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



posted by Joe on Sunday, April 30, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

My friend Margaret (who is on the Toronto Cycling Committee) seems to be a natural at letter-writing...

I was reading a great letter-to-the-editor about the dangers of cyclist inexperience and inattentive truck drivers in the paper on Friday, and it turns out it was by Margaret!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Cyclists need safer streets
Recent deaths may have been prevented with use of side guards and blind-spot sensors on trucks

I can attest to the shocking trauma of being bowled over by a right-turning truck (with no signal or indication of any kind). Lucky for me, traffic was stopped and it all happened slowly enough that I had time to roll out from under the back wheels before being squashed to death. Had there been a truck side guard present, as are used across Europe and in an increasing number of states in the U.S., perhaps my bicycle might also have been saved. As it was, my ride was sucked up into the undercarriage and dragged along the asphalt for about 50 metres before the driver even realized what he'd done.

The cyclist deaths I've been reading about of late all seem to have happened in a similar manner, only at a faster pace and without that precious time for reaction. While collisions such as these may not be fully preventable (though with proper education of both cyclists and drivers, they could be reduced), there is no need for them to be consistently fatal.

In both of last week's cyclist/truck collisions, death may have been prevented through the use of side guards and/or sensor technology for monitoring drivers' blind spots. Rather than being hopelessly crushed under the back end as the truck completes its turn, the fallen is pushed to the side and the back wheels pass on by. Injured? I'm sure. Dead? Maybe not.

In my case, it was inexperience that had me up beside that truck; a place I've never put myself again. Regardless, the driver was charged, as it was he who turned with no signal, endangering everyone in the vicinity and generally diminishing the sense of order that keeps us all safe on shared roadways. I now know better than to ride anywhere near a truck (or taxi) but there was nothing illegal about my positioning, and it would have been a pretty tough lesson to learn, had I died.

There is technology already in existence and proven effective (side guards, blind-spot sensors and alarms) to help prevent this kind of thing from happening, or to at least diminish the impact when it does. Had that been my 16-year-old daughter, or my father or professor who died last week, I'd be asking why these weren't in use, especially since they were officially endorsed by a coroner's report nearly 10 years ago.

As more and more (often inexperienced) cyclists take to Toronto's streets, more provisions need to be made to ensure their safety.

In turn, the safer a cycling environment we create, the more folks will be enticed to leave their car at home and join me for the ride.

Margaret Hastings-James, Toronto



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posted by Joe on Sunday, April 30, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There are some fantastic photos from Friday's ride on Martino's site, and on Flickr by Steeker! I'm the guy in blue with the blue helmet.









I really like the large version of that last photo. At first I looked at it and noticed that you can see 13 cyclists clearly, and that they took up very little space compared to the 13 cars behind them (there are a couple cars with more than one passenger, but most of them are "single occupant vehicles").

The other dramatic difference, though, is what the two groups of people are doing while stuck in traffic. The cyclists are talking to eachother... asking about plans for the weekend, etc. The drivers are just sitting there... cut off from eachother, seperated by metal and glass and space.

The drivers are all alone in a crowd.



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posted by Joe on Saturday, April 29, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Fantastic Critical Mass last night. Martino made a video of it. Tons of people came out... almost 150!



That's me roughly in the middle, talking to Vic to my left and Jun (nice to meet you, Jun!) to my right.

I also saw Tanya, looked for Herb (didn't find him), and Steeker was there somewhere too!

Derek Chadbourne (a City Idol candidate) rode with us, and Vic and I saw Hamish Wilson and Margaret outside the Music Hall!

I also thought I saw Lori & Kevin at the beginning of the ride. Turns out it was just two people who looked like them, named Evo & Timothy. I introduced myself anyways. :)

Last Friday in May (the 26th), we're doing it again! Come out and have fun with us!




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posted by Joe on Friday, April 28, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

If you can't make it to Critical Mass, but are free later tonight, consider dropping by the Music Hall on the Danforth for the Opening Night of City Idol.

Started by Dave Meslin (the guy who started up the Toronto Public Space Committee) as part of the Who Runs This Town? municipal elections project, City Idol is all about getting people back into and interested in the political process:
Elections have become so dull and mundane that most people simply tune them out. Is it possible to turn things around? Can an election actually be a time when people step forward with new ideas, new energy, a sense of optimism and maybe even a little imagination?
There are a ton of interesting AND pro-cycling candidates in this. Should be a good night!

The Music Hall • 147 Danforth Avenue
(near Broadview Station)
doors open at 7pm • show starts at 8pm • $4
Tickets on sale at 6pm (two max per purchaser)



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posted by Joe on Friday, April 28, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Just a quick reminder that if you're looking for something fun to do tonight on two wheels, meet other Toronto cyclists at Bloor & Spadina at 6 pm.

At 6:30 the group heads out on the streets. Looks like a nice evening is coming our way, weather-wise, plus because of the time change at the beginning of April, no lights are needed (sunset is predicted for 8:48 pm, so bring lights if you're going to be out past 8:30).

Look for me on a red and black mountain bike. Be sure and say hi if you see me. :)



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posted by Joe on Friday, April 28, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Today is National Arbor Day down in the States, and with a lot of good ol' fashioned Google researching, I've found that Ontario's "Arbor Week" runs from today to the first Sunday in May (the 7th). Get out there and plant some trees, if you are so inclined.

