At this Thursday’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting there will be a recommendation to remove bike lanes on Pharmacy and Birchmount Avenues. This effort has begun to pit neighbour against neighbour and it is all about money.
The logic is pretty simple. The father you are away from a main road the more your house is worth. The closer to the main road you are, the less desirable your house is. Widening Pharmacy Avenue to four lanes will increase traffic and its speed. It will also make houses on Pharmacy less desirable. House on the side streets will become more desirable as they have a faster main road serving their area.
It is hard to peg exactly how much value a homeowner will lose on Pharmacy if the bike lanes are removed. Houses are typically in the sub $400 000 range. Each percentage the home value drops it costs the homeowner roughly $4000. How much value will houses on Pharmacy lose?Â It is really hard to say. Some general examples I found on the web were in the 20% range when comparing main road houses to cul de sacs. I doubt the difference will be that dramatic on Pharmacy, more likely in the 3-5% range. So each house will lose about $12,000 to $20,000 in value. Though the counter argument goes that because the road will become faster, houses on Pharmacy will not lose value because people can get to their homes faster thereby making their homes more desirable. It is a very weak argument, cars on Pharmacy travel at or above the speed limit as it is.
People should worry less about money and more about the neighbourhood. For instance, Pharmacy has heavy traffic on it. Heavy pedestrian traffic that is. At rush hour there are more school kids on the sidewalk than on cars using Pharmacy. The problem with Pharmacy when it is four lanes wide, is that the cars tend not to hit one another but rather crash into our homes or jump onto the sidewalk. This is caused by high speeds on Pharmacy and the fact that most intersections are offset.
Anyways, it will be interesting to see what happens when more homeowners on Pharmacy learn they are going to be out of pocket when the bike lanes are removed. They may just jump into their cars and drive down to City Hall to give them a piece of their mind.
During the municipal campaign last fall there was a lot of hyperventilating about the bike lanes on Pharmacy Avenue. All sorts of non-sense about traffic jams, bus problems and safety problems because of the bike lanes. This played heavily in the campaign literature of Michelle Berardinetti, who would go on to win Ward 35.
Last year I saw a video on the myth of traffic jams on Jarvis. I took the same approach today (May 11 2011) to Pharmacy Avenue because I have been looking for evidence that there is any fact to the claims that were made. This video was shot at rush hour. I do want to bore you to tears, I sped up the video by a factor of four. The ride lasted about 28 minutes (reduced to 8 minutes due to the speed increase), starts at Danforth then travels all the way up to just south of Lawrence and turns back down again to end at Nancy Street. It was shot during rush hour, I started from Danforth at approximately 5:10 PM.
The result. No traffic jams. Though Pharmacy does get a bit thick north of Eglinton but there is no bike lane there and the road is four lanes. For the most part the ride was unremarkable, much less traffic than Victoria Park or Warden Avenues both of which run parallel to Pharmacy Avenue. The bike lanes on Pharmacy start just north of Danforth and end just south of Eglinton. If there is any difference, drivers are much better behaved south of Eglinton than north of it. North of Eglinton, drivers were jockeying for position somewhat aggressively where there were four lanes. You can catch the tail end of a near collision because of it. South of Eglinton they had no opportunity to mess about, they just followed the stripes.
I have noticed what does cause some drivers irritation. That is other drivers who obey the posted speed limit. This annoys the hell out of people who want to speed down a residential road.
Please note: I have repeatedly asked for examples of the claims made by various people about the bike lanes. I would like to observe and record what they are complaining about. As of yet, no one has come through. All I need is the location and the typical times the concerns occur at.
