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

posted by Joe on Wednesday, May 31, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Hi everyone. Last minute wedding stuff is coming to a head, so DarrenJ will be taking over maintenance of Biking Toronto very soon. I've written a bunch of posts for the next two weeks that he'll post for me... mainly about upcoming Toronto Cycling Committee meetings and cool links I've collected recently.

I do have time to write a bit here about the CBN Poster Auction though... enough to tell you that it was great. They must've raised atleast $2000 auctioning off 12 awesome women and cycling works of art, and as of 10:00 pm (when I had to leave), about 25 I Bike T.O. shirts had been sold at $20 each. CBN did a fantastic job putting the logo on shirts of many colours, and having lots of buttons there too.

Dave Meslin MC'ed the event, and now I know why he's well known and effective... he's a great public speaker (I, on the other hand, had no idea how to introduce myself to a celebrity...) and thing weren't hurt by Shamez Amlani (of Streets are for People and P.S. Kensington) either, who was a fantastic auctioneer... getting almost every poster sold for over $100, quite a few for over $200, and one or two for $300!

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posted by Joe on Tuesday, May 30, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I joined the BikeWeek Group Commute on Monday morning. I took a few photos along the way. Enjoy.

As always, you can click the photos for a bigger version.

Here's the leader of the Danforth & Woodbine group, Herb welcoming us. He did a great job keeping us all together, although the two bike cops with us helped, as they stopped traffic at intersections for us.

Here's a couple shots of the some of the Danforth ride. We started off with maybe 30 people, but tons of people joined along the way, so I'd say we were up around 200 by the time we got to Yonge & Bloor, where there must've been atleast a thousand. I spoke with quite a few people, and a ton of people wanted to know about my I Bike T.O. shirt. It seems to be popular. I must remember to get the word out more... after all, a buck from each item sold goes to

Here's the big Yonge & Bloor get-together (actually at Yonge & Charles). I was fairly close to the front, so I saw Mayor Miller, and former mayor Barbara Hall was almost right beside me (although it took me a while to realize it. haha).

The fun at Nathan Phillips Square and City Hall. I also almost won the Norco Cruiser bike So Good was giving away. I was 1 of 9 people who had every number on my little raffle ticket right except for the very last one. :)

There are a ton more photos (I took over 70) of the ride and around City Hall over on the Flickr Photoset

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posted by Joe on Monday, May 29, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

In an event of seemingly perfect timing, BikeWeek kicked off today with an amazing Group Commute down to City Hall (I took a bunch of pics, and will post them soon) on the very same day as a wildcat strike shut down the Toronto Transit Commission.

It was wonderful biking with thousands of others this morning down Yonge Street, seeing the sidewalks packed with pedestrians walking to work because the subway is closed, and waving to them all and having thousands of bike bells ringing around you.

I wonder how many regular transit users saw all of us on our bikes, smiling and having fun, and thought "I could BIKE to work... what a GREAT IDEA!"

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posted by Joe on Sunday, May 28, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I should have posted about this earlier, but perhaps it's not too late....

Below is a map (you can click to enlarge it) of the official BikeWeek commutes for tomorrow morning.

Yonge & Lawrence - 7:30
Bloor & High Park - 7:30
Danforth & Woodbine - 7:30
(these 3 groups converge at Yonge & Bloor at 8:00 and ride to City Hall together)
Kingston Rd. & Dundas East - 7:30

There are also commutes coming from Queen & Gladstone, the Church & Wellesley "gaybourhood", and the two Grassroots stores (Bloor & Bathurst and Danforth & Chester).

DarrenJ has also organized a great group commute for some of those who commute to places other than downtown. His ride (The Refugee Ride?) starts from Yonge & Lawrence at 7:30 (the same time as the downtown ride to take advantage of all the good cyclist energy) and heads north to ultimately get to Leslie and Highway 7. See his post for a map. You can join or leave the route anywhere along the way. Oh, and he's providing donuts. :)

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posted by Joe on Sunday, May 28, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I've been away all weekend, and now hit the last week before our wedding. I'll try and post when I can. :)

There's a big feature on cycling in today's Toronto Star to kick off BikeWeek (which officially starts tomorrow with the big Group Commute), with stories about the city's bikeplan (and how it's behind schedule) and prominent cyclists in our city.

Martino and the Spacing Wire do an awesome job of covering it, so I'll let you go read them. :)

I'll be riding from Danforth & Woodbine (at 7:30) to meet up with other groups at Yonge & Bloor at 8 am in the Group Commute tomorrow morning. It looks like it'll be a warm morning so watch for my "I Bike T.O. shirt, and this is what my bike looks like.

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posted by Joe on Saturday, May 27, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

CBC Radio has a great new section on their website about cycling in Toronto and BikeWeek.

They are currently have a feature about bike theft (along with a bunch of other audio stories, with some emphasis on getting more bike parking infrastructure at subway stations, like the "New Mobility Hub at Exhibition Place.

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posted by Joe on Friday, May 26, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

In honour of BikeWeek, NOW Magazine's current Ecoholic Column is all about BikeWeek, including great tips on getting started, types of bikes, Bikeshare, safety issues, etc.:

"According to World Watch, choosing to ride instead drive a 6.4-kilometre round trip keeps 6.8 kilos of pollutants out of the air, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide. Plus, you'll save a hell of a lot of money in fuel (or transit tokens). Bicycles actually outsold cars in the U.S. last year for the first time since the oil embargo of the 70s. Pretty impressive. "

As well, if you check the Sweet Deals section, you'll see a blurb about the CBN Auction on Monday Night, and it mentions the I Bike T.O. buttons and shirts too! Pretty cool.

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posted by Joe on Thursday, May 25, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Great news once again... tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this) is the last Friday of the month, which means it's time for the longest running (?), most popular, and internationally celebrated group ride in the world!

Thanks to Martino for the graphic!
I wonder if this is him as a child? ;)

Friday, May 26th
Bloor & Spadina
Meet at 6:00, Ride at 6:30

Tomorrow is "Stag Night" for me, so I have to miss Critical Mass this month (which I'm kind of bummed about), but I expect to see lots of photos, and atleast 300 people there. We'll go for 500 at the end of June.

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I happened by the CNN site earlier today, and within 5 minutes, found 4 stories on pollution and global warming - I keep reading these dire warnings from scientists, and it keeps me resolved to bike Toronto as much as possible, and to encourage others to do the same.

China, India move up on a dubious list

Beijing battles smog ahead of Olympics

Studies: Earth-solar cycle spurs greenhouse gases

Busy Atlantic season could bring up to 10 hurricanes

Be prepared for a lot more BikingToronto. There a lot of people in this city with great ideas about how to promote cycling to work, school, play and shopping, and I aim to help get the word out. Look for some big things around Canada Day. ;)

We'll start in Toronto, and encourage other cities to follow.