Trees are nice to look at, help clean the air, and provide nice shade in the summer, helping to offset the Urban Heat Island Effect.

(The above photo is, I believe, Moore Park Ravine, a cool branch of the Lower Don Valley trail system. If you ride through this I recommend you do it on a mountain bike. Gravity makes you go very fast (if you start from Mt. Pleasant Cemetary) and it's sometimes rough and muddy. Tons of fun, though!)

I was recently in Starbucks (which I really don't like except for the addicitive Frappacinos...), and they had a poster letting people know about the City of Toronto's Tree Planting Events tomorrow. Say what you want about Starbucks (ie. big American chain of blandness, etc., etc.), here in the city they don't have parking lots, drive throughs, and actually get people to come together on a human scale and partake in their neighbourhoods.

On a personal note, I'm trying to find out who owns the lot on the southeast corner of Sherbourne and Gerrard. It used to be a gas station, I think, but is now just an empty lot where some wild plants grow. I'm thinking of planting a small tree somewhere on the property in the next couple of weeks (although someone comes and mows the lot twice a year, it seems...), and it is a ripe spot for some adhoc "guerrilla gardening", by any Torontonians... not just the official guerrilla gardening group.

More Toronto Tree Resources:

LEAF Toronto - not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection and improvement of Toronto's urban forest. Has great programs like offering native trees and shrubs to Torontonians at a subsidized cost.

Evergreen.ca - aims to bring communities and nature together for the benefit of both. They engage people in creating and sustaining healthy, dynamic outdoor spaces - in our schools, our communities and our homes.

Tree Canada - provides education, technical assistance, resources and financial support through working partnerships to encourage Canadians to plant and care for trees in an effort to help reduce the harmful effects of carbon dioxide emissions.



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posted by Joe on Thursday, April 27, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Just found this on Canada Newswire:

Councillor Adam Giambrone (Ward 18 - Davenport), Chair of the Toronto
Cycling Committee, and Sergeant Bowman, Toronto Police Services, will address bicycle safety issues, including recent fatalities.

City staff will demonstrate ways to avoid collisions between bicycles and
trucks. Reporters/photographers will be able to watch cyclists approaching a truck, and to climb into the truck to get the driver's perspective.

Date: Friday, April 28
Time: 10 a.m.
Place: West side of Bay Street, just north of Queen Street West

For further info:

Kevin Beaulieu, Executive Assistant to Councillor Adam Giambrone, 416-338-5305

Barb Wentworth, Bicycle Safety Planner, City Planning Division, 416-392-1142



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posted by Joe on Thursday, April 27, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Note: (I originally had Kevin Frankish's email reply to my email this morning here, but he has asked me to remove it, so I have.)

The Breakfast Television story this morning seemed to put forward the logic that "cars are dangerous, therefore biking with cars with no helmet is dangerous, therefore someone who bikes with cars without a helmet is at fault if they are hurt by a car", and this brings up many questions:

1. If a cyclist wears a helmet, are they automatically free of blame if an accident were to occur?

2. If a driver kills a cyclist not wearing a helmet - is it the cyclists fault? (...and if they were wearing a helmet, does blame move to the car driver?)

3. If a cyclist gets lung cancer from breathing in the pollution from the tailpipes of hundreds of cars each day, is it their fault?

Yes, using this logic, you and I are at fault if we get lung cancer from breathing in the SmogFest that Toronto becomes each summer. Since pollution is bad, it is us, the cyclists and pedestrians of Toronto, who should be wearing anti-pollution masks. It is not the fault of the drivers spewing these chemical gases into the air.

Extending this a bit further... since the United States is known for lots of gun activity and high homicide rates, if we visit the U.S. and get shot as an innocent bystander in a drive-by shooting, it is us who are at fault because we knew that the States are more dangerous than Canada is.



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posted by Joe on Thursday, April 27, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I was pissed off at the TV this morning, because television reporters were being irresponsible again.

Since I'm someone who likes to educate people, I thought I'd write them a nice letter to let them know where they went wrong.

Dear Breakfast Television,

(This letter was emailed to the general BT email address, as well as the two main hosts, Kevin Frankish and Liza Fromer)

As I was leaving for work this morning I was pleased to see that you were doing a story on the memorial rides being held today for University of Toronto Professor Hubert van Tol (who was killed by a right-turning dump truck at Avenue & Cortleigh) and the 16 year-old North York resident known as Bianca (who was killed by a right-turning dump truck at Keele & Finch).

I wasn't so pleased though, when your reporter started talking about how only 1 of 4 cyclists she had seen that morning had been wearing helmets, and seemed (along with Kevin Frankish) to imply that if cyclists are riding on the streets of Toronto (which we have to, since it's illegal for any cyclist but children to ride on the sidewalk) without a helmet, they should be at fault for getting killed by a truck.

This is irresponsible coverage of the cyclist safety issue, and disrespectful to the memory of Hubert and Bianca, as well as their families.

A cyclist in Toronto can do everything right - wear a helmet, have lights, a bell, and abide by every single part of the Highway Traffic Act regarding cyclists, but if a driver (even of a small economy car) is inattentive for one second, that cyclist can easily be killed. Is that the fault of the cyclist?

It's been reported that Hubert van Tol was wearing a helmet when the dump truck ran him over, so I am mystified as to why your reporter would imply that cyclists are inviting fatal accidents if they don't wear a helmet. It's the behaviour of car and truck drivers that cause cyclist deaths, not if a cyclist is wearing a piece of styrofoam and plastic on their heads to avoid serious head injuries.

