Cycling as a Transit Alternative

A conversation has broken out in the thread originally dedicated to the Scarborough Subway regarding the ability of cycling to reduce demand on the subway if a bike lane were implemented on Bloor-Danforth.

I have moved all of the comments related to this topic here to separate them from discussions of the subway extension.

52 thoughts on “Cycling as a Transit Alternative

  1. Thanks for watching and commenting on all this Steve, and enabling commentary. It’s a sad farce; instead of far-sighted, we have just farce.

    Only two short years ago, after having waited about 5 years to get to a signed contract EA study for a Bloor/Danforth bikeway that could also help the stretched subway by load-shedding, it was scrapped to save a half-million. Gee, now we have $85,000,000 go poof as we switch again to a subway idea, can’t call it a plan, and thank you Steve for saying can’t be done for money.

    Backing up our push for Bloor/Danforth bikeway, we had a petition of 5800 names. Is there such a clear bit of support for this subway, or is it just speculation and politics?

    Steve: A bikeway on BD will not come close to addressing capacity backlogs on the subway. Yours is an apples and oranges argument, but you trot it out at every possible opportunity.

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  2. Yes, I do trot out a Bloor/Danforth bikeway often it’s true. It is a logical, quick thing to do to alleviate stresses on transit throughout the City, and it’s far far cheaper to do than cough up millions for new transit vehicles and subways, though I do agree that there’s no way that mere biking could meet all transport/transit needs over such a large mess of megasticized sprawl, and heavier robust transit is needed – in the right places.

    But within Straphangers, p. 304, John Sewell says instead of awaiting streetcars on Queen etc. “I ride my bike all the time now. It’s the only rational way to get around downtown”.. and since you’re also quoted in that chapter, you might have read this.

    There’s also the hick City of London that is awakening to using bikes to alleviate the transit stresses at far less cost than transit – so consider that the TTC/City are very happy to leave roadkill roulette in place for cyclists to keep the captive riders on the shytstem to keep the suburban transit subsidized. Bloor/Danforth doesn’t have the hazardous streetcar tracks either, which dictate lane position and prevent us from having an easy/cheap bikeway on King, Queen, Dundas and College.

    So it’s only $200,000 to repaint Bloor from High Park to Sherbourne….and core residents pay disproportionately for any transit they take, and it’s at times danged dangerous out there when riding a bike – but cyclists’ lives are worth less in Caronto, now perhaps needing an update – Moronto.

    Steve: I have no problems with cycling advocacy, but I do not see bike lanes on BD as a way to relieve subway capacity. These are separate topics.

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  3. Steve wrote:

    “In order to create the capacity equivalent of one subway train requires a very dense concentration of cyclists…”

    Kevin’s comment:

    Undoubtedly true, but I was writing about easing the capacity backlog on the BD subway, not replacing it. There are many cities in the world who use cycling infrastructure to do just that, in Europe, Japan and China. For example, a key element of Copenhagen’s snow clearing plan is the fact that their Metro cannot tolerate even a minor mode shift away from cycling.

    Bloor/Danforth is a good candidate for this infra, since it extends almost the entire length of the City, is relatively flat and is not used by surface transit vehicles. I suspect that proper Dutch-style infra could handle the capacity backlog, which is why I was asking what that backlog is.

    I note that cycling is five times as efficient in using road space as using cars for transportation. If they were not such big hypocrites, those who yell “Respect for Taxpayers” would be the first to reallocate road space to cycling rather than such a wasteful and ineffective use as car driving.

    Steve: You really did miss the point. If replacing even one train’s capacity on BD is a stretch, then the contribution cycling will make to subway capacity constraints is small. Argue for bike lanes, but don’t claim we will offset capital and operating costs on subways by installing them. You undermine your own credibility with a self-evidently false claim.

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  4. Kevin Love said:

    Undoubtedly true, but I was writing about easing the capacity backlog on the BD subway, not replacing it.

    You do realize that after cyclists, the next biggest group of benefactors to bike lanes along Bloor-Danforth would be motorists due to the elimination of on street parking and turning the street into a permanent 4 lane road. In fact, the only impact that said bike lanes would have on the subway network would be an increase in ridership which would give the TTC greater incentive to integrate with and fund expanding the Bixi network.

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  5. Steve wrote:

    “Argue for bike lanes, but don’t claim we will offset capital and operating costs on subways by installing them.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    Why not? There are many cities around the world that do just that. Cities in Europe, Japan and China where the cycling infrastructure relieves significant capital and operating costs of subways and the rest of the public transit system.

    Repurposing an existing car lane to a cycle lane quintuples the vehicle throughput from a theoretical maximum of 1,800 cars per hour to 9,400 bicycles per hour. And let’s face it – that engineering theoretical car lane maximum comes to one car every two seconds. Gridlocked Bloor during peak hours is coming nowhere near that car capacity.

    Steve, is there an estimate of the capacity backlog on the BD Subway?

    I would need to know an estimate of the capacity backlog to to be able to state for sure what cycling infra would be needed to relieve it. But I strongly suspect that this backlog can be relieved with the same cycling infrastructure that has been so successful in places like Utrecht or Copenhagen or in many Chinese and Japanese cities.

    Toronto can be a much better city than it is now. But only if we make it so.

    Steve: While your examples are nice to look at, especially in Copenhagen which is a more extensive design exercise than simply repurposing road space, this does not establish the basic point about offloading rapid transit capacity.

    The TTC is now running trains every 140 seconds on the BD line, or 25.7 trains/hour. At a design capacity of 1,000/train, that’s about 26k/hour (higher peak values are possible but not sustainable). They would like to get this down at least to 120 seconds, or a design capacity of 30k/hour.

    It is important to contrast the European materials shown with a Bloor-Danforth implementation. The Utrecht example operates very much as a “woonerf” with free interplay of cyclists and pedestrians. This is possible in part because the distance a pedestrian must cross through the cycling traffic is comparatively short. In Copenhagen, the cycling lanes were part of a much more extensive traffic calming plan. If BD is going to take on a significant commuting role, then the extent of the lanes would be quite considerable and the affected area much larger. I do not believe that change of use on this scale will be politically saleable.

    Then there is the small matter of snow. The peak demand on the subway occurs during poor weather when more motorists shift to transit. What happens to the cyclists? What are the safety issues of operating the road in this manner, especially with free interaction with pedestrians, under less than bucolic conditions?

    You cite a capacity of 9,400 cycles per hour. That is a sustained rate of 2.6/second. That may be possible in an “expressway” configuration, but not at points where cyclists must deal with conflicting traffic moves, pedestrians and traffic signals. Please don’t keep trotting out numbers that simply are not credible in the environment you propose.

    Let us remember that this started as a discussion/proposal about traditional Toronto bike lanes, not about taking over a major chunk of the street and displacing other uses. You may believe that your approach is superior, but I do not believe that it is practical.

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  6. Kevin Love wrote:

    Repurposing an existing car lane to a cycle lane quintuples the vehicle throughput from a theoretical maximum of 1,800 cars per hour to 9,400 bicycles per hour.

    Steve replied (among other things):

    You may believe that your approach is superior, but I do not believe that it is practical.

    Never mind if his approach is superior or practical, the premise of there being a need for even a fifth of 9,400 bicycles per hour is flawed.