Oh, and I've added photos to my sunrise entry from this morning.

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

This morning I woke up early (around 5 am) and couldn't get back to sleep, so I got dressed and coasted on my bike down to the beaches to watch the sun come up and get some fresh air before spending the whole day in an office.

There were a few joggers out there, a few couples with dogs, and the growing reds and yellows in the eastern sky bounced off the flat morning waters of Ashbridges Bay.

I was amazed at how still and flat Lake Ontario was. It's usually pretty choppy, even on relatively calm days.

I walked down to the water and sat on the small stones that make up that part of the beach and watched the colours from the sun change on the water. I sat there in awe of being right beside one of the largest collections of freshwater on the planet, and how awe inspiring nature is.

I then looked across the lake and slowly realized that the air above Buffalo and Niagara Falls had a bit of a brown tinge to it... and it depressed me that there was probably someone over there looking in Toronto's direction at the same time, noticing that the air over here has a brown tinge to it too.

(There's a few more photos on Flickr for you.)

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posted by Joe on Tuesday, May 23, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Next Monday, go by the Gladstone Hotel at 7 pm and you'll be in for a treat. The Community Bicycle Network is having their Women & Cycling Poster Auction where you can pick up great cycling artwork by great Toronto artists. (Thanks for the poster link reminder, Martino!)

Oh, but the fun does not stop there! The Master of Ceremonies for this event is the one and only Dave Meslin (yes, he of TPSC and CityIdol), and the auctioneer is Shamez Amlani (of Streets are for People and P.S. Kensington), AND there will be a "meet and greet" before the event, with organizations like the City of Toronto, Gold Sprints virtual bike racing, Hoof & Cycle Courier coalition, and perhaps the Sierra Club / CarFreeDay, and I'll try to get some info there about the Metropass Affinity Program for people too!

Even better, CBN is using my "I Bike T.O." design and have produced a bunch of t-shirts and buttons to sell at the event! This is a good way for you to avoid shipping costs, plus get some cool "schwag" for you and your friends! Nice t-shirts will be going for $20, and the buttons will be going for $2, with all the proceeds going to CBN!

Please click for all the posterlicious details!

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posted by Joe on Monday, May 22, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I like to be educated about what I am against (a "know thine enemy type of thing, I guess), so I've been reading up a lot lately on oil... what is making the price of it go up, why basing around an economy around it (Hello, Ontario Auto Industry!) is a bad idea, and why it's going to get more expensive to drive everywhere.

I thought I'd share some links with you:

Buffett Bets on Oil - Warren Buffett, arguably the world's most successful stock invester, has just revealed that his investment company, Berkshire-Hathaway has been investing in 17.9 shares of ConocoPhillips (a big oil company in the U.S.). Given that the average of this stock over the past year has been around $60, that means Buffett has invested over One Billion Dollars (insert Dr. Evil Pinky Finger Here) in the prediction that oil prices are going to go up. Buffett is also known as a very conservative investor... someone who chose to not invest heavily in the "dot com" surge in the late 1990s, seeing that it was not sustainable.

Less Oil, More Wars - Builds on what I posted yesterday about geopolitical instability: "Most of the producers on which we are becoming ever more dependent are unsafe, unfriendly, corrupt, undemocratic and deeply divided—and are likely to remain so for years to come."

President Gore - In a parallel universe, Al Gore has been President for the past six years. A very funny video from Saturday Night Live

Gas Prices: We're to Blame - "The global supply of oil is having a hard time meeting demand, and the United States is built to consume a quarter of all of it -- on a daily basis."

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posted by Joe on Sunday, May 21, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

It is kind of cool seeing such esteemed business magazines like Business Week saying that hurricanes and "serious supply disruptions" may not be needed for the price of oil to reach $100 per barrel.

Oil prices have gone up to record highs just because of "geopolitical uncertainties" (Iran wants nukes, Dubya wants to control oil, and Africa is a genocidal nightmare), and it's entirely feasible that the price of oil will go up to $100 because of market "heebie-jeebies" alone.

If you drive a car regularly, you're basically screwed if it's a strong hurricane season (which starts in 2 weeks), and Gulf of Mexico is hit (a certainty), damaging oil drilling and refining facilities (high probability).

In other words, start getting into the habit of riding your bike or public transit.

Since gas here in Toronto hovers around a $1/litre when oil is at $70, we (as cyclists) can look forward to lots of news stories about people griping that "the government should do more..." about $1.50/litre gas. These are most likely the same people who vote for politicians who campaign for less government and less taxes, because who needs the government? Apparently idiots do.

Those of us who have brains know that the Canadian government can not control gas prices (although Hawaii did try, and Hawaiians ended up paying more...) or world commodity markets, and so are rightfully smug that we commute intelligently.

Speaking of barrels...

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posted by Joe on Saturday, May 20, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Back in mid-April, I spent a good chunk of time one Sunday doing a large circuit of some of Toronto's ravines, valleys and bike trails. I ended up covering just over 50 kilometres by riding the waterfront trail from the Beaches to the Humber pedestrian bridge, up the Humber Valley to where Lawrence Avenue meets Scarlett Road , across the auto-centric nightmare that is the former borough of York, down the Beltline Trail, Moore Park Ravine and the Don Valley to the east end of Toronto again.

Here's a map for your viewing pleasure.

It was an interesting ride, if very long (I was out for about 4.5 hours) for me, and I snapped a couple photos along the way (you can click all of them for larger versions):

Here's a panorama I made from a bunch of photos near Lakeshore and Carlaw. The Gardiner (the elevated highway in the photo, for those of you unfamiliar with Toronto) used to have an eastern "stub" (the start of the cancelled Scarborough Expressway) here, but it was torn down a few years ago. It's still a car-dominated area, though. They've got a seperate bike and pedestrian path here, where it would've done wonders for the place if they made bikelanes part of Lakeshore here.

At the other end of the waterfront is Humber Bay Park, with the pedestrian/cyclist bridge that can be seen for miles and miles as you're biking the waterfront. After crossing this, I headed north up the Humber River, the historical divider between the old city of Toronto and the former borough of Etobicoke.

The Humber Valley is also the area where an entire block of homes was washed away in 1954 in the rain and flooding of Hurricane Hazel (the homes were actually pretty close to where these photos were taken). Development in the Humber and other valleys and ravines of Toronto was stopped because of this, leaving the city with great park networks.

The Humber ride is a pretty nice one (even going north/uphill), even as you get up to the Eglinton area and the old suburbia around you is evident. The parks here are young, with newly planted trees, but even if the trees were mature, the giant "avenues" that you have to cross or ride under are an overwhelming presence.

