dream big, execute frugally

In a previous post I was less than complimentary about the lukewarm efforts Kingston has implemented to become a bicycle friendly community.  Full disclosure:  I am ambivalent about the whole idea, as for the most part policy seems to have been outsourced to car hating activist led single issue groups, but given that the city has embraced the spirit, if not the practice, perhaps they might consider a few easily implemented ideas to further the vision.

Covered bicycle shelters.   Assuming the city means to increase the number of cyclists, bicycleshelterought it to prioritize covered bicycle shelters?   Failure to consider, let alone implement, such an easy and relatively cheap* piece of infrastructure does bring their commitment under suspicion.    Nearly every European city of similar size to Kingston prioritizes multi-modal transit, and includes  covered bicycle racks proximate to bus and regional rail lines. Continue reading

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:  http://dandyhorsemagazine.com/blog/2013/10/16/test-ride-montreals-separated-bike-lanes/




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.

ant farm or acreage

June 16 2010:  House bought, moving begins friday.  Blogging has been nearly non-existant of late as I pack the fourth dimension house into too few boxes.  Amazing how much cr*p the family has accumulated in a few short years.


Apr 13 2010:  Agent selected, listing begins soon and then let the circus begin.   Over the past several days I have received conflicting advice about how best to work with a real estate agent – maybe it’s the company I keep, but there does seem to be a high degree of suspicion regarding agents motives and their willingness to obtain the best price for you.  As one colleague commented, “if they can convince you to drop your price by $10k, all that is to them is $500 bucks”; the inference from this being that your agent only tries as hard as is necessary to sell the property, not necessarily obtaining the best price for you.  We’ll see.


Apr 07 2010:  And now the adventure begins – selecting a listing agent (throw darts at the wall – or go for a ‘name’), decluttering and tidying, chivvying the two fierce creatures into cleaning their rooms on a regular basis (if nothing else this might actually have the effect of establishing a habit – ha!) and devoting the evening hours of the coming weeks to tramping through countless houses until the magic ‘one’ is discovered.


Feb 27 2010:  Lately Herself has been bitten by the ‘it’s time to move’ bug and it seems that Junior has become far more familiar with the real estate listings than he might otherwise care to be.  Having arrived more or less at a figure sufficiently large enough to consider a range of neighbourhoods, the next step seems to be, well which neighbourhood?

We seem to agree on most everything we want in a new  (to us) house – bedrooms, kitchen amenities and so on –  but get rather tangled up when trying to determine whether living cheek by jowl beside other folks, or removing ourselves to some acreage surrounding the city is preferable.  Personally I would love to settle onto a little country property and hang the commuting expense, but then reality intrudes.  Things like getting to work, getting the heir and the spare to their various recreational pursuits impose themselves upon my desires.  Meanwhile, Herself wants the ‘perfect’ house situated in the kind of neighbourhood which will retain lasting appeal. 

At any rate, all of this agonizing has brought me to think about my own neighbourhood, its charms and drawbacks.  Undoubtedly there are features unique to each Kingston ‘village’; what do you like most about yours?  What does your area possess that others don’t?   Why do you live where you live?

canada’s economic action plan – kingston edition

actionplanlogoThis morning I went hiking with the two fierce creatures at Lemoine Point – a fantastic and little known hiking area just west of the airport – whilst motoring towards the point, I noticed in a few places signs proclaiming Canada’s Economic Action Plan.  Notably, along Bayridge south of Princess, along Front Road between KGH and the Prison, and lately at either end of the Green Monster.   Of course at road speed it was a little difficult to read what each project entailed, and so upon returning home I hit the interwebs for a quick investigation.

According to the Federal Government website there are a few items in town (zoom into Kingston to see) which have qualified for stimulus financing and thus presumably are being ‘fast tracked’ for completion.    Very little information is available on the City of Kingston website – except a couple of reports to council wherein mention of stimulus funding is made.   Specifically the minutes of  Meeting 18-2009 (15 Sept) notes that $60mil was requested from the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, whilst $21mil was granted for use on projects such as the John Counter Blvd expansion and others.   Which got me thinking:  assuming you agree that stimulus funds are indeed a necessary evil, which projects ‘should’ be funded?  Are the projects which have been identified the best?

xposted at kingstonist

on third crossings and other mythical beasts

So – the other day I attended an information session about the Environmental Assessment to be conducted for the City of Kingston regarding spanning the ditch which separates eastern realms from the rest of KTown.   Truth be told, I was expecting perhaps a formal presentation with Q&A, however at this stage it turns out it was a little premature.  Of course that seems to the story of the oft sighted but rarely captured third crossing.

I am reliably informed by those who have lived in these parts that periodically over the last several years (decades?) various Lords Mayor and other worthies consider offering the denizens of Pittsburgh Township the opportunity to become fully realised citizens of the realm if only they would accept a bridge or some such crossing – or perhaps its the other way around, with the rebellious eastern citizenry clamouring to share with their western neighbours, the opportunity and delight of  having their shock absorbers destroyed amongst the potholes of Brock Street and the like.  Sadly, all of these previous efforts have come to naught; relegating the elusive beast to the realm of conjecture.   What seems to be lacking ( a singularly Kingstonian attribute it seems, regarding other ventures as well) is willpower.

XPosted at Kingstonist

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