BikingToronto - Information about Cycling in Toronto <data:blog.pageTitle/>

posted by Joe on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

It still amazes me that very few people in western society realize the destructive nature of the automobile. Nevermind the pollution, the horrible urban and suburban planning, the waste of money and natural resources... let's just think of the human cost.

It's become de rigeur (I know words in other languages) to have the downsides of an overdependence on cars accepted as "a fact of life". I am increasingly looking at car ownership and operation like I do gun ownership and operation. You should have to prove that you're responsible and attentive and not on weird medications or have a criminal record, not that you can guide a car down a road without hitting buildings or horses on the day of your drivers test (the only one you'll have to take in Ontario until you turn 80...).

Some people would call me an anti-car tree-hugging whackjob for saying these things. That's okay.

It's interesting that if I carried a gun with me wherever I went, acting irrational with it and threatening people's lives with it every day, I'd be considered a white-trash redneck trailer-trash who would be in jail (and rightly so), but driving around in a car wherever I go, narrowly missing pedestrians and cyclists (where one mistake or incident can easily crush someone) is considered "normal".

I think the whackjob moniker is misplaced.

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posted by Joe on Monday, February 27, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

A huge part of having a lot of Torontonians (and GTAers) use their bicycle on a regular basis (whether it be for recreation, running some errands, or commuting...) is them having piece of mind that they can lock up their bikes somewhere convenient. Even if some people seem to forget about them.

Here in Toronto, we've got a pretty good "lollipop" design of a bikepost and there are apparently about 10,000 of them around the city, with 2,000 more added every year.

If you know of a place that needs "bike parking" anywhere in Toronto, the "stands" are provided free of charge in response to requests received from businesses, residents and cyclists. City staff come and check the location to see if it's feasible, of course.

There are plenty of other bike post and stand designs out there. Some cities take car and word motifs for their inspiration, while others are weird and wacky, yet practical. If you're commuting to work, and your office is not the most inspired in terms of providing bike facilities (my office has underground parking with a simple bikerack that holds about a dozen bikes in the space that one car would take), you can always make your own rack for your cubicle or office!

Some cities though, are truly cycling meccas in terms of bikerack infrastructure. I'm talking about things called bikestations here. Entire facilities built near commuter train lines and public transit to encourage people to use bikes for intra-city commuting. Washington D.C. has (or is planning?) the Silver Springs Bikestation, California and Seattle have (an awesome organization I'd love to see in Toronto), branches of which have bike parking, rentals, repairs, showers, "snackshacks", internet cafes, information desks (for maps and safety info). Chicago has got one in Millenium Park, too.

I don't know about you, but how great would it be if Toronto had something similar at Union Station? Maybe one near Yonge & Bloor? Perhaps some at strategic subway stations (Finch, Islington, etc....) complete with locking facilities, showers, snacks, repairs, cycling experts. If funding is a problem, make agreements with businesses like Tim Hortons and Mr. Sub to provide easy access food to cycling commuters.

Good news. Some people have been thinking about it.

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posted by Joe on Saturday, February 25, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Well, now I'm not sure if I spoke with someone from the Globe & Mail yesterday, or someone from a nefarious right-wing anti-transit group plotting world domination, because there is no sign of the Metropass Affinity Program in today's paper or on their website.

I'm off to meet up with DarrenJ and a guy named Herb today to talk biking and the community-building advantages of websites. Herb is building a great cycling resource for those of us biking Toronto (and Canada!), and I'm dying to link to it, but he's still putting the finishing touches on an already great site, so I'll pull a nugget of gold from the site that helps explain what it is:
It is widely known that one of the most important factors in safe cycling is just having large numbers of cyclists around. This principle is "safety in numbers". But having other cyclists around is not just about safety, it is also about building community and creating social interaction.... [this website] lets people organize their own groups for free and provides features that are geared especially to the needs of cyclists. Consider it "bike pooling", like the car pooling websites out there.
Darren and I will be giving Herb some feedback today, and I'll link it for you the second he tells me it's okay to do so.

Another aim of this mysterious site (I bet you're all atwitter with curiosity now, right?...) is to facilitate the coincidental and non-coincidental minor "critical masses" that happen around Toronto every day. It happens with cyclists, but also pedestrians too, and is built around the notion of "safety in numbers", kind of like a big buddy system. Haha.

This brings me to a really good article that recently appeared in Maisonneuve about Montreal's misguided attempt to curb jaywalking in Canada's most renowned city for pedestrian "misbehaviour":
“It’s really hard to control pedestrian behaviour.” Pedestrians aren’t sheep. They will go where they want, when they want, as long as it’s safe—and in many cases, that involves taking a calculated risk by crossing the street mid-block or against the light. “If it’s safe to cross, they will,” says Pfeiffer. “It’s also about safety in numbers: you’ll get a huge platoon of people crossing [against the light] at the same time and they just assume that a car won’t run down twenty people.
It's hell on cyclists, because people don't see someone riding on a bike as a threat, but the cyclist knows that pedestrians are unpredictable. If it helps make our streets more human and less mechanic, then "go, jaywalkers go!"

