Making Bloor safe for cyclists is not as easy as you might think

Photo by Martin Reis from Pride and Privilege on Bloor a dandyhorse story.

Making Bloor safe for cyclists is not as easy as you might think

by Albert Koehl

For all the simplicity and joy of riding a bicycle, making roads safe for cyclists is a very complex matter once it reaches City Hall. It’s hard to imagine that building colossal projects like the Don Valley, Gardiner, and Allen expressways could have been as difficult. By contrast, it’s worth remembering that our national railway was planned, financed, and built in about 15 years. The story of the Bloor bike lane already stretches back at least 50 years. When a 2.4- kilometre bike lane pilot on Bloor St. (between Shaw St. and Avenue Rd.) was made permanent in November 2017, it was only after the city completed what its transportation manager described as the most comprehensively studied road project in North America. Some folks might then have expected the extension of the Bloor bike lane to become easy. No such luck, as it turns out.

So, what’s going on in the latest chapter of this saga?

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Re-introduction of Vulnerable Road User Legislation at Queen’s Park

Story and photos by Jun Nogami.

On November 21, 2018, MPP Jessica Bell (University-Rosedale) re-introduced vulnerable road user (VRU) legislation as a private member's bill. Bell, who is the transit critic for the NDP said, "This year is not yet over, and in Toronto alone, we have already reached the highest number of combined pedestrian and cyclist deaths in a calendar year since we began tracking this data in 2007.”

The event was held at the corner of King and Spadina, where the bus shelter told Edouard Le Blanc's story.

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The Art of Distraction draws attention to distracted driving

Story and photos by Jun Nogami

The Art of Distraction is a multi media campaign launched by the City of Toronto to remind drivers of the potentially fatal consequences of not paying attention while behind the wheel. Among the more visible parts of the campaign are five striking advertisements on bus shelters, with four downtown and one in East York. Each of these shows smashed items along with a back story. What makes some of them particularly powerful is that they use some of the actual items involved in a fatality. This campaign is co-sponsored by Friends and Families for Safe Streets (FFSS), an organization that was founded by the relatives and friends of several road victims.

Here are some of the stories behind each of these five.

King and Spadina: Edouard Le Blanc.

 

Edouard Le Blanc was killed at the age of 63 in October 2014. He was biking on the Gatineau corridor multi-use trail and was crossing Warden Ave at the signalized intersection when a car ran the red light and hit him.

The driver was convicted of careless driving and fined $700. The display shows Edouard's helmet.

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Peterborough’s Bicycle History on Display

Did you know, Peterborough held the first ever provincial meet of the Canadian Wheelman's Association on July 1, 1898.

4-2000-012-000212-3 - Cricket Grounds c 1890

In 1898, Peterborough is a city of possibilities. Growing, prosperous and attracting new industry, the community is called ‘The Electric City" as Canada’s first municipality to use electric streetlights. In the 1890s, the bicycle represents technology, modernity and progress and Peterborough’s civic leader’s see those traits in their own community. It’s only natural they want to host the Canadian Wheelmen’s Association’s Ontario meet.

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New film aims to animate the story of cycling pioneer Nora Young

Above centre, Nora Young readies herself for competition at the 6-Day Race event at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1936. Credit: Nora Young Collection/Julia Morgan

Nora Young blazed a trail on two wheels

Now a film about her aims to combine local history, cycling, feminism, and art in a new animated film about this unknown cycling pioneer

Nora Young (1917 – 2016) was a Toronto-based female cycling pioneer from the 1930s. Never heard of her? Enter Julia Morgan, a filmmaker working on an animated short documentary called Undeniably Young: Nora Young and the Six-Day Race. The project is about Nora and an unusual, gritty, fun, and historically significant cycling race she was involved in at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1936. Julia’s interviews, coupled with other research, has already been used as the basis for a successful application to have Nora inducted into Canada’s Cycling Hall of Fame. Julia says meeting Nora changed her life.

Julia is currently crowdfunding (www.igg.me/at/NoraYoungFilm) for her film, which she plans to release sometime in 2019 so dandyhorse caught up with her to offer support and find out more.

When did you first meet Nora and find out about her cycling history?

It was in 2005. I had recently moved to the Danforth. Nora was holding a garage sale, and offering her neighbours gin and tonics! It was about 11 in the morning, and it felt more like a party than a garage sale. Later, I happened upon a young adult book called Great Girls about some of Canada’s most important female athletes by feminist sports journalist Laura Robinson, and it had a chapter about Nora. That’s when I started to understand the tremendous scope of her cycling accomplishments.

What made you want to tell Nora’s story?

Becoming friends with Nora herself. Her spirit was incredible. She was so lively and fearless, curious about everything, and someone who clearly made the most of every moment. The second reason was because in learning about her cycling legacy, particularly in the 1920s – 40s, I found out about what is called the “Golden Age of Women’s Sports.” And once I dug further into this Golden Age, I was fascinated, and I couldn’t believe that hardly anyone knew about it, and I wanted them to.

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