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  • NOW Toronto's Tammy Thorne looks at the reasons given for the lack of bike lanes on the Entertainment District's John Street.

  • The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr reports on the success of bike lanes on Bloor Street.

  • The Star carries Liam Lacey's Canadian Press article on Gregory Becarich, maker of ghost bike memorials in Toronto.

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Torontoist's Cayley James shares her summary of six key points from a recent report on cycling in Toronto. There is definitely a lot of potential for it to increase.

Ryerson University recently released a report that is the first of its kind in Canada. Cycling Behaviour and Potential in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [PDF] is a nearly 100-page document that analyzes current cycling patterns, with an eye towards how Metrolinx and the municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) can increase cycling.

Written by Raktim Mitra, Ian Cantello, and Greggory Hanson, three researchers from Ryerson’s School of Urban and Regional Planning, as well as Nancy Smith Lea from the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT), it received funding from Metrolinx, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

There are 14 million trips made on a daily basis in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Anyone can tell you that Toronto has a travel problem. The roads are clogged with cars, there is a dearth of hard-rail transit that Metrolinx is trying to remedy slowly but surely, and those who could be cycling aren’t. For me, a commuter, a cyclist, and someone who can’t drive, a lot of the problems brought up in the report were common knowledge. What was enlightening was the breadth of these problems across the region and the surprising areas that potential is hidden.
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The Toronto Star's Alina Bykova reports on an encouraging new poll of Torontonian opinion.

Seven in 10 Torontonians support bike lanes generally and a majority approve of the new lanes on Bloor St. W., according to a new Forum Research poll revealed this week.

The survey showed widespread support for bike lanes from multiple demographics that were surveyed, including people who drive, take public transit, bike and walk to work or school, those in different income and age brackets, and men and women alike.

Downtown Toronto and East York, where most bike lanes are located, had the highest approval rates, at 79 per cent in each region. North York’s approval rating was the lowest of all the regions surveyed, at 61 per cent.

“These lanes have obviously been something of a success, and even the majority of drivers favour them. This bodes well for more bicycle infrastructure if as ambitious a project as this can meet with so little opposition,” said Forum president Lorne Bozinoff.

Fifty-six per cent of those polled approved of the new bike lanes on Bloor between Shaw St. and Avenue Rd., a pilot project installed in August. The approval rating was slightly higher in the case of those surveyed in downtown Toronto, who were 63 per cent in favour of the bike lanes, and in East York, where 72 per cent were supportive.
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  • blogTO notes a bike licensing proposal has been killed.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to a study of the surfaces of magma exoplanets.

  • Language Hat notes untranslatable Maltese phrases.

  • Language Log is taken aback by Donald Trump's juvenile language.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money thinks that Trump's stance on trade might be an advantage.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer does not understand what Ian Bremmer means by saying that the presidential election does not matter to business.

  • Savage Minds shares an indigenous take on anthropology and its charting of indigenous secrets and lives and cultures.

  • Towleroad notes that survivors of the Orlando massacre and others are starting to get compensation from the OneOrlando fund.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russians believed their propaganda today and argues Russian autocracy will always threaten Ukraine.

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Emma Heffernan's Spacing Toronto article looks at how cost can discourage people from biking.

The line of middle aged men, balancing on bright green, step-through bikes, reach out their arms to the right. In turn, they each look over their right shoulder to check their blind spot. They then make the right turn. It is the parking lot of the Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre in Scarborough, and these men have just received the bikes that they will use all summer. Free of charge.

“Let’s stop here!” The group leader is in his mid-20s with hair to his shoulders. He gestures towards the post and ring racks that stand in a straight line on the edge of the parking lot. The men each curl their arm in a square shape, their hands pointing down to the ground, to signal the stop. The group leader gets off his bike and pulls out his lock. “This is the safest way to lock your bike,” he explains, as he loops the lock through the metal frame and the bike wheel. “Always try to use the middle metal pole, because some thieves can cut through the sides.”

