plenty of bike rental locations in Palermo which is a great neighborhood for cycling. This would give you the added benefit of finding a bike that is properly fitted and having the option of a lock and helmet. Many businesses in Palermo are also making their sign boards into bicycle racks which makes finding a place to lock up quite easy.

BsAS-Bici-palermo bike lanes2

Palermo Bike Lanes

 

10 Km of Bloor Street Proposed for Open Streets TO

We were thrilled to see that 8-80 Cities has banded together a group of progressive-minded people to propose Open Street TO (Toronto).  Much like NYC’s Summer Streets or Bogota’s Ciclovia the group wants to open up Bloor Street to pedestrians, joggers, cyclists, roller bladders and anyone who wants to enjoy the street sans cars. The group has suggested the route go from High Park to Greenwood along Bloor for 4 Sunday mornings this coming summer. We could not be more supportive.

Having ridden Park Avenue from 14th Street to Central Park a number of times during NYC Summer Streets I can say that there is no better way to experience the place you live.  People, places, buildings and communities take on a different light and you gain a whole new appreciation for your city.

According to NYC Summer Streets 3 million people took advantage of the 3 Sunday mornings in 2013 they were given to enjoy the 11km stretch of Park Avenue without cars. We can do the same Toronto. I dare you!

Hear what The New York Times Bill Cunningham has to say about NYC Summer Streets.

OntheStreetBillCunningham

10 Most Dangerous Intersections for Toronto Cyclists

Most cyclists know from experience that cycling in Toronto can be dangerous. We intuitively avoid certain routes or exercise additional caution. Now, there’s quantitative evidence to back up our own hunches.

Adrian Verster, a PhD student studying genomics at the University of Toronto, has analyzed 24 years of bike collision data based on 31,000 accidents involving cyclists. The GPS-tagged data comes from the city’s Toronto Traffic Safety Unit reporting between 1986 and 2010.

Adrian was motivated to crunch the data after his girlfriend was injured in a cycling accident by a car turning right near Avenue and Davenport Roads, fourth on his list of the most dangerous intersections in Toronto.

DangerousIntersections3

The top 10:

  1. Lake Shore Blvd. E and Carlaw Ave.
  2. Queen St. W and Niagara St.
  3. Queen St. E and River St.
  4. Bathurst St. and Davenport Rd.
  5. Avenue Rd. and Lonsdale Rd.
  6. Bloor St. W and Brock Ave.
  7. Bloor St. W and St. Thomas St.
  8. Lake Shore Blvd. W and Jameson Ave.
  9. Bloor St. E. and Castle Frank Rd.
  10. Bloor St. E and Parliament St.

See the list visualized on a map.

DangerousIntersections2

Adrian makes a number of interesting observations, including:

  • Bloor and Queen Street, two major East-West routes for cyclists have a large number of incidents, and neither street has bike lanes
  • Many of the most dangerous intersections are not straight
  • Accidents were more like to take place during the evening rush hour commute.

The full list of the 50 most dangerous intersections in Toronto can be found on Adrian’s blog site Adventures in Data.

Door Prize – Part II

An estimated 300 dooring incidents occur each year in Toronto. The actual number if unknown because Toronto Police don’t keep track of dooring incidents because they don’t consider such incidents a collision because the car is not in motion.

Toronto Police Board Chair Alok Mukherjee has acknowledged the need for formal statistics on dooring and has requested a report from the police department on the feasibility of collecting these numbers. If the proposal is approved at the next police board meeting, the department will have several months to report back. Presuming the police department doesn’t resist the effort to collect statistics on dooring in their report back and presuming the full board supports the initiative, then police could start data collection later this year.

Justin Bull, a Toronto web developer,  doesn’t want to wait and has started building an online database for cyclists to record dooring incidents. He hopes his site – doored.ca –  will be up and running in a few weeks and will draw attention to the crashes and compel police to begin keeping track of the collisions.

The site will allow cyclists to post information about being doored, including when and where the collision happened, as well as the option of uploading photos or videos. The site will eventually map dooring hot spots in the city.

Tracking statistics around dooring is a critical first step in developing policies and strategies to prevent dooring incidents.

This is something Toronto Police should be actively supporting to keep city cyclists safe. But if they won’t do it willingly, then hopefully doored.ca will compel them to.

College Street Bike Corral – Part II

Four weeks ago we came across a bike corral on College Street and contacted City Hall to find out more.  We finally got a response from Jesse Demb, a Bicycle Parking Planner with the City’s Cycling Infrastructure & Programs.  Jesse provided the following answers to our questions:

1. Euclid and College corral was installed in late June.

2. This is a trial run.  If all goes well, a report to change the parking bylaw will be submitted at Council to make the bike corral seasonally permanent from April – November.  On-street corrals are removed for snow plowing season to avoid being damaged

3. There are currently five bike corrals in the city – two in Kensington market (Nassau and 236-40 Augusta Av), at 205 Spadina Av parking lay-by, and one at Northcote and Queen St West.

