There was lots of 'Bike Amenities' talk at last nights' initial "Dundas/Carlaw Corridor Study" Public Consultation. This Public Consultation was held at 326 Carlaw Avenue in their spacious, open, 3rd Floor Amenity Room.
Ward 30 Councillor, Paula Fletcher introduced the meeting by putting the study into context for everyone. She noted that this study is one of five area planning studies being undertaken right now by City Planners at her bidding - as Leslieville and South Riverdale and Riverside are experiencing a tremendous growth in the rate of development.
An over-view of the planning process and the history of recent planning in the area was then outlined by City of Toronto Planner, Heather Baron - who then set us to work at our facilitated working group sessions at five tables spaced around the large room.
Each table had 8 to 10 citizens along with a representative from one of the various City departments involved in the study - working as facilitators. Over 45 minutes we went through a list of items prepared by the organizers related to Councillor Fletchers' motion at Toronto and East York Community Council, and our opinions about Public Amenities in the study area.
The categories listed on the big discussion papers that organizers had placed on each table (along with a selection of maps, artists street-scape renderings, and documents from Planning) were so broad that they simply acted as a starting point for what people already had on their minds - but also worked as a guide so that we were all addressing basically the same issues.
("Public Amenities" I should note here, as far as I understand it in a Planning context, has a very broad meaning. Public Amenities are any tangible, or intangible thing about a public space that make life easier; more comfortable; nicer; more beautiful; more organized; more intuitive; more effective - for the people using it. In other words, stuff that Helps as opposed to Hinders the culture that we collectively are - and that we are becoming.)
I noted right away there was no mention of bicycles, bike lanes, bike parking or cycling as a transportation choice, anywhere in the documents or the introduction.
After after the facilitated round-table discussions - someone from each table presented their groups' notes to the entire meeting.
All five tables noted cycling issues in the study area. Cycling it seems, is an essential element in a discussion of quality of life in public spaces.
I was shocked - by the time the fifth table began reporting I was waiting for the cycling mention like one anticipates a hit late in a ball game. Then, Wham-o! Table five talked more than any other, about cycling issues!
After the reports were done people were encouraged to take the floor and say whatever they wanted. A conversation broke out that went on for some time. About what, you may wonder?
Bike parking of coarse!
The times they are-a-changing. It appears that there are a lot of people in the neighbourhood who are using their bikes on a very regular. The bike - and the amenities one needs to use a bicycle as a transportation mode - are apparently integral to this evolving neighbourhoods' life-style.
As a ward group representative for Cycle Torontos' "Ward 30 Bikes" at these meetings - I'll represent this point of view as this public consolation process continues with another Public Consultation meeting in January.
Toronto.ca TIMMIS | Agenda Item History | Dundas/Carlaw Corridor Study | http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2013.TE22.84
Councillor Paula Fletcher web | Community Planning in Ward 30 - Carlaw Dundas Study | http://paulafletcher.ca/discover-ward-30/community-planning/#carlaw
N.B. The acoustics in that room made it very hard for some people to hear. Two other people mentioned it during the meeting. I, for example have frequency hearing loss in one ear that has the effect of turning reflecting acoustic waves into white noise. I had to step out of the room for most of the five-table facilitation process because the voices of all the people talking all at once bounced around for me, like light does in a fun-house of mirrors.