Until I see a study that proves that a helmet will save someone when they are being squashed by a dump truck, I will assume that several tons of steel is no match for the human body, with or without a helmet.



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posted by Joe on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

It's fun and great for meeting other people who bike Toronto (makes sense, eh?). Read about March's ride here and be sure and come out. As busy as I am most of the time, it's an event that I try to always get to. Everyone meets from 6:00 on, and the ride leaves at 6:30. No set route, just wherever the group decides. It's really cool.


Thanks to Martino for the graphic!




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posted by Joe on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

The Bolts and Nuts, a cool website about a Toronto Bike Gang is sponsoring a Bicycle Maintenance Workshop this Sunday (April 30th) at The Music Gallery, located at 197 John St. (Google Map). It starts at 3 pm, and is weather permitting. Drizzle is okay... if cats and dogs start thumping people on the head... that's not okay.

No registration, fees or elaborate song-and-dance routines required to take part (I'm kind of disappointed that I won't get to dance for anyone...) just a bunch of cycling enthusiasts and a few mechanics who are offering to teach people how to perform maintenence on their bikes. Some of the mechanics are really experienced so we should be able to handle just about anything. They'll have cables and tubes, that we'll be charging a very nominal fee for ($2 a tube) when we replace them.

I took most of that above paragraph (basically all of it except the singing and dancing part) from an email sent to me from The Bolts and Nuts President Sean... Thanks Sean!

If anyone hasn't seen The Bolts and Nuts site before, I highly recommend it. They are obviously nuts (no pun intended) about biking, and the site has a great sense of humour and attitude.



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posted by Joe on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Two cyclists were killed by trucks last Thursday. There will be two memorial rides tomorrow to honour their memory. Thanks to Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists for arranging these.

This will also be the first time "Ghost Bikes" will be installed in Toronto. This practice originated in New York City, with the ghost bikes locked to street signs, but I'm hoping that the city of Toronto is perhaps conducive to the idea of special ring-and-post installations at Ghost Cycle locations... complete with special plaques, and dating back as long as records exist?

Cyclist Memorials Thursday April 27th, 2006

Morning memorial for Hubert van Tol

Avenue Rd & Cortleigh Blvd., Approximately 830am
Group ride from southeast corner of Spadina and Bloor, meet 745am,depart 8am.

Evening memorial for Bianca
Keele and Finch, approximately 8pm
Group will meet at southeast corner of Spadina and Bloor at 645pm to board subway at 7pm., Group ride from Downsview Station, departing 730pm.
Please meet at the main pedestrian entrance of Downsview Station.

Please bring flowers. A Ghost Bike will be installed at each location.

More info on the ARC website or call Darren Stehr at 416-707-4744.





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posted by Joe on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark



This is one of my favourite events every year. The city shuts down the Gardiner and the Don Valley Parkway, and these highways are taken over by tens (hundreds?) of thousands of cyclists.

Tracy and I won't be doing it this year (we're getting married the day before), but it's a very good time, for a good cause.

Please consider signing up to do it this year (June 4th), I highly recommend it - a chance to be the most important vehicle on the highways, surrounded by thousands of other cyclists!

Becel Ride for Heart

See my photos from the 2005 ride!






Labels:



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posted by Joe on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Jane Jacobs died yesterday.

She was a giant in urban planning circles, and you may be wondering how she relates to biking in Toronto. Essentially, she was the first person who seriously challenged the planning "establishment" back in the 1960s with her book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" (which I can't recommend highly enough) which argued for people-based, rather than theory-based urban planning... .noting that many urban planners at the time planned according to how they thought people should act, rather than how they actually behaved.

She is credited with taking on Robert Moses in New York and stopping the Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have destroyed Greenwich Village and Chinatown. She then moved to Toronto and helped stop the Spadina Expressway, effectively stopping the plan to cover Toronto in highways.

She made Toronto livable and made our "city of neighbourhoods" possible.

Jane Jacobs Links:
Wikipedia Entry | Toronto Star Article | TreeHugger Post | CBC.ca article



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posted by Joe on Monday, April 24, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I got an email late last week (thanks Margaret!) announcing the launch of the newest Bikeshare Hub at Exhibition Place. It's dubbed a "New Mobility Hub because in addition to all the pretty yellow BikeShare bikes, there is also bike facilities like racks and lockers, connections to the TTC, GO Transit and Autoshare, a WiFi Hotspot, and more!

It's like Toronto's version of a BikeStation but with a cliched new-lingo name. Let's make sure that everyone knows about it... especially those people that work or live within biking distance of the Ex (most of downtown, depending on how far one wants to bike...), so they can skip using their cars or the TTC and ride, ride, ride!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


The awesome intermodal model, the "New Mobility Hub" is launching at the Ex on Tuesday (April 25th). Located near the Dufferin bus, Autoshare, the waterfront trail, Liberty Village, Exhibition Place, the Ricoh Coliseum and Ontario Place, the HUB will include:

Bikeshare Hub
Bicycle lockers for rent from City Toronto
Bike racks
TTC & GO Transit connections
Taxi hotline
WIFI Hotspot
weather and tourist info
Dufferin bus with bike rack 2 blocks away
Autoshare 1 block away

Come on out to the launch and show your support!

Moving the Economy would like to invite you to The New Mobility HUB Launch at Exhibition Place - Tuesday, April 25, 8:30 - 10 a.m.