See video at normal speed by clicking ‘Continue…’
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Ms.Thorne states, “…Active engagement of citizens is the hallmark of any great city, and many of our greatest neighbourhoods within the city of Toronto…” While TCAC’s terms of reference encourages TCAC in “…holding meetings in different areas of the City to encourage participation from all areas of the City…” they never left downtown. Why? Simply because the chair at the time, former councillor Adrian Heaps decreed that â€œWe are not a traveling road showâ€ and would make things difficult for staff to travel to other parts of the city. There are people, including those in the cycling community, walking around clueless as to why people living out of downtown are so disenfranchised with City Hall. Clueless as to why so many people who live out of downtown voted for Rob Ford. They are even more clueless when words like racism, bigotry, and elitism are used by people who are ignored by City Hall. The actions of TCAC are some of the very reasons the resentment exists in the cycling community outside of downtown. Also remember, if you treat people like shit for years do not expect them to come to your defence. While Ms.Thorne may be correct in a general sense that, “Eliminating these committees will further isolate City Hall from the citizens it is supposed to represent and respect”, TCAC has done a superb job of isolating many cyclists from City Hall. Do not lump TCAC in with other better run committees to hide TCAC’s shortcomings.
â€œThe best way to empower the community is to ensure there is a physical and psychological presence in the area,â€¦â€ Adrian Heaps, Scarborough Mirror, December 12th, 2006
Seems like Mayor Ford is itching to get rid of the Toronto Cycling Advisory Committee (TCAC). TCAC was an abortion from the earlier Toronto Cycling Committee (TCC). I say good riddance. In its hay day the TCC benefited Toronto cyclists. Unfortunately it went downhill pretty quick after Mayor Miller arrived on his broom. The opposite should have happened, it should have flourished. At best, during Miller’s reign, it protected councillors from having to deal with concerns from cyclists, pretty much like a rubber protects one from social diseases. TCAC made for great lip service and not much else for cyclists.
No one should be upset with Ford for tossing this utterly useless committee. This should be viewed as a huge opportunity. If you look at the most successful cycling committees across North America you will see that most of them, if not all, are at arm’s length from their city halls. Vancouver quickly comes to mind.Â They are not controlled and gagged by a councillor. While councillors may sit on the committees they have just one vote, or sometimes no vote at all, and cannot hijack the committees for their own ends.
The Toronto Cyclists Union (TCU) is the obvious choice right now to fill the gap left behind from TCAC getting tossed. Mostly because they have the widest representation from across the city. They are not the only option. If there could be another group formed with as wide a representation it too should be considered. The TCU does have a head start though. Wide representation is not all that is needed, any replacement will need finely-honed-media-savvy teeth amongst other required attributes. Cyclists would also be better served and get better value for their tax dollar from a grassroots organization. Look at the Urban Repair Squad. They can install bike lanes for about a hundredth of what it costs the city. A message should be delivered now to Mayor Ford by any group that wants to replace TCAC. “Mayor Ford if you are as serious about cycling as you say. Give us half of TCAC’s budget and we will deliver ten times what TCAC did”. Sadly from what I have seen so far is that cyclists/pinkos are going to go around and moan about gravy trains sprinkled with fat jokes.
Say good riddance to TCAC and thank you to Mayor Ford. Then, when he is not looking, hit him with a cohesive group that he dare not ignore.
Dave Meslin tried to put a good cyclnig spin on Toronto’s new mayor, Rob Ford, in the Toronto Star the other day. I am in agreement with Meslin that Ford is not all that bad. Well as far as cycling goes… the rest is for someone else to take up. In fact, in terms of cycling Mayor Ford will not be any worse or better than our last mayor, David Miller. What Meslin failed to point out was that Mayor Ford will be giving his supporters exactly what Mayor Miller gave cyclists. Just a lot of round and round with no progress. Johnny-come-lately’s do not count, ie Jarvis.
Meslin offers this as proof that Ford is cycling friendly. “…Ford proposed â€œa comprehensive network of bicycle trails across the city to provide a safe, convenient â€˜backboneâ€™ for bicycle transportation across Toronto.â€ ” Where did this ‘backbone’ talk come from?
“Bicycle transportation must be accommodated in the safest possible way â€” and without impeding traffic â€”by providing separate rights-of-way for bicycle commuters and recreational cyclists…”
Most of the councillors supporting Ford used ideas proposed at ‘Get Toronto Moving’ with Councillor Berardinetti being the most blatant about it. While their plans may seem reasonable to some people and even cyclists, I urge those people to take a deeper look at what they are proposing. Along with that the cycling backbone comes beside it.