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  7. Steve wrote:

    “You cite a capacity of 9,400 cycles per hour. That is a sustained rate of 2.6/second. That may be possible in an “expressway” configuration, but not at points where cyclists must deal with conflicting traffic moves, pedestrians and traffic signals.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    No actually. If you look at the Dutch traffic engineering design material that I linked to, you will see that this is the capacity with conflicting traffic moves, pedestrians and traffic signals. Then if you look at the videos and photographs of the European and Asian examples cited, you will see that they are all with conflicting traffic moves, pedestrians and traffic signals. In particular, the photograph from China shows an intersection just as the traffic signal turned to green and the people started moving again.

    With regards to snow, Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Denmark realise that it is necessary to have a high level of snow clearing service to ensure that everyone can move on their bicycles no matter what the weather is like.

    It was fascinating being in Copenhagen during a 20 cm snowfall. Any significant transportation mode share shift away from cycling would swamp the Metro and bring the City to a grinding halt, so the snow clearing and brine spraying was very efficient.

    Here is a video of the same Utrecht location during a heavy snowfall. You may notice that there are about the same numbers of cyclists as during the fair weather video. Possibly even more, as everyone there knows that the cycle paths will be promptly cleared and gritted, but snow tends to mess up alternate means of transportation.

    Steve: All very nice, but you are still playing mix and match with examples. First off, there is rarely a sustained flow (and by “sustained” I mean for a minute or more, minimum) at the rate of 2.5 cycles per second, the level needed to support your capacity claims. One area in the videa that is quite busy appears to be a crossing designed to combine two streams into one crossing to get the best use from the location.

    The biggest point to note is that the area in question is a very wide street containing cyclists, pedestrians and a lot of transit. This it not Danforth Avenue, let alone, say, Queen Street. One area that is quite narrow is a side street that allows autos, but clearly is intended primarily for pedestrians and cyclists.

    You would do better not to overstate your case, and to use examples that show comparable situations to what was proposed by Hamish, the Bloor-Danforth bike lanes.

    One final point is that cycling examples also need info on the average cycling trip length and O-D patterns. If you expect to address capacity issues on the subway, you also need to look at the type of trips you seek to replace.

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  8. Kevin Love said:

    Repurposing an existing car lane to a cycle lane quintuples the vehicle throughput from a theoretical maximum of 1,800 cars per hour to 9,400 bicycles per hour.

    I take it that you have never actually checked the statistics for people biking in Toronto. Hint: at 9,400 bicycles per hour, such a route would handle all of Toronto’s, not Bloor-Danforth’s but the entire city’s, daily commuter cyclists in under three hours.

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  9. re: bike activity: looking at the bike counts on Toronto Open Data, the busiest streets for bike activity appear to be College and Harbord; both of these streets had about 450 to 500 bikes an hour eastbound in the morning, and nearly 400 bikes/hour westbound in the afternoon.

    500 cyclists would correspond to an average of 30 riders per vehicle removed from the Carlton streetcar, which is a sizeable proportion, but only ~4 per car on the Bloor-Danforth subway, which is a marginal number by comparison.

    More to the point, though, it shows the extent to which cycling culture would need to change in Toronto (ignoring the issue of year-round travel) to approach the numbers that have been mentioned in the comments above.

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  10. Cycling – it is not realistic for most people, and in bad weather, then transit has to take up the slack.

    Most people will not bike in the rain, ice or snow – plus we have an aging society – so in future even fewer people as a percent of the workforce/population will be young an energetic. Try doing the weekly food shopping on a bike, riding a bike if you have more than one kid, have a disabled or elderly person, etc. – going to home depot, the LCBO or the beer store on a bike?

    And frankly, while i believe in being green, the net impact on global warming is negligible – most of the oil and gas saved will just be exported to China or the US.

    Look at Beijing, where everyone used to bike, and it is in decline – there is no lack of bike lanes etc., it is that most people consider cycling to be a chore they would rather avoid.

    Our climate is not as mild as in Holland etc., and too much of the city is already built at a scale and density where car use is locked in.

    Want the solution for congestion? Try stopping population growth instead – it is far more realistic than assuming that large numbers of people are willing to switch to bikes if bike lanes were created.

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  11. When I am a motorist – not my favourite method of transport – I try very hard to respect cyclists – both their safety and their rights. However, my experience is that the vast majority of cyclists are jerks.

    Bicycles are a legitimate vehicle on the road and entitled to all the rights that are part of the Highway Traffic Act. However, they are also supposed to be governed by the regulations thereof. Cyclists, however, in the vast majority of situations, seem to think that they have only the rights (and some fanciful rights they dream up) and none of the obligations.

    It is a rare sight to see a cyclist stop for streetcar doors. As a vehicle, that is a requirement for bicycles. Many cyclists go whizzing through at speeds which if their weave through pedestrians was unsuccessful, would lead to injury.

    One way streets apply to cars and bikes. I honk (briefly – the word might be toot) at cyclists going the wrong way. I often get a rude rejoinder.

    Stop signs are for all of us. I was turning at a four way stop in the dark recently – it was my turn – and only saw a dark clothed cyclists with no lights sailing up the line of cars at the last minute. He went through the stop without even slowing down.

    I was getting into my car from outside recently and was abused by a cyclist who thought I should not open my door – as a pedestrian. The bike was well able to slow down, stop or go around. It was not a question of avoiding a “dooring” – he actually thought he had the right of way.

    I was “hit and run” in a crosswalk at Spadina and Dundas. There was a congestion of cars in the roadway and a cyclist went around it and entered the crosswalk while I was crossing on the green. She hit me, but didn’t even stop. Hit and Run is a serious offense under the Highway Traffic Act.

    There are too many cases to mention where cyclists wear dark clothes and have no lights or reflectors at night.

    Riding up the middle of the road on the wrong side of the street is a common occurrence, but definitely “not on”.

    Bicycles are indeed the most efficient energy transfer form of transport. They can be a wonderful form of transportation. They help ensure the health of the rider – assuming he or she is not in an accident. However, it is about time cyclists started to accept responsibility for their ride. Maybe every cyclist has a story about a car driver who is a jerk – and they are out there, no doubt. However, as percentage of the total population, there are more jerks who are cyclists.

    If bicycles are ever to take on a more significant role in urban transportation, there has to be a “smartening” up. The “holy grail” of Copenhagen, has I am sure, civilized cyclists to complement the privileges they have.

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  12. As Steve says I think cycling advocacy needs to be more realistic on the absolute number of cycle commuter trips we could achieve: 9400/hour isn’t realistic, especially in winter.

    Instead we should focus on relieving some of the peak pressure. The problem the TTC (and autos the road network) faces isn’t necessarily raw capacity, it’s that at the peak everything is full to the point of slowing down operations and threatening gridlock. Diverting a relatively small proportion of transit riders to other sustainable modes can make a disproportionate difference; I speculate 1000/hour may make a noticeable dent between Dufferin and Broadview, and that’s a realistic, numerically-round, and dare I say politically palatable goal. The level of infrastructure it would take is another matter and would certainly go beyond just paint. One idea would be to jumpstart the whole thing through UofT, whose St George campus must be a major trip generator (though maybe not so much during peak?) on the B-D line. If there’s any entity that has the money and time to figure out its constituents’ travel patterns, and then nudge them to try cycling as an alternative, it would be such a downtown University.

