Facelift proposed for pock-marked Sherbourne Street

Illustration of proposed separated cycle track on Sherbourne Street raised to sidewalk level south of Gerrard.

By Duncan Hurd
Images courtesy City of Toronto

Big changes are on the way for Toronto's bumpiest bike lane.

On January 26, 2012, City of Toronto staff unveiled plans for a continuous cycle track on Sherbourne Street running from Bloor Street East in the north down to Lakeshore Boulevard in the south end.

While bicycle lanes currently exist on the street, the proposed plan upgrades the painted lanes to those separated from motorized vehicles using curbs and raised cycle tracks. The Sherbourne cycle track is set to be the first in a series of new separated lanes that will help form a connected and separated network for people who use bikes to get around the downtown area, a plan approved by City Council in July, 2011. (Background info here.)

By coordinating with planned resurfacing of the pock-marked asphalt, cycle tracks installed between Gerrard and Front streets will be raised above street level similar to those found in Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Portland, a Toronto first. North of Gerrard to Bloor Street East only patch work repairs are being undertaken so this section will remain at street level and derive its separation with a rolled curb and plastic bollards.

In Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa, recent separated bicycle infrastructure has been created by adding planters and large curbs to prevent motorized vehicles from entering the cycling lanes. Sherbourne, with its comparatively narrow width to the other streets, will be separated by rolled curbs allowing motor vehicles to still have access to the lane. This access is meant to be restricted to Wheel-Trans and emergency vehicles. The addition of painted buffers and in some places plastic bollards should make it clear that the cycle tracks are for bicycles only.

A rolled curb separates cycling traffic from motorize vehicles. The design allows access to the cycle track by Wheel-Trans and emergency vehicles.

In addition to separating cyclists from motor vehicles, the proposed design will change how cyclists handle left turns. Along Sherbourne between Bloor Street and Front Street are 15 intersections. Four of these cross streets considered part of Toronto's bike route network, and have existing bicycle lanes: Wellesley, Gerrard, Shuter and Bloor Street East.

As separated lanes run right to the crosswalk, merging into the left-most lane will no longer be possible for people on bikes. To allow for left turns, Sherbourne will see the installation of marked space within the intersection for cyclists to perform indirect left turns. These spaces are placed ahead of crosswalks and allow for cyclists to stop and wait for the light to change before proceeding with the rest of their left turn.

Similar to bike boxes installed on Harbord and College streets, these spaces will be painted with a bicycle symbol and turning arrow and allow for cyclists to stop ahead of motorized vehicles, increasing visibility. However, due to placement ahead of both the vehicle stop line and pedestrian crosswalk, these waiting areas are intended for cyclists who have already entered the intersection completing the first half of a left turn and are not intended to allow cyclists to jump to the head of the queued motorized traffic.

Set-back crosswalks allow space for indirect left turn boxes at all intersections on Sherbourne Street.

Toronto currently has just three intersections that provide space and signs for indirect left turns though few people know of them: Dupont & Annette, Bloor Street East & Sherbourne and Browns Line & Lake Shore Blvd W. As indicated by the proposal illustrations, signs will be installed to explain indirect left turns.

Aerial view of proposed intersection design shows indirect left turn box placement.

The City is requesting input from area businesses and residents as well as the general public who may use or be affected by these changes until February 17, 2012.

For more information visit: toronto.ca/cycling/network/sherbourne.htm
To provide your feedback, you can use this form (PDF): toronto.ca/cycling/network/pdf/2012-01-26_sherbourne_comment_sheet.pdf

Related Posts:

What is it like biking on Sherbourne Street - Bike Spotting

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City releases proposed Trail Plan map

Proposed trail connections. Click on the map for a larger version (PDF).

It was a busy summer for Transportation Services staff last year. Performing audits of Toronto's existing major multi-use trail network the staff assessed the potential for new trail connections across the city.

The resulting report, to be submitted to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, will first be introduced to the general public at a meeting on Monday, February 6, 2012.

The above map, released today, shows the proposed locations of 28 new connections.

Meeting Date: Monday February 6t, 2012
Time: 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Location: Northern District Public Library 40 Orchard View Blvd. (one block north of Eglinton Ave. one half block west of Yonge St. MAP)
Facebook event page: Trails New Connections Open House

Check back with dandyhorse next week for our coverage of the meeting and more on the proposed Trails Plan.

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What to wear on the coldest ride of the year

Story and photos by dandyhorse senior editor Dana Lacey

It was unseasonably warm for The Coldest Day of the Year Ride. This year the Toronto Cyclists Union hosted the annual celebration of winter cycling that saw around 150 people on bikes (and bike cops) meet at City Hall for a car-free cruise down University Ave to Front Street. BIXI bikes were on hand and provided free to anyone who wanted to join in.

Councillor Mike Layton thinking about snow in bike lanes. Photos by Dana Lacey.

