Micallef calls out cycling in Weston

Would you feel safe cycling on busy Weston Road?

Freelance journalist Sean Micallef has written a column about the sorry state of cycling in Weston. He says, ““Home of the Bicycle” is a slogan found all around Weston, yet it’s one of the worst places in Toronto to ride a bike.” The article is in the Toronto Star behind a paywall but may be accessed at this link in Toronto.com.

In essence Micallef says that cycling is scary in Weston and is an equity issue according to area resident Christina Hoang.

We’ve been saying this for years at Weston Web. It’s nice to see others joining in.

Weston and Lawrence electrical work.

Weston and Lawrence electrical work.

Weston and Lawrence is being dug up again; this time it’s electrical work to upgrade power for the upcoming electrification of GO train service.

According to Toronto Hydro, “Please be advised that Toronto Hydro is planning to rebuild and relocate the overhead and underground electrical system in the community in preparation for the GO Expansion Electrification program.” The timeline is a vague June-July 2020.

Thanks to Covid-19, the restriction to one lane of traffic along both routes isn’t causing major upheavals.

I wonder if workers have discovered any artifacts at this (for Toronto) relatively ancient intersection.

Eglinton Crosstown Extension update.

The route of the proposed Crosstown extension from Mount Dennis to the airport.From Metrolinx.

It seems as if the Ford government is determined to push through a couple of transit projects; one is the Scarborough Subway and the other is the westward expansion of the Crosstown line from Mount Dennis to Renforth Drive and from there link to Pearson Airport. True to their promises, Ford and Etobicoke Centre MPP Kinga Surma want much of the line along Eglinton to be underground and so a Request for Qualifications was issued on March 10 for companies to express their interest (and show their credentials) in the tunnelling. Six kilometres of the line between Scarlett Road and Renforth Drive will be underground.

An RFQ seeks interested parties who, if they qualify, will then be invited to bid on actual contracts.

Read more here.

For a detailed view of the various options for the extension read this.

Guest editorial: infrastructure meeting was damp

A report from Robin Breon

Over 50 disgruntled Weston residents turned out to a meeting Tuesday, January 28th, held at the Weston Memorial Jr. Public School to voice their concerns regarding construction work being done on several streets to replace aged storm drainage pipes. The construction work currently taking place is part of the city’s Basement Flooding Protection Program.

The local city councillor’s office reported a high volume of complaints coming from residents who were either not informed of the construction project properly or misinformed by city staff or private contractors that the city had hired to do the work.

One resident reported that both his (underground) Bell cable and his Rogers cable had been severed by the all the digging around his driveway and when questioned about who was going to repair it was told by the contractor, “You have to go and ask Bell or Rogers about that.”

Other residents complained that they have yet to be told what the time-frame for completion of the project will be and when they will have access to their driveways and streets on which they live. There was a lot of head bobbing by the four city staff assembled by the councillor’s office to attend the meeting with many “we’ll have to get back to you on that one” kind of answers, but no real strategies put forward to lessen the impact of construction on the Weston streets that are affected. 

One resident asked how much of the drainage infrastructure is being replaced throughout Weston, in that there has been a marked increase in homeowners experiencing basement flooding and clogged drains. City staff indicated that “there just is not enough money in our budget to do all that needs to be done, but we are trying to designate those streets that need it the most.”

One resident suggested that if a community meeting had been called prior to the commencement of construction, people would have had a better understanding of the work that was to be done and the time-frame for completion. In response, our city councillor asked the resident: “Would you have even come to the meeting if I had called one?”

One wonders if a similar meeting in a Rosedale neighbourhood would have received such a high handed response from a city councillor.

 

New signals on Eglinton at Pearen Park

At the Jan 8 Community Council Meeting, another item of note was the decision to install a pedestrian traffic signal across Eglinton at Pearen Park. Residents have long complained about the danger of crossing between the signals at Jane or Weston Rd (a distance of 800 metres). Roads and Traffic have in the past refused to permit a safe crossing, citing concern that it would slow traffic on Eglinton.
However, a death in 2017 caused the councillor to ask again, and this time they agreed. However, their recommendation is that it wait until 2021, and only if ‘competing priorities’ don’t get the money first ($120,000).
As reported by Simon Chamberlain, former chair of the Mount Dennis Community Association, the city advised that they are hamstrung by new rules imposed by the province that seriously limits the number of contractors the city can use to do such work. Apparently there is, as a result, a huge backlog of signal installation.
One would think that the safety of pedestrians would trump any provincial meddling. Vison Zero cannot be successful if intersections such as this one cannot be made safe. And what ‘competing priority’ is more important than the death of a pedestrian? The councillor can be reached at 416-392-4091, should you wish to urge her to order the installation sooner.