    If we had an agency like Transport for London (TfL) with authority to coordinate all modes this notion could have serious legs (combined as it would be with traffic signalling, taxi regulations, nearby surface routes, etc.)

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  13. Brian said:

    plus we have an aging society – so in future even fewer people as a percent of the workforce/population will be young an energetic.

    Actually, the “old people are too frail to bike” argument is more stereotype than reality. If anything, the only impact that an aging population would have on our transportation infrastructure is a reduction in the number of trips made by car as the demand for home delivery of goods and services climb.

    Steve: As someone who has just turned 65, and has gone through knee surgery a decade ago that limited my mobility for a time, I find the attitude that we don’t have to care about seniors quite distasteful. They/we are a growing segment of the population, still quite mobile and hoping to be for a long time. But cycling is quite another matter.

    It is the arrogance of some cyclists that pisses me off most of all. You are not the chosen people any more than those of us who ride streetcars and advocate for LRT are.

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  14. Steve said:

    I find the attitude that we don’t have to care about seniors quite distasteful.

    I don’t just find it distasteful, I find it ridiculous since everyone becomes a senior or dies trying to become one. However, my comment was directed at the notion that with seniors, being less physically able is the same as being physically unable and thus the phrase “aging population” is used to justify avoiding constructing infrastructure that supports physical activity.

    Michael Greason said:

    Bicycles are a legitimate vehicle on the road and entitled to all the rights that are part of the Highway Traffic Act. However, they are also supposed to be governed by the regulations thereof. Cyclists, however, in the vast majority of situations, seem to think that they have only the rights (and some fanciful rights they dream up) and none of the obligations.

    As a cyclist who quite often believes that he is the only one who has read the Highway Traffic Act and made a serious effort to follow it where applicable, you have no idea how often I’ve been horrified when other cyclists think I’m waving hello when doing hand signals; especially when I’m indicating stop.

    And yes, I do have bad motorist stories. However, the logic that “some other person did bad things therefore I can do bad things” is something you grow out of in grade school.

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  15. There is one thing that cycling advocates always forget. Bicycles are like cars in a number of ways, mainly that they require storage. In Amsterdam, cyling is a huge component of daily commuting patterns, rain or shine. The caveat to this lifestyle is that unlike transit but much like cars (albeit to a lesser extent,) bikes have to rest somewhere while their users go to work. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it must be taken into account. Those 9,500 bikes have to park somewhere. Transit hubs in Amsterdam have massive bike parking arrays, that while less expansive than a parking garage, are still a noticeable low-density use of public space. Likewise, anything and everything on busy streets is re-purposed as a bike rack many times over.

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  16. Regarding the topic of cycling as a transit alternative, I have been a long-time bike commuter, travelling year-round nearly everyday. I have also been involved in bike advocacy and for ten years taught Can-Bike courses for the City of Toronto. Having said that, the notion that putting bike lanes along Bloor and Danforth diverting a significant number of passenger from the BD line seems to me wishful thinking. For one, while cycling has become increasingly popular as transportation, the reality is that if the the City had implemented its 1000 km network of bike routes, it is to be seen whether this would have significantly increased the numbers of residents who chose to ride a bike to work or for other trip over driving their car or taking transit. For me cycling is a transportation choice based on practicality and not the need to be “green” or to keep fit. I willingly ride roughly 14 km one way, and in the past often rode 20 km but I’m not sure many others would willing ride this distance.

    Just over 20 years ago I was with an advocacy group that did a survey of active cyclists (subscribers to Cyclometer, the City’s newsletter and member of the Toronto Bicycling Network, a Toronto-base cycling club with a membership of close to 1000). Among the data recorded was one-way trip distance and it was no surprise that most trips were in the 4 – 6 km range. I did travel through parts of the Netherlands and saw first had the extensive bike infrastructure, but I suspect even there most Dutch cyclists also travelled similar distances and left their bikes at the train station when travelling much longer distances. The 4-6 km range fits perfectly within the downtown core, but I suspect the bulk of riders on both the BD and YUS lines have much longer one-way trips and would probably not switch to bike just because their route now had bike lanes. Moreover in parts of the city such as where I live (Kennedy & St Clair) are heavily car-dependent in design and most bike trips are likely very short distance. If they do ride, it’s likely to the nearest subway station.

    This is not to say that the initiatives being promoted by the current City Planner if implemented could increase pedestrian and cycling trips outside the downtown core, however I think the better strategy is to improve bike-transit integration.

    Phil

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  17. I have to concur with Steve – I don’t have a bike so how would a bike lane along the Bloor-Danforth line help me stop using the subway?

    A bike lane will help, yes. Bicycling is one aspect of transportation, but it will not take away the need for other forms of public transportation. Plus a bike is not necessarily practical on rainy days, in snow, etc. either.

    Also, don’t get me started with the bikers who use bank lanes and don’t follow the Highway Traffic Act and run red lights (I have almost been hit on several occasions.) So, for those who want more bike lanes, teach your fellow bike riders to follow the rules of the road first.

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  18. To Lance. Whenever the sun is shining, and the wind light, would be a good day for a bike ride. The sun in September is in the same position in the sky as the sun in March. October’s sun is roughly in the same position as the February sun.

    The problem remains that the City of Toronto thinks biking is recreational, and not transportation. Hence, little or no snow removal (except for one or two bike paths), but letting the sun do the snow removal.

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  19. Nick wrote:

    “Actually, the “old people are too frail to bike” argument is more stereotype than reality.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    Absolutely true. In The Netherlands, 24% of all trips taken by people over the age of 65 are by bicycle. Cycling provides freedom and mobility to large numbers of people who have physical limitations that prevent them from using cars or public transit.

    Steve: There is, however, the not insignificant matter of the other 76% of trips.

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  20. I’ve been following this thread with a certain amount of chagrin – some of the arguments verge on the cringe-worthy – but I feel the need to respond to a few points nonetheless.

    Myth: Older people don’t ride bikes.

    Fact: Some of the most dedicated regular cyclists I know are in their 60s. Some are even in their 70s. A semi-retired architect I know rides in to work every morning, year-round (he works half days; it’s not how I’d choose to structure my retirement). In my cohort (40s to 50s) an _increasing_ number of my co-workers are riding to work, especially as their kids get old enough to find their own way to school. Health concerns – getting enough exercise – are often a primary impetus, but most of them get to enjoy their ride. An aging population – especially up to the age at which they opt out of the daily commute (retire) – is not an infirm population, even if Steve personally is not a good candidate for conversion to a cyclist.

    Steve: I never said seniors would not ride, only that not all seniors would ride and the premise that somehow cycling would offset the need for Wheel-Trans (as proposed by one writer in this thread) was not a credible argument, putting things politely.

    Myth: It’s too cold to ride in {month}.

    Fact: If it’s not too cold to go for a walk, it’s not too cold to ride. You just need to dress for it. Yes, you probably don’t want to ride in a blizzard, and there are other hazards (e.g. ice) to consider in the winter, but the fact is that in a typical winter you can still safely and (properly dressed) comfortably ride at least 50% of the time. Recently (past 2 years) the proportion has been much higher: over 75% last winter and nearly 90% the previous non-winter. Just don’t dress for a 30-minute ride the way you’d dress for a 5-minute scurry to the subway.