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posted by Joe on Friday, February 24, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Critical Mass Toronto rides tonight from the South-East corner of Spadina & Bloor. Meet there between 6:00 and 6:30.

I'd like to be there, but I'll be home working on MAP stuff. I spoke to the Globe & Mail this morning about it, and they tell me that there will be a small "blurb" in the Saturday Globe somewhere about it.

Happy Riding.

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posted by Joe on Thursday, February 23, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I'll try and get back here tonight to do a proper post, but I'm busy doing graphics for promotional material for the Metropass Affinity Program. Apparently the Globe and Mail is interested in doing a small blurb about it in the paper this weekend, so I need to talk to them in the morning, and make sure things are rolling along nicely. MAP is planned to come into effect before the April 1st TTC fare hike.

I'll point you to the article if it happens.

Today was another good one for biking. Nice and sunny in the morning, and rainy and cold in the afternoon... I got to have a nice hot shower when I got home. Mmmmm.

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posted by Joe on Thursday, February 23, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

From an article in late January in the London Times entitled "Transport experts have seen the future, and it's got pedals", the British government's science thinktank "Foresight" tells us that:
The right to travel when and where we please will be eroded over the next 50 years as the shortage of cheap oil and environmental concerns force us to lead more local lives.
It's something that cyclists have known for a while, and anyone who takes up biking to work realizes quickly - that the autocentric world that advocates paving over everything green and then using up all the oil in the world to drive machines all over that pavement will probably not be here forever, either due to environmental collapse, or oil industry collapse.

It was beautiful in Toronto yesterday, and biking home I only had to use sign-language on one dumb driver, who nearly knocked me off my bike passing me (the empty lane beside him wasn't up to his standards, I guess), and then took offense at my gestures and stopped at the next stop light pulled all the way right into the gutter, so I couldn't pass, I assume? I laughed at him as I passed him on the left. Bikes don't have the passing limitations cars do.

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, February 22, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Here's the 2nd set of 10 Flickr photographs (you can find the first 10 here) featuring bikes around Toronto that I've posted over the past 3 weeks or so. There are a ton of awesome camera-weilders in our city! Go visit them and let them know if you love their photos.

Frost Dome

Bathurst & Queen

Rainbow Heart Bike

Beautiful people love biking Toronto

At the R.C.Harris Water Filtration Plant

Panning Bike on King

Always on the Phone in Downtown Toronto

On The Bridge

Queen Street West, near Crawford Street.

Kincardine, Ontario, 2005

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posted by Joe on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Biking Note: I hold the belief that anything good for public transit is good for cyclists too. Although there is controversy that the St. Clair Right-Of-Way (ROW) plans do not address cycling well, it is a plan that takes the emphasis from private automobile travel and puts it on public transit. This is fine with me for the tougher it is for cars out there on our streets, the safer (for us and our lungs) it will be for bikes. Not enough room for a bike lane? Make drivers wait while you take the lane.

- - - - -

I've received word from a well-connected friend on the Toronto Cycling Committee that the Divisional Court has ruled on the matter of the St. Clair Streetcar ROW brought against the city by SOS (Save Our St. Clair - a misnomer if I ever heard one). I'll try to summarize it for you:

Basically, the Ministry of the Environment ruled that a certain kind of environmental assessment wasn't needed for ROW construction, and SOS thinks this is illegal. As well, SOS was saying that because St. Clair ROW preliminary work (ie. environmental assessments, public consultations, etc.) was done in the time period between the amalgamation of Metropolitan Toronto (which had an old Official Plan which didn't identify St. Clair as a "Rapid Transit" route...) and the adoption of a new Official Plan (which did identify St. Clair as one of many avenues where public transit should have a priority), it was illegal.

The Divisional Court's decision first mentions that the Ontario Municipal Board ruled on Jan 26th of this year that while the new Official Plan wasn't "official" in the formal sense, it was still valid in terms of urban planning theory (I'm heavily paraphrasing here). The court then goes on to politely, um, "dis" the SOS group, saying that they have no leg to stand on regarding challenging the Ministry of the Environment's decision about the environmental assessment:
SOS in this application is now inviting the Court to indirectly call into question the expertise and experience of the Minister . The Minister's order of June 3, 2005 approving the Project is not the subject of this application . We decline the invitation to review the issues raised by SOS in respect of the Class EA process and in respect to the environmental issues, as they are a collateral attack on the Minister's decision .
The Courts will not review decisions of Ministers of the Crown unless it were demonstrated that they were made in bad faith or that the Minister clearly failed to comply with the statutory conditions .
I don't think I've ever had so much fun reading a legal document before.

Hopefully this is the end of all this SOS nonsense. As of the end of November, they had cost the city $2.7 million in legal costs. I'm sure that number is far higher now. TTC fare hike? Blame the car drivers of Save Our St. Clair (many of whom reportedly live in Woodbridge).

I'll post a link to the decision when I find it online (I got it in an email). In the meantime, I've hosted a copy of the PDF if you want to read it.