There will never be another freeway built within Toronto. Ford is simply dangling out the possibility that ‘Get Toronto Moving’ proposals will become reality to garner votes. This approach should be very familiar to cyclists. Mayor Miller and his Pinkos dangled the Bike Plan from a stick throughout his term. End result, the Fords and cyclists will get nothing but half-assed and half-complete implementations.
Meslin also talks about “working together” to get things progressed. This approach is well supported and has proven successful in other jurisdictions. It will work here too provided cyclists are not like the mouse who is working with the cat as to what time the mouse becomes dinner.
There is much excitement over a ‘new’ plan to install separated bike lanes in the downtown area. Surprise too as this plan came from Mayor Rob Ford’s team, though apparently the Mayor has distanced himself from it if you believe the latest rumours.
It is hard to look a gift horse in the mouth. Separated bike lanes would encourage more people to ride and would be a positive development. There are issues with separated bike lanes. Yes they keep errant motor vehicle traffic away from you but also trap you in a narrow space. There too is always some ingenious dumb ass who figures out who to park in a separated bike lane. Combine that with the narrow space and you have nowhere to go. This I think could easily be forgiven by the fact that at the end of day the benefits would outweigh the negatives. Once more people are riding there will be no choice but to create wider and better facilities. One of my pet peeves though is that this plan is aimed at downtown. It does nothing to help mend the disconnected bike routes out of the downtown area. This area out of the downtown is where cyclists are being predominately killed and seriously injured.
On the political side I will be a little more… um… cautious. This is a brilliant move by Mayor Ford’s team. As long as it is dangled out there like a carrot the pinko councillors have little common ground to share with cyclists. Hard to criticize a mayor for doing something the pinko councillors could not do themselves while in majority. Mayor Ford could probably get a solid year out of this plan before having to admit it was all for naught.
Prior to election day, if anyone had asked who I thought would become Mayor of Toronto I would have picked Rob Ford by the slimmest of margins. I followed the commentary that said it would a very very close race with Rob Ford as the winner. I expected to be up all night watching results. A let down when Rob Ford was declared winner within minutes of the polls’ closing. I was expecting a back and forth fight. In hindsight though, Rob Ford’s huge win should have been no surprise.
Why did he win? I do not like him but have to respect that he was smart enough to beat the pants of his “progressive” opponents. Rob Ford knew how, or paid someone , to read the electorate. He used techniques and technologies that have been available since Obama won the presidency. Did none of his opponents take any time to research any of it?
The other reason he won is that his opposition, the so-called progressives or left wing, are failures. The best they could do in opposing Rob Ford was to call him fat. They could not even be gracious in losing, still taunting him with fat jokes. It is depressing to see that they are still at the fat jokes. This means only one thing, predicting the winner of the next election will be easy. Rob Ford will take the next election with ease. His opposition will still be stuck on fat jokes.Â Yesterday the progressives were all in a tizzy because they were called “pinkos”. After months of dishing out fat jokes the progressives get all indignant after being labeled “pinkos” yesterday. The ‘fatso’ called us “pinkos”! Boo Hoo! “Poor losers” would be a better word to describe them. Very poor.
After Smitherman or Ford are crowned mayor on Monday, we are headed straight to the ravines. Both their plans for cyclists are essentially similar. Get cyclists off the roads and stick them into the parks and ravines for their own safety. Depending on how much you weight cycling issues in your choice for mayor, this may or may not matter to you. If it does, the choices are grim. If the polls are accurate, you have two leading contenders followed by a third who would need a miracle to win. All three are bad apples. There are a few very interesting so-called “fringe” candidates who do not have the money to get their message out.
Smitherman has enjoyed a mostly free ride by people’s fear of having Rob Ford as mayor. People will vote for him just because they do want Ford as mayor. To his credit he does have some vision but nothing that inspires. None of the top three for that matter seems to inspire anyone.