    Steve: Again, there are folks for whom this is perfectly acceptable under most conditions. We come to the problem that this whole discussion began as a way to reduce demand on the subway, but to succeed that must happen on days when there are strong incentives not to cycle or drive. People will bike in the winter — I watch them whizzing across the Prince Edward Viaduct from my window. But they don’t do so in the numbers I see during good weather. This is, of course, a chicken-and-egg situation where better cycling infrastructure and snow clearing would help, but those bikes (just like riders on the subway) still have to get to and from their protected “express” route along BD probably at both ends of their trips where snow is a common problem for everyone.

    Yes we had a few mild winters, but they are not all mild, and you would have to resort to a climate change argument to suggest that we would have permanently balmy climates here.

    Myth: All cyclists are assholes who ignore the rules of the road.

    Fact: Yeah, there are a lot of them. But then there are a lot of idiot drivers too. Overall, I figure the percentages are pretty much even. Probably comparable to the fraction of idiot pedestrians (like the ones who walk right off the curb while texting before thinking to check if they have a light). We all have to deal with idiots; I almost got hit by an idiot on a bike last Tuesday when I stopped at a stop sign and he blew by me on my right – but then the same day I also almost ran into a car that made a right turn across the bike lane without signalling. We can argue by anecdote all week, but the fact is there are billions of idiots in the world, and we just have to be careful. (At least the idiot cyclist is an order of magnitude more likely to kill himself than kill you. 🙂

    Steve: Not all cyclists are assholes. Some are rather pleasant and civilized folk. However, I am far more often endangered by one of them than by a motorist. Maybe I should move to the suburbs where the roads are not full of cyclists and I can take on the role of a lonely pedestrian terrorized by passing autos.

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  21. Steve wrote:

    “First off, there is rarely a sustained flow (and by “sustained” I mean for a minute or more, minimum) at the rate of 2.5 cycles per second, the level needed to support your capacity claims.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    Two points:

    1. Firstly I am not so arrogant as to assert that the saturation level Traffic Design Engineering Standards are “my” claims. I am a professional accountant, not a traffic design engineer – let alone one of the top-level engineers who prepared the Standards! I am simply a user of the Standards.

    2. Secondly, saturation level is extremely uncomfortable for road users. It is the equivalent of crush loads for transit vehicles. In democratic countries, such as Europe or Japan, it is rare to encounter saturation use of the cycle infra. As soon as user demand gets anywhere near saturation level, additional road space tends to be allocated to the cycling infra to relieve this congestion. Take a look at the Copenhagen and Utrecht videos. Although the cycle use is high, it is not at saturation level. Road users are not significantly interfering with each other.

    It is, of course, a totally different case in China. A Communist dictatorship whose Communist Party ruling class increasingly gets around in cars and whose apparatchiks have Rob Fordian levels of contempt for us peasants. This enables us to actually see saturation use of infra. See, for example, in Kunming.

    There are numerous videos available of similar saturation levels in Shanghai. I’ll see if I can find any tonight.

    Steve: Ah now you are doing a little political dance. “I’m not an expert, I’m just quoting the pros.” There is a job for you at Queen’s Park. You then go on to talk about saturation levels even though your own argument was based on very heavy cycling traffic. You cannot have it both ways.

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  22. Lance wrote:

    “Would love to bike, but Toronto is just too cold November to April”

    Kevin’s comment:

    Please see my previously posted video of people in Utrecht cycling in the snow.

    For cold…

    Here is a video of cycling in Assen in The Netherlands after several days of -12 temperatures froze outdoor skating rinks and canals. Note that the cycle mode share in Assen is over 40%. To quote David Hambrow, “… in the Netherlands the cycling rate in winter for utility purposes is about 95% of the rate in the summer.”

    Steve: Oh please. You are citing a city with a population of 65,000. A high modal split for cycling when the trips are all necessarily short is a big difference from the trip lengths of Toronto commuters.

    Scandinavian cities such as Stockholm and Copenhagen also get quite cold in winder, as does Bejing. That does not seem to make a great deal of difference to the cycle traffic.

    Steve: Rather than pulling examples out of the air, and I know there are a lot of them, can we bring this discussion back to streets that in most cases were laid out with 66-foot rights-of-way and the occasionally wider places that actually have room for six traffic lanes.

    I am not arguing against cycling infrastructure, but refuse to accept that it will provide an alternate capacity to transit that will contribute meaningfully to the current problems. Indeed I could argue that any scheme that purports to add capacity on a significant level would undermine attempts to expand the transit network. When I start hearing arguments that go roughly “we don’t need the DRL if we would just build more bike lanes”, I get very angry. That’s where this whole thread started.

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  23. I think Bixi does about 1 million riders a year, with an initial investment of 5 million (well loan)…operating expenses are about even. That’s with 1000 bikes, 80 stations in an area of the lower part of the U of the subway.

    5$ a rider over let’s say 5 years life of a bike is 1$ per rider cost to tax payers.

    5 billion for Eglinton subway, 50 million riders a year is $100 over 100 years is $1 cost to tax payers (and we know from your site, that 100 years is generous!) – and we can assume it will make a bit of money, but cost a lot to operate as well.

    To get 50 million bixi bikers a year, we only need to invest 250 million, which would give us 50,000 bikes…and somewhere around 4000 stations…a little less than one station for every two bus stops – which I think is a fairly good distribution.

    Bixi is good for about 4km max in 30 minutes in my experience, about the distance to a subway or major road in any part of the city. For most bus rides this would be a better system for most people than waiting for a bus, also bikes don’t rely on routes and so are able to beat buses when it comes to making connections.

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  24. Kevin Love said:

    In The Netherlands, 24% of all trips taken by people over the age of 65 are by bicycle.

    And now that you have thrown out that meaningless statistic, put into context for us by adding average trip distance and comparing it across all age groups that are able to drive.

    Again, my comment was against those who were using the “aging society” to argue against more bike lanes. It was never an argument against other forms of transportation for seniors.

    Also, what physical limitation would allow a senior to bike but prevent them from using public transit?

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  25. Steve, I haven’t posted here in about 2 years, but I regularly read here and find your takes on Transit issues irreplaceable.

    But… I think your comments in this thread show a lack of visioning around cycling issues.

    Seeing cycling as part of a multi-modal transportation diaspora is difficult in this society – with it’s massive cultural bias towards the institution … an institution that influences our attitudes from what a car means to our sexuality; all the way out to the idea that cars are part an economic model which adds to the efficiency of the production of our military might.

    For example, your take that a bike lane cannot hope to relieve pressure on the Bloor line because the numbers that each technology can accommodate are in two different universes … fails to vision a bicycle *Network* – of which Bloor would be but one vector.

    People making subway trips from the East heading downtown will take Bloor/Danforth line all the way to Young and then will transfer on to the Young line to get down to Queen,and then onto the Queen car to complete their trip. Cyclists on the other hand will take more of a ‘as-the-crow-flies’ route. For example, a cyclist coming from East York might take Sammon Ave over to Broadview, and then down to Bloor to go across The Viaduct, then snake down at Parliament to Wellesley, to Sherbourne… . On another vector, a cyclist from Scarborough South may take the Martin Goodman along the Lake, or Queen, or Dundas – all the way to their destination.