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posted by Joe on Monday, February 20, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

The Toronto Star has started what promises to be an enlightened view of driving called "Seven deadly sins of driving", starting with Apathy: lack of interest, concern or feeling. It's a bit humourous that columnist Ian Law has to explain what apathy is to drivers.

I could honestly quote the entire article here, but that's a little impractical, so I just highly recommend you click through to it, and I'll control myself and only quote this little bit:
Sadly, our society seems to accept traffic fatalities as part of the driving culture and the price we pay for speedy transportation. Thousands of deaths occur each year and we seem to accept it as inevitable.
Thanks to you guys who have complimented the "iBikeTO" graphic mentioned yesterday. If it encourages biking in Toronto, then great, since I think that's the best way to clean our air... get more and more bikes out there and as a part of traffic, making automobile traffic even less practical.

Perhaps we can all link to these (and other graphics, if you have ideas...) to encourage biking, and if we all agree to a small premium on the prices, that premium can be donated to CBN for the BikeShare program, or some other worthy biking cause here in Toronto?

Ideas, ideas...

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posted by Joe on Monday, February 20, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Kincardine, Ontario, 2005
photo taken by: mistagregory

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posted by Joe on Saturday, February 18, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Since the main goal of this webpage is to encourage biking in Toronto, I thought I'd take a graphic idea I had a while ago and ride with it (pun intended). It would be neat to see bikers around Toronto wearing these, just to encourage others.

So, here is the "I BIKE T.O." graphic I thought of. I've used spreadshirt (who not only have a good selection of products, but have a Canadian site for us cool Canucks... AND their prices are pretty reasonable - just less than $10 for a simple white t-shirt with a big logo on the front. Shipping isn't supercheap... about par for ordering stuff online, but, it seems to stay the same price even for multiple items - one shipment, one shipment cost. That's good.) to put it on some mens and womens t-shirts (and yoga shirts) and some buttons (both large and small). I've also made a black version as well for those of you who like to wear black shirts. I've already ordered one for myself of course to ride when I'm biking when it warms up a bit and people can actually see my shirt. Haha.

I've got some more ideas for nifty bike graphics in my head, and I'll let you know when I have made those too.

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posted by Joe on Friday, February 17, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Today was the most wintery day of 2006, I think. Cold, plus almost hurricane-force winds when it gusted. Just in time for the 2006 Ice Bike Race at Dufferin Grove Park, near Dufferin and Bloor Sts.

That Star article is a pretty good one (especially since theStar stopped requiring registration), about Albert "Ice Emperor" De Ciccio, a guy who "furiously rides his bicycle around a skating rink dressed in a Roman gladiator's uniform", a six-time champion of the Ice Bike Race.

Thanks to Martino for alerting me to the race (it's tomorrow night - running (riding) from about 5 until 9 pm), and I hope he doesn't mind that I have borrowed part of his metal-studded tire photo.

I have to check with my better half about my schedule tomorrow night, but if anyone is planning on attending, drop me an email and maybe we can meet up, down some hot chocolate and watch 30 bike couriers put the screws to their tires on a city rink in this slightly insane competition. It'll be fun.

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posted by Joe on Thursday, February 16, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Tulips on Bike
photo taken by: Teri, an American new to living in Toronto, discovering the joys of our city and biking, and behind the Purple Women group.

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posted by Joe on Thursday, February 16, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There are some great things planned for 2006, not only by the Sierra Club, but also by lots of groups interested in a more sustainable urban lifestyle in the city. I'll give you a teaser here (I don't know a ton about them all yet), and will update you as I know more.

1) Metropass Affinity Program (MAP) - this is what I mentioned yesterday to you. It's a program which basically makes your Metropass (or, if you don't have a Metropass because you commute by bike, then your spouse/sister/father's Metropass) more valuable by giving you discounts all over the city when you buy stuff. We've got 10 businesses set to go. Mainly what we did / talked about last night was how to make it easier and more practical for everyone involved. My "within 2 months" launch prediction was a little wrong... if everything goes as planned, I think we're looking at mid-March (or the first day of Spring? March 21st? Just in time for the dreaded TTC fare hike).

2) There's also a bunch of people who are coming together in a sort of coalition of transit/pedestrian/cycling groups from all over the city to form a "common front" on issues that effect these kinds of groups. I don't know much about it yet, but it sounds like an awesome idea - One group of many people saying something in unison gets more attention than a few small scattered groups shouting their voices into the darkness. I'll spread the information about it as I get it. I think the first meeting is mid-March sometime.

3) The "final wrap-up" of the City's Policy and Finance Committee happens in less than 2 weeks, on Feb. 28th. It's the final chance for people to let the decision-makers of the city know that junk like bikeplans, cycling safety initiatives, etc. are important to them. There is a fantastic list of the members (complete with contact info!) of both the Policy & Finance and Budget Advisory Committees over on If you care about cycling, it can't hurt to let the "bigwigs" know.

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

[note: the "Metropass Affinity Program" is no longer running.]

I'm off to meet with the Sierra Club tonight to talk about making the TTC more attractive to Torontonians.

