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



posted by Joe on Friday, June 30, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I have to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to announce that I've put a bunch of new shirt and button designs in the BikingToronto store.

Everything is on black or white shirts still, but I've made some much more colourful IBikeT.O. graphics for the shirts and buttons now.

There are now 13 differently coloured designs for the shirts (8 on black backgrounds, 5 on white), and a whopping 21 varieties for buttons (available in 1" and 2.25" sizes).

I've put all designs on "heavyweight" t-shirts, so they are more substantial than the "lightweight" ones that used to be on there. Prices for the shirts range from about $15 to $21 (CDN), depending on what kind of shirt (there are mens, womens, and yoga) and if it's black or white.

The best part of course, is that all profits ($1 per item sold) get donated to Bikeshare.

Shipping costs $7.99, but it appears that this is per order, not per item, so you can load up with a few things for yourself and some cycling friends, and shipping costs won't go up. That's a pretty sweet deal!

I hope to have a more organized BikingToronto Store online soon.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Friday, June 30, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I was unable to make the Cycling Cog's first Toronto Group Ride on Wednesday (Sorry everyone! Hopefully next time!), but Mr. Gedris has a bunch of great photos of the ride.

I can see Darren, Tanya, Steeker and Herb in the photos... plus some new people I guess I missed meeting. Too bad... it's always cool to meet fellow bikers.

I'll be up in the wild suburbs of Aurora this weekend (wish me luck!) and may even go riding up there with my aforementioned new cycling friend.

Have a great Canada Day and 4th of July weekend, if you're into that kind of thing. :)



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Thursday, June 29, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Ahhh, the last friday of the month is upon us again, which means it's time for Critical Mass!

Bloor & Spadina (south-east corner)
Meet at 6:00, Ride at 6:30

The route is decided "enroute" by whoever happens to be leading the group. Highly recommended if you're interested in a good time and showing that bikes can monopolize a street as much as cars can.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Thursday, June 29, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

It's always heartwarming to hear about new people choosing to try out biking for commuting (or even recreation), so I'm here today to help you get all warm and toasty.

Tracy (my wife) is starting to bike to work. She's only doing it a couple mornings a week at present to get used to it, but she's got a much longer commute than I do (about twice as long), and some big hills to conquer. Tracy's noticed that it's been good, fitness-wise, for me, and that I've saved tons of money not taking the TTC every day.

I think the proverbial "straw that broke the camels back" was when we'd leave home at the same time, and I'd bike to the Yonge subway line 5-10 minutes quicker than her streetcar could get there.

At work, back when the TTC had their wildcat strike (conveniently on the first day of BikeWeek), there were a lot of internal emails flying around arranging carpools for the next day.

I eventually couldn't bite my tongue any more and sent one out encouraging everyone to give biking a try (at present, about 5% of people at my workplace bike in, with the majority of the rest of them using public transit), and that if anyone lived anywhere near my neck of the woods (the east end of pre-amalgamation Toronto), I was willing to ride in with them and be like a guide in getting started in bike commuting to work every day.

Two people have contacted me about it (one lives near me, and the other will be moving near me soon). Neither have started biking yet... but there's hope.

Finally, my friend Anthony up in Aurora, who was originally considering commuting to his teaching job one day a week (when he didn't have to take his guitar - he gives lessons after work) has found a couple neighbours who love cycling and they've been hitting the large "arterial" roads of Aurora like Bayview and Leslie for some exercise.

Sure, it's more recreational than every day cycling, but we're talking the suburbs here... this is HUGE. I'm proud of my suburbanite friend. He's discovering the joy of biking.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Wednesday, June 28, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Wow... cool news on Darren Stehr's "Toronto Cranks" site! Darren is putting together a book about Critical Mass Toronto that will be a collection of various photos he's taken of Critical Mass over the past 8 years.

In addition, Darren is looking for your help. He wants to include your thoughts on Critical Mass, whether they are "good, bad, or indifferent."

All profits will be donated to ARCs legal fund in support of cyclists.

More details on Darren's site.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Wednesday, June 28, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

As I mentioned before, I spent most of this past weekend down on the Toronto Islands at the Toronto Intenational Dragonboat Race and Festival (as did Tanya, who is on a dragonboat team too... one much better than mine...).