    All these vectors (and many more) can easily add up to the maximum numbers you site that the Bloor subway line can accommodate. (See it like water finding it’s level, finding pathways not apparent, until the water turns those unseen routes into rivulets.

    Steve: This whole debate was started by a claim that a BD cycle lane could offset need for more capacity on the subway (or alternately would provide a significant supplement to what the subway can provide). The proposal was not for a network, but for a lane on one street. One writer made huge claims for the capacity of a bike lane. The number may be valid in a theoretical context (and I am not even sure of that), but was simply not credible considering the need to accommodate other users of the street. Examples were shown of streets with much larger rights-of-way and segregation of uses, again not directly applicable to BD. My issue in all of this is the creep in the scope of what is discussed.

    Oddly enough, one could make similar arguments about expanding road capacity for autos, not that I would do so.

    Another example of your lack of visioning on this issue, is the winter time concerns. Good infrastructure allows year round cycling in Toronto. This is a truth you only discover by doing it. Last winter we had two large snow storms – that because we do not clear the bike lanes at all – stopped cycle traffic on them for about week – ’til the snow that was cleared from the car lanes – and piled in the bike lanes – melted.

    Steve: I will say this again. You have to get to the bike lane to use it just as motorists must get to arterials and expressways where snow clearing is a priority. I agree that if we have a bike lane network, it needs to be treated with the same level of snow clearing as space for autos and transit. Yes people will bike in the winter, but not in the numbers we see during better weather. The problem again is the original context of the thread — relieving subway capacity, something that is a particular problem in the winter when more people take transit. Bikes will make a contribution, but won’t eliminate the need for more rapid transit capacity.

    Also, the idea that the Aged cannot cycle, is part of the car culture’s oppression of all other forms – that creates false understandings that we all to one degree or another, internalize. Cycling into old age is the only way to keep cycling into old age. If you haven’t cycled since you were 14 years old – then yes – starting to cycle in old age is probably a dangerous idea.

    (From personal experience in my 50’s – I estimate it would take a year of steadily increasing workouts in order for a 70 year old who has exercised normally (not exercised at all) to get into cycling shape. Having gotten into that shape – to maintain it is as easy as pushing the accelerator of a car.)

    Hope this is helpful.

    Sincerely,
    Michael Holloway
    Cycle Toronto – Ward30Bikes

    Steve: I don’t disagree with much of your argument, but it is the context that is the problem for me. This all started from the pretext that we could somehow avoid some rapid transit construction by providing more cycling capacity at much lower cost. This is not a valid argument.

    That said, certainly there is a case to be made for better cycling infrastructure and maintenance of access (snow clearing, design that eliminates encroachment by autos, a network scope that allows the river-and-tributaries flow you describe).

    These are two separate issues.

    As for aged cyclists, of course older folks will cycle, but some never will, and many who might will not choose to make the effort to become fit enough to do so. One writer even cited the expense of Wheel-Trans as part of his argument even though people who use it are by definition not going to be cyclists.

    The thread running through my critiques is the sense that some cycling advocates will concoct any argument necessary to prove the worth of their cause, and in the process undermine their own credibility. Just as not all cyclists are idiots who run red lights, drive on sidewalks and treat one-way signs as decorative art, not all cycling advocates make outlandish claims for their preference. However, when such claims appear here, I will refute them.

    As cycling grows, there will be major debates about the relationship between bikes and transit and pedestrians, notably how transit riders are supposed to get across bike lanes to bus and streetcar stops. I expect cyclists to vent the same sort of wrath on transit riders blocking “their” lane at transit stops as motorists do when complaining about streetcars in traffic. Even buses won’t be immune if bike lanes are adjacent to the curb and, necessarily, separate transit vehicles from the street space used by their passengers. Imagine Sherbourne with the buses stopping out in traffic and pedestrians streaming across the bike lane. This would make bus operation equivalent to what we see today with streetcars from a cyclist’s point of view. Will bus routes (never mind streetcar routes) need loading islands where passengers can be staged onto and off of transit vehicles? That would have a huge effect on road design.

    Once Queens Quay is complete, we will see how gracious (or not) the cycling community is about pedestrians with the Martin Goodman Trail separating the transit lanes from the south sidewalk. Will cyclists respect the traffic signals or will they blow by treating the MGT as a bike expressway to downtown? This will be an acid test for what a “typical” cyclist does when provided with the sort of capacity and infrastructure now only dreamed of for other streets.

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  26. Thanks for your rigorous logic and attention to detail.

    I agree with you – I think it is a mistake for cycling advocates to advocate for increased spending on cycling infrastructure as a way of reducing spending on rapid transit. As you undoubtedly know, Complete Streets envisions increased trips over a variety of modes – towards shifting overall trips away from the car mode.

    “..treat one-way signs as decorative art…”

    The entire grid – the laws, the customs and practices – are all evolved for car transport. In many, many ways the usual is either dangerous to bike transport, or creates useless inefficiencies (read: barriers) for the (equally important as any other mode) cycling mode. Therefore: One-ways which are employed for traffic calming on residential streets should be signed, ‘Cyclist’s Excepted’; and, 4-Way Stops in these types of locations should have ‘Yield to Bikes’ signs under them … Because bikes are already calm enough. 🙂

    mh

    Steve: The customs may be evolved for car transport, but a huge number of road users operate under those assumptions. If the rules change, this has to be on a scale greater than limited parts of one city.

    Pedestrians have reasonable expectations that bikes behave like cars. Should we, for example, exempt cyclists from stopping behind open transit vehicle doors? This is mainly a streetcar problem, but depending on locations of cycling lanes and bus stops, could become an issue for buses too.

    I return to my common theme: cyclists are so busy fighting against cars they forget that for pedestrians, they can be just as annoying and at times dangerous.

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  27. It seems to me that fundamentally, this discussion is about what kind of city we want Toronto to be. Right now, the use of private cars for transportation has three major problems.

    First, they not a very effective use of road space. During peak hours, car driving anywhere near downtown Toronto is far slower than riding a bicycle.

    Second, they make the street very hostile for other users. Most people will not cycle without protected cycling infrastructure due to well-founded fears of dangerous car drivers. These well-founded fears have resulted in car drivers terrorizing cyclists off of most roads in the City. Even children playing on residential streets have been repeatedly terrorized off the road by car drivers.

    Finally, and most importantly, is the enormous number of people killed and seriously injured by car drivers.

    In the City of Toronto, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health reports that by way of the lethal poisons in car pollution, every year car drivers kill 440 people, and injure 1,700 people so seriously that they have to be hospitalized. Children and the elderly are the most susceptible victims of being poisoned by car drivers. 1,200 children in Toronto experience 1,200 acute bronchitis attacks and 68,000 asthma symptom days attacks every year due to being poisoned by car drivers. The health-care cost of all this death and injury is $2.2 billion per year.

    For the horrifying details, see the City of Toronto’s official website.

