Bike Spotting Bloor with the women behind Books on Bathurst

readinglineladies

Photos by: Yvonne Bambrick

Bike Spotting on Bloor: A Sneak Peek at what’s inside our upcoming June print issue

On Saturday May 28 The Reading Line rides again: This time it’s #BooksonBathurst with an ode to Jane Jacobs!


We asked the women behind The Reading Line how excited they are for the new Bloor bike lanes. Here’s what they said:

Janet

Bike Spotting on Bloor at Bathurst: Janet Joy Wilson

Are you looking forward to this new bike lane on Bloor?

YES! Yes, that’s a big loud yes.

I think Bloor Street is an ideal east-west corridor for people who choose to ride a bicycle because it’s a route people take based on their destination.  I live in the west end and I have friends in the east end. What do I do? I ride along Bloor, across the Viaduct and continue on the Danforth. It’s direct. Why would I go into back alleys or into dark neighbourhood street later in the evening? I would rather ride the route that makes the most sense and takes the least amount of time as I am using my own pedal power.

This bike lane is long overdue!  Studies have shown the majority of people arrive at Toronto neighbourhoods via transit, cycling or walking. Not by car. And bicycles are good for business. Do you want one wallet parked in front of your store for two hours or would you rather 12 wallets in that same space that can quickly park, purchase and move on?

A bicycle in the heart of Toronto emits zero pollution. No damage to the roadway.

When I ride my bicycle I see the streetscape. I hear people. I experience the weather. I’m IN the city. I shop local and support my community because I see the shops.

Bicycle lanes provide total clarity as to where cyclists can ride safely and comfortably, and benefit users of all ages.

The more safety can be built into city cycling, the more ridership increases among timid bike owners and first-time cyclists.

What design features (ie protection) would you like to see as part of this bike lane?

The bicycle lane must be separated from motor vehicle traffic to ensure that people riding their bicycles, especially those who may be timid or for families with younger children, are protected from by bollards or planters.  I prefer practical plus an artistic design since we are a city known for its cultural resources.  Why offer a streetscape that is boring and ugly when we can create a beautiful path for people to enjoy.

I work in New York City a number of times throughout the year and I always rent a Citi Bike to explore the city and all the new bike lanes and trails. New York City has really expanded its bicycle infrastructure in recent years. I have taken a lot of photos of the bike lane barriers, streetscape, and scenery.  I am a tourist providing advertising to NYC.  Don’t we want our tourists to Toronto to take photos of our city and share them with the world too?

What have you done to help bring this, and other bike lanes to fruition in this city?

Personally I have tried to contribute a positive reason for Toronto to provide safe cycling routes in the city.  I live in Ward 13 which is High Park area and includes what I call – natural destination: High Park, Lake Ontario Waterfront & the historic Humber River. As a resident and a person who has work clients that come to the city and friends & relatives who visit I want them along with my neighbours to feel safe riding their bicycle to work, to school, to shop and to play.  That is not the case today. I volunteered in April 2014 to be co-captain of Ward 13 Bikes to advocate with Cycle Toronto as I believe a city with safe cycling is a healthy & happy place to live and to visit.

That same year, Amanda Lewis & I met at a Cycle Toronto ward captain meeting.  We work for the same company but don’t work together. She’s an editor and I’m in sales. But we looked across that crowded room and thought – we need to combine our love of books with bicycles. We had so many ideas!

It was over a coffee in a café on Spadina that we formulated The Reading Line and our first #BookRide in October along The Green Line. We wanted to highlight the hydro corridor and its potential as a linear park. We garnered print, radio and TV for our event and the need for safe cycling infrastructure.

For our second ride, in 2015, we changed the timing to the first Saturday within Bike Month in May. We were very ambitious with Books On Bloor. Our timing was prescient as Cycle Toronto was launching the #BloorLovesBikes campaign that some month, so the two went hand in hand. We started that ride at 6 Points – a dangerous area for cyclists but that was why we were there. People are living there. How can they get to downtown or to the lake? By car only. Kids do not walk to school. This is not a healthy environment.

There is a new redevelopment of Six Points and with it a design for a complete street. My thought was it’s all well and good for a complete street but not if it’s in isolation.  Therefore we started there with authors who had written about urban planning and invited politicians so we could discuss the area. With a police bicycle unit we traveled along Bloor stopping at eight stop and read spots for author readings with a finish at 121 Bloor Street West after a heavy downpour but still maintained a crowd.