According to the Toronto Bike Map, the stretch of Tretheway and Castlefield between Jane and the Allen is a "suggested link between off-road paths and other bikeways... links may entail travel on busy, major roads through commercial or industrial areas"

Well, they aren't kidding. No bike lanes anywhere, huge wide open windswept spaces in a rundown area of the city which has suffered due to the auto-centric urban planning ideals of when it was built. A bit after these photos (which are remarkably free of cars) I had to cross the suburban-style giant intersection of Tretheway and Black Creek Road (the extension of highway 400) and it was nerve-wracking. Give me slow, congested downtown traffic any day... it's much safer.

This intersection of Tretheway and Castlefield (above) is one I had had to take a photo of, because the bikemap recommends that cyclists travel the wrong way on a one way street. (You can click the photo for a larger version). Next time anyone says anything about cyclists riding the wrong way on these streets, I won't mention that those rules are for heavy baby-killing cars, not pretty environmental bikes... but that the City encourages it.

Getting past this orphaned bit of old suburbia, into the area of Eglinton Avenue and the Allen Road, I got to my favourite part of the journey - the Beltline. Having not ever biked the full length of the BeltLine before, I was in for a great time.

The western part of the BeltLine (an old railway right-of-way from the 1800s) is a little rough, and is being used as a hydro corridor, but has nice smooth pavement and a really cool bridge over Dufferin Avenue that you can stop on and watch all the suckers in their cars going under you.

You have to get back onto the streets for a bit to cross the Allen, but then you get to the best known part of the BeltLine - a mature tree lined linear park through the backyards of one of the richest neighbourhoods (Forest Hill) in Toronto. Back in April the buds were just coming out on the trees... I should go back and take pics now that all the leaves have burst out. Going west to east on the BeltLine you have a slight decline in the terrain, and this coupled with a non-paved but very firm gravel and dirt base lets you just fly (if the way is clear... I slow down to walking/jogging pace around people - especially kids and dogs) southeast towards Mount Pleasant Cemetary. There are a few road crossings, but are minor inconveniences compared to the fun of the BeltLine.

After getting through the cemetary (which does not allow rollerbladers, but seems to welcome cyclists, for some strange reason...)and whipping down Moore Park Ravine (reputably the longest descent in Toronto's ravine system, and tons of fun, in my opinion), I scooted down into the Don Valley Brickworks (in photo - now a cool urban marshland), where the bricks of all of Toronto's old buildings were quarried.

I then went down the Don and resurfaced into the city near Broadview & Gerrard after going over the Riverdale pedestrian bridge (pictured, with my bike and the soon to be demolished half-round building of Bridgepoint Health Centre (Riverdale Hospital).

It was a great ride... through many parts of Toronto and great for getting an appreciation of the parks, ravines and often forgotten parts of the city that people in cars and on transit miss out on. There are more photos over on Flickr. Grab yourself a Toronto Bike Map (available at bike stores) before trying it... it helps a lot in the stretch between the Humber Valley and the BeltLine.

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posted by Joe on Friday, May 19, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

By now you may have noticed the little BikeWeek thing I've stuck at the bottom of each post... I'm unfortunately going to miss a lot of BikeWeek stuff due to wedding plans (but I *am* committed to the Group Ride on Monday, May 29th... should be fun!), but I don't want that to stop anyone and everyone reading this page to take part in as much stuff as possible to help celebrate biking in our great city.

You can view a PDF of everything going on on the City's BikeWeek website, or look at their online calendar.

There's a ton going on... I'm going to try to get to as much as I can, and encourage you to do that same. Oh, and bring non-cyclist friends. Some of them may convert. :)

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posted by Joe on Friday, May 19, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Just to add a bit on to my post from yesterday, I was lucky when and where I lost my back tire because Cogs was quiet and I was in and out with a fixed bike and two new "hybrid" road tires in about 20 minutes.

How are the new tires? Well, they do seem faster... I seem to be able to do less work to get the same distance (it's not a huge difference, but noticable), and I definitely coast for a longer distance after going down a hill before having to pedal again.

While I was in the bikestore, I chatted with the guy who fixed my bike, and he said that they've seen a huge increase in business this spring compared to spring 2005... people are mentioning rising gas prices, but also rising TTC fares. Good news.

I'm hoping to see some news articles about higher bike sales soon.

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posted by Joe on Thursday, May 18, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

On Gerrard Street East today, some smart person left pieces of metal on the road. I managed to get around all of them (I thought) when I heard my back tire blow. It was loud. I saw a couple of people a bit farther up the street jump and look around with "what the hell...?" looks on their faces.

Now, this is the first time I've had a tire go on me, and I'd probably usually be pissed, but it happened almost directly across the street from the bike shop I use when I need big stuff done, Cogs. I was going to take it to them soon anyways to check out what I thought was a warped wheel (turns out my tire was just going on me...), so it worked out well.

I needed a new rear tire as well as a new tube, so I got them to stick on some tires that are road slicks on the middle, and knobby like mountain bike tires on the sides. I already feel faster.

I should really teach myself how to do things like tune-ups and tire changes and re-packing hubs, like Darren.

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posted by Joe on Thursday, May 18, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Torontoist reports that there is a nefarious individual loose on our fair streets vandalizing and terrorizing the noble fleet of Bikeshare bikes.

Martino has photos.

I challenge thee, foul beast, to have the courage to admit your transgressions against the morality and just values of the Bikeshare program. You are nought but a knave who hath nothing better to do than pick thy various orifices and besmirch the good reliable name of bicycles everywhere.

Fie, fie, a thousand times fie!

Note: I am not a licensed speaker of the medievalian language.

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posted by Joe on Thursday, May 18, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

It was a rainy, thunder and lightening-filled afternoon yesterday, with the rain stopping around 6:30 in downtown Toronto. By the time 7:00 had rolled around about 30 people had gathered at Bloor and Spadina to ride in silence in memory of all the cyclists who have been killed on our streets and in other cities and towns around the world.

It was a low turnout, but still a nice peaceful ride across Bloor, down Yonge and across Queen (sharing the road with cars ... only riding in the outer lane, for the most part) to the Peace Garden at City Hall, where Martino said a few words and we had a few minutes of silence for those no longer with us.

While a sombre occasion, I met some people I had only known "online" previously - like Steeker, Darren Stehr, and Teri. It was great meeting you all!

In the above photos, I'm the dork in the blue, and DarrenJ is in yellow.

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There's an excellent post by Gary over on (a great Toronto environmental blog) about Stevie Harper and his government surreptitiously (I'm all about big words I don't completely understand) dismantling environmental programs.

I'll let you read the PukeGreen post for yourself, but basically the Cons are cutting funding for programs that encourage less energy use.

For a government that got elected "harping" about fighting for "working Canadians", they are pretty well screwing over low and middle-income Canadians who will not be able to afford to heat their homes due to high energy costs and no effective energy conservation programs.

I'm telling you... they are aliens.