    One of the people poisoned and killed by car drivers is my father. We were very close. My father was my business partner. We had so many interests in common. One of them was my children, who loved their dear “Poppa.” And he loved to read to them and go to the park and do all the other grandfather activities. Until he was poisoned and killed by car drivers. I mourn him and miss him every day of my life.

    I myself am one of the people seriously injured by being poisoned by car drivers. Three operations later, I’ve got quite an impressive set of scars – and will never be able to run and jump again.

    Needless to say, I have Zero Tolerance of car drivers launching any more lethal poison attacks upon myself, my children and my loved ones.

    We can talk about transportation systems, but any system that involves car drivers continuing to launch lethal poison attacks upon myself, my children and my loved ones is completely unacceptable to myself. And, I would sincerely hope, any decent civilized human being with the slightest trace of conscience would realize that poisoning and killing large numbers of children is completely unacceptable and must stop at once.

    Steve: While I sympathize with your situation, this is a generic argument against cars and pollution, not in favour of specific measures to increase cycling infrastructure and safety. Also, this is a story you have told us on this site before. It is not germane to the current discussion about how to accommodate cyclists, transit, pedestrians and autos within the available road system.

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  28. Bike lanes should be removed from main roads to make space for curb separated transit only lanes as they are just not safe. Instead, safe paved bike baths and pedestrian walkways should be provided through parks (which should all be connected), hydro corridors, special bridges (just for pedestrians and cyclists), and elevated bike and pedestrian paths. If the SRT is replaced with a subway that does not make use of the current SRT way, then the bridges, etc can be repaired and thousands of trees can be planted on and around it to support a park and bike path. The crumbling Gardiner’s life expectancy can be increased by making a roof over it with park and bike path and this will also reduce the frequency and amount of concrete chunks falling from underneath it which can be deadly.

    It is very important to connect existing parks and make use of hydro corridors to make BRT and bike and pedestrian paths. Hydro corridors also have room for hundreds of thousands of trees which should be planted.

    Steve: There is a big problem with parks and hydro corridors in that they do not go easily where people want to travel and are more akin to the relationship the expressway network has with local streets. This type of network would do nothing for trips that don’t happen to lie along the park system. Moreover, there are significant safety issues for off-hours and poor-weather cycling in such areas. One other issue is that parks are also used by pedestrians, and the last thing they need is to have their walking space carved up by express bike routes (sort of like mini DVPs).

    There are locations where bike routes might make sense, but the hydro corridors and parks are not going to eliminate the need for cycling capacity on local streets. The last time I looked, there is no way to serve the core area by your scheme. People can come down the Don Valley, for example, but once they hit downtown, they have to get onto local roads.

    As for the scheme for decking above the Gardiner, that is pure fantasy.

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  29. Well, I should check in with the blog more often – tho I was out of town then sicker.

    Yes, at times it’s hard to advocate for some cyclists – a cyclist inspired the term of “passhole” – but it absolutely applies to many motorists, though many motorists are also respectful of others.

    Transit is really grrrinding in the old core of the City to the point that I rarely use it though it’s also how my life/existence is structured. But former Mayor Sewell says in the Straphangers book p. 304

    “I used to ride the Queen Street car all the time … but they’ve cut the service by a third, so now you’ve got to wait ten minutes… Well that’s not good enough for me. I ride my bike all the time now. It’s the only rational way to get around downtown.”

    And given that Bloor/Danforth was the #1 best spot for an east-west bike lane from a 1992 study, and that there are real issues with overcrowding in the peak hours, and how the core riders pay relatively highly for the “service”, and how the streetcar tracks dictate lane position on other main east-west roads (another cyclist perhaps was made to fall and then killed from wheel-grabbing tracks in the west end Wed.), and we still don’t have a single, smooth, straight, longer east-west route in the core, yes, we need a Bloor/Danforth bike way.

    And if the TfL can manage to figure out that bikes are useful complements to their transit provision, and actually might be essential, given the costs of transit provision and the operations, don’t we need to at least try something that might ease 1 or 2% of that crush-hour loading?

    Some of us are really exasperated at the multi-millions being soaked up for costly big roads and transit services, especially when into sprawl, and providing bike safety to make it work for many of us, including through the winter where I work up a sweat vs. freezing at a transit stop, and yes, climate change is changing winters, better biking is a Big Part of our Future, or should be.

    And yes, it is beyond annoying to see how some cyclists go around and don’t stop, but please do consider trying a bike trip yourself, to get a feel for the conditions. Do be wary of the streetcar tracks though – I’ve found pulling up on the front wheel to get the wheel over to ensure only the back wheel might drag is working OK, but ask others.

    Thanks for the thread Steve. Oh, Detroit added 50 miles of bike lanes last year … and we need to catch up to Hamilton and Burlington.

    Steve: You are not going to get any sympathy from me talking about how streetcar tracks killed a cyclist. The issue is that good cycling facilities should be provided so that cyclists don’t have to use the streetcar lanes (or even the streets with track).

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  30. Michael Holloway said:

    Therefore: One-ways which are employed for traffic calming on residential streets should be signed, ‘Cyclist’s Excepted’…

    That does exist already, in at least on case that I am aware of. Maitland Place is a one-way westbound road the is east of Jarvis Street (west of Jarvis, it becomes Maitland Street). It is very clearly signed with “Bicycles Excepted” signs at the intersection (beneath ‘Do Not Enter’ and turn restrictions) with Jarvis, as the bike lane is bi-directional. Google’s Street View has an old image before this was the case, so one will need to go there to see it.

    This is truly a case of the expression, “The exception that proves the rule.”

    Steve: I have a big problem with extending this scheme. Maitland Place is a small street, but some one-ways have more traffic and pedestrian activity. Cyclists are just going to have to get used to obeying one-way signs.

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  31. Steve wrote:

    “When I start hearing arguments that go roughly “we don’t need the DRL if we would just build more bike lanes””

    Kevin’s comment:

    I don’t know anyone here who has made that argument.

    Steve: You have not read very carefully. In the comment that started the whole discussion, Hamish Wilson said:

    Only two short years ago, after having waited about 5 years to get to a signed contract EA study for a Bloor/Danforth bikeway that could also help the stretched subway by load-shedding, it was scrapped to save a half-million. Gee, now we have $85,000,000 go poof as we switch again to a subway idea, can’t call it a plan, and thank you Steve for saying can’t be done for money.

    It is that premise that I argued against in the first place, and this isn’t the only place it shows up.

    It is my own personal opinion that the DRL is the only proposed new subway in Toronto that actually makes sense because the demand exists to support it. Certainly LRT is a better technology for Scarborough.

    Indeed, proper CROW standard cycling infra would increase the need for the DRL. The trips that it takes off the subway tend to fall into the 30 minute or less range. That is because those trips are faster, easier and more convenient by bicycle considering the time to get to the subway station, go down to the subway platform, wait for the train, and do the same in reverse when getting off the train. By providing door-to-door non-stop service cycling is faster, easier and more convenient for those shorter trips.

    On the other hand, proper CROW standard cycling infra will also put a lot more demand upon the subway system for longer trips. Because it makes it so much easier to get to and park at the subway station. Right now, getting to the subway station can be a real hassle. We all know about the slow feeder routes where if you miss a bus, the next one is not coming for a loooong time.

