magic lines win bronze!

credit: kingston whig-standard

So, Kingston is now about five years (give or take a year or so) into its experiment to transform the city into a ‘Bike Friendly’ community.   Despite its efforts it seems Kingston only managed to  ‘win’ Bronze (yay!) recognition from Share the Road Foundation – in 2012!  Hardly something to shout from the rooftops.  And judging by the fact that this recognition is buried deep within the City of Kingston’s website, its not an honour they’re too proud of either.  So lets have a look at what our tax dollars have delivered so far.

  • Magic Paint Lines of Protection.   Surely there must have been a  rapid proliferation of happy commuter cyclists making use of all of this new bike friendly infrastructure?  You’d expect that after the congratulatory pats on the back, city administrators would be trumpeting the success of their bike lanes, twitting and instagraming hordes of cheerful cyclists streaming down the bike lanes of Taylor Kidd, Johnson Street, or any number of arterial roads where these have appeared.  Or not.  Could it be that cyclists, with a dash of cynicism, recognize that the city simply rolled out the magic paint lines of protection as a cheap means to meet their goals? Listen, shh….. Hear that?   The sound of squadrons of cyclists rolling merrily to work along Johnson, Brock, Taylor Kidd, Centennial.
  • Share the Road Chevrons. Similarly, the city added ‘sharrows’, superimposing Cycling_Sharrowsthem into motor vehicle lanes, thereby endangering any cyclist foolish enough to believe them. Forgetting that by mid November, they have disappeared from sight and mind (along with fair weather cyclists) under snow, ice and sand.
  • The multi use bicycle path from nowhere to nowhere.   In a daring gesture, Kingston is building its first separated dedicated bicycle path!    Huzzah!   That should garner us some points from the stingy Share the Road Foundation.    Except, except – its going to run from Collins Bay road along the south side of Bath to Coverdale Road, a hotbed of cycling activity!   This expensive vanity project will remove (!) one lane of vehicle traffic eastbound along one of the city’s busiest arterial routes, to provide approximately two kilometers of bikeway for……. no one!

Which do you suppose is true:

  • painting bike lanes and chevrons protects 190lb meatsacks from 2 tons of metal, or (2) does nothing to make Kingston a ‘bike friendly community?
  • Dedicated paths from nowhere to nowhere will bring out Kingstonians in their (two wheel) droves?
  • Building dedicated separated lanes, from the downtown core out, will encourage growth in bicycle useage.
  • Painted lanes on suburban arterials magically creates cyclists?

What Kingston should do…

  •  Stop faffing about with painted bike lanes and use the boulevard between the sidewalk and road for more than simply winter snow storage.  Create instead dedicated bikeways on the boulevard right of way.

  • Kingston city planners could stand to visit Outremont, to take in first hand the proper way to encourage cycling without pissing off motorists at the same time.  Note:  four lanes of motor vehicle traffic, physically separated bicycle lane reclaimed from city property between the roadway and sidewalk.

Separated bicycle lanes, Chemin de la Cote Sainte Catherine, Montreal.   Source:




cautiously optimistic?

VIA-HFRAnyone who has attempted to travel from KTown to anywhere else and wishes to avoid the near daily carnage along the Queen’s Highway 401 is faced with either flying or taking the train.  In a(much) older post I had a few thoughts about VIA Rail, but recent news has prompted an update.

VIA Rail is proposing to upgrade the old CP right of way (yellow line) paralleling Hwy 7 into a dedicated passenger rail line between Ottawa, through Peterborough and on to Toronto, while at the same time upgrading portions of the lakeshore CN infrastructure (blue line) all with the intent of increasing the frequency, if not the speed, of rail service in the Toronto to Quebec City corridor.

Specifically Kingstonians may soon enjoy an alternative to ‘Luggage Lotto‘ at YGK or ‘Big Rig Dodge’em‘ along the 401.  If, and its a big if, Transport Canada approves and funds VIA Rail’s High Frequency Rail (HFR) plan, then Kingston could soon become a hub with late arrivals from Toronto and Montreal complemented by early morning departures.  Imagine being able to enjoy a show in Toronto, returning comfortably that night, or better yet departing early enough to catch  flights out of YYZ or YUL, all while avoiding the circus of cancellations and delays that sums up Air Canada’s service to YGK.

While I’m at it, a couple of improvements to the design of Kingston VIA station regardless of whether HFR comes to pass:

  • Divert the through freight tracks to the southeast side of platform two, to allow dedicated passenger rail embarking and debarkation with the intent to build;
  • Raised platforms at rail car floor height (as is the case in virtually every European main train station!) to enable mobility options.
  • Construction of  a weather canopy over much or all of the exterior passenger platform.