Join Adam Giambrone (Toronto City Councillor), Maogosha Pyjor (Community Bicycle Network), Briana Illingworth (Moving The Economy) and the New Mobility HUB Project partners (below) as we bring together seamless and convenient transportation connections at Toronto's first New Mobility HUB location.

Where: Exhibition Place GO Station, Manitoba Drive & Nova Scotia Ave
Exhibition Place, Toronto, ON (map to location)

For more information: 416-338-5086 or billing@toronto.ca

We hope to see you there!

New Mobility HUB Project Partners:
Moving The Economy
Parc Downsview Park
City of Toronto
Canadian Urban Institute
Community Bicycle Network
Canadian Urban Transit Association
Exhibition Place
Smart Commute Association
GO Transit
Smart Commute North Toronto, Vaughan
Toronto Transit Commission
Clean Air Foundation
Autoshare
York University
Green Tourism Association

With funding from Transport Canada





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posted by Joe on Monday, April 24, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I missed all the fun Earth Day stuff on Saturday because I was sick all weekend (and still am... I'm home from work today).

I'm not sure why I got sick, but it's mainly in my lungs and throat. I don't want to be paranoid, but pollution really affects me badly (trying to reduce it is why I started this page and the Metropass Affinity Program), and it may be the cause of this.

I biked the long way home on Wednesday and Thursday, biking beside the car-clogged Lakeshore Boulevarde for long stretches of time, and I was coughing a lot on Thursday.

Friday, I was at work with a very rough voice and a tight dry throat. Saturday I woke up and couldn't breathe very well and my sinuses were clogged, low energy, etc.

It's good that this is happened, because it reminds me that I'm encouraging biking and transit and less pollution for people with respiratory diseases and children with asthma.



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posted by Joe on Friday, April 21, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I'll tell you where I'm biking tomorrow (Saturday is Earth Day). I'm going to Budapest Park for a waterfront clean-up and Eco-Fair. It'll have lots of workshops and product info from environmental organizations and businesses in Toronto.

I'll be there handing out MAP business cards to help get the word out about the Metropass Affinity Program, a great way to save money while getting around Toronto by public transit, but also looking at all the cool stuff happening.

For instance, there will be a Bike Repair Workshop by the good people at Set Me Free Bikes, a Seed Starting Workshop by perhaps the most famous gardener in Toronto, Gayla Trail (of YouGrowGirl.com), and a Guerrilla Gardening workshop from the fine folks at the Toronto Public Space Committee - they "vandalize the city with nature!"

I'm hoping to meet some cool new people too. Hopefully people that read this page. I'll be the tall dorky-looking guy handing out business cards in the crowd, or maybe at the Sierra Club or CarFreeDay booths.

Click for a larger size.

Click for a larger size.





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posted by Joe on Friday, April 21, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Much political "hay" is made about gun homicides in Toronto, the mayor and former Prime Minister Martin even proposing the idea of outright banning guns from our city. I completely support this idea, of course, but think its range is too narrow. If we're looking at restricting the use of something that causes needless deaths, then there should be laws restricting car use.

Take a look at the numbers before saying that I'm being unrealistic.

According to the Toronto Police Service, there has been 21 auto-related deaths ("Traffic Fatality") this year, and using the handy Homicide Map on the Toronto Star's website, it can easily be seen that there have been 7 gun-related deaths in Toronto so far in 2006. Cars in 2006 have been 3 times as deadly as guns.

You wouldn't put a shooting range in the middle of a downtown street, so why would you encourage cars to use our streets as highways?



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posted by Joe on Friday, April 21, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Very sad news in Toronto today. Two cyclists were killed by trucks yesterday. One a 46 year old man hit by a dump truck turning right near Avenue and Eglinton (I think we can all relate to situations like this where some truck driver is in a rush and turns right in front of us, seemingly not seeing us...) and a 16 year old girl in North York on Keele at Finch. This is very sad.

4 cyclists died in 2005 in Toronto, and we already have 2 this year... both killed by trucks. It's not only Coroner - recommended (since 1998!) sideguards that are needed, it's general driver education that cyclists and pedestrians have as much a right to the road as cars. They're always in too much of a rush, and think that everyone else aren't people, just obstacles in their way.



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posted by Joe on Thursday, April 20, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Okay... I wrote 2 letters to politicians today. I'm a good nag. Haha. This is to support Margaret and her letter to the city.

Dear Mayor Miller and Councillors,

I think you're doing a great job in running this city. It covers a huge amount of area and encompasses the dense downtown core as well as the post World War Two "bedroom community" suburbs of the former boroughs of Metro Toronto.

I also wish that I could fill this email with compliments and congratulations, but I can't, mainly because of the danger that I and thousands of other Torontonians are in day after day on our streets.

The other day, my friend Margaret was yelled at, belittled, and endangered when a motorist took offense at her making a left turn at Dundas & River St. Margaret is an experienced cyclist who is on the Toronto Cycling Committee, and was turning like cyclists are taught to in many local and national instructional course - like any other vehicle. Because of this motorist's ignorance of her right to be on the streets of Toronto, he called her unpleasant names and attempted to force her into the curb with his pickup truck.

While I am obviously upset that this happened to my friend, I am more upset that this is not, by far, an isolated incident. I'm someone who bikes to work on all but the very coldest days of the winter in our great city, and Every Single Day am cut off, or passed to closely by, or harassed by a driver who thinks that because I'm not in a car I don't have a right to be on the roads.