    4 km is 10 minutes on a bicycle. That catchment area around each subway station has a lot of passengers in it. And yes, those photos of bike station parking in The Netherlands are for real.

    So a proper CROW standard network of cycle infra will take a lot of short trips off the subway, but put a lot of longer trips onto the subway network. And it is those longer trips that most increase the demand for a DRL because far more of those longer trips are going all the way downtown.

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  32. Steve wrote:

    “One writer even cited the expense of Wheel-Trans as part of his argument even though people who use it are by definition not going to be cyclists.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    I was not that writer, but cycling provides mobility for many people who are disabled through having lost the use of their legs. There is even a Canadian company that manufactures hand cycles for disabled people who cannot use their legs.

    So yes, many people who use Wheel-Trans can be cyclists using hand cycles for shorter trips, but use Wheel-trans for longer trips.

    Steve: Now you really are reaching. There may be a manufacturer, but I have yet to see one of these on the road, and I live and travel in areas where there is a high density of cyclists. This sort of argument falls into the same vein as “subway relief” through increased cycling.

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  33. Imagine Sherbourne with the buses stopping out in traffic and pedestrians streaming across the bike lane.

    We don’t have to imagine it, that is in fact exactly how it works. Roncesvalles works that way too (except with streetcars). Or, in my opinion as a cyclist, they don’t work very well.

    The problem is not that you have to stop to let buses load/unload (if I were riding in mixed traffic I’d have to stop too); the problem is that bus passengers use the bike lane as a standing area. Imagine standing in the curb lane of Queen St. waiting for a streetcar!

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  34. Bike lanes should be removed from main roads to make space for curb separated transit only lanes as they are just not safe. Instead, safe paved bike baths and pedestrian walkways should be provided through parks (which should all be connected), hydro corridors, special bridges (just for pedestrians and cyclists), and elevated bike and pedestrian paths.

    How does this help anyone trying to reach the downtown CBD? That’s right it doesn’t. Sorry drivers. That space will have to come from you because you’re the biggest wastes of space on the road.

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  35. @Tom:

    The largest employment area in Toronto is at King and Bay. Which hydro corridor or park do you propose to use for a bike path to King and Bay?

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  36. Steve, “There is a big problem with parks and hydro corridors in that they do not go easily where people want to travel and are more akin to the relationship the expressway network has with local streets. This type of network would do nothing for trips that don’t happen to lie along the park system. ”

    Steve, “There are locations where bike routes might make sense, but the hydro corridors and parks are not going to eliminate the need for cycling capacity on local streets. The last time I looked, there is no way to serve the core area by your scheme.”

    L. Wall, “How does this help anyone trying to reach the downtown CBD? That’s right it doesn’t.”

    Leo, “The largest employment area in Toronto is at King and Bay. Which hydro corridor or park do you propose to use for a bike path to King and Bay?”

    You can’t expect to get everywhere by cycling just like you can’t expect to get everywhere by subway unless you live in Seoul, South Korea or Shanghai, China or or Beijing, China or Hong Kong, China or Tokyo, Japan or Singapore and the like. If TTC takes over BIXI, then BIXI fare should be integrated with TTC fare and BIXI made more affordable and BIXI stands available at more locations. That way you might begin your trip at U of T for example, bike to St George station, take the train to Victoria Park, and the bike somewhere else. We must encourage cycling, walking, and transit as ways to improve our environment.

    Steve: You still have not addressed the issue of the connectivity of hydro corridors and park lands with the subway system, but appear to be changing the subject.

    Steve, “As for the scheme for decking above the Gardiner, that is pure fantasy.”

    It wasn’t too long ago when flying was a fantasy, going to the moon was a fantasy, and so many other fantasies made reality. That scheme will increase the if expectancy of the Gardiner, reduce the need for snow removal and salting, and so many other environmentally friendly benefits and cost savings.

    Steve: The issue with the Gardiner is that the proposed deck structure would be well above the level of the existing road making access for cyclists (and anyone else) an issue. From a construction point of view, it would almost certainly require its own structure straddling the Gardiner a road whose decay is well advanced. The biggest problem on the road deck is the years of salt used to melt snow, and that decay has already happened. You are not going to eliminate the need to rebuild the Gardiner simply by decking over it.

    Electrifying train in Canada is a fantasy but in China with a huge railway network (many times the size of Canada’s), they have electrified about 50% and 60% expected by 2015. Here we are building, diesel rail link to the airport in the 21st century and China made a electric maglev (flying train) many years ago. It took the PanAm Games for us to build even that* but in Shanghai there were no Olympics or anything needed to build that (Olympics were in Beijing far far away form Shanghai).

    * Actually it’s not even completely built yet and after years of work, it still 2 years away from service.

    Steve: Your analogy is inappropriate. Rail electrification is a well developed technology with proven costs and benefits. The airport link,m regardless of its technology, was proposed long before the Pan Am Games. The idea was poorly thought out from the beginning because it focussed on high-priced trips for business class travellers to the airport, but ignored the much larger travel market for people who work in the larger airport area and the corridor between it and downtown. If we are trying to divert trips to transit, we don’t do so by building a line for a small minority in the market.

    China has the vast majority of world’s high speed railways. In the last 20 years, they have built thousands of kilometres of subway when Canada built less than 100 km. Seoul has almost a thousand kilomteres of subways. Busan in South Korea as well as other South Korean cities and Japan, Taiwan, Singapore also have the best transportation systems as well as other infrastructure in the world with amenities like monorails, subways, high speed trains and all fully electric. Canada is lagging behind. Germany was until an year or two ago the largest exporter in the world (no replaced with China) even though it was one of the most developed and expensive places in the world and eve though it is a small country of only about 80 million people (much less than US and China). Why? One reason is very good infrastructure (high speed electric trains, subways, excellent research and development infrastructure, and so much more). I don’t see half subway and half middle of the street streetcar in any of those countries (China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, Singapore) like we are putting on Eglinton. The Eglinton Crosstown is touted as the most expensive infrastructure project in the world and yet they couldn’t deliver a proper subway line with even that much money. Work started on it in 2011 and if we are lucky, it might open NINE YEARS later (2011 to 2020).

    Steve: First off, the countries in question decided as a matter of national policy to build on a large scale. In Canada, the government avoids commitment to anything that smells of support for local services, especially in Toronto. Oddly enough, some major spending elsewhere has been tied to major events such as Olympics, the very problem you complain about re the UPX line.

    Second, subway-surface operations are not unknown in first world countries. Again it is a question of how much one is willing to spend to put transit out of the way of cars. It is fascinating that just as we are having a debate about more subways, there is a rise in demand for more cycling facilities, something that will affect many more streets and motorists than, for example, the Eglinton LRT line. The length of time for construction is partly a function of its length and the use of deep bore tunnels (which also affects the complexity of station construction), but also of provincial government policies to stretch out the spending on transit projects generally. It is also rather odd that the project has not been designed so that it can be opened in stages — first from Weston to Eglinton West, then to Yonge and finally to Kennedy.