The four men pull out their locks, and begin locking their bikes to the posts. “Like this?” One asks. The group leader nods. One does not correctly loop his lock through the frame; he has mistakenly only locked his back wheel. This is a mistake that could cost him his bike in Toronto.

Unfortunately, I am not being dramatic – according to the Toronto Star over 18,000 bikes were reported stolen across the Toronto region between January 1, 2010, and June 30, 2015. Having a bike stolen is upsetting for anyone, regardless of income. However, for low income individuals, the risk of having a bike stolen can mean the difference between justifying the upfront cost of investing in a bike – or not.

The expense associated with buying and maintaining a bike is a barrier to cycling for low-income individuals, according to a 2010 report from Portland that used focus groups with 49 people of color in low-income communities to understand their barriers to cycling. Though the report also notes that safety concerns and a lack of secure bicycle storage also influence whether low income individuals choose to bike, a majority – 60% of respondents – expressed concern about the cost of a bicycle.

The cost of bicycles is not just a barrier to cycling in Portland. A 2016 survey conducted by University of Toronto researchers as part of the Scarborough Cycles project found those in lower incomes brackets were more likely to respond that financial concerns were part of the reason why they would choose not to bicycle, even if the weather was good. Specifically, 10-15% of those with incomes under $60,000 believe that bicycles are too expensive. Similarly, 20-30% of these individuals did not own a working bicycle. Although worry that the bicycle might be stolen was a concern regardless of income, those in lower income brackets were more likely to list this as a barrier to cycling than those in higher income brackets.
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At Torontoist, Alina Bykova writes about this park extension, funded in part by federal money.

After years of local organizing, things are finally getting underway for the West Toronto Railpath extension.

The federal government announced this week that it will fund $11.7 million of the estimated total of $23 million for the extension. The news comes as part of a larger provincial and federal initiative to fund transportation infrastructure in Ontario.

The Railpath extension itself was approved by the City of Toronto back in January 2016, and the construction of Phase Two has already started on the Dufferin Street Bridge, which is being expanded by Metrolinx to make way for extra train tracks and the cycling trail.

“It’s all systems go,” says Jared Kolb, the director of Cycle Toronto. “It’s a really exciting development for the city. This will enable and create a really safe cycling connection. Taking it down to Strachan in terms of connectivity will be crucial.”

The current Railpath is 6.5 kilometres long and was completed in 2009. It runs along the Kitchener GO train line from just north of Dupont Street to Dundas Street West. Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati, the manager of cycling infrastructure at the City of Toronto says that as of May 2013, about 1,000 cyclists and 100 pedestrians use the current trail on a daily basis, and estimates predict that 2,000 people will use the path daily once the extension is finished.

Phase Two will run from Dundas Street West just south of Bloor Street West along the train tracks to Abell Street, which is just east of Dufferin. The extension will also connect western Toronto neighbourhoods to Liberty Village, and hopes are that it will eventually connect to Fort York and the downtown core, although that phase is still being researched.
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Torontoist reports on the Bloor bike lanes.

In May, Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of the installation of a Bloor Street bike lanes pilot project, much to the joy of Toronto cyclists. The street is an active artery for more than 3,000 cyclists daily, and the fight for a safer ride from Shaw Street to Avenue Road has been 40 years in the making.

The bike lanes are under construction, and while the flexipost bollards haven’t been installed yet, cyclists can test-ride the newly painted lines. Some commuters, however, are not yet accustomed to sharing the road.

Torontoist‘s Corbin Smith took his bike out for a spin yesterday, and found that—to little surprise—being a cyclist isn’t easy in Toronto, even with new bike lanes.

Smith rode from just west of Shaw past Avenue Road, where the the pilot project begins and ends. He ended his commute around Church Street.

At first, it was smooth sailing: the streets were fairly empty, and he had the lanes to himself on the west end.

Thigns changed.
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Torontoist's Emily Macrae looks at how Toronto can learn from Strasbourg's approach to bikes, to bike parking in particular.