It's actually because of biking and breathing in the nauseating exhaust of cars that brought the Sierra Club and I together to work on the Metropass Affinity Program (that website is being re-designed and updated soon...). I'm determined to do what I can so that whenever my kids come into this world, they'll get to breathe cleaner air than I have to.

I foresee the launch of MAP being within a couple months, and you should also watch for an article I'm writing about it for Spacing Magazine's upcoming transit issue this Spring!


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posted by Joe on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Wow, I missed two things last night. One was the Toronto Cycling Committee's latest meeting (where they talked about accommodating Cyclists in Construction Zones, Street Furniture Harmonization [not about getting bikeposts and bus shelters singing in unison... well kinda...], and alternative standards for the width of bike lanes) and the 2nd of 4 of John Sewell's Suburban Planning Lectures.

I'm going to chalk it up to rushing around yesterday to get ready for Valentine's Day. There's no competing for space in my head when you're up against looooooove. Haha.

In honour of St. Valetine though, I'll point you in the direction of "iheartbikes", run by the same guy who runs "shut up and drink the kool-aid" and obviously has a knack for naming websites.

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posted by Joe on Monday, February 13, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I've been meaning to do a "Lighting" post for a while now, and was reminded last week of this when Darren posted one part of his lighting system, and then was reminded again last night when he showed off his cool bike helmet lighting system at the end of what was hopefully the first of many Toronto HPV (Human Powered Vehicle) Dinners. It took place in Little India and the East Side in Toronto was well represented... there was talk of having the next one (and we should probably all post about it well in advance) in the West End.

Since his helmet system is pretty cool and ingenius (and he hasn't posted a photo), I've posted a photo of my helmet (which I rigged up with the two turtle lights when I got home from the dinner) to the right with the general concept - basically using the elastic bandy thing on the turtle lights to secure them to the top of the helmet. I only have 2 red turtles at present, so I pointed them backwards, with plans to add two white ones to the front, like Darren has. He says he's gotten a ton of compliments on the set-up, from drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists. I can see why because it's an ingeniusly simple way of securing lights on your helmet.

The second photo (over there --> ) is the turtles with the lights turned off. I probably didn't have to explain that. Haha.

Now that the "Refugee Helmet Lighting System" has been demonstrated, I'm free to move on to general lighting.

Aside from good cycling practices that are not only safe but assert your right to use the road (yet another upcoming post I've been drafting in my head for a while...) and making sure you have a good helmet, lighting is probably the most important part of biking Toronto. This is because the more visible you are to the traffic around you, the safer you'll be (especially if the drivers are inattentive).

The official word on bicycle lighting, according to Ontario's Highway Traffic Act, is that you should have a white light on the front of your bike, as well as a red on the rear. You have to have them on if you're biking from 30 minutes before sunset to 30 minutes after sunrise. It also mentions reflective tape on the front (white) and rear (red) forks so that car headlights light you up as well. Wearing clothing of light colours with reflective and shiny bits help a ton as well. An exhaustive resource on the subject is found on Wikipedia.

Although the law only says one light on the front and one on the back, it's a great idea to use the legal requirement as a minimum. A couple headlights on the front (one steady, one flashing) is a great idea to grab people's attention. multiple tail lights on your bikepost will look pretty cool (you can also get ones that attach to the back of your clothes or helmet), and you can also copy Darren's Turtlelights on the Helmet idea.

In terms of pricing, MEC (of course) has some great deals. Those aforementioned TurtleLights are only $3 each (available in white and red), and I picked up a nice headlight and tail light combo almost a year ago for $16.75 and have only had to replace the rear light battery once. The original battery is still in the headlight. Look around the MEC Cycling Lights section... there are a lot of good ideas on there to increase your visibility at night or in bad weather.

Here are some other cool lighting ideas from around the dubya-dubya-dubya:

HokeySpokes - A really cool lighting system that attaches to your spokes. It's even programmable, so you can send messages while biking!

Neon Safety Lights - you know those Honda Civics with the bassline thumping everything in a six-block radius and glowing with neon underneath? You can get that neon look for your bike!

Ground Effects Lights - Just like above, but a Do-It-Yourself option.

Cool Neon - nice thin neon that can go anywhere! About $2 a foot, and how can you go wrong with colours with names like High Bright Long Life Hella Phat White?

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posted by Joe on Monday, February 13, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Queen Street West, near Crawford Street.
photo taken by: Kevin Steele

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posted by Joe on Sunday, February 12, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Hi everyone. I've been a little lax in posting lately mainly due to fatigue. Not from biking, unfortunately, but from interviewing for a couple jobs the past few weeks (I start a new one tomorrow) - I pretty well over-prepare myself for stuff like this, so I've been sleepy a bunch this weekend.

The great news is that the new job is with the same company, so I still have the great 7 km commute to work. I can't wait until I can commute in shorts and a t-shirt again. I miss the feeling of wind against my body that doesn't threaten to freeze off important parts! Haha.

Thanks to who has let Toronto cyclists know that the Toronto Cycling Committee is meeting tomorrow:

Monday, February 13, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.
Committee Room 2,Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. West.