This is my 3rd year of commuting by bike... I'm not a novice. I know what is proper cycling practice and what isn't. I show respect for car drivers in that I abide by the same rules as they do... stopping at red lights, not passing open streetcar doors, etc. Yet, every day, I'm treated like a second-class citizen by drivers who think that a bicycle is a toy for kids, rather than a low-cost, healthy, and environmentally beneficial way to get around Toronto.

I know for certain that the property tax I give to the City of Toronto every year goes into our roads, and in that sense, I have more of a right to use our roads than a driver from Brampton or Newmarket commuting by car has, whatever my mode of transportation. Why then, are all drivers automatically more important than cyclists and pedestrians in our city? If we are all equal... why don't drivers know this?

Since the Canadian Automobile Association says that the average car costs $9,000 per year to own and operate, I believe it would be smart to adopt some "alternative" transportation policies which will encourage transit, cycling and walking. Since I don't own a car, $9,000 of my money is going into Toronto's economy each year, instead of being given to car and oil companies.

If more Torontonians took transit, biked or walked, we'd not only have a more livable city with breathable air, but a cleaner one.

I look forward to a cleaner, more equitable future on our roads with you.



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posted by Joe on Thursday, April 20, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

My pre-budget consultation submission letter to the Federal Government. It's short, but oh, so sweet:

Dear Finance Department,

Thanks for the opportunity to submit ideas for the next Federal Budget.

This submission deals with transportation.

As gas prices go up (and experts seem to think they won't be going down for a while), and Prime Minister Harper has recently announced that Canadians "should get used to" higher gas prices (realizing, correctly, that the Canadian government has little control in world commodity markets..), I'd like to propose that some federal budget money be devoted to further encouraging alternate means of transportation such as public transit, cycling and walking.

More and more of a Canadian family's budget will be going towards car-related costs, often meaning that they will have to cut back on things like eating out, going to the movies, maybe taking a vacation or visiting family in another province, putting off a major purchase, etc. In short... the more money being spent by Canadian families on their cars could ultimately mean a significant economic slowdown as people "tighten their belts" to help pay for gas.

A way to offset this would be to encourage people to start adjusting their lifestyles so that they have the option of driving less (and therefore having more money to spend on "discretionary" items like the ones mentioned above.

As someone who lives and works in downtown Toronto, and therefore can live my day-to-day life without a car, I save the $9,000 annual amount that the average car costs Canadians (according to the Canadian Automobile Association) and am able to spend it on other things - home renovations, travel to visit family in Nova Scotia, appliances, etc.

Some ideas to help people adjust their lifestyles could include things like making public transit costs deductible from personal income taxes... for individuals or corporations who supply their employees with transit passes, funding public transit more so that it is efficient, frequent and economical in the suburban areas around large cities, and funding cycling initiatives that promote a way of commuting to work that is fun, virtually free, and non-polluting.

Thank you for allowing the opportunity to submit ideas. I look forward to the release of the budget.



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posted by Joe on Thursday, April 20, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Harper's government has created an on-line pre-budget consultation that ends TODAY (Thursday, April 20th at midnight ET).

Make sure your personal voice is heard!

This is the link: http://www.fin.gc.ca/activty/consult/prebud_e.html

You are supposed to email the Finance department at this address:
budget2006consult@fin.gc.ca

Need something to say? Try some of these!

- fund the expansion of public transit directly - not through tax relief
- reinstate climate change programs
- stop subsidies to already wealthy oil and gas companies
- help low-income Canadians with their energy bills
- stop the uneconomical Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline
- encourage the building of an economy that improves human health and the environment.

Please take a minute to send the Feds your input!

(Thanks to Margaret for the heads-up!)



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posted by Joe on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Shouldn't Toronto public space be used by ALL Torontonians?

Yesterday, a friend of mine was yelled at, belittled, and endangered by a driver for making a proper left turn at Dundas & River. Despite being an experienced cyclist who is on the Toronto Cycling Committee, she was almost too distraught afterwards to continue her journey to work.

She wrote the mayor and city councillors and begged for their action. Torontonians should be considered equal on our streets, whether they're in a car, on a bike, on rollerblades, or walking. All of our property taxes, sales taxes and income tax go to their creation and upkeep... there's no need to subsidize drivers. (In case you are wondering, the majority of the gas tax goes towards limited access highways - which are mainly used by drivers).

I have her permission to re-print her letter here (below), and encourage you to contact the mayor and all Toronto city councillors about the inequality and disrespect that exists on our fair avenues (that email link contains all of their email addresses). As Darren has mentioned today, one letter to a politician is worth a lot!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Good afternoon Mayor Miller and Toronto City Councillors,

I feel implored to report that a mis-educated driver tried to run me off the road at Dundas and River this morning because he didn't like the idea of a bicycle making a left-hand turn from the left-hand turn lane (even though I was going the speed of traffic and made the appropriate hand signal with plenty of time and space for all). "Why don't you decide if you're a car or a bike, you stupid fucking twat!" he spewed from his passenger side window after screeching into the bike lane and forcing me to the curb.

"So killing me is going to help the situation?" I weakly called back, though I don't suppose he heard over the revs of his pick-up as he sped off, spinning gravel and dust up into my face. He proceeded to make an un-signaled right turn onto Shuter (again cutting carelessly across the bike lane) while I tried to regain composure and carry on my way. By Parliament, I was forced to stop, as tears welled up. I ended up making myself 20 minutes late for work so as to have a proper cry, before unsteadily carrying on.

