Bike Spotting Businesses on Bloor: Sweet Pete’s, Curbside and SuperFresh

Bike Spotting Businesses on Bloor
Sweet Pete's
Photo of Claire at Sweet Pete's by Allison McKellar.
Interview with Brent from Sweet Pete's by Cayley James.
Do you like them and what is it you like about them?
Overall, yes. I think it's great that Bloor has bike lanes and I think it's great that people who perhaps would not have ridden to the Annex before now have safer access to the area. Also, slowing traffic down in the area has made it a more pedestrian and bike friendly neighbourhood. It's hugely beneficial to our business, for obvious reasons!
As a business in the area do you find that it has changed the atmosphere in the neighbourhood? 
As a manager, absolutely. It has slowed traffic down and definitely made the neighbourhood feel "slower", especially around rush hour. I'm not 100% sold on the layout of the lanes, but I like the feeling of less car traffic and more pedestrian and bike traffic.
Would you like the city to keep them? 
Absolutely! I would like to see some changes, namely putting the lanes next to traffic rather than next to the sidewalk, and having them go around the outside of parked cars. But, I think the overall concept of having bikes lanes on Bloor is absolutely positive and they should be kept.
Curbside
Photo of Aaron at Sweet Pete's by Allison McKellar.
Interview by Cayley James.
Do you like the lanes and what is it you like about them?
Philosophically I like that they ask about streets and who they belong to. Do streets like Bloor function like arterial roads for suburban or exurban commuter traffic or do they belong to the neighbourhoods where they are located, and the various modes of transportation these neighbourhoods may employ (whether car, skateboard, bike, e-bike, rollerblades, walking, etc.) Or both? I think the current lanes have struck the delicate balance between all of these, whether its parking (our store also has a large clientele that drive-in from far and beyond the GTA), commuter traffic, and the wide range of local residential traffic.
What I also like about them (sorry this answer is long) is that they remind me very much of the bike lanes my colleagues and I have ridden in Copenhagen, Paris and outside the canal belt in Amsterdam. These also have car parking next to the lane and while cyclists could still get doored, I believe it's ultimately a culture of etiquette that protects non-motorists while infrastructure is there to provide space for etiquette to flourish. I believe it's usually a normative reason someone gets on a bike (because bikes are cool). It's been fun watching this etiquette or 'normativity' form in Toronto. There's not just etiquette forming between various forms of transportation, but between cyclists themselves. In Holland everyone goes at pretty much the same pace because they all ride the same bike, but here the space is as pluri-form as Toronto itself, and you can start to slowly see a certain pace emerge while everyone figures these things out.
I think they're great lanes. If I think of riding the lanes in London which are bloody narrow and often start and stop on a whim we have something that resembles a thoughtful approach and I look forward to seeing how each user of Bloor street works to sort out their space while respecting and serving all other users (in all seasons) as we evolve Toronto's way of transporting itself.
As a business in the area do you find that it has changed the atmosphere in the neighbourhood?
 
Absolutely. A lot of our customers say they feel safer and I think they make the neighbourhood feel far more vibrant, as local residents can claim a certain part of Bloor Street for their own safe travels. I also like seeing how its brought many more people to the Annex, and it's caused even myself to stop a little bit more on the way home to check out a bookstore, eat at a Korean restaurant, or enjoy an after-work G&T. They've made Bloor Street more vibrant and I feel they will only continue to do so.
Then again, we're a bike store so of course we get into a lot of conversations with people, often political, around the lanes. There seems to be this belief that infrastructure is supposed to produce absolute safety whereas my experience travelling the bike cultures of Europe (and North America) have convinced me that etiquette is far more important, and I don't think that ever happens overnight.
On our own website we finally put a Parking section on our Contact page so that drivers could also find a Green P. That's something we never would have done before but something we had to do because these bike lanes have forced us to ask us how we can best serve all of our users, whether local cyclists or someone coming from far to buy a folding bike or cargo bike. So, even though you'd think we're a bike store and are immediately served by these lanes, our customer isn't just a local resident and we've had to adjust our own internal infrastructure around the new infrastructure outside. And, I think that goes both ways. Businesses that can attract more cyclists stand to benefit while businesses that know they have more destination traffic just need to help those drivers adjust their habits a bit with a better Contact page. These are small adjustments, and they make Bloor an even better street.
Would you like the city to keep them?
Of course! But look, I don't think the change comes overnight. In many ways I feel Toronto is so different from places like New York where our infrastructure is trying to catch up with the critical mass of cyclists while New York is are trying to create new cyclists through infrastructure  Toronto is not a case of "if you build it they will come', cyclists are already here and through their sheer numbers have proven that motorists can no longer assume the dominant voice.  Once again, who does a street like Bloor Street belong to? I argue that it belongs to the local residents and the commuter traffic, and that both must be served. I think these lanes do a good job, and we could still probably imagine ways in which they do that better. Like the lanes of Copenhagen or London, we are developing our own unique vernacular (Richmond and Adelaide are very unique bike lanes in the world) but we are also reducing gridlock, because we all know that if each Bloor cyclists was in a car, car traffic would be at a total and complete standstill. So, I feel cyclists and bike lanes are part of the solution but they're only one piece of a much larger puzzle.
SuperFresh
Photo of Rachel Lee from SuperFresh holding the Tour de Bloor passport list of supporting businesses by Albert Koehl. Interview by Cayley James.

Do you like the bike lanes and why?

Do I like them? Of course I like them. They've made alternative forms of transportation safer than what they used to be as little as two years ago, let alone 10-20 years ago. I like that there is now a clear distinction between what is the appropriate lane for cars and bikes.
As a business owner in the area do you find that it has changed the atmosphere in the neighbourhood?
It has changed the atmosphere of the neighborhood, greatly. A lot more bike related businesses are popping up, creating a communal, affirming and safe space for bike riders (and pedestrians and motorists alike.) It's not easy to maintain a car down here. It gives the neighbourhood an option to alternative transportation methods.
Would you like the City to keep them?
Yes, I would like the city to keep them.
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