Next week will also see some sub-committee meetings.

A humourous thing that I came across in January reading about cycling issues in New York City (which I don't believe I posted here) is about the Bike Lane Protector Clowns. That link goes to a great Village Voice article, and Martino recently posted a video about it, which reminded me of it. My favourite part is that their clown hats are little orange traffic pilons.

I'd love to see a bunch of clowns biking Toronto, shaming bikelane parkers (my personal pet peeve is WheelTrans buses always parked on College St. just west of Bay) into moving!

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posted by Joe on Friday, February 10, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

On The Bridge
photo taken by: DanielN

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posted by Joe on Thursday, February 09, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There were a couple of interesting items in Saturday's Globe & Mail newspaper about The Kensington Incident. While there is some debate that the altercation was really litterbug vs. good-citizen, the obvious parallels to motorist vs. cyclist apply.

The first item was written as an exchange between two Globe & Mail writers, Michael Valpy (cyclist) & Margaret Wente (motorist - identified in the article as "Peggy", for some reason). It kind of reads like it was one of those "reply-all" email exchanges in the Globe offices, and some editor decided to print it.

I don't know Valpy too well, but I know of Wente because of her anti-transit rant in the Globe last summer after the hurricanes decimated Gulf of Mexico oil production and raised oil prices.

It's a great exchange, mainly because Wente-as-motorist epitomizes the selfish driver, writing things like this about why cyclists are often afraid of getting hit by a car:
... this city has an awful lot of traffic, and drivers are occasionally distracted (duh), and sometimes they're not paying attention, and it's not an equal contest. They can't hear you coming and they don't always check their mirrors. This does not mean that they're out to get you. The truth is, they're just not thinking about you at all. Does that make them evil? No, just human.
It's funny that being distracted, inattentive, deaf and blind while driving is considered acceptable, especially when having control of a giant metal motorized machine.

I could honestly quote the whole article, it's that good. Valpy does an excellent job of bringing cyclist viewpoints to the fore, while Wente is awesome at re-inforcing all the usual stereotypes about drivers, which isn't fair, because not all drivers are evil... just misguided.

The second article is "Two against four: the war of the wheels" which does quick work of the whole motorist-cyclist conflict, from a Toronto point-of-view, interviewing people like Darren Stehr of ARC and talking about how Critical Mass started in San Francisco in 1992.

Leah (the courier in the Kensington Incident) leaves us with one of my favourite quotes of the year (which is still young):
I'm not trying to be a self-righteous pain in the ass. But I have principles, and I think you're supposed to act on your principles. You have to try and work on what's right around you.

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posted by Joe on Thursday, February 09, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Always on the Phone in Downtown Toronto
photo taken by: canadian_copper

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, February 08, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Time to clear out some links I've collected:

On the great TreeHugger site, contributor Lloyd Alter writes about attending John Sewells first lecture on suburban planning that I mentioned on Monday. Sounds like a great lecture, and I'm sorry I missed it.

As you probably already know, George W. Bush told Americans that "America is addicted to oil" in the State of the Union address last week, and in the understatement of the year also admitted that oil is "often imported from unstable parts of the world." He went on and talked about ethanol-powered cars, and hybrid and hydrogen cars, but didn't mention public transit, or even worse biking. BikeBiz does a far better job of saying this than I can.

Meanwhile, Exxon Oil (yeah, the ones who killed half of Alaska by letting a drunk guy captain one of their oil tankers... they obviously are smart and know better than the rest of us...) says that "the United States will always rely on foreign imports of oil to feed its energy needs and should stop trying to become energy independent." and that:
"No combination of conservation measures, alternative energy sources and technological advances could realistically and economically provide a way to completely replace those imports in the short or medium term."
Hmmm, I wonder why they are saying this. Could they have a vested interest in seeing Americans use as much oil as possible? Could they be making record-breaking profits from it? So hard to say.

Here in Toronto, the Toronto Transit Commission is raising it's fares again. Cash fares from 2.50 to 2.75, tickets/tokens from 2.00 to 2.10, and Metropasses (unlimited monthly travel) from 98.75 to 99.75.

I saw a story Global News did on it just now, and they say that commuting from Yonge & Finch to the Eaton Centre for a family of 4 is cheaper by paying for gas and parking than it is for the 4 to "Ride the Rocket".

I'll leave out the fact (or maybe I won't) that I loathe Global News because of what their perception of "Real News" is (I once saw a 6:00 newscast LEAD OFF with a story about how there is too much discarded gum on sidewalks, and THEN move on to stories about gun control and provincial politics...) so that I won't go on too much of a tangent, but did Global think of the $25/day it takes to just own the average Canadian vehicle (with financing, insurance, and maintenance, according to the CAA)? No, of course not.

Did they point out that instead of paying cash for the TTC an average 22 working days per month (which works out to $121) or standing in line and buying tokens ($92), people could buy Metropasses and only spend $100 for unlimited travel? No need for transfers? Oh, and that the Metropass is transferable so your wife or husband or sister or neighbour or pet monkey can use it?