How many times do I have to face this kind of belligerent persecution, I wonder, on the very streets that my tax dollars helped to pave; where my tax dollars are paying for maintenance and patrol? With the average price of gas in Canada at over $1/liter today, there is no question that urban centers, especially the easily bikable Toronto, are going to be forced to accommodate more and more cyclists on their streets. I want to know what's being done to accommodate this shift, insofar as driver, cyclist and pedestrian education? I also want to know why we have not yet implemented signage indicating that bicycles have every right to be on the road (similar to those being hailed as a success in Victoria)?

As a member of the Toronto Cycling Committee, I am well aware of Toronto's Bikeway Network and I commend the City for taking steps to get the Plan back on track, but am deeply concerned that there seems to be a distinct lack of leadership here, or any kind of larger, active transport vision. The more cycling lanes and routes created, and the more expensive gas becomes, the more viable the bicycle becomes as a commuter option, resulting in an increased volume of cyclists (already reflected by exponential growth in Bike Week participants each year) not only on path and laneways, but also on the inter-connecting, unmarked streets. While this is wonderful news for our car-dependant and smog-laden city, it presents a great challenge to City Staff, who are faced with the grizzly task of informing Toronto's automobile drivers that they're going to have to learn to share the road, as the law demands.

The time is well overdue. My encounter this morning, although a little extreme, was not an isolated incident. I see and/or experience cyclist-targeted road-rage on a daily basis! As a proud Torontonian, I can't think of any other area of my life that I am expected to continually endure such systemic bigotry; it shames and saddens me to have to ride to work in tears due to misguided and ignorant abuse. Do we really want to continue to propagate this culture of angry road-hogs like the one who intimidated me this morning, or do we want to put an end to this kind of divisive behavior through the use of public awareness campaigns and pressure on the Province to incorporate cyclist and pedestrian encounters into the driver education program?

Having to repeatedly endure verbal slurs, one finger salutes, frightening and mis-timed horn-honks, not to mention having been struck by automobiles on three separate occasions now, I know better than to fight back on the streets; there's really not much a 20 pound bike can do when facing a 2000 pound automobile! So I turn to you, as Toronto's elected representatives, to ensure implementation and maintenance of a roadway system that is as safe for me, as it is equally safe for all Torontonians (not just those already shielded by two-tonnes of steel). Signage, education and a widespread public awareness campaign on shared road usage is well overdue, as is demanding that the Province revamp the driver education program to incorporate the current high-growth movement toward active transportation.

I thank you, in advance, for your concern and for your swift action on this matter.

Kind regards,
Margaret Hastings-James



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posted by Joe on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

This morning, Tracy (my fiance - she's in the photo with me on the "about" button to the right...) rode with me downtown and locked her bike at the YMCA (she's a member) before hopping on the subway to go north. While I bike to work every day, Tracy usually takes a streetcar and then a subway to get to her job at Yonge & Davisville.

It was great riding with her. When I started biking to work a couple years ago, I did so with a co-worker who lived near us, which made it easier and more fun to bike, being able to talk while riding. My co-worker has since moved (but still within biking distance... she's starting to bike in this week with another co-worker...), so I've been commuting solo for the past year.

It was a "Joe & Tracy Mini-Mass" this morning... and it was cool when 2-3 other cyclists would "glom" on to our ride for short periods as we waited at stoplights, and biked into downtown with the sun rising behind us.



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posted by Joe on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

More CBN news for you!

Today marked the start of the 2006 Season (the 6th season) of the awesome CBN program called BikeShare! You may have seen their pretty and practical yellow bikes around the city, and now that they're done hibernating, they're coming out to play in the spring weather, just like the rest of us.

A BikeShare "seasons pass" is $30 (or 4 hours of community service), and any Torontonian can have access to a fleet of ~250 bikes (this is a "best guess") available at 18 "hubs" around downtown Toronto for as many as 3 days... whenever you want, anytime from April to November!

They've got an online map of all the Bikeshare Hubs, and there are two pages full of cool facts and figures like there are about 1500 BikeShare members (about a third of whom signed up in 2005), and that the average BikeShare member borrows a bike six times a season.




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posted by Joe on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I've been rather tardy in posting about this, but the wonderful people at CBN (notably Herb) have organized a Bike Swap for this Sunday at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Bring your pre-loved bikes, bike clothing and parts from 8 - 10am to be priced. Open to buyers from 10am until 3pm. CBN will be taking a commission on all sales to cover costs and to raise money for other great charitable projects. Sellers can pick up the proceeds of their sales or unsold merchandise between 3 and 4pm.



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posted by Joe on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I've found that I get really good results when biking in terms of fitness. In late March, when I started biking to work every day, I noticed that within a week, my nice gut was looking better... maybe not any smaller, but definitely different. For the curious, while I still have a gut (I love Tim Hortons and Pizza way too much...), it is far smaller than it was 2 years ago when I started cycling.

Anyhow, since Tracy and I are headed down to Jamaica in June, I figure I should start "racking up the kilometres" when I can between now and then, which means some extra rides, taking journeys commuting home, etc.

I started this on Thursday by doing my "Little Italy & the Waterfront" ride, in which I ride east on College, seeing the sights and smelling the smells of Little Italy and then getting down to the water via Landsdowne, Queen, and the Jameson Ave. Bridge. and then biking east all the way until the start of the Beaches neighbourhood.