Cycling is a big deal in France’s seventh largest city. Strasbourg boasts 560 kilometres of bike lanes and 19,000 bike parking posts for a population of just over 275,000 in the city itself and around 768,000 in the metropolitan area. By comparison, Toronto has slightly more than 400 kilometres of bike lanes (including both protected cycle tracks and off-road trails) and 17,000 “post and ring” parking stands on sidewalks and boulevards.

One of these is not like the other.

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 Toronto, the City’s Transportation Services Division is responsible for sidewalk bike parking as well as other short- and long-term bike parking facilities. Although Toronto is not yet home to automated underground bike storage, Transportation Services manages several other solutions that allow for a higher volume of bike parking and a greater level of security.

Much more there.
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The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr writes about the Toronto police's apparently continued pursuit of bike-lane violators.

Cyclists aren’t shy about giving David Armstrong advice on how to do his job.

“Give him the ticket, man!” shouted one rider on Monday afternoon, as Armstrong, a shift supervisor for Toronto Parking Enforcement, wrote up a driver for parking in a bicycle lane. “This is bulls--t!” the cyclist added before he pedalled away.

Monday marked first day of “Right 2 Bike,” a weeklong enforcement blitz targeting illegal parking in bicycle lanes.

To the many frustrated cyclists who complain about being forced into traffic by inconsiderate motorists, the blitz, which coincided with the annual Bike to Work Day, was long overdue.

But despite photos frequently circulated on social media that show cars invading Torontos’ bike lanes with seeming impunity, Armstrong is adamant that the parking enforcement unit takes the issue very seriously. According to the police, officers have issued over 23,000 tickets to drivers parked in bike lanes or separated cycle tracks since 2013.
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Spacing Toronto describes the benefits of Toronto's planned bike networks for east-end Scarborough.

On May 16th, the City of Toronto Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) recommended that City Council increase annual capital funding to $16 million for the proposed Ten Year Cycling Network Plan. This figure was recommended by Transportation Services staff and roughly doubles the City’s annual spending on cycling infrastructure. The plan calls for a total of 525 km of new cycling infrastructure throughout the city, including 280 km of bicycle lanes or cycle tracks on what the staff report refers to as ”Fast, Busy Streets”, 55 km of sidewalk-level boulevard trails also along ”Fast, Busy Streets”, and 190 km of cycling routes on ”Quiet Streets”.

In a previous post, I highlighted what Scarborough residents could expect from this new plan. To re-cap, building cycling infrastructure on major corridors like Kingston Rd., Danforth Ave., and Midland Ave. would improve transportation options, especially in southwest Scarborough, which has the highest levels of cycling mode share.

Therefore, it is promising that sections of both Danforth Ave. (between Broadview Ave. and Danforth Rd.) and Kingston Rd. (between Danforth Ave. and Eglinton Ave. E.) are slated for major corridor studies during the first three years of the plan in 2017 and 2019 respectively. A major corridor study is used in locations that would achieve an important cycling network link but where the streets are already intensely used for a wide range of existing activities. As part of the study, traffic impacts are assessed and affected stakeholders, such as residents and business owners, are consulted before new cycling infrastructure is introduced.
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The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr reports. All I can say is that this is a great plan. Will it be enacted? This remains to be seen.

Bike lanes could be coming to eight of Toronto’s busiest streets if the city’s new 10-year cycling plan pans out.

The plan, released in a city report Monday, identifies 525 km of new bike lanes, cycle tracks, trails and other routes that, if built, would create the kind of connected network Toronto’s bike advocates have long pushed for.

The majority of that infrastructure, some 280 km, would be in the form of painted or physically separated bike lanes on busy streets, while 190 km of it would be cycling routes on quieter roads. The remaining 55 km would be “sidewalk-level boulevard trails” running alongside major thoroughfares. The plan would cost an estimated $153.5 million over the next decade.

“Over a 10-year period we would roughly look at doubling the amount of cycling routes in the city,” said Stephen Buckley, the city’s general manager of transportation services. He said that to date the city’s planning of its bike network has been disjointed, and his goal was to “develop a full network that we could get behind.”