Of course they didn't. Global News is to Stephen Harper and his conservative wanks as FoxNews and Bill O'Reilly is to the Wank House. Oops, I mean White House.

Wow, that turned into a rant. Oh well.

The TTC better use those numbers to promote Metropasses, if not Metropass Affinity Program (MAP) will. I'll mail Moscoe (TTC Chair) about it. Hell, MAP will anyways. It'll be launching soon, if you're wondering.

Happy Biking. It's Free! Yay!

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, February 08, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

In case anyone missed the ATSA SUV-ticketing extravaganza on Friday, everyone's favourite Bike Lane Diarist, Martino, reminded us all that we can ticket SUVs ourselves, thanks to some handy-dandy graphics work by the fine folks at Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists

You can print up your own using the .PDF Martino has graciously hosted.

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posted by Joe on Tuesday, February 07, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Panning Bike on King
photo taken by: sam of Daily Dose of Imagery

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posted by Joe on Tuesday, February 07, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Is the title of this post too dramatic? Unrealistic? Just plain "whacked-out"?

(Yeah, this is a self-righteous, preachy entry... as a cyclist, it's my duty to be these things... haha...)

I don't think so, and I'll tell you exactly why. Last week, two major newspapers asked the question "Is The Earth Headed for Doom?", and cited large scientist organizations who are figuratively crapping their pants about the End Of The World, via global-warming.

Since there were far more important things in the news, like the gender of the Pitt/Jolie baby and stories about how many chips and how much salsa are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday (Maalox sales must go through the roof!), it’s completely understandable how the average “Joe” would miss this “end-of-life-as-we-know-it” story.

Basically, now that all credible scientists agree that not only is the earth heating up, but that good ol' homo sapien is that major cause of it, they're now starting to say "ohhh, mother of holy hell...." when they are looking at data that tells them not only that the earth is heating up faster than we all thought, but that it may be irreversible.

Since we all know that the world's supply of oil is not going to run out tomorrow (maybe in 50 years), but not tomorrow, we're looking at changing weather patterns (that doesn't sound scary until you consider that all the food-growing regions of North America could turn into deserts...) and an increased sea level of 5 metres (16 feet).

I often wish someone would make a map of the world taking all this sea-level change into account. Maybe just a map of the United States with everything under 16 feet above sea level underwater. Maybe saying goodbye to all your coastal cities will make you drive less?

In the meantime, Toronto cyclists, do what you can to stem the tide. Not one of us has the power to change the history of the earth (seemingly, only the oil companies have this power) and mankind, but each one of us, in our own little way, choosing our bikes (or transit, or walking) over the private automobile to get around is doing some good. Us choosing to live and work in sustainable ways makes a difference, however small.

The more bikes on our roads, the better. The more bikes on the road, the more of a presence us "non-autos" have. People in cars are forced to slow down and be more careful around us (most of them, despite popular belief, don't want to run us over), and if this happens enough, when faced with a slower commute and the higher price of gas, they'll start getting out of their cars too. Whether they choose bicycles or transit doesn't matter... as long as they choose something which doesn't kill the earth.

Slowly but surely, bicycling will hit that "critical mass" when it becomes not just one of many ways of transportation, but THE form of transportation.

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posted by Joe on Monday, February 06, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

John Sewell is a pretty famous guy around Toronto. He's been an activist, a city councillor, mayor, and most recently a very outspoken commentator in Eye Weekly, bringing up issues that city planners and urban developers often forget.

Turns out he's a cyclist too. All the cool people are.

Tonight at the Gladstone Hotel (7:00 pm), Sewell starts a four part series on Toronto's suburban growth from 1945 to 2000. Tonight's talk is entitled "The Real Story Behind the Superhighways" and continues in upcoming weeks with:
  • Feb. 13 - Servicing the Fields of Dreams
  • Feb. 20 - Jigging Government Structures to Promote Suburban Growth
  • Feb. 28 - Glorious 905, and the Way Ahead
I've become a lot more in urban planning issues since I started cycling a couple years ago. I suppose I'm intrigued to learn about why some spaces are people (and bike) friendly and some aren't. On the surface, it's because they aren't designed for people (and bikes), but Sewell's talks will delve more into the reasons behind this.

Oh, and DarrenJ at BikeRefugee posted a great entry about the Budget Advisory Committee Community Meetings that are going on this week. If you're interested in going and inquiring about funding for cycling (or anything else) in Toronto, his post provides a good primer on the meetings.

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posted by Joe on Sunday, February 05, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

At the R.C.Harris Water Filtration Plant
photo taken by: rannie of

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posted by Joe on Saturday, February 04, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I mentioned on Monday that Mayor David Miller and Budget Advisory Committee Chair Councillor David Soknacki are having public consultation meetings around Toronto. Two of them (the North York & Etobicoke ones) were today, while the other two (the Scarborough and East York ones) are on Wednesday & Thursday this week:

Wednesday, February 8, 7 - 9:30 p.m. East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Ave
(n/w of Coxwell & Mortimer)

Thursday, February 9, 7 - 9:30 p.m.
Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive (n/w of McCowan & Ellesmere)

It seems a little weird that there aren't any meetings in the old pre-amalgamation City of Toronto. Hopefully, there will be a lot of people going to the meetings and bringing up the subject of cycling programs and facilities, as it's the parts of the city like Etobicoke, Scarborough and North York who really need it, as they were planned around automotive transportation, for the most part.