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Just a reminder that tonight is the Ride of Silence. Toronto cyclists are meeting at the corner of Bloor and Spadina tonight at 6:30 (departure time is 7:00), when we'll ride around in silence (no talking or bells), in memory of the people who have been lost, and in solidarity with over 250 other rides taking place around the world.

I suppose if someone asks me why we're riding I'll speak then, but will try and keep my mouth shut the rest of the time (it's hard for me sometimes...).

Hope you can make it, and look for me if you can. I have a red and black raleigh mountain bike, and my favourite colour is blue, so I keep buying blue stuff... I'll be wearing a bright blue windbreaker, blue bike helmet (festooned with turtle lights - I'll turn them on if it gets dark and dreary while we are on the roads...), perhaps some blue and black bike gloves, and black shorts. And shoes. Blue shoes. And a grey courier bag. I think that's it.

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I bookmark a lot of links, and often don't have time to post about them with all the bike stuff going on. Here's a bunch of links from the last couple of months about why cars (and car culture) suck in urban environments.

Canal accident kills woman, young son - I'm familiar with this area (it's just northwest of Newmarket), and apart from the tragedy of the incident, I'm wondering why people are calling for the canal to be moved, rather than the road. Surely it's easier to move a road than a canal?

Boy's death didn't have to happen, says traffic cop - A very tragic story about a guy who stopped to help out a stranded motorist on the Gardiner. An inattentive driver came along and hit his car, killing his 5 year-old son.

Flirting in Traffic - apparently car drivers are so socially backward that they use popular new programs where if they are attracted to another driver, they look for a sticker on their window, and then log into a website to find contact info.

Sales of Full-Size SUVs Take a Dive in February - Less people are buying SUVs. On a related note, I saw some car show on TV on the weekend (viewing options are limited when you don't have cable - it was either televangelists, infomercials, or a car show), where they had on some "experts" that admitted that there had been some shift in buying patterns recently with higher gas prices, but said they didn't expect a huge shift until prices hit $4 a gallon in the states. That's about a 35% increase from where they are now - so let's hope for $1.35 / litre prices here around Toronto, if it'll help spur transit and cycling growth!

Bah Hummer - Indie rockers reject big money from the king of gas guzzlers. Rock on.

One devil of a machine - about the first time a car was driven in Canada, in 1898.... "People nearly went crazy when I took my first drive in it ... Most of them were very much opposed to it, too. Many claimed that it was a `devil's machine,' and that all kinds of harm would be caused by it " How right they were! - 469 (and counting) Reasons We Must Eliminate Automobiles

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posted by Joe on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There's a new photo exhibition opening this week (at a bikeshop!) inspired by the love of bikes and the "leisure and simplicity" they bring:

MAY 18 - JUN 8
412 Bloor St. West ( map)
416 920 4933 /

"The photographs are inspired by our love of bikes and cycling; a passion that started in childhood and continues to this day. The images are influenced by early 20th century bicycle posters which advertised and idealized a lifestyle of leisure and simplicity. Curated by Frances Enchin." (Contact Festival Page)

Thanks to the Spacing Wire for the tip!

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posted by Joe on Monday, May 15, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Toronto is known by outsiders (and even a startling number of Torontonians) for being relatively flat.

Anyone that bikes Toronto knows that perception to be false, because of the oft-forgotten ravines of the city. Toronto is marbled with deep, wild, forested ravines. In fact, biking the ravines give a totally different view of the city than the one you get biking the streets (I've had a photo post of a big ravine ride I did a few weeks ago that I still have to post...), and different than car drivers see.

When biking the streets of Toronto, cyclists tend to adjust their routes to take them across one of the bridges that traverse the many ravines of the city. The minor ones are filled with trees which hide what's down below. Biking the ravines though, you realize that Anne Michaels was right when she wrote about them in Fugitive Pieces:
It's a city of ravines. Remnants of wilderness have been left behind. Through these great sunken gardens you can traverse the city beneath the streets, look up to the floating neighbourhoods, houses built in the treetops. It's a city of valley spanned by bridges. A railway runs through back yards. A city of hidden lanes, of clapboard garages with corrugated tin roofs, of wooden fences sagging where children have made shortcuts. In April, the thickly treed streets are flooded with samara, a green tide. Forgotten rivers, abandoned quarries, the remains of an Iroquois fortress. Public parks hazy with subtropical memory, a city built in the bowl of a prehistoric lake.
Like diving birds, Athos and I plunged one hundred and fifty million years into the dark deciduous silence of the ravines. Behind the billboard next to Tamblyn's Drugstore we dipped down into the humid amphitheatre of a Mezozoic swamp, where massive fronds and ferns tall as houses waved in a spore-dense haze. Beneath a parking lot, behind a school; from racket, fumes, and traffic, we dove into the city's sunken rooms of green sunlight. Then, like andartes, resurfaced half a city away - from under the bridge near Stan's Variety or from behind the Honey Dew Restaurant.

Honestly, biking the ravines it's easy to forget that you are in the middle of a city of millions of people and cars and pollution. You climb up out of a ravine (or emerge from the Don or Humber Valley at the lakefront) and you are all of a sudden back in Toronto, after a trip through a forest you've been riding through for hours.

We owe our ravines to Hurricane Hazel and Jane Jacobs. The remnants of Hurricane Hazel hit Toronto in 1954, flooding our river valleys and washing away homes. Development was restricted in the valleys and they became parkland. Then, in the 1960s and 70s, the ravines were earmarked for highway placement until Jane Jacobs helped stop the Spadina Expressway at Eglinton, keeping it from decimating Cedarvale Ravine, the Annex neighbourhood, and the western part of downtown.

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posted by Joe on Monday, May 15, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

This Thursday (April 18th), the Community Bicycle Network is holding their Annual General Meeting:

CBN Annual General Meeting
Thursday, May 18th
761 Queen Street West
Polls open at 3 pm
Welcome and annual report at 7:00 pm

"At this meeting we will vote for the CBN Board, reflect on CBN's activities and accomplishments of the past year, and review plans for the coming year. The meeting will be followed by an informal member reception and refreshments."

If that last bit about "refreshments" isn't enough of an enticement for you to attend (everyone is welcome, but only members are allowed to vote), then just think about learning about what CBN is working on in addition to Bikeshare, Toolworks, and the West Toronto RailPath, among others.

It'll be cool to help those who are so good at promoting cycling in Toronto!

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posted by Joe on Monday, May 15, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Thank the Cycling Gods for and Martin Koob, who reminded me that there is a meeting of the Toronto Cycling Committee tonight at 7 pm:

Monday May 15th, 2006
7:00 p.m.
Committee Room 2, Toronto City Hall
100 Queen St. West.

Committee Meetings are open to the public, so feel free to go by and get updated on what is going on.