The guiding principles are connecting existing cycling routes, expanding the network, and improving infrastructure already in place, Buckley said.

Perhaps the most striking feature is a proposal to study bike infrastructure on eight major corridors, including Bloor St./Dupont St. from Dundas St. to Sherbourne St.; Danforth Ave. from Broadview Ave. to Kingston Rd.; and Yonge St. all the way from Steeles to Front St., almost the full length of the city.
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D.C. Matthew writes at length in NOW Toronto about the various reasons why black people are so underrepresented in the population of cyclists. Some of the reasons are more benign than others.

People are connected to various social networks (the web of social relationships in which we are embedded), and researchers have convincingly - if not uncontroversially - argued that the behaviour of persons in our networks can affect our own in various ways. The idea is that a behaviour can spread as people pick up unconscious social signals that it's normal.

But if more people are cycling because their friends are cycling, why aren't more Black people cycling? Don't they have friends, too? Yes, but it's a well-studied fact that social networks are often less racially and ethnically diverse than we think.

Typically, when scholars study the racial homogeneity of social networks, their aim is to learn whether and how they work to disadvantage minorities by providing whites with privileged access to valuable resources such as jobs. If, for example, what matters most in getting a job is not what you know but who you know, and whites have historically dominated the most sought-after jobs, then it's easy to see why homogeneous networks might be troubling.

But racially homogenous networks can also serve as conduits for the racially differentiated spread of healthy behaviours, and one of these is cycling.

This point finds some support when we look at the neighbourhoods where cycling rates are highest. In Toronto, the areas with the highest number of utilitarian cyclists (including Parkdale, Little Portugal and nearby 'hoods) tend to be in the west end.

Although these neighbourhoods aren't among the city's whitest, they're not the Blackest either.
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Angus Whitley of Bloomberg describes a strict regime for cycling in Sydney that I actually think is defensible if flawed. You?

Australia’s newest piece of criminal legislation is among the toughest in the world. The target: cyclists.

In a week, riders in Sydney and the rest of New South Wales state will be subject to a package of new laws aimed at cutting deaths and the more than 1,000 serious injuries a year among cyclists.

The penalty for cycling without a helmet more than quadruples to A$319 ($229), stiffer than many speeding fines for drivers, and riders jumping a red light will get a A$425 fine. Adult riders will have to carry identification, or face a A$106 penalty from March 2017.

Cycling advocates say the crackdown will deter people from saddling up and worsen motorized congestion that’s already grinding down Australia’s biggest cities. Without better planning, the economic cost each year of such gridlock will quadruple to A$53 billion by 2031, according to government agency Infrastructure Australia.

“This legislation is reaching new lows,” said Chris Rissel, a professor at the University of Sydney’s school of public health who has researched the benefits of cycling for 15 years. “There are many things that could be done to make cycling safer and to encourage more people to ride. These things are not it.”

Tougher rules, which come into force March 1, are needed because on average 11 cyclists die and 1,500 are seriously injured each year in New South Wales, said Bernard Carlon, executive director of the government’s Centre for Road Safety.
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  • blogTO notes the various subway stations scheduled to get upgrades.

  • Crooked Timber considers the ethics of wealth inequality.
  • The Dragon's Gaze notes the apparent detection of signals from disrupted hot Jupiters in nearby galaxies.

  • Joe. My. God. notes a lawsuit lodged by people in a New York City parish who allege the church was covering up their priest's theft of a million dollars for a S&M dungeon master, and notes one instance of Greek Orthodox homophobia.

  • Language Hat notes how Irish Gaelic nobility tried to Anglicize their names, dropping their Macs and O's.

  • Savage Minds considers the ethnography of the urban wilderness.

  • Spacing Toronto considers biking plans in Scarborough.

  • Torontoist notes the effects of the Fort York bridge, looks at funding for the Toronto Public Library, and examines the greenbelt.

  • Understanding Society contrasts historical and sociological explanations of events.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Russian concerns about the infrastructural vulnerability of Kaliningrad.