Tracy came down with me, so on both days we hopped on our bikes and leisurely cycled down to the Ferry Docks (about 30 minutes across the Martin-Goodman Trail) and then over to Ward's Island (I recommend buying ferry tickets ahead of time to avoid an hour+ wait), where we biked over to the dragonboat course on Center Island.

Being car-free, the Islands are a dream to bike - quiet, serene, flat and beautiful. If you don't have a bike, you can rent one (or even a two-person bike, or a quadracycle!) for about $6 an hour.

The best part of the weekend would have to be when we were crossing the bottom of the Don River and we crossed paths with a woman with a blue IBikeT.O. shirt from the CBN Poster Auction. We passed quickly, but I was sure to tell her "nice shirt!", which I hope made her feel good, because it felt great seeing someone wearing a shirt with my simple design on it!

(If it was you we passed, please say hi in the comments below. Thanks!)



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Tuesday, June 27, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

In case anyone hasn't checked it out and/or signed up yet (it's free), I thought I'd bring your attention to The Cycling Cog, and specifically, the first group ride of the Toronto Cyclist Group (which has 56 members, at this point). It is mostly through ravines and parks of the Don River system.



Wednesday, June 28th
7:30 p.m.
Warden Subway Station
(southeast corner of Warden & St. Clair)
Final Destination is St. Lawrence Market


If you're in Toronto, try to meet up with the group (map of the route). I'm going to try and meet up with them somewhere in Taylor Creek Park, or perhaps when they come up from the Lower Don Trail.

Even if you're not in Toronto, the 'Cog is a great site you may want to sign up for... it's based here in T.O., but is meant to serve as a community-building resource for the cycling committee no matter where you are.

Tell your friends, and help the Cycling Cog grow and become the great cycling site it can only be with lots of user participation.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Tuesday, June 27, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

The Bikeway Network Subcommittee of the Toronto Cycling Committee meets tomorrow night at City Hall.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006
7:00 p.m.
Committee Room 3, City Hall
100 Queen St. West.

Committee Meetings are open to the public.


More about the Bikeway Network Subcommittee from the City website.

I can't find the Bikeway Network Subcommittee Agendas or Minutes (from the last meeting) online (although I'm sure they are there somewhere...), but here's the Bikeway Network stuff from the latest set of Cycling Committee Minutes that are online (PDF from May 15th):


The Toronto Cycling Committee considered the Bikeway Network Subcommittee minutes dated April 26, 2006 and providing the following recommendations for consideration:

That the Toronto Cycling Committee request staff to encourage the creation of ward-specific BUGs by:
(i) using the Cyclometer mailing list to forward announcements of BUG meetings in specific wards to list members in that ward; and
(ii) reporting back to the TCC on a formal process to establish ward-based bugs.


Ward-specific BUGs sound pretty sweet. It's a great idea, and may do a lot of good for encouraging community amongst cyclists in different parts of the city.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Tuesday, June 27, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

In my quest to ride my bike as much as I can, I biked in to work today in the pouring rain (actually, "pouring" is a little bit of an understatement today...) rather than having to be crammed onto a streetcar with other wet people and their wet umbrellas for 25 minutes.

You could look at this as my version of Darren's famous "How To Always Smell Fresh" post, except that instead of a shower before and after my ride, I had one during. I dried off and changed right away, and now I'm warm and cozy at my desk, thinking about grabbing an umbrella to make a Tim Hortons run.

The best part of my rainy ride is that I really enjoyed it. Summer rains are always refreshing, and by the time I had been out 5 minutes with rain coming down on me (and up towards me from my tires), I was totally soaked and I equated it with a waterpark ride.

I'm sure the few co-workers who saw me come up from the parking garage soaking wet think I'm a bit crazy, but when you bike with car traffic every day, some rain is not really something to be afraid of.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Monday, June 26, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

The Education and Safety Subcommittee of the Toronto Cycling Committee meets tonight at City Hall in Committee Room #3 at 7 pm.

Monday June 26th, 2006
7:00 p.m.
Committee Room 3, Toronto City Hall
100 Queen St. West.

Committee Meetings are open to the public.


My apologies for the late notice about this. I'm slowly getting meetings and events such as this into the BikingToronto Upcoming.org Calendar I've set up (you can see it on the left if you scroll down a bit).

More about the Education and Safety Subcommittee, from the City website:

The Education and Safety Subcommittee provides input to staff and makes recommendations to the Toronto Cycling Committee on the design, development and delivery of policies and programs to improve the safety of cyclists and other road users, including skills training for cyclists (including CAN-BIKE program); education related to the use of on-street and off-street facilities; education of others on cycling matters including motor vehicle drivers; and legislation affecting cycling.

