An update on the matter of the Bike Share station in Riverdale Park West for you. The poll we ran in late November / early December showed overwhelming support for having a Bike Share station located in the park – over 97% of the 739 respondents supported this. For the record, the 2 “other” responses were also in favour of the current location but wrote comments about it rather than voting yes. We shared the results with Councillor McConnell’s office.
In January, some preliminary discussions were had between the various City Departments involved, but no decisions were taken although the popularity of the station has raised the possibility of a second one being placed nearby. More recently, the Cabbagetown Heritage Conservation District (HCD) Committee was approached by a concerned resident about the matter and on January 23 posted an open letter to Councillor McConnell on their website. The letter reads in part that their “primary concern lies with the negative impact the Bike Share unit has on the neighbouring heritage sites and its incompatibility with the character of the neighbourhood. We support the function of Bike Share, just not the current location.” The HCD Committee suggest moving the Bike Share station outside of the park to the south west corner of the intersection of Carlton and Sumach Streets on the grass between the sidewalk and the fence surrounding Sprucecourt P.S. (see their letter for a photo of the location). We aren’t sure yet who “owns” that piece of property (TDSB, City of Toronto…) so we don’t know their reaction at this point (Feb 4 update: according to the updated HCD web page, the trees on the boulevard would block the solar panel which needs 7 hours of sunlight per day to power the station, therefore the proposed new location wouldn’t be suitable). The HCD Committee (all volunteers, including experts in heritage and architecture) is responsible for a lot of good works in the neighbourhood, but the CRA board disagrees with them on this particular topic.
When the Cabbagetown Residents Association Board of Directors were first contacted about this topic in November, none of the 11 board directors supported moving the station. We reject the idea that bicycles or the bicycle rack/station are incompatible with the current location and the heritage buildings nearby. Many of us believe that bicycles and Bike Share access are a welcome and “welcoming” contribution to the park and are an enhancement to the neighbourhood. The automated “Donation Station” at the west entrance to the farm, plastic recycling/garbage bins, modern picnic benches, electric street lighting and modern signage are all modern elements that contribute positively to the park and do not negatively impact the view of the wonderful heritage buildings – we believe that the Bike Share station is similarly suitable. We think that a prominently sited Bike Share station is not only tolerated, but is *celebrated* by most residents.
If you haven’t been by the park for a while, a few photos are posted here showing the rack and some modern elements within the park. Feel free to leave comments below.
February 3, 2017: The Toronto Star has an article about the topic:
The petty battle against Bike Share in historic Cabbagetown (thestar.com)