More thoughts on distracted pedestrians

Screengrab from toronto.ctvnews.ca

I’ve often said that the most dangerous thing anyone can do in Weston is walk across the street. It’s true; 40 pedestrians in Toronto were killed last year in the second full year of Zero Vision Vision Zero. Many more suffered life altering injuries. This is the initiative designed to bring Toronto’s annual traffic-related carnage to zero fatalities by 2021.

So far, Vision Zero has been an abject failure – pedestrian fatalities rose from 37 to 40 between 2017 and 2018.

Vision Zero faces an uphill battle in our city with its woefully inadequate public transit and streets designed to favour cars. Many suburban car owners opt to drive downtown rather than suffer a longer and less comfortable time on Toronto’s poorly planned and overcrowded transit system. These drivers want clearer streets, higher speed limits and no pesky buses, cyclists or pedestrians getting in the way.

Many motor-minded folks put the blame for traffic collisions squarely on inattentive pedestrians and cyclists. They also blame them for not wearing appropriately coloured clothing. This is the school of thought that says pedestrians and cyclists should wear glow-in-the-dark fluorescent clothing while cyclists should be licensed and insured, wear bright orange and pay road tax. As Adam says, they blame the victims.

When pedestrians and cyclists are inattentive, they largely put themselves at risk. Inattentive motorists pose a risk to all road users. 1600 kilos of metal travelling at 60 km/h is far more dangerous than 100 kilos of flesh and bone walking at 6 km/h or even 26 km/h on a bike. Mathematically, the onus for care and attention should be at hundreds of times greater on the motorist than the pedestrian but somehow drivers feel the obligation is an equal one. (Mathematical purists – I understand the speed thing makes the multiple even higher but I’m on a roll here. Please feel free to calculate a better answer.)

From Toronto.com

What about pedestrians crossing the road away from a designated crossing? This is perfectly legal 30 metres or more from a crossing or intersection. Motorists should expect to see pedestrians crossing the road between intersections and drive accordingly.

What about the people being killed? The vast majority are in Scarborough where speed limits are generally higher. They are also predominantly older – not nimble enough to make it across in time. As the old saying goes; speed kills. A reduction in the speed of traffic is a big answer to traffic injuries and fatalities.

From Pressreader.com. Click to enlarge.

Finally:

  • This is clearly an equity issue (not just for seniors) and one that should have top priority.
  • Toronto Council has failed for years to build the bike lanes that it has approved. The current pace has averaged a dismal 20 km annually. There’s a fresh set of such promises for 2019 and beyond (they claim this time they mean it).
  • North America’s safest city is Montréal. We should study what they do there. For example, Montréal’s bike network exceeds 350 km compared to Toronto’s pitiful and disjointed <150 km.
  • The disturbing uptick in fatalities may be caused by drivers attending to their phones. There needs to be a solution to this problem. Perhaps technology is the answer.
  • Councillor Nunziata was responsible for establishing a committee which came up with an awesome action plan to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists (in old Ward 11). Many of the recommendations are excellent and hopefully they will be updated to include old Ward 12 and implemented asap. Ms. Nunziata is taking predictable flak for supporting bike lanes on Scarlett Road south of Eglinton. She should be applauded for this initiative.

Sidewalks are coming. Slowly.

You heard it here first: an increasingly rare urban design that is prevalent in Weston will soon be lost to history.

It’s a change you’re not likely to regret, however.

Several of the roads north of Church Street have no sidewalks, or have sidewalks on only one side of the street. The city now plans to remedy that and add sidewalks to every street in Toronto, as part of its Vision Zero plan to reduce pedestrian and cyclist deaths.

The story I’ve heard is that in the 1950s, when people expected to drive everywhere, streets in suburbs were built without sidewalks. Now that the the mania for auto-eroticism has passed, we’re regretting that decision.

The city says that sidewalks will be installed, bit by bit, when road reconstruction happens, or as a standalone project, subject to budget availability.