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Spacing Toronto's Dylan Reid writes about the idea of food bikes in Toronto.

This spring, I was fortunate to be able to spend a few days in Paris. The city is in the midst of trying to reclaim the banks of the Seine river as public space (rather than abandoned industrial or vehicle traffic space). On one low-lying outcropping the city had built a simple park with chairs (awesome chairs — see photo below) — and in that park was a food bike, selling fantastic sandwiches.

My thought, of course, was, could we have food bikes in Toronto? Apart from the wow factor, the concept has several advantages. They are temporary, emissions-free, and mobile. Bikes can reach places vehicles would have a hard time with: the Paris park was only accessible by a ramp, more easily maneouvered by a bike than a vehicle. The park was a bit out of the way, but a food bike has lower overhead than a truck or a full food stand, so doesn’t have to sell as much to make money. And a food bike is temporary, so it doesn’t even have to open at times when no-one will be around, or can go to different locations depending on demand. It doesn’t need to run a motor, so its emissions are far lower than a food truck, and lower too than a food stand that has to be brought in and out by motor vehicle.
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The Toronto Star's Marco Chown was one author of several profiling the life of Toronto cyclist Adam Excell, killed in a road accident on the 13th of June.

Adam Excell’s grey Chevy sat unused most days. Even in the blowing snow or pelting rain, the outdoor enthusiast would suit up and walk or bike so he could steal a few extra moments under the sky.

When Halifax was hit with a record blizzard last winter, he pulled on his yellow hooded jacket, strapped on a pair of goggles and snowboarded down historic Citadel Hill.

“He lived for that kind of thing,” said lifelong friend Kevin Reid. “The world was his playground, with limitless new sights to see and adventures to have … You could just see the happiness radiating from him.”

The 26-year-old was on his bike Saturday night, heading home from his latest camping trip in Pennsylvania, when he was struck and killed in a hit-and-run at the intersection of Avenue Rd. and Davenport Rd.

Despite being an adventurer, Excell was not a risk taker, say those who knew him best. He was wearing a helmet and had lights on at the time of the accident.
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  • blogTO examines the nature of Toronto's abundant consumption of electricity.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a study of the atmosphere of Wasp 80b.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes that Russian rocket manufacturer Energomash may go out of business as a result not of sanctions but of threatened sanctions.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money does not approve of Kenya's plan to deport Somali refugees.

  • Mark MacKinnon shares an old 2003 article of his from Iraq.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the new Vulcan rocket.

  • pollotenchegg maps, by province, the proportion of Ukrainians claiming Russian as their mother language.

  • Registan argues that NATO and Russia might be misinterpreting
  • Spacing Toronto shares a screed on cyclists.

  • Towleroad notes that Chile now has same-sex civil unions.

  • Transit Toronto notes that the TTC has hired an external corporation to manage the problematic Spadina subway extension.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues that libertarians do exist as a distinguishable political demographic.

  • Window on Eurasia examines turmoil in Karelia and terrorism in Dagestan.

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Spacing shares a report arguing that biking is really taking off in Toronto, especially in some downtown neighbourhoods. (Some are close to mine, even.)

Although we don’t know exactly who has started to bike in the last few years, we do know just how much things have changed. And they have changed a great deal: Our first hint came when the Toronto Cycling survey released in 2011 by the city’s Transportation Department showed that 29 percent of Torontonians were utilitarian cyclists. Next, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation and Share the Road released their 2013 survey results, showing that 5.7 percent of Torontonians cycle regularly. Most recently, in September of 2013, Cycle Toronto, working with the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank, measured the number of cars and cyclists using College St. at Spadina during afternoon rush hour. What we found was extraordinary: approximately equal numbers of cars and bikes used College at this time on the two study days – though the bikes used only a fraction of the road space, of course. That’s a 74 percent cycling increase on this street in just three years.

Finally, an analysis of the National Household Survey data from 2011 shows astonishing figures for cycling mode share in some census tracts – nearly 20 percent in Seaton Village near Christie Pits and in Dufferin Grove, with other areas of the west end following closely. These figures are for work and school trips only, so the total share of cycling trips might be even higher.