What have we done to encourage cycling infrastructure?

We share our love our riding our bicycle in the city and on the trails through the parks with others.

We provide an opportunity to see the city from two wheels with the goal that this will add another voice to the request for safe cycling infrastructure in our city.

My goal is to get all BIKE LANE ENDS HERE signs in Toronto removed!

Amanda

Bike Spotting on Bloor at Bathurst: Amanda Lewis

Are you looking forward to this new bike lane on Bloor?

Yes! I ride on Bloor Street every day when I commute to and from work, buy groceries and head to my yoga studio. Bike lanes are long overdue on Bloor, a prime east–west arterial. Props to the residents and activists who have been leading this campaign for years! Bloor was long ago identified as a perfect candidate for bike lanes: it is straight, does not have street car tracks, serves a variety of businesses, residential areas and has space for separated bike lanes.

A Share the Road study showed that 70 per cent of Torontonians would cycle with appropriate infrastructure, including bike lanes and paved shoulders.  Bike lanes—namely cycle tracks or physically separated bike lanes—are a perfect way to entice cyclists who may feel uncomfortable about cycling on main streets. When the bike lanes were installed on Adelaide the number of cyclists using the lanes tripled in less than a year.

Bike lanes bring more cyclists and that’s good for businesses: five bikes could mean five shoppers, while one car could mean just one shopper; cyclists actually stop and shop instead of driving through to a big box store with “free” parking. The majority of visitors to the Annex come on foot, by bike or on the TTC. Bike lanes help us shop locally and support healthy transportation. Do we really want to plug the parking meter for a polluting vehicle that takes up prime road space?

Installing bike lanes on Bloor would clearly indicate that Toronto is keeping pace with other cities (Vancouver, New York, Bogota and more) that are rapidly expanding cycling infrastructure and responding to the climate crisis. Bike lanes on Bloor are a crucial part of the Minimum Grid plan as they will keep cyclists safe. I can’t count the number of times a car has whizzed past me on Bloor during rush hour, completely ignoring the minimum distance legally required to safely pass a cyclist. If we were in physically separated bike lanes, these close encounters would no longer happen.

Cyclists pay for the roads, too, and bikes do not inflict the same amount of wear and tear that cars do—isn’t it about time we received appropriate infrastructure?

What design options do you think the new bike lanes should have?

Bike lanes without physical barriers might as well not even exist, and sharrows are a farce—their only benefit is that they demonstrate to drivers that cyclists actually have a right to the lane. The bike lanes need to be physically separated with a raised curb and bollards or planters. Planters would also help beautify the street. I need to emphasize that these lanes must be enforced as a bike-only space. I work in the downtown core and every day I see delivery vans, cabs and private vehicles parked in bike lanes. A raised curb and flexi-bollards are a good place to begin, but design is not enough—until the mindset changes regular enforcement and education need to be in place.

In March 2011 a car pulled up next to me on King and the passenger opened her door into the curb lane, knocking me off my bike. The accident would not have happened if there had been a physically separated bike lane. I strongly believe physically separated bike lanes will help prevent similar accidents along Bloor.

What have you done to help bring this, and other bike lanes to fruition in this city?

Hats off (and helmets on!) to the folks who have been pushing for bike lanes on Bloor for years, long before I moved to Toronto. I have helped the cause by distributing Bike Lanes on Bloor flyers to houses in the Annex. For several years I was also an active volunteer with Cycle Toronto’s Bikewatch team, and then in ward advocacy. I was part of the Save Jarvis campaign that protested the removal of bike lanes on that key north–south route.

Last year Janet Joy and I hosted The Reading Line’s book ride along Bloor Street, from Six Points to Castle Frank Station. Books on Bloor promoted the need for bike lanes along this busy street.

Shorter versions of this interview will appear in our new issue of dandyhorse along with many other interviews and stories about bike lanes on Bloor.

Buy our June issue here or pick up a free copy at better book and bike stores this June.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

The Reading Line 2016: #BooksonBathurst May 28

Bike Spotting: Did you know the city is planning more buffered bike lanes?

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