Route mapped on Google Pedometer

It's a great ride. I recommend going over that Jameson bridge heading towards the water. Sometimes you can forget that Toronto is on a lake, and seeing the Humber Bay laid out before you all blue and clear is a great feeling.



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posted by Joe on Monday, April 17, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Wow. One of the joys of being car-free is when gas prices go up and you know that your simple, environmentally friendly, and fun way of getting around will cost just the same as it usually does - virtually nothing.

Apparently, this time around (as opposed to when hurricanes last August and September crippled Gulf of Mexico oil production), people are actually saying the proverbial oh crap... and realizing that prices may not come down any time soon (especially if hurricanes hit the Gulf of Mexico again this year.

As much joy in this situation I take in this as a non-driver, it is sobering to note that because our city and country and continent are so fixated on oil consumption - as gas prices go up, people will spend more on their cars and less on other things - creating an economic slowdown, which isn't good for any of us. Of course, if gas prices rise, slowly but surely, it'll give people a chance to make their lifestyles more sustainable... moving closer to where they work so they can drive less - buying locally, etc.

My schadenfreude is still present though - basing one's life around oil (whether they know it or not) is like planning on living your life with a limited amount of water. You drink as much as you want as long as you want and then are surprised when you're dying of thirst when the water is gone.

It's a little crazy.





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posted by Joe on Monday, April 17, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I hope everyone's Easter weekend was great, and I consider you lucky if you have today off as well.

With April here, there's lots of news stories about biking and other stuff I find interesting... here's a quick list to try and keep up with things:

Hot wheels, high up - about Chris Hardwicke's Velo-City idea. (thanks to Spacing for the heads-up)

Bike Share Program in Lyon, France - an inspired bit of cycling infrastructure, a lot like Copenhagen's CityBike System - basically, loaning out bikes from secure, computerized stations. I wonder if it would work in Toronto - the "Bike Theft capital of North America" - I'm thinking of even things as simple as those shopping car lockup things at grocery stores - but for a toonie ($2) instead of a quarter?


Tory climate program cuts coming, say advocates
- the Harper Government has already cancelled funding for the One Tonne Challenge, and plan on cutting back more, citing that the 6% (only 6%!) reduction targets are unrealistic to meet by 2012. Is this because pollution is up 30% since 1990? Whatever the answer, should we really be cutting programs that encourage people to pollute less?

Canada: 9 in 10 Fear Their Lifestyle is Not Sustainable - this is at least heartening to hear... that they are fearing this, and want government policies to encourage sustainability.

Reclaiming our Streets - a nice opinion piece in the Halifax ChronicleHerald about how the growth of Halifax has translated into more rushed traffic and less respect for pedestrians.



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posted by Joe on Friday, April 14, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

In case no one has seen it yet, Albert Howell had an opinion piece in the Globe about what he does to stay safe while he's biking Toronto.

It apparently garnered a lot of "letters to the editor", mainly because of Albert's admission that he does ride on sidewalks at times, when he doesn't feel safe on the roads.
I'm not anti-car, I drive a car; cycling is simply an easier way to travel through my neighbourhood. I just don't think I should have to take my life in my hands just to get around and until the government makes it safer, I will do whatever I need to avoid being added to an already too long list of cyclists killed in traffic.
I think it's important to mark the difference between a creative cyclist (like Albert), who does the occassional sidewalk riding, or going-the-wrong-way on a residential one-way street, and the ones that do it all the time (my personal pet peeve). I personally cross busy intersections like a pedestrian (although I don't get off and walk my bike), because I've found that drivers are all ragey and impatient if I try to make a left turn like a vehicle. It's not worth the trouble and stress to be yelled, honked and intimidated by a schmuck in a big car to do it properly.

Reading Darren's posts about suburban riding, I can understand why most cyclists in the GTA ride the sidewalks - firstly, the arterial streets in the 'burbs are built like expressways (4-6 lanes wide, no parking, no trees...), and secondly, everyone drives there, so the sidewalks aren't used by pedestrians.




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posted by Joe on Wednesday, April 12, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Dear Mayor Miller,

I voted for you, and you're 8002% better (I conducted a survey) than Mel Lastman, and you take transit whenever you can (which automatically makes you cool), but Toronto has a serious navel-gazing problem. Specifically, it likes to navel-gaze and then look around at other navels and see how it measures up, even though other navels say "Wow, that's a clean and safe navel you've got there!"

Toronto (according to Toronto media) does things in an attempt to be "world class", whatever that means... so here's a wonderful thing to do to be World Class and get things like the Olympics to come here instead of Beijing:

Ban cars from downtown. Beijing is doing it to clean up their air for the Olympics (which they beat out Toronto for), enlightened places like London charge a fee for driving downtown... San Francisco and even New York are looking at charging downtown drivers.

Want to be World Class? Be at the vanguard of cleaning up the air and making city life more pleasant for your citizens. Then you won't be inside the Green Issue of Vanity Fair, but on the front cover.

Your citizens will elect you over and over, they'll be so grateful for the clean air that you made possible, and that they'll have to worry less about their kids getting asthma and other nasty pulmonary diseases, and the money they're saving by using public transit and avoiding high fuel costs.