So now we know for certain – Torontonians are getting on their bikes in unprecedented numbers. These increases seem even more significant considering the poor curbside conditions, general lack of separated lanes, meager painted bike routes, and shortage of bike parking, especially back in 2011 and 2012 when most of these data were collected. Way to go, Torontonians – we know that the more of us who cycle, the safer it gets, and so we expect collision rates to be declining and emissions and commercial vacancies to be going down, while fitness, disposable income and business revenues increase.
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  • Claus Vistesen's Alpha Sources considers the arguments for thinking stock markets will continue on their current course.

  • Centauri Dreams notes the discovery of eight potentially Earth-like worlds by Kepler, as does The Dragon's Gaze.

  • Crooked Timber considers the future of social democracy in a world where the middle classes do badly.

  • The Dragon's Tales looks at a redesigned American anti-missile interceptor.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that same-sex marriage in Vietnam is no longer banned, but it is also not yet recognized.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reacts to reviews of bad restaurants favoured by the ultra-rich.

  • The Planetary Society Blog's Emily Lakdawalla provides updates on Japan's Akatsuki Venus probe and China's Chang'e Moon probe.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the immediate impact of political turmoil last year in Crimea on the peninsula's demographics.

  • Mark Simpson suggests that straight men want attention from gay men as validation.

  • Spacing Toronto reviews The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling.

  • Torontoist looks at a Taiwanese condo tower that featured on-tower gardening.

  • Towleroad and Joe. My. God. both note that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami has told its employees it might fire them if they comment favourable about same-sex marriage.

  • Why I Love Toronto really likes downtown restaurant 7 West.

  • Window on Eurasia notes turmoil in the Russian intelligence community and a higher density of mosques than churches in the North Caucasus.

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Sean Marshall's Spacing Toronto post describing, with abundant photos, a weekend biking trip in southwestern Ontario beyond Hamilton, makes me interested and envious. I need to get back to doing this sort of thing.

In mid-July, I completed another overnight cycling trip. On a bright and warm Friday, I biked from Hamilton to Port Dover via Caledonia. On an overcast and rather soggy Saturday, I rode back to Hamilton, via a longer route through Simcoe and Brantford. Along the way, I cycled on some of Ontario’s best rail trails, and one of the first bicycle-friendly paved shoulders on a provincial highway. From Hamilton to Port Dover via Caledonia (a 76-kilometre ride) just under half the ride was on off-road trails, while the longer return trip via Brantford was almost entirely competed following rail trails.

Unlike Quebec, which has a comprehensive province-wide cycling program, including the 5000-kilometre Route Verte network, Ontario’s bike routes are organized and maintained entirely by local municipalities and conservation authorities. Networks are only found in a few select regions. In Hamilton/Kitchener/Port Dover, Caledon/Erin, and in the Peterborough/Kawartha region, there are lengthy, connected rail trails which are all suitable for cycling. Niagara Region has a 140-kilometre-long Circle Route beside the Welland Canal and the Niagara River. But elsewhere in Ontario, designated cycling routes are almost non-existent; the few off-road trails that exist do not connect with others. Few highways and county roads have paved shoulders for cyclists’ use. Quebec has understood the opportunities that bicycle tourism provides.

It is time for Ontario to do the same.

As has become my custom on these longer rides, I used GO Transit’s bike racks on its buses to transport my bicycle and myself to and from Toronto. My trip began at Hamilton’s splendid Art Deco GO station, opened by the Toronto-Hamilton-Buffalo Railway in 1933. Nearby, the Escarpment Rail Trail — part of a former Canadian National line to Caledonia and Port Dover — begins its gentle climb of the Niagara Escarpment, ending at a point near Albion Falls, one of dozens of waterfalls found in the Steel City. A footbridge spans the Lincoln Alexander Parkway (whose construction cut through the old CN railbed) and one must take Stone Church Road (thankfully, with bike lanes) to resume cycling south via the rail trail.


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