Toronto's dismal service levels raise repair guards

Toronto’s dismal service levels raise repair guards

Do-it-yourself city strikes again.

Toronto cyclists know that even after a protected bike lane is built, it still needs regular maintenance, but maintenance of all kinds can be hard to come by in this city.

The gold standard for protected walkways, at least for Toronto, are those in which concrete barriers have been installed. The city also commissioned artists to paint many of them, creating beautiful calligraphic murals.

It’s all good, but even though the concrete is heavy, the curbs are often rammed out of place, a testament to the low skill of the Toronto drivers, who routinely lose control and hit them. In the opposite way, this proves why protected trails are important, and it certainly saved lives. However, because they are designed to give way during crashes to protect drivers from hard impacts, barriers are often deflected, sometimes in the bike lane itself.

And that’s where they’ll stay, often for days until crews scurry around to bring them back—no matter if they’re blocking the lane or posing a danger to thousands of cyclists. Too Long, For One Man In Toronto: Tim Warman Went To Richmond And Portland Streets With A Steel Bar And Lifting three offset barriers from the corridors The night of November 28th.

“I love all the new bike lanes, but I’m sick of the city’s complete lack of attention or interest in preserving them,” said Warman, a geologist and father of three who recently bought a cargo bike. “These displaced barriers are not particularly safe, and I can see they haven’t been fixed, so I thought I’d do it myself.”

He probably doesn’t fit the profile of a radical cyclist, Warman said, but he’d definitely do it again. “A lot of people have volunteered to help, so next time it should be easier.”

But should the citizens create such dedicated vigilantes to do even the most basic civil maintenance?

The dismal service levels in Toronto are reminiscent of my last experience with Rogers this week. When calling about an issue with my phone plan, I was on hold for an hour and six minutes, listening to customer service music playing. An eternity—long enough to get from the west side to downtown by streetcar, and I finally hung up because I had reached my destination and had to go on living my life.

A joke about the deterioration of city services can be made to the level of Rogers and Mayor John Tory, the former executive in that telecom who still makes $100,000 a year as an advisor to the Rogers family trust (a thing in Toronto) The integrity commissioner is currently investigating).

“City of Toronto, brought to you by Rogers.” Something like this. There is a deep and growing inner city dysfunction over the eight years he’s been driving, and that’s no joke.

Some of the municipal leaders are great thinkers, dreamers, people who take the city to a new level and transform it. Others are content to ensure that municipal services work, which is the primary function of the town hall for many residents who are not interested in dreams but only want to clear snow, pick up trash, and so on. Besides making regular and repeated statements to the contrary, Tori doesn’t seem interested in either role.

A joke might also be made here about those who say that government should be run like a business, and that if we had only elected, say, a businessman for mayor things would have changed. Alas, if only that was the case.

As for the bike paths, maintenance work on the barriers has been contracted. On inspection, crews pass by in trucks rather than cycling or walking themselves and inspect closely. It’s pretty obvious that they routinely miss prank barriers, or they simply don’t care. Problems are often only flagged if a resident calls 311, a once-helpful service that can’t call on the resources to fix things quickly (try another Canadian carrier service joke).

Therefore, Toronto remains a DIY city.

This past weekend my partner and I drove home a bit sleepy from a birthday dinner New bike infrastructure around Dufferin Grove Park Which created paths for bicycles and pedestrians only. Another good thing, but the piles of wet leaves were more than ankle deep and a slick like ice where people are supposed to pass through.

Propelled by a few gin martinis, we grabbed a snow shovel and walked back to the piles and cleared a path through them. Wet leaves, it turns out, are as heavy as wet snow, so our work was limited but it felt like an accomplishment, albeit a small one in a city where gutters and drains are filled with rarely-removed leaves that quickly turn into thick pancakes.

This is not my job, nor is it the job of Tim Warman to fix bike lanes or any other Toronto janitor fixing something. But shall we sit back and watch Toronto go backwards? We have to live here, after all. It’s a mystery.

If only we had a mayor businessman who could make the city work as it should.


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