Supporting Bicycles is a Good Idea for Cities

Torontoist is a blog focused on, you guessed it, Toronto and they recently ran a series of posts about bike lanes. It’s not all about Toronto as they pull data from New York and tout Strasbourg as an inspiration that Toronto ought to follow.

The success of cycling infrastructure in Strasbourg is a result of partnerships between the city and other transportation agencies. Parcus, the city’s arms-length parking authority, manages parking lots throughout Strasbourg and incorporates bike parking as part of its facilities. Parcus provides free, supervised bike parking at five different parking lots across the city. Parking attendants are even equipped with repair kits and bike pumps.

In another recent post, Torontoist provides a look at three myths about bike lanes that people (for some reason) believe. The first myth is that bike lanes block people from commuting from the suburbs. The response to the myth is pretty great:

The myth here is that cycling infrastructure will cause congestion to the point of excessive traffic delays. Bike lanes don’t always add to traffic congestion, and really need to be analyzed on a case by case basis. Except for rush hour, Bloor Street is already occupied by parking spaces on either side of the road, and, in turn, narrows a four-lane street down to two lanes. Bike lanes will remove parking spaces, sure, but in turn will leave the two-lane situation in the same condition it was prior to the installation of the bike lanes. If bike lanes do in fact cause minor inconveniences, these inconveniences are nothing in comparison to on-street parking used practically around the clock. Here’s an 808 page book on why that’s bad public policy.

Lastly, the site outlined why bicycle infrastructure is part of a larger movement to make streets good for all commuters. Having a multimodal approach to urban transportation is always a good form of planning rather than a monolithic approach focused on one mode of getting around.

The study of the improvements made to Richmond and Adelaide streets, which included the addition of a cycle track separated from vehicle traffic by flexi-posts and planter boxes, concluded that the upgrades resulted in an increased number of cyclists using the roadways and reduced travel times for drivers. During off-peak hours, a motorist’s trip was 30 per cent faster after the cycle track was installed and 12 per cent faster during peak hours.

In the study, both cyclists and drivers reported that they felt safer using the street once it had been upgraded. The report did not, however, mention how incorrect usage of the roadway, such as drivers and delivery trucks parking in the bike lane, can render it less safe since cyclists usually have to merge with traffic.

A Plan for a Zero Waste Toronto

The Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) has released a new report on how to get Toronto to be a zero waste city. The report covers a lot of material from food waste to hazardous waste, in total there are five sections with suggestions on how to improve Toronto’s waste management. Even if you’re not in Toronto you will be able to find ideas and suggestions for your own city’s waste issues.

Across the world, people, businesses and cities are adopting a vision of zero waste. A zero waste path for Toronto will protect the environment, benefit the community and support good green jobs and a strong local economy.

This report provides innovative ideas and concrete examples that can help as our city discusses what kind of future we want and what path we will choose to take on waste.

Read more.

Another Way to Deal with Butts

Cigarette butts are usually aren’t disposed of properly (why do smokers think it’s OK to litter?) and this is a problem for many cities. Earlier this year we looked at the Pick Up Your Butts campaign and now a new strategy of dealing with butts has taken hold.

A restaurant in Toronto has put up special bins in their neighbourhood to collect cigarette butts. This waste will then be converted into something useful: pallets.

Café staff will be in charge of emptying the boxes and shipping the butts to a TerraCycle plant in north Toronto, where they’ll be shredded and separated into organic and inorganic waste. The organic material will be turned into non-agricultural compost. The rest will be made into plastic lumber and shipping pallets, which could then be sold to home renovation stores and builders.

Layton said that’s a much better solution than letting tons of cigarette butts end up in a landfill or wash away into sewers and empty into Lake Ontario.

The cigarette stubs “are made of plastic and they’re not breaking down — and what does break down is toxic,” he told the Star. “It’s poisoning our own water supply, which is pretty crazy.”

Read more.

Living Architecture Tour of Toronto

If you’re in Toronto or visiting you can now go on a special tour of the city that will reveal all the cool living architecture! It’s a free tour that you can download and go on anytime you’d like.

Toronto abounds with green roofs and walls, but most people aren’t aware since living infrastructure is often hidden atop buildings or behind closed doors. This tour reveals our city’s vegetative roofs and walls.

Living architecture offers a cornucopia of benefits, which you can experience by looking, smelling, touching and listening. #LivingArchTOur helps Torontonians and visitors to our wonderful city experience these benefits for themselves.

Try the tour!

PULP: Using Old Materials for New Movements

Art is fun and it can be even more fun when it contributes to changing the world. PULP is an organization that welcomes people (beginners to pros) who are into art and want to make art that uses pre-used materials. This year they’re throwing a party!

PULP: paper art party 2015 is an interactive art and design exhibit integrated with a live music show. The party brings together artists of all fields, musicians, activity groups, and hundreds of guests. We will be raising funds and using our collective design expertise to help a charity in Toronto. Past events have supported the Street Haven at the Crossroads’ women’s shelter and Architecture for Humanity.

This year, the event will take place at Jam Factory Co. situated in south Riverdale within the Greater Toronto Area. The event is set to take place on May 23rd, 2015.

Check out PULP.