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posted by Joe on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I can only imagine how happy I'd be biking around a place like Copenhagen, Denmark (link goes to the Copenhagen Cycling Page, where there is an amazing video about cycling there called "City of Cyclists" - thanks to BikePortland.org for the link) where the streets are regularly packed with cyclists.

I was joyous this morning (but not dancing on my bike or anything...) caught up in another mini-mass, biking along with 7 other cyclists westbound on Gerrard at River. It was a beautiful thing. Since today and every day for the next seven days are supposed to be nice and warm (above 15 degree celcius... maybe even 20 on Sunday!), I am ecstatic about seeing lots of cyclists with me on the roads.

I'll have to start carrying a camera around with me again, so I can document it for you.



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posted by Joe on Sunday, April 09, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Tracy and I went out on Friday and saw Thank You For Smoking, a great film about a guy who works as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry. It tells you something about the movie and the performance of Aaron Eckhart when the audience audibly sighs and "awws" when this "bad" guy is betrayed. Highly recommended.

While I usually don't like what comes before movies in theatres (5 - 10 commercials, plus trailers for crappy movies), I was pleasantly surprised (and enthralled) when a trailer for An Inconvenient Truth came on. It's a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (where it got 3 standing ovations - not sure how that happens with a movie, but whatever...) that focuses on Al Gore talking about the environment, stripping away the politics while presenting the evidence that the earth is heating up and this spells TROUBLE for the human race.

It looks amazing, and may possibly be seen by a lot of people - something that can radically change the actions of many people towards things that will help our environment rather than harm it.



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posted by Joe on Saturday, April 08, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I just found out about a memorial ride happening today for Andrzej Sacawa, the cyclist who fell from the Burnamthorpe Bridge on March 29th due to poor road and bridge design.

In short, the road is designed for cars, although it is marked as a bike route on Mississauga cycling maps (and many of the sidewalks are signed as bikeroutes), and this cyclist chose to use the sidewalk to remain relatively safe (you can see the bridge in the photo - click for the google map). The bridge railing is only about 3 feet high though, so when part of his bike hit the railing, he fell over the railing.

Vic Gedris has done an amazing job of photo-documenting the "cycling facilities" in that part of Mississauga. The photos illuminate why the cycling community is calling for a coroner's inquest and calling for an apology from the mayor of Mississauga for the city blaming the cyclist for his death because he was riding on the sidewalk, despite the road being dangerous for cyclists, the bridge railing being far too low, the bridge being marked as a bikeroute, and many sidewalks in the area signed as bikeroutes.


Memorial Details:

When: Saturday April 8th, 2:00 p.m.

Where: Burnhamthorpe Bridge over the Credit River.

Meet: Cyclists will gather at Bloor St. and Spadina Ave at 12:00 p.m.for a 12:15 p.m. departure. This group will ride to the second departure point at the Islington Subway Station, main pedestrian entrance, at 1pm. From where both groups will ride to the site. Cyclists and others may also meet at the site, please meet us at the northeast end of the bridge. Bring flowers if possible.

Ceremony: Cyclists mark solidarity and respect for one of their own at the Burnhamthorpe Bridge 2:00 p.m. Saturday, April 8th, 2006




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posted by Joe on Wednesday, April 05, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I've been talking recently about an initiative I've been working on with the Ontario Chapter of the Sierra Club called the Metropass Affinity Program.

Today, I'm able to tell you that there's more than just "sustainability" in common between "TTCing Toronto" and "Biking Toronto" and that's because today MAP added The Bike Joint as one of the stores in Toronto who will give a discount to anyone that shows a Metropass.

If you bike Toronto, making a metropass impractical, borrow one from a friend (they're transferable!) when visiting The Bike Joint... they'll give you a 10% discount of whatever you buy or have done, and you can grab a MAP business card (which will be in all MAP stores) from their counter.



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posted by Joe on Monday, April 03, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Critical Mass:
...is a group of people headed in roughly the same direction at roughly the same time, with some joining the group en route and others veering off, on public roads, in numbers large enough that they can't move that quickly even if they wanted to. The people are on bikes occupying a small amount of road space and it happens once a month.

Rush Hour:
...is a group of people headed in roughly the same direction at roughly the same time, with some joining the group en route and others veering off, on public roads, in numbers large enough that they can't move that quickly even if they wanted to. The people are driving cars occupying a large amount of road space and it happens ten times a week.



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posted by Joe on Sunday, April 02, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I attended Critical Mass on friday as planned. It rained pretty much from about 3 to 6 pm, so it was great to see about 40 people at Bloor & Spadina at 6:30.

I had the pleasure of meeting Martino during the ride, and he shot a video of the ride, from which I took this screenshot, as we approached Yonge & Bloor from the north (I think I was beside or behind him at this point):


Nice meeting you Tino!


I only stayed with the ride for about 40 minutes (which goes by really fast), during which time I had the experience of riding through the Eaton Centre. I had heard that they'd done it before, but this was the first time I'd been with the Mass when they'd done it.


The route for as long as I rode, before I headed home.


It was only across the mall, from Yonge St. to Trinity Square, but it was fun to see the extreme reactions from shoppers - either shock/anger at seeing a bunch of cyclists biking through, or joy and elation at seeing a bunch of cyclists biking through!

A very fun ride. Let's all meet up at Bloor & Spadina at 6:30 pm on April 28th. That's the last day of Earth Week. Actually, April is Earth Month... a perfect time to ride your bike (or transit, or your feet...) more and the car less.



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