Councillor Mike Layton, helmet in hand, told the crowd that he'd like to see more Torontonians on two wheels year-round. Bells chimed as he rallied the crowd against unploughed lanes He pointed out how the south side of the street is always worse than the north because the sun can't get to it, leaving a dangerous layer of ice buried beneath gritty slush in bike lanes. And, of course, he spoke about the weather, and our salt-happy impact on the environment, which we couldn't exactly ignore as we collectively sweltered under our winter layers (and, later that day, rode home through a snowstorm).

Union Bicycle Station employees Stu Peters and Kate Sage serve up hot chocolate.

dandyhorse agrees that the city needs to do a better -- and more sustainable -- job with snow removal: look for our first-ever winter issue in February. Meanwhile, we offer up some winter fashion tips, courtesy of the coldest riders of the year.

Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon's BIXI is well-suited for her long puffy coat.

These two loved having the whole lane -- they cheered the whole way. Easy to be happy when you're dressed warm enough. Check out those mitts!

Look at these people: if they got off their bikes, you wouldn't even know they were cyclists. THEY LIVE AMONG YOU.

Man, kids today are such wimps. But check out Mom's work-worthy attire. dandyhorse especially likes the coffee cup holder.

Pure style by Benedict San Juan! Bravo.

dandyhorse endorses all manner of fluorescent and reflective clothing.

Councillor Wong-Tam listens to constituents talk cycling.

Even the bikes were stylish

dandyhorse is pro pitstop. The Royal York Hotel donated hot chocolate.

Make sure you register your bike with the Toronto Police, and then download the Is This Bike Stolen app.

Best. Helmet cover. Ever.

And, last but not least: who knew BIXI had such badass employees?

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New secure bike parking facilities at CBC celebrated

Ribbon cutting at CBC's new bike parking facility on Jan. 26 with (from left) event co-organizer and BUG co-ordinator Paddi-Anne Crossin, MP Olivia Chow, EVP English Services Kirstine Stewart, City Councillor Adam Vaughan and event MC, radio host Jeff Douglas.

CBC’s new bike parking gets good ratings

Photos and story by Tammy Thorne


There’s a big BUG hanging out in the basement at CBC these days.

CBC cyclists - many of them members of the corp.'s 350-strong Bicycle User Group - now have 150 secure, indoor bike parking spots.

Thanks to the hard work of a few members of the CBC’s decade-old Bicycle User Group (aka BUG) and some dedicated staff, a whole lot of CBC employees finally have a safe, dry place to store their nice rides.

The BUG Network helps encourage cyclists who wish to improve conditions for cycling in their workplace, community, or school. Some BUGs form in order to further specific goals such as acquiring secure bike parking, while others simply get together for casual group rides. The CBC BUG is the largest in Toronto.

After a six month pilot project, there are 165 cyclists signed up to use the service and since all 150 spots are never being used at the same time, it's working beautifully. CBC celebs like Sook-Yin Lee (featured in dandyhorse Vol. 2 Issue 2), Matt Galloway and Jeff Douglas, co-host of As it Happens and MC for the celebration, use the facility. The underground space has become an instant success and many politicians and local cycling supporters were there to congratulate the CBC employees who made it happen.

City Councillor Adam Vaughan talked about his years at CBC when leaving his bike outside while working the night shift as a chase producer could mean walking home in the morning.

He said, "CBC has been a strong part of the cycling community in the city; whether it was Kevin Sylvester giving cycling reports as part of his traffic and weather reports, or whether it was just reporting on cycling related issues and giving them the coverage they deserve, the CBC has always been a strong supporter of cycling infrastructure in this city -- and this parking facility is one great example of that."

"And our response to that at the city is to get you bike lanes to the CBC."

After applause died down, he listed possible lanes off: Wellington extended...Simcoe up to Dundas and beyond back down to the waterfront, across the new pedestrian bridge down to the waterfront at Portland... Peter St. connecting down to the waterfront, to Bremner Blvd. where other lanes will be built north up Soho to connect to the St. George infrastructure.

"Essentially a basket weave of bike lanes to get you to and from the great facility."

He added, "Your voices of advocacy, as citizens, is greatly appreciated moving forward."

Well known cycling advocate, MP Olivia Chow, was also there to congratulate the CBC crew for making it safer and easier for people to use pedal power at Canada’s national broadcaster. She noted that more people all across Canada are getting on bikes and that the CBC has always been a strong supporter of cycling infrastructure right across the country. She reminisced about awarding the CBC with a Bicycle Friendly Business Award in 2006 during her tenure as chair of the city's cycling committee, in recognition of the corp. having 180 bike lock ups installed around the building to help address the high demand for bike parking.

David Giddens, co-chair of BUG Bike Parking Committee, was one of the people instrumental in making the secure parking facility a reality. "Bike thefts have gone from lots to none," he said, tongue firmly planted in cheek. (Bike theft is still a serious problem in the city.)

Founding BUG members Timothy Neesam and Daniel Schwartz said they came together to share a love of cycling but also stolen bike stories, when the group first formed. More recently, the BUG parking committee did a count showing the bike racks around the building were consistently full, which helped make the business case for the new facility. And Zissis Liolios, Manager, Operations and Security Management, English Regions was given big props for (literally) securing the location.