Go visit the post for more details, as well as a list of upcoming meetings by Cycling Committee Sub-Committees. I should add those to the calendar on the Cycling Cog to remind me, too.

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posted by Joe on Sunday, May 14, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There's a group ride this Wednesday, but not to celebrate cycling, like Critical Mass is, but to remember those we've lost on bikes in traffic fatalities.

Bloor & Spadina
Wednesday May 17th
Meet 6:30 p.m.
Depart 7:00
Let us ride for those we have lost.

There will be over 250 Rides of Silence taking place on Wednesday all over the United States, B.C. and Quebec here in Canada, Australia, China, New Zealand, Scotland and the UK. You can find a complete list of locations here.

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posted by Joe on Saturday, May 13, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

NOTE: I hear about lots of cool things like this through the Sierra Club's Ontario e-Newsletter

The Fresh Air Fair is a free annual event for children, youth and
families. The Fresh Air Fair encourages active lifestyle choices and
promotes the benefits of improving local air quality and a healthier
self. Join us for interactive exhibits and games for children of all
ages, storytelling through an Indonesian puppet show and workshop,
presentation of the "Air Pollution Solution" Essay Contest winner, and
live music.

Fresh Air Fair June 4, 2006
Dundas Square (Yonge & Dundas) - Toronto

(There's a great video from the 2005 Fresh Air Fair on their site)

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posted by Joe on Saturday, May 13, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There was a notice in yesterday's Toronto Star about road closures this weekend that hints at the problems making Toronto a greener, more people-friendly city.

Starting off by talking about some Gardiner/DVP closures due to road maintenance and the Becel Ride for Heart the weekend after next - which I unfortunately have to miss this year... but next year, maybe I should co-ordinate a Biking Toronto group of people?

Anyhow, the last part of the article mentions that Bay St. will be closed between Charles and Bloor due to a Leonard Cohen celebration that includes performances by Ron Sexsmith and the Barenaked Ladies.

I wonder how difficult it was for them to get a chunk of Bay Street closed for this. I know that the Car Free Day Toronto (it's on Sept. 22) do a whole ton of work every year to try and get a little bit of space downtown closed off for pedestrians. It's all about the money, folks.

City officials are obviously concerned about the harm cars do to our urban society:
City officials are urging motorists to use Yonge St. or University Ave./Avenue Rd. as alternate routes.
Bay & Bloor is a 5 minute walk from the 6 subway routes (2 north, 2 south, east and west)... is it crazy for "city officials" to urge motorists to "leave the car at home and take transit" or, ideally, to "get off your butt and on to your bike... it's beautiful out there" ??

Ah, let's hope gas prices go up some more.

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posted by Joe on Friday, May 12, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

If I haven't mentioned it before (I have), or if you weren't listening (I'll forgive you), I'd like to take this moment to repeat how awesome is.

Not only do I want Toronto to emulate Portland in all of it's great cycling activities, programs and community, but if I can make BikingToronto even half of what Jonathan Maus has done with in only a year (!), then I will be ecstatic.

Only a week ago I posted about sharrows, and today has posted a FAQ about sharrows written by the City of Portland even before the list has hit the official city website.
Most Portland streets carry low volumes of traffic with relatively slow speeds and special markings aren’t needed. We are placing sharrows only on streets where traffic is relatively heavy, speeds are a little higher, and the streets should be marked with bicycle lanes but cannot be because of demands for on-street parking or the number of travel lanes.
I thought I'd direct you over there as well, since having sharrows on every non-bikelaned street in Toronto (especially all those super-wide "arterials" out there in the former boroughs of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough) would be awesome, and do a ton to promote cycling with just a bit of paint.

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posted by Joe on Friday, May 12, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Also this Saturday is the first 2006 "nature vandalism" outing with the TPCS's Guerilla Gardening Brigade.

Day: Saturday, May 13th
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Where: North-East corner of Queen and Parliament

I've become a lot more environmental since starting to ride my bike everywhere 2 years ago (almost to the day, actually...), and anything that helps nature in our city, as well as puts the emphasis on people rather than cars has my complete support.

I don't have any gardening gear or tools (my most elaborate green thumb project at the moment is trying to start a whole bunch of maple tree seeds in some ice cube trays...), but I may go and check out the Gardeners and tell them I love what they are doing.

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posted by Joe on Friday, May 12, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There's a city auction going on this weekend (Saturday) down at Queen Elizabeth Exhibit Hall at the CNE, and bikes are listed as some of the items up for sale (probably at excellent prices)!

If you're looking for a bike for yourself or a loved one (or maybe that wacky neighbour who complains about gas prices but drives a Hummer 2 miles to work everyday), maybe go check it out and find a deal.

I was also going to suggest picking up some cheap bikes for Bikeshare, but they aren't taking donations right now (I suspect that they don't have the resources to keep new bikes in good working order?), so maybe, if you're interested, look into one of the many charities donating bikes to Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Speaking of New Orleans / Katrina and bikes, there's a really cool article in the March/April 2006 Issue of Mother Jones about Volunteer Bike Medics riding into New Orleans neighbourhoods... offering first aid, testing for diabetes, etc:
“It was just about the noblest thing I’ve ever witnessed in my life,” recalls Malik Rahim, a lifelong Algiers resident, local housing activist and former Black Panther Party member who helped arrange space for the medical workers in a local mosque. ”It was the street medics who really stopped this city from exploding into a race war, because they were white and were serving the black community at a time when blacks were fed up. Those are the real heroes of this thing.”
It reminds me of the Courier Disaster Response Team of San Francisco, a bike messenger group focused on being able to deploy and offer first aid quickly in the event of an emergency.

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posted by Joe on Thursday, May 11, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I know that some cops can be very biased against cyclists... thinking that we're all militant anti-establishment terrorists or something, but it's been my experience (thus far) that as long as you ride safely and smartly, they leave you alone. Well, except for Cycle Right season, perhaps.

There's a Police Biking post on right now that points readers towards the International Police Mountain Bike Association, which makes the point that bike cops are cheaper than their automotive counterparts, as well as more connected to the community. I know I am more likely to talk to a cop on a bike than one in a police car. Part of me may be afraid the car cop may try to run me over! I'm kidding! (sort of).

Actually, I looove seeing cops on bikes here in Toronto. Not only do they seem to get the attention of car drivers more than the rest of us, but it's also interesting watching them ride... whether it's side by side on a busy street (they don't get honked at... surprise, surprise!), or filtering through traffic, it's kind of neat to see cops out there... with the rest of us.

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posted by Joe on Thursday, May 11, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Do They Breath Carbon Monoxide, And That's Why They Love Pollution?

The other Bush administration, um... I mean, the Harper Government here in Canada is becoming well known as anti-Kyoto Protocol, environment-hating, oil industry mouthpieces (remind you of anyone who's name starts with a "Duh" and ends with a "Bya"?), but now they're being painted in hypocritical non-green colours for planning to chair an international meeting on climate change when Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are 35% above the Kyoto targets for 2012.