4. Other locations are being studied for on-street bike corrals.

5. Install cost in this case was included in the bid call for manufacture and delivery of the bike parking stall.

6. A business may request a bike corral.  We do not yet have a formal process for such a request.

Essentially bike corrals can be installed where there is no more room on the walk for post-and-rings to meet the parking demand, 24 hour car parking exists within the curb lane, and there are no major objections from the adjacent businesses, BIA, local councillor or internally from Traffic Operations or other relevant City staff. In this case, the local councillor requested a bike corral in Little Italy, and the parking lay-by makes it feasible there with the consent of the Parking Authority.

We emailed back to thank Jesse for the information and to ask a couple of follow up questions and this time got a prompt response:

1.Unit price was $5050 for design, manufacture, delivery, install and take away + HST

2.The company that installed the corral was Kramer Inc

3. Corral was based on a generic design and modified with City’s bike parking logo on the ends

See more photos and our first post on this here.

How to get a Bicycle Ring Replaced

After our post about the lack of bike parking at The National concert at Yonge & Dundas square I wanted to be more proactive about bicycle parking downtown. I noticed there was a ring during the event that cyclists were avoiding because it was knocked over. It was only half the height as the other bicycle rings and it didn’t look very secure.  When I saw a similar ring that looked like it had been hit by a car outside the Best Buy on Dundas, I took the small measure of reporting it to the City of Toronto in an attempt to get it fixed. I emailed 311@toronto.ca and requested the ring be replaced. I’m going to keep updating this post until it gets fixed. Let’s see how long it takes….

June 25th

Please fix the bicycle ring outside Best Buy at Dundas between Yonge and Bay.

Thanks,
Amrita

The above photo was attached.

June 27th (2 days later)

Hello:
Thank you for contacting 311 Toronto. A service request was generated .  The service request number is SR#2159610 .  Please allow up to 5 business days for the area to be fully inspected.
I hope this information is helpful. Should you require further information or assistance, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Regards,
Frank
311 Toronto

July 5th (10 days later)

I popped by to check on the ring and found a children’s bike locked to it.

bicycleringbroken2_luvelo

July 20th (25 days later)

The same bike is locked to the ring. It doesn’t appear to have moved in the past 2 weeks. You would think they would put a notice on the bike requesting it be removed if they had any intention of fixing it.

bicycleringbroken3_luvelo

July 22nd (27 days after I notified the city)

Hi Frank,
Any update on the status of the bicycle ring I reported? I’ve been past the bicycle ring a number of times. It is still knocked over.
Thanks,
Amrita

July 25th (30 days later)

Hello Amrita,
Your email has been forwarded to Lisa Ing, Co-ordinator, Street Furniture Management, Public Realm, Transportation Services for response.
Regards,
Jeannie
311
August 9th (45 days later)
Hello,
The following response was received from Lisa:-
“Please be advised that our Contract was just awarded for bicycle locking installations and repairs.  Our Contractor will not be on board for another couple of weeks.
“We have this location listed for repair and will forward to the Contractor shortly.  The repair will probably not occur until the end of August.”
Regards,
Jeannie
311 Toronto
August 11th (47 days in)
I received the above response from 311 two days ago. The thing that struck me was that the contract to repair and install bicycle rings was just awarded  – it seems pretty late in the season for this to be just happening now.

Door Prize

Dooring incidents pose real safety risks to cyclists. Anecdotally we all know the danger is real, but quantifying it – a key requirement to advancing public policy options to protect cyclists – isn’t possible because Toronto Police don’t keep statistics on dooring. That’s because they don’t consider dooring a moving violation because the car is parked when the incidents occur.

dooring2-luvelo

To figure out how often cyclists are injured by dooring in Toronto, you have to look to Chicago. That’s what Eric Andrew-Gee, a reporter with the Toronto Star did when he wrote about dooring in Toronto after he got Toronto Police’s indifferent response to dooring statistics.

Chicago is comparable to Toronto in population and geographic size and cycling culture. They collect and analyze dooring statistics, counting almost one a day at 300 dooring incidents each year, many with serious and sometimes tragic results. That’s probably how many incidents occur in Toronto each year.  This is unacceptable and unconscionable for policymakers to not implement measures to protect cyclists.

Chicago City Council recently increased its fines for dooring to $1000. In Toronto the fine is $85. Toronto Police and City Council should follow suit by collecting and analyzing statistics and increasing penalties for dooring to $1000.

Following Andrew-Gee’s article, Toronto Police Board Chair Alok Mukerjee announced a report on dooring would be prepared for discussion at the next Board meeting scheduled for July 18.

Police and municipal officials need to get proactive about protecting cyclists. They should start keeping statistics on all accidents involving cyclists so real policy options can be developed.

Cycling Signage

When I rode to the Harbourfront the other day I noticed this sign – DISMOUNT – which immediately struck me as offensive. The font was unnecessarily  large and militaristic and the combination of the all caps and the no bike logo seemed needlessly angry.  The sign could have been much more polite: ‘Please dismount your bike’ or ‘Walk your bike.’

The ‘DISMOUNT’ sign made me think of the friendlier signage I saw in the Montreal subway system directing cyclist to use the first subway car.  The spokes of the bike were defined with Vs (for vélo) that closely resemble hearts, a much more peaceful and positive way of portraying cyclists to the general public.

A sign can mean more than what it says. Something cities should think about when trying to encourage more bike friendly streets.