Ford. He is the best example of why the left or “progressives” have failed. In the beginning most of the left’s criticism of Ford has been about his girth. No one thought that his ideas would catch on so easily or that he would even be a threat. He was well entrenched in voters’ minds before anyone started to examine his plans. So much so that lying about a drunk driving conviction was ignored. If you can believe what you read in the major media, he did the best job in using modern campaigning techniques like having “town halls” on the telephone. The Toronto ‘left’ have never grasped the fact that people, regardless of their political stripe,Â also want accountability.
Pantalone is just offering more of the same. This just results in people asking, “Where did that get us?” Mayor Miller and company did good things but for some reason seemed afraid to make it be known. They tried to make everyone happy about any decision they made. This either resulted in paralysis or no one being happy. Ford on the other hand has taken a position and stuck with it. He probably best understands which friends to keep and which enemies to make. Pantalone seems a little out of touch too with trying to reinvigorate Miller’s severely beaten dream. The ‘right’ simply was allowed to walk over any initiative unchallenged. Pantalone became lost to me when he was whining about his uninvited opponents attending the Labour Day Parade. He lost an opportunity to show he was a better mayor or at least a better political tactician.
The above is all meaningless. We are headed to the ravines which we will probably have to share with the new freeways they will build through them. Do not count on a council to help either. It too seems like it will shift ideologically towards sending cyclists to the ravines.
If you too are tired of the ‘left’ and the ‘right’, look at ‘visions’ being touted by the fringe candidates. There are a few gems out there. Best ones I have seen so far areÂ HiMYSYeD and Kevin Clarke. I do not know if the latter is actually registered this time. I have seen several signs for him though downtown, albeit hand written in chalk on the sidewalks. He does speak quite well.
Four years ago I heard someone comment that if one wanted to be a good visionary candidate for mayor in 2010 they would have to spend the next four years working on it. Guess no one took the advice. Maybe this mess will be a wake up call for 2014?
There are probably people in Ward 37, it is the area immediately north of Ward 35, where Michelle Berardinetti’s message of removing bike lanes is well received. This message is for you. Unless you want to live in a construction zone, hear the hissing sound of your wallet being deflated by city council to pay for double digit tax increases and see your property values plummet you should be afraid of Ward 35 candidate for council . Very, very afraid. How afraid. of you will lose your homes, they will be bulldozed over.
Where does she get the idea, “â€œAlso to find proper bike linkages that actually do match up and link to the bike-way through hydro corridors. Thereâ€™s ravines, thereâ€™s safe bike paths that can be created but not on Pharmacy and Birchmount.â€(TorontoObserver)? Well head on over to her web site. The main page features a prominent link to . Saveyourbusiness.ca in tandem with (both sites are the creation of the Toronto Party) suggests, “…It would be far safer and more efficient to convert these bike lanes back toÂ traffic lanes and provide a bicycle trail in a nearby off-road corridor…”
Ward 37 people still nodding your heads in agreement? Check out their plans for the roads. HWY 448 is what you should be afraid of. Very, very afraid. HWY 448 is what they want to stick into your backyards. Keep reading the web sites. They want to tunnel or trench a freeway through the hydro corridor that runs just north of Eglinton. That same corridor they want to stick cyclists is where they will stick HWY 448. You will only get to keep the soccer pitches currently located there if they can tunnel. Well at least 905′ers will be able to get home faster. Just think of how many years you will have to endure living in a construction zone. The Toronto Party estimates the cost of HWY 448 at over $120 million. Though the sum seems rather low considering how many of your houses or businesses will have to be bulldozed. Think of Boston’s Big Dig.
Take a good look at the prominent link provided by Ms. Berardinetti. It talks about the War on Cars, War on Business and the War on Fun. It espouses enough conspiracy theories to bring back X-Files for another seven seasons. Oh yes, global warming is a fraud too. The Gardiner?Â They want to string that up on wires. This would be comedic if they were not so serious.
Really. With endorsements like that can you afford to have political enemies?
You people laughing at this in other parts of the city stop. This is only one of four expressways they want to build inside the borders of Toronto. You should be afraid too.
Correction(10/15/10) – ‘Bucky’ pointed out that I goofed on Wards. It is Ward 37 that is north of 35. Ward 36 only has to worry about a couple of small roads they want changed to arterial roads.