Does it strike anyone else as ironic that our Environment Minister (Rona Ambrose) seems to be anything but?

Ambrose is obviously not very good at math either, since in the above Globe article she says that:

"Our government is being honest and transparent with Canadians about the mess that the Liberals left us with when it comes to our Kyoto targets. Today we are going to release Canada's greenhouse-gas inventory and it will show that Canada now is 35 per cent higher than the Kyoto targets... to put that into perspective, that would mean that today we would have to take every train, plane and automobile off the streets in Canada. That is not realistic and I ask the honourable member, is that the kind of solution he thinks is a good idea?"

I think that is an excellent idea, actually. Okay, it may not be realistic, but if you want to reduce greenhouse emissions by 35%, it doesn't mean taking every car off of the roads. It means cleaning things up by 35%. It means offering incentives to industries to reduce pollution. It means encouraging Canadians (especially in urban centers like Toronto) to consider transportation options other than their car.

Allow companies to provide transit passes to all their employees for a tax deduction. Fund public transit expansion with increased gas taxes. Encourage multi-purpose land zoning so that people can work and shop within walking and/or biking distance of their homes.

It's definitely not rocket science if an average joe like me can come up with simple, effective ideas.

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, May 10, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I'm off to dragonboating practice, so in the interests of time, here's a quick post about some awesome home-made bikes. I guarantee you'll spend some time on BikeForest oohing and ahhing over some of these creations. I sure was.

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, May 10, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Sometimes, if I'm awake enough in the morning to concentrate on biking to work safely AND other things, I try to count the number of other cyclists I see on the roads with me.

This is a much easier task in the winter, as it ranged from 5-10 cyclists, most mornings. The warm weather makes things more difficult though, plus I'm moving, so it's not like I'm at a fixed point watching cyclists go by (although, that is a cool idea... maybe something I'll try on Gerrard just west of the bridge over the Don River...).

This morning I counted 42 other cyclists out there on my 7 km (4.5 mile), 20 minute journey, and considering I bike in to downtown pretty early (in the 7:30 - 8:00 am range), I think that's pretty good. I'm almost positive that things get busier the closer to 9 am it gets.

I crossed the street to get my Tim Horton's fix a little before 9 am this morning, and the two minutes it took me to cross the street twice, I saw a whopping 26 cyclists go through the intersection.

I would love to find some City of Toronto resources on cycling statistics. I suspect they do counts of cyclists to figure out how many people are biking Toronto from year to year, but I haven't been able to track anything down yet. Oh, I just remembered that Tino gave me some contact info for someone at City Hall a while back... I'll have to see if I can hunt down that info.

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posted by Joe on Tuesday, May 09, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I was in such a good mood riding home today that as I passed 50-odd cars lined up on Carlton Street, I noticed a middle-aged fat guy sitting in a motionless Mustang convertible, and had to say something as I biked by.

"Isn't your Mustang supposed to be faster than my bike? Hahahahaha!

He was speechless. I rode away, grinning.

It was a bit of an assy thing to do, but it felt so good.

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posted by Joe on Tuesday, May 09, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I am, arguably, an average urban Torontonian: I am 30. I am soon-to-be-married. I work in an office downtown. I live a 20-minute streetcar ride (or 20-minute bike ride, if you prefer... and you should!) from work. I love finding and trying new restaurants. I don't own a car. I do own a condo.

However, because I am biking Toronto every day, I have less of a right to the streets that my tax dollars help pay for. All of us biking Toronto, TTCing Toronto, walking Toronto are ranked #2 to those who drive cars. It is a little-known fact that the only tax that drivers pay that the rest of us don't is the gas tax, almost all of which goes into highway construction and maintenance (although a small portion of it is now going towards public transit). The streets of Toronto - those ones you walk and bike on every single day, are paid by local property taxes - which come from all of us - directly (owning property) and/or indirectly (supporting landlords and/or buying stuff at businesses who pay property taxes).

I'm sick and tired of having to wait 5 minutes for a break in traffic to cross my street in mid-block (our grocery store is across the street from our condo), because society thinks that roads are for cars and no one else.

Modern road grids were designed for horse travel thousands of years ago by the Romans. They were paved thanks to cycling advocates 100 years ago. They are not for cars. Cars have just taken over.

Therefore, it is with rage and disbelief that I read articles like Montreal Police Declare War On Jaywalking Tradition (which I also saw on TV). 10 pedestrians have been killed in Montreal (a wonderful jaywalking city that I love), so police are starting a 5 Year Program to ticket jaywalkers.

Where's the program that tickets drivers who almost run me over when I'm walking across the street (at lights) on a green? What about the driver who honks at me because she had to wait for me to walk across before she could turn right? What about the drivers who seem to aim for the 6-month old in the stroller that my fiance walks with (Tracy is employed as a nanny)?

If any Montrealers read this page, I'd like to encourage you to jaywalk more. You own the streets as much as drivers do. They try to break the law to get around faster, so why shouldn't you?

I'll be doing more here in Toronto in solidarity with you. I'll go out walking right now and mess car traffic up on my street by crossing mid-block. I'll come visit you a lot too, since you have a great city and all, and I'll jaywalk all over the place while spending lots of money in your town.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I'll also be writing up some new series of posts like my 8 Secrets For Cycling In Traffic (which was recently linked by the cycling blog powerhouse known as Thanks Jonathan! ) about some ideas I have about how we can all take back the streets (in Toronto and elsewhere). Darren will be posting them in early June for me (I'll be getting married and lying on a beach, mountain biking, and swimming with dolphins in Jamaica), and then I'll start putting them into practice this summer when I don't have to worry about helping plan a wedding.

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posted by Joe on Tuesday, May 09, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

It's days like today that is the reason I fall in love with Toronto every spring. Winter is a season of survival for the Toronto cyclist... dress warmly, keep moving, watch for ice, watch for sliding cars... but spring, and specifically those spring days that are warm enouch that you can bike in shorts and a t-shirt, are the days you fall in love with biking Toronto.

It may be something that drivers just don't get about cyclists: that using muscles to power your way through the thoroughfares and quiet residential streets of our great city is a natural high. It's why we're always so happy - talking to other cyclists, pedestrians, even some drivers stopped at red lights. Drivers feel a bit of air on their arms hanging out the window... it's just not the same.

It is this love of a warm spring day and the freedom of cycling around Toronto and finding the hidden gems of our city that are hidden down back alleys and one-way streets that makes me keep on writing on this page.

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posted by Joe on Tuesday, May 09, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Professor Hubert Van Tol of psychiatry and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, a leading scientist in molecular biology and neurobiology, died in a bicycle accident April 20. He was 46 years old.