Schwartz has been riding his bike to the CBC since he was a student in 1977 and said "cycling in the city has improved a little" since then and that the key to safer streets for cyclists is to get more people riding.

A secure - and free! - parking facility for employees is one surefire way to help make that happen.

dandyhorse congratulates the CBC, and especially the many cyclists and staff at the CBC who made this fantastic facility a reality. We hope more corporations in the core will follow suit.

Want to start a BUG? Get more info here.

Here’s an interview from the very first issue of dandyhorse with Kevin Sylvester where he talks about biking and working at the CBC.

More photos below from the celebratory event on January 26, 2012 at the CBC indoor bike parking facility.

Big crowd for the CBC bike parking facility celebration including Reba Plummer (front, right) from local supporter shop Urbane Cyclist and cycling consultant Yvonne Bambrick middle, with CBC executives Kirstine Stewart and Fred Mattocks, and MP Olivia Chow.

BUG parking committee co-chair David Giddens (left) with David Robinson and David Tipton from local sponsor shop MEC. (Psst! dandyhorse offers a discount subscription to MEC members.)

Founding BUG member, and one of the people who started the push for secure bike parking at CBC, Daniel Schwartz, above.

Mike Prokopec, BUG parking committee co-chair, was also instrumental in pushing the parking facility forward and he drew the tickets for prizes from MEC.

Nice big safe space for 150 bikes +  gear - and although cookies and hot chocolate are not normally available, they do have a pump that was donated by one of the BUG members.

dandy on display

BUG member, Fran Steacy shows us the way down the ramp to the safe haven for bikes.

Related stories:

Kevin Sylvester in dandyhorse issue one.

Bike corrals and Adam Vaughan in our spring 2011 issue.

...and on the dandyBLOG:

The creation of the ring-and-post bike rack in Toronto.

Parking demand up; bike parking spots down.

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Bikes on Air: interview with Kevin Sylvester

This article appeared in the first issue of dandyhorse in the summer of 2008. Get this issue here. Since this article first appeared the Ontario government has passed a law banning handheld cell phone use and distracted driving.

By Tammy Thorne
Photo by Molly Crealock

It all started one winter morning in 1999 when Metro Morning host Andy Barrie asked Kevin Sylvester how his commute in that day was. “Snow is not a problem, ice is,” he had said matter-of-factly.

Kevin Sylvester isn’t romantic about the bicycle. It’s how he gets around. However, he does not shirk the call to advocacy and says he is okay with being called an “advocate.” He does, after all, mention cycling whenever he gets the chance on air. Sylvester works as an atypical freelance radio host on CBC’s Radio One for some of the most popular shows, such as Metro Morning.

“I’d do a sports report and tack on a ‘bike report,’ where I’d talk about construction or road closures and weather conditions from a cyclist’s perspective. People started calling in. There was a huge, positive response. That is because there are so many people who bike in this city. They couldn’t get enough. So, it became a bit of a shtick that I did, but it was also a value added service.”

Sylvester says he “may be less obnoxious” when ranting about bikes on air than when he started 9 years ago. “It made sense to talk about bikes since Metro Morning is trying to build into the texture of the city. I think it added credibility to the show. No one was giving road reports from the cyclist’s perspective, and we need to know how to get home safely too.”

Indeed, Sylvester’s every day person approach to cycling provides a refreshingly normalized take on cycling that just happens to reach a huge audience. But, he has much more to say about cycling than what you hear on the air. One of his biggest pet peeves: drivers who talk on the phone.

“I can almost guarantee that if I die on the road, it will be because of some jackass on a phone. I do not understand why it is not illegal in Canada," he says.

Even though he only lived in Vancouver for half a year, while on a work assignment, he is a huge fan of that city’s bikeways. He cites Adanac, Ontario and 10th streets as the gold standard for major bike thoroughfares that we should emulate in Toronto on streets like Richmond and Palmerston.

“If we had a bikeway on Wellington, for example, with no lanes it would cause a huge uproar. But look at 10th in Vancouver – cyclists have priority. They have no lanes, just a big wide road where motorists know not to speed. They then choose other routes.”

Similarly, he says, we would have to have the same tacit understanding in Toronto where streets like University or Spadina would be understood as fast, car-oriented streets while others like Palmerston and St. George would essentially be bikes only. “And, why isn’t St. George car free?” he asks rhetorically and launches into a rant about the ridiculousness of our city’s over-accommodation to car culture.

Sylvester also notes that small businesses, like cafes, tend to pop up all along these successful swaths of bikeways in Vancouver and other cities, since cyclists can stop off wherever and whenever they want, without difficulty (or worrying about parking.)

He realizes this is not a popular sentiment among many cycling advocates, but he says unapologetically, “Bike lanes are not the solution.”

Overall, he says everyone just has to slow down. “It’s about finding your own pace. The pace of the bicycle, the pace of the city... it’s a perfect fit,” he says.

“I have never enjoyed driving down a tree-lined side street before. I do enjoy it every day on my bicycle though.”

The CBC recently installed secure, underground parking with space for 150 bikes. Story and photos from the unveiling: New secure bike parking facilities at CBC celebrated

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