I'm going to try and make it to the East York meeting.

If you can't make any meetings, send Mayor Miller or David Soknacki and email explaining why you feel cycling is important (good reasons are fitness, the environment, less road congestion...), and I'm sure your city councillors would love to hear from you too.

Or, you can just contact the members of the Budget Advisory Committee directly. Here, I made this handy-dandy email link that you can use to email all the committee members at once.

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posted by Joe on Friday, February 03, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Beautiful people love biking Toronto
photo taken by: re-Verse

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posted by Joe on Friday, February 03, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Tonight, Montreal's Action Terroriste Socialement Acceptable (which, near as I can tell means "Social Terrorists for Acceptable Action", but don't quote me because I was horrifically bad in French class....) brings their Acceptable Action to Toronto for a campaign to raise awareness that SUVs are big giant things which are very unneccessary in an urban environment which has a great transit system and is extremely bikable. Is "bikable" a word? How about "Cycle-tastic"? That's better.

Approximately 1200 "tickets" will be given out by citizen volunteers (duplicates wil form some of an art exhibit after the event) to oversized personal vehicles to bring attention to the fact that no matter how "Grande" a Grande is at Starbucks, or how good a sale the Gap is having, you don't need hundreds of cubic feet of storage space in the back of your vehicle for every single trip of your entire life.

It all gets going at around 4 pm (ticketing actually takes place between 5 and 7 pm) at the Theatre Centre at 1087 Queen St. West. A ton more information is on ATSA's official website.

Thanks to Spacing and TreeHugger for publicizing this!

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posted by Joe on Friday, February 03, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Rainbow Heart Bike
photo taken by: Rannie of

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posted by Joe on Thursday, February 02, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Today is Groundhog Day, which means that everyone is thinking about when spring will get here. Not that I'm complaining (I'd have to be crazy to...), but winter really hasn't been here since before Christmas. I hope I just didn't jinx us for the next 3 months, but if it gets bitterly cold all of a sudden, we'll all know that I control the weather, and that could come in handy...

Anyways, the thought of Spring for those of us biking Toronto mean thinking about biking MORE. No worries about snow, or ice on the road, or a bitter cold headwind anymore... just thoughts of nice spring days where we wind and coast our way along the waterfront, or through the park system, or maybe just down some sidestreets, exploring Toronto's great neighbourhoods.

One thing we have to address before we actually get to do all this nice stuff (if we aren't doing it already during this mild winter), is to make sure our bike is in proper working order.

Winters are tough on bikes. If bikes have been used during the winter months, they atleast need a really good cleaning in the spring to clear off all of the dirt and salt and assorted road detritus that is all over the place in the winter time, and also a tune-up, to make sure everything is working as it should. If your bike has been on your porch, or basement, or balcony the past few months, it won't hurt from a cleaning, plus a fill up of those tires, a check of the brakes and brakelines. All that fun tune-up stuff.

You have two options for getting your bike ready for spring. One is to do it yourself, and the other is to do someone else to do it.

If you want to do it yourself, or want to learn how, there are some very good learning resources on the internet, as well as some great Toronto organizations who will help you. Two great websites which I've found are at and

For wonderful hands-on training on how to do it yourself here in Toronto, you can choose from two programs that the Community Bicycle Network offers... one is Toolworks and the other is Wenches with Wrenches which aside from having a really cool name, offers:
... bicycle repair workshops run by and for women in downtown Toronto. The idea has been to make basic bicycle repair skills accessible to women in the hope that participants will then share their knowledge and their confidence with others in the community.
If you're someone who doesn't mind paying someone to make sure that your bike is in Fine Working Order, then your local bikeshop can help you out.

You can easily find a bikeshop near you using BikingToronto's interactive BikeShop Map, which uses GoogleMaps to map out 91 local bikeshops along with their addresses, phone numbers and websites too. It takes a minute to load, due to all the info on there, but it's very useful.

Personally, if there's something I don't feel comfortable doing myself, I take my bike to Cogs, really friendly and nice people in Riverdale. They are very knowledgable about bikes, but not snooty about it, ya know?

Happy Biking!

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

As promised, here's a post with some ways to deal with those few drivers who think that they and their needs/wants take precedence over all other things on this earth.

1. The Kensington Thing - I find no fault whatsoever with the courier who returned litter to the driver who had chucked it on the ground. While it is illegal to litter (here in Toronto, anyways, punishable with a $300+ fine), it is not illegal to return litter to who dropped it. This goes for unacceptable behaviour on our roadways too. If no one speaks up and says something about a bad behaviour, it's not going to stop. Don't like litter? Do something about it. Don't like drivers who honk and yell at cyclists? Speak to them. Let them know that cyclists have the same rights as drivers and riding down the middle of a traffic lane in our fair city is completely legal.