News @ UofT

"“He was a brilliant scientist who made great contributions to neuroscience and he will be greatly missed by our department,” said Professor James Kennedy of psychiatry, a colleague and friend as well as head of the Department of Neuroscience Research at CAMH. “It’s a great loss.”"

Related Posts:

- Two Cyclists Died In Toronto Yesterday
- Toronto As A Livable City - Guns vs. Cars
- Memorial Rides For Hubert & Bianca
- Helmets Are Not Body Armour
- The Problem With Cyclist
- City Shows How To Avoid Truck And Bike Collisions
- Cyclists Need Safer Streets

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posted by Joe on Monday, May 08, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

It's a policy of the TTC that bikes are "permitted on TTC subway and RT trains, streetcars and buses during non-peak hours, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.", although operators have the right to refuse access at times of overcrowding or emergencies.

It was therefore shocking to come across Toronto photoblogger (and cyclist!) Ryan and his Flickr photoset, where he captured the aftermath of a streetcar driver refusing to let a cyclist on board (at around midnight).

From what Ryan has described to me in email and on the main page of his photoset, the general sequence of events went something like:

1. Streetcar Driver refuses access to cyclist (Ryan has emailed me and said that the streetcar was not at all overcrowded...)
2. Cyclist swears at streetcar driver
(It is possible that #2 may have happened before #1)
3. Streetcar driver refuses to move until she gets off the car
4. Cyclist locks her bike to handrails in the middle of the streetcar (it was one of those double, articulated streetcars...)
5. Driver calls cops.
6. 2 cops wrestle cyclist off streetcar
7. Cops search cyclist's bag, find lock keys
8. Unlock bike from streetcar.

This is hardly the way to foster goodwill and transit-cycling alternatives to the private automobile.

While it may have been innappropriate for the cyclist to swear at the driver, I highly doubt that the streetcar was crowded at midnight, and suspect the driver was having a bad day and taking it out on a cyclist.

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posted by Joe on Sunday, May 07, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

A great article appeared in the National Post on Saturday. One that takes drivers' perceptions of cyclists in Toronto and then tries to figure out if we're just all leftist environmental freaks, or if we are justified in being concerned about our well-being out there on the roads.

Taking the common drivers perception of a cyclist from the article, I wondered how well it described me:

leftist - it only matters on election day
dope-smoking - nope
vegetarian - only when meat hurts my tummy
militant - nope
hairy armpits - you bet!
hairy legs - of course!
troubled soul - isn't everyones?

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posted by Joe on Sunday, May 07, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

We spent the weekend far out in the sprawl of suburban Toronto, visiting the friends I mentioned in this post. Since we don't own a car, we rented a relatively fuel-efficient Toyota Corolla (all the Priuses were rented out... which is a good sign, I guess), and I promise there were never less than 2 people in it whenever it was on the road.

I do have some good news from the burbs... our friends up there, while DANKs (Dual Autos, No Kids), mentioned a lot of environmental stuff they've been seeing in the news (the current high gas prices seem to be ringing some bells in suburbia about the unsustainability of oil), and the one friend who works 10 km from home is actually thinking of cycling to work a couple days a week when not having to transport his guitar (he's a teacher, and also gives guitar lessons after school).

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posted by Joe on Friday, May 05, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There is a fantastic post over on Darren Stehr's Toronto Cranks site right now. It's basically about how promoting cycling as environmentally friendly is useless, because most people (sadly) don't give two craps about the air they breath or the water they drink unless it benefits them financially in some way.

I haven't picked up the new issue of Spacing Magazine yet, but there should be an article in there I wrote about the Metropass Affinity Program that says the same thing - that most people are motivated by sex and money, and that's it. If you want to change a behaviour, appeal to people's sex drive and their greed (especially if more money = more sex).

As Darren says:
American newscasts are pushing bicycles as an alternative to high gas costs and as a way to save money by not having to maintain a car. The good news is that these networks already know that environmental concerns will not get people to ride, their wallet will.
Tell all your friends about a two-car family in suburbia pisses away $180,000 on car-related expenses every 10 years.

Or, if you really want to shock them, extend that math over a typical "career and family lifespan" of 30 years - $540,000 !

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posted by Joe on Friday, May 05, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

The City of Toronto's Cycling Pages used to say (I can't find it now) that "every street is a cycling street" or something similar, and I was reminded of this reading the comments on the Marlee post below that mention sharrows.

Sharrows, costing only a bit of paint, put onto the curb lane of every major road in Toronto (at least the 99% without bikelanes...) would be a significant move on the part of the City to encourage cycling:
Unlike bike lanes, sharrows do not create a separate bike lane, rather they are supposed to promote the awareness that the right lane is a shared traffic lane to be used by both motorists and cyclists. Many cyclists don't even realize that they have a right to the use of the entire right lane if road conditions warrant that it is necessary to do so in order to avoid road hazards.
This would be a major, economical step towards the fulfillment of the Promotional Goals of the Toronto Bike Plan. Specifically, it would "encourage cycling for everyday transportation " and "market Toronto as a cycling tourist destination."

Those in the cycling community who worry about the "bikelane ghetto" effect (worries that bikelanes will eventually become the only place people can ride...) of painted bikelanes may even like them, too!

(Sharrow Photo courtesy of

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posted by Joe on Thursday, May 04, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There's a small article in the North Toronto Town Crier today about a new Bike Lane/Route on Marlee between Roselawn and Lawrence.

I can't find anything about it on the City's Cycling Page or on BikeToronto, which is the best resource for bike facility news in the city, so I don't know how accurate the article is... but it does quote the city councillor for the area, Howard Moscoe, who is also the chairman of the TTC.

It's a confusing article, because it says contradictory things, such as if there will be bikelane markings or not (it says no, and then yes in the next paragraph), and the starting and stopping points are either Lawrence Ave. or Del Park (a few streets south of Lawrence) at the north end, and either Roselawn or Stayner Avenues in the south.

Hopefully things will get clarified soon.

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posted by Joe on Thursday, May 04, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I've had a Sports Illustrated article bookmarked for a while, and it's about time that I posted about it.

It's about Toronto Raptors player Matt Bonner, who, despite getting paid $2 million a season, doesn't own a car - preferring to get around Toronto by walking and using the TTC, earning him the nickname (according to the article) of The Red Rocket (a nickname for the TTC).

I was hoping that the article would mention something about him cycling around the city, but just the fact that he chooses to go car-free is awesome.

I'm not really huge into basketball, so I didn't know anything about Matt until I had read this, but I'm a big fan now!

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, May 03, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Are you tired of seeing photos and video of April's Critical Mass Toronto yet?

If not, you can see a few photos from Vic and a cool 30 minute video from Darren Stehr that has him talking to various people during the ride.