    Work started on the few kilometres York University extension in 2008 and if we are lucky we might see it in service EIGHT YEARS later (2008 to 2016). In 2008, some work like moving utilities, etc has already begun believe it or not. Even the pathetic 2 stop subway extension on EXISTING right of way was said to be AT LEAST TEN YEARS away. This is the state of Canada and I am afraid that with this kind of attitude, not only are we going to lose more jobs (especially the high paying ones) to other countries but also our environment and health will also severely decline with diesel trains, too many cars due to poor transit, etc. London and New York City are also expensive places with high cost of labour (much more so than Toronto) and so I don’t understand how they can continue to build so much more subways. London also manages to build high class fully electric London Overground much like the S-Bahns in Germany (once again fully electric), yet Metrolinx tells us that the complete electrification of our much smaller GO Transit train system is at least several decades away.

    Steve: You won’t get any argument from me about the foot-dragging on electrification. The proposed rollout clearly shows an agency and government that are not committed to a move away from diesel, despite any rhetoric to the contrary.

    There is a construction Mafia here and that is why every public sector construction project takes so many years to build if completed at all (Sheppard subway supposed to run from Downsview station to Scarborough Town Centre as one of countless examples of incomplete projects) and are so overpriced. Construction Mafia scandal has just come out in Quebec but the Mafia extends to Ontario as well – do you think that such a well organized Quebec construction Mafia will leave much larger and more expensive Ontario projects alone (Ontario has a much higher population than Quebec and hence much more money for the Mafia than Quebec can ever provide) especially since there is no police or border security between the 2 provinces? Whatever happened to the Etobicoke RT? They take (over priced) money to do study after study for projects that they know will never be implemented. We need a corruption inquiry for the construction and engineering industry as well as of politicians.

    Steve: What Etobicoke RT? The only plans on the table are the western segment of the Eglinton line from Weston to the airport, and the Finch LRT. The originally proposed line from Kipling to the Airport dates to the 60s/70s, and it never was more than a line on the map (and an unused platform at Kipling Station). As for the length of construction projects, a much more severe problem (leaving aside any issues of construction industry malfeasance) is our insistence of complex, expensive construction techniques notably for the York/Vaughan extension. Combine this with governments who wish to slow down the rate of cash flow and you have a recipe for projects that take forever.

    In the specific case of the Spadina extension, there have been major problems with unforeseen site conditions, mainly underground water, as well as a construction accident at York U that has delayed the whole project by about nine months. The delays in getting from original proposal to start of construction were much longer and can be traced mainly to the challenge of (a) getting agreement that this would be the “next” project and (b) getting funding to pay for it.

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  37. Steve wrote:

    “As cycling grows, there will be major debates about the relationship between bikes and transit and pedestrians, notably how transit riders are supposed to get across bike lanes to bus and streetcar stops”

    Kevin’s comment:
    This is a traffic design engineering standards issue that is well addressed in the CROW standards.

    There is a video showing how this works.

    What I find fascinating from a Toronto perspective is the latest controversy referred to about a recent proposed bus stop design by Transport for London in England. This was on a street that looks very similar to many downtown Toronto streets. And what was most familiar to anyone in Toronto was failing to use proper traffic design engineering standards but instead going for some half-baked home-grown scheme that tried to reinvent the wheel and failed miserably.

    Steve: A few points about your example. First, the design requires the equivalent of an “island” for transit passengers. The ones shown in the video are quite small and would (a) not handle a large volume of passengers at a major stop and (b) do not meet the requirements for accessibility because there isn’t enough room for a wheelchair or scooter to manoeuvre on and off of the vehicle. Both of these increase the amount of space needed, and this space is not available within the constraint of a typical four-lane street in Toronto.

    Second, as with some other examples that have been included in this thread, some of the roads illustrated have considerably wider rights-of-way than Toronto streets. The problem has always been that one can find room for everyone on wider roads, but it’s the narrower ones that are the problem.

    Third, the design still requires that pedestrians and cyclists cross paths. This is described as a less serious conflict than a bike/auto interaction (at least for the cyclist), but it does not eliminate the conflict. If we stir in comments about increased volumes of cyclists, the actual operation of a stop like this gets tricky. Again, the problem is the mixing and matching of examples.

    You seem to be attacking the Roncesvalles implementation, but I would love to see how you would address the problem within the available space.

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  38. Steve wrote:

    “…do not meet the requirements for accessibility because there isn’t enough room for a wheelchair or scooter to manoeuvre on and off of the vehicle.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    Actually there is enough room. I have never seen wheelchair/scooter users have any difficulty using buses in The Netherlands. By Dutch law, the deadline for full accessibility for all buses was 2010. Source

    Yes, they achieved this, mostly well before the deadline. Disabled persons are able to make a quick and easy transition from riding the bus to the cycle path, which wheelchairs/scooters are allowed to use.

    In my opinion, the Dutch do a much better job of providing access and mobility to disabled persons than happens in Ontario. Particularly in winter. I have never encountered the absurdity of clearing snow from sidewalks being the responsibility of the adjacent property owner.

    In The Netherlands, disabled people have full access to the cycle path system, which provides excellent mobility options free of snow, merchants blocking the sidewalk with illegal signs (and other stuff), and such insanities as the official street furniture at the north-west corner of Yonge and Wellesley narrowing the sidewalk to prevent disabled access.

    Take a look at this link and answer the question: If you were to become disabled, wouldn’t you want to live somewhere where national standards required this infrastructure?

    Steve: My comment applied to the first illustration from 1953 which clearly was not wide enough to accommodate a ramp + scooter/wheelchair. The 2013 example that follows is much better and does meet the standards.

    However, I continue to point out that the examples you show would not fit within the available space on existing streets in Toronto without major changes in allocation of space to competing uses. I certainly agree that the city does a terrible job both with restricting merchant use of sidewalk space and with its own street furniture. This is a larger issue than disabled transit, but separate from it.

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  39. I don’t think a bikeway would cut long travel subway traffic by much, although short trips could be replaced. For example the person who rides from Vic-Park to Yonge, isn’t going to switch to bicycle, however the person who is going say from Yonge to Bay or St George could conceivably like an alternative.

    A BD bikeway would be an excellent idea, however you also need at least 3 North-South routes as well. I’m thinking Yonge Street, maybe Kennedy in the East, and Weston Rd in the West.

    Cyclists who are jerks…. I think it’s selective memory, you pass 100 cyclists on a road, 95 are behaving properly, five are acting like jerks. If you are asked how many bicycles you passed, you will probably say 5 or 6, and they all acted like jerks. Because the rest are acting the way they should, you come up to them, pass them, and forget about them. It’s the same when on a bike, the 95 cars that pass you in a given period who act the way they should, you forget about, the five that act like jerks, you remember.

    Street Car tracks, the key thing to remember is 45º you want an angle of more then 45º when crossing. If you’re travelling parallel to the tracks you need to stay at least 1′ or 30cm nearer the curb, then the nearest rail, and box left hand turns. Cross the street you’re turning onto, then shift directions and cross the street you were on.

    Steve: As a pedestrian, I encounter ill-behaved cyclists more frequently than motorists. The issue is that cyclists intrude into pedestrian space including sidewalks and crosswalks inappropriately more often than motorists do.

    As for correct ways to cross streetcar tracks and tracks in general, the problem is often with parked/standing vehicles in the curb lane which make it impossible for a cyclist to avoid being closer to the tracks than they want to be.

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