2. There were some problems in Portland a couple weeks ago involving a cyclist and a bus. The bus nearly hits a cyclist while passing, and the cyclist catches up to the bus and blocks the bus by parking in front of it. While not advisable (and the cyclist is known to be "passionate" about biking), he was obviously pissed off. The bus driver lets off an ex-boxer (nicknamed "Gator") who proceeds to sucker-punch the cyclist. The bus driver then lets "Gator" back on the bus and drives off, leaving Randy (the cyclist) lying bleeding on the side of the road.

Pretty awful stuff... but Portland biking advocates respond beautifully by launching a "Share the Road" Campaign on the same bridge where Randy was assaulted. This campaign gives out (or "shares") donuts with all the bus drivers, asking nicely, (pretty please) to share the road.

It's a whole "catching more flies with honey than with vinegar thing", I guess. It's far better than the violence that the idiots of our society like to use to resolve any differences.

Finally, the wonderful site BikingBis had a nice poll just after the Portland incident entitled "To Flip Or Not To Flip", and found that over half of respondants don't do anything but focus on the fact that they are out for a nice bikeride. The other half agreed that motorists should be informed of their mistakes.

It's true that there are idiot cyclists out there too (hello sidewalk and against-traffic riders!), but since there are seemingly more cars, the percentages work out to there being more idiot drivers than idiot cyclists.

See, math comes in handy sometimes.

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Bathurst & Queen
photo taken by: DanielN
I looove this photo. It practically screams "Biking in Toronto",
because of those shiny shiny streetcar tracks.

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I'm not sure if there is such a group of Toronto cyclists who we could call "famous", although people like Martin Koob, Tino, Vic , Steeker (thanks for the link Tanya!) Tanya and Darren are certainly making a name for themselves in the online world. Plus there are all the people who make cycling more accessible in our great city - those on the Toronto Cycling Committee and CBN (the people behind Bikeshare).

Jack Layton and Olivia Chow are avid cyclists, but they're more quasi-Ottawans now, right? Mayor Miller knows his way around a bike (evidenced by those "CityTV... Everywhere!" TV ads...) and he's the guy in the jacket in the above photo... riding a Bikeshare bike! John Lennon was also an avid cyclist, and him and Yoko spent some time here (in Yorkville) in the 70s... I wonder if he went for many rides?

A guy who cycles around the city taking lots of pictures of our precious "T-Dot" is Sam from Daily Dose of Imagery, arguably the most famous/popular "photoblog" (link is to the site of Rannie, another famous Toronto photoblogger... not sure if he bikes or not...) on the dubya-dubya-dubya. UofT's Hart House is hosting a lecture by Sam tonight (at 7:30) where he'll be hosting a slideshow (much better than your Aunt Mildred's photos from Boca Raton) and talking about some of his photos. Should be interesting.

I was tipped off to this by my avid reading of

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Since it's in the news so much with the whole Kensington Market thing... let's talk about what the appropriate response by a cyclist to the often self-centred actions of drivers. I'm not talking about all drivers of course... I truly appreciate it when a car gives me the right of way or waits on opening a door until I've biked past (and I either give them a hand-wave thanks, or actually say it to them), but I think we all know that some drivers in Toronto can be a little thoughtless when it comes to the other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians that stand between their car and where they are trying to go.

Let's say that you're biking along, all legal-like... stopping for red lights, far enough away from the curb to avoid all those nasty drains, even waiting for streetcars to close their doors until you pump your heart out again... all of a sudden, some guy/gal in a big honkin' SUV buzzes you, coming within a foot of your left handlebar and severely scaring the metaphorical crap out of you. Oh yeah, and they dump McDonalds wrappers and dirty WalMart no-name diapers out the window too.

So, what is the appropriate response? Do you ignore them? Do you call them dirty nasty words in your head? Do you give them the ol' one finger salute, although it really doesn't do much good? Do you knock on their window and tell them politely that they almost killed you to save 1 or 2 seconds on their trip? Do you throw your bikelock through their windshield and yell obscenities about the sexual proclivities of their ancestors while urinating on their hood?

Okay, maybe not that last one, although it would be fun. But it's illegal. No stooping to their level.

Personally, I usually ignore them, or call them mean names in my head. If they've done something particularly dangerous, they'll get one of my prized fingers. I never race to catch up to them to yell at them, but have had the opportunity to yell at a seemingly visually-impaired woman in an SUV who shortly before almost ended up with me as her Ford Explorer's hood ornament. She wouldn't put her window down, so I had to yell extra loud. That was only one time though.

Ideally, you just want to "be the better person". Act calmly and civilized. Having said that of course, you still need to let people know if they are doing something very wrong. Bikes have the same legal standing as cars according to Ontario's Highway Traffic Act, after all. If that requires a bit of raising your voice, it's probably okay, as long as you don't get yourself hurt.... it's a jungle out there.

Later today or tomorrow I'll share some interesting links about cyclist-motorist relations and how we can all live in peace and harmony with puppydogs and unicorns and rainbows...

I think I'm getting a tad carried away here.

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