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posted by Joe on Wednesday, May 03, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I was reminded this morning about how most people are pretty short-sighted when it comes to money by a TreeHugger Post that referenced a comment made by a transportation planner in an earlier Treehugger post about higher gas prices not changing fuel consumption habits:

Mikey: "I cannot alter my driving practices. I consume almost the same amount of gas every month. Don't wait for people like me to change our ways - there are no bike paths, I live 22 miles from work, and in a residential-only area. It's all I can afford. No, I can't buy a hybrid, much as I would like to."

Perhaps being a Transportation Planner requires a lot of driving around suburbs, but judging by what Mikey has shared with us, he lives in the suburbs because housing there is cheaper. Transportation Planner or not, that's why a lot of people live in the suburbs, because you get more house for less money.

I personally know people who genuinely believe this... who own a 3-bedroom house on land that was a farmers field 5 years ago, yet are childless (and will be for atleast a couple of years), and own 2 cars because getting around is impossible otherwise. One of them works relatively nearby, but the other spends 3 hours of every 5 of 7 days in her car, commuting. They bought a new 3 bedroom house for the same money a smaller rundown house in a less-than-desirable neighbourhood a 20 minute bike ride from downtown Toronto would go for.

Maybe automobile costs should be factored in to new suburb housing prices?

Here in Canada, the average car costs $9,000/yr to own, use, and maintain (according to the Canadian Automobile Association). That's $18,000 for a two-car family. Over ten years (not factoring in inflation) that's $180,000 that you're pissing away on your cars - cars that depreciate in value quickly and fill our atmosphere with bad noxious fumes.

Still think the suburbs are cheap? They'll bankrupt you financially and environmentally.

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posted by Joe on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Okay, I wasn't going to mention the Google advertising on this site, but because I'm starting to see ads geared towards drivers instead of cyclists over there, I have to say something. They are probably picking up "driving" since I'm talking about it a lot in my posts about bikes.

This site does not make a profit (in 4 months of having the ads up there, they've generated less than $5). I put the ads there in case they seem useful to viewers of this site. If I ever get a cheque from Google for them, I'll donate it to CBN's Bikeshare Program. That goes for the Amazon items that show up when the Google Ads aren't there, too.

Just ignore them if they don't interest you (or even if they do). I'm actually offended that they've been showing driving stuff lately.

Speaking of Bikeshare, I'll be working with them in the near future to get the I Bike T.O. gear out to more people. More details to come over the next couple of months.

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posted by Joe on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Just a quick post about big bikes. I'm talking multiperson bikes here, not tall bikes, which deserve a whole post all to themselves... (someday, someday....).

I was prompted by this by an email newsletter I got from the Heart & Stroke Foundation (due to my past participation in the Ride for Heart) which contained an item about their Big Bike.

The Big Bike for Stroke is a bicycle made for 30 people, and for the purpose of raising money for charity for big group rides. I wonder if it would be possible to get it involved in Critical Mass?

If a 30-person bike seems like to much, you could learn to make a multi-person thingy (link via Spinopsys), created in Nottingham, England when "people from Nottingham's Critical Mass and the ASBO bicycle workshop got chatting about the idea of creating some fun alternative bike-based machines." They are thinking about using the "thingy" as a sound system carrier for their Critical Mass, as well as perhaps turning it into a mobile cafe.

Finally, if neither of the above two options "floats your boat", you could always just make a Human-powered Car, which I bet has excellent fuel economy.

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posted by Joe on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

In Toronto, when people in residential neighbourhoods want to slow traffic down, they lobby their city councillor for speed humps - piles of asphalt in the middle of the street. There are other options that have been used (none of which I've been able to find photos of... I may have to go for a ride and take some pics...), such as narrowing streets at intersections with concrete "planters" (usually only weeds grow in them), and my personal favourite - mini traffic circles.

The only place I've seen these mini-traffic circles are on my old street of Broadway (two streets north of Eglinton) between Mt. Pleasant and Bayview. Originally put in the road in the early 1990s, the circles force traffic to slow down by having a very visible object in the middle of the road. They've also put some trees in the middle of the circle. It's by far the most attractive traffic calming solution I've seen on residential streets, although the city did decrease the size of the circles in the mid-1990s, changing them from things which drivers had to slow right down for, to things that can be gotten around by taking your foot off the gas pedal at the right moment. They are less effective than they once were.

Anyhow, I started talking about this because I was able to put into practice a traffic-calming idea for larger streets I had a while back.

What if, on the major east-west streetcar lines in Toronto (King, Queen, Gerrard/College), where streetcars are mixed in with vehicular traffic, there were enough cyclists to effectively take possession of the curb lane? And, since cyclists go about as fast as streetcars (faster in heavy traffic), could they become an effective traffic-calming device by possessing the curb lane while the streetcar takes the middle lane.

This morning I paced a streetcar in from the east end (and overtook it once we got downtown) and generally took enough of the curb lane that no cars behind me tried to pass until the streetcar was a relatively safe distance in front of me (drivers always take unneccessary chances to save a few seconds). I'm probably lucky that I'm a fairly big guy (and look extra scary now that I'm wearing my pollution mask regularly), but no one even honked at me or gunned their engine, even when I intentionally slowed down when the streetcar was nearing a stop (instead of speeding up to get by before it opened its doors).

It was a cyclist-streetcar traffic calming technique, which will be easier and easier as more cyclists join us as the weather warms up, gas prices rise, and the TTC keeps raising fares.

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posted by Joe on Monday, May 01, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Today was awesome.

Commuting in to work this morning, I was at Gerrard and Broadview heading west and saw a group of 8 cyclists mini-massing across the Gerrard St. Bridge ahead of me. By the time I got to the lights at Gerrard and River, I was only with 1 of those 8, but 3 other cyclists came up behind me to make a 5-person mini-mass heading across Gerrard by Regent Park.

In a situation like this, I tend to ride the farthest out from the curb... I've put a lot of thought into what makes for safer cycling, and sheer numbers helps a ton. Cars give a much wider berth (generally) when passing a group, even if the group is riding single file. I conciously slip farther away from the curb when I'm in the middle of a pack of bikes, giving us more visual presence to cars behind us, and making cars go out further to pass.

I'm happy to report that by the time we all got to Gerrard and Parliament, we had grown to 7 cyclists before breaking up, going west, south and north.

The ride home was great too... no mini-masses, but perfect weather. I was biking home in just shorts and a t-shirt. It's one of the best feelings you can have commuting.

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posted by Joe on Monday, May 01, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Herb has a great interview with Allan E. Stokell about stealth camping when on long-distance rides to avoid the sometimes unpredictable (and expensive) method of staying in motels every night.

I love the simpleness and getting-in-touch-with-nature aspects of camping, and it sounds like not only does Stealth Camping (basically, camping on out of the way land) sound peaceful, but practical.

If I ever start long distance touring, I'll have to try it!

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