For more information about the Education and Safety Subcommittee you can contact Barb Wentworth by phone at 416-392-1142 or by email at bwentwor@toronto.ca

Labels:



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Monday, June 26, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There are plans in the works for a reconfiguration of the Bloor West, Dundas West and Kipling Avenue intersection (which is at present a cyclist-frightening highway-style monster) to make it more "urban" and on a human-scale to encourage pedestrian-friendly development and use by cyclists.

Vic Gedris went to a public meeting about it, and has a great review of the meeting as well as lots of info about what is being proposed. I'm particularly impressed that the cyclist point-of-view is well represented by Vic, but also that he did an awesome job recording most (if not all) of the concerns raised by the public at the meeting. He must have been jotting down notes like crazy!

The last person to comment was very happy with the proposed at-grade solution.She likes the idea of more walkability, and that it is a very progressive idea that fits in with the city's Pedestrian Charter. She said "we want mixed land use!" and commented that currently the area "has a long history of being very car oriented."

Great job Vic! I look forward to seeing the new intersection... it looks like they have good plans proposed for the area.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Saturday, June 24, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

The 2nd of 2006s "Pedestrian Sundays" in Kensington Market takes place tomorrow.

The streets of Kensington Market will be "opened" (to a car-free lifesytle) from 12 noon until 7 pm.



"Come see local bands play, eat some tasty food, or just enjoy one of this city’s best neighbourhoods the way it was meant to beenjoyed: on foot."

I'll be dragonboating most of this weekend over on the Toronto Islands (it's always a good time, even as a spectator - come on over to Toronto's original Car-Free Paradise and have some fun), but hopefully the races on Sunday will be done fairly early and we can bike from the Ferry Docks to the Market for some P.S. enjoyment!



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Thursday, June 22, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Tomorrow night there will be an interesting "co-ordination" meeting about future campaigning and directions in the push for a Bloor-Danforth TakeTheTooker Bike Lane.

Two main things they are interested in doing is developing ward-by-ward pressure in all the wards that Bloor-Danforth runs through (other wards would help too) and also to have "ward catalysts" who can spearhead ward awareness campaigns with residents, cyclists, and merchants.

When:
Friday, June 23rd.
7 p.m.

Where:
Room #2199
OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education)
University of Toronto
252 Bloor Street West (map)

(Thanks to the Ontario Sierra Club CarFreeDay E-Newsletter for the heads-up on this, and photo of banner and the MHJ taken by Vic Gedris)



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Thursday, June 22, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

This video (it says it costs $.99, but a lower quality version will play for free) is amazing. Al Gore was interviewed on the Charlie Rose Show, and it's an hour of tough questions about An Inconvenient Truth, the Bush Administration, who (individuals and companies) is responsible for developing myths about global warming and carbon dioxide emissions, and what we can all do to help save the planet.

Highly, highly recommended, despite it being an hour long.

Al Gore is great at holding one's interest, explaining very technical stuff in normal English we can all understand, and is actually quite funny.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Thursday, June 22, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Great entries on the Spacing Wire today (I could write that sentence every single day...):

First off, HiMY SYeD is reporting from Vancouver and the World Urban Forum:

Imagine every person you speak to — waiting in line, in the hallways, at countless networking sessions and side events — being an evangelist for the themes, issues and ideas you read on the Spacing Wire and you begin to get a sense of what is happening in Vancouver this week.

I'm really looking forward to future posts from HiMY in Vancouver.

Secondly, the Wire reports on great resources from New York-based (but now global) Project for Public Spaces, namely Ten Principles for Creating Successful Squares and Six Parks We Can All Learn From.

I know this isn't directly biking related, although it is. Good city planning to accomodate cyclists does not exist in a vacuum. I'm very interested in environmental and urban planning initiatives because they directly influence how condusive a city/community/region is for every day cycling by the people who live and work there.

A great example would be all the urban planning discussions about the waterfront in Toronto right now. If the winning proposal by West 8 and all the plans for the Donlands, Portlands, etc. come to fruition, we'll have a huge area of new, "urban" and pedestrian and cyclist-friendly neighbourhoods and streets just southeast of the downtown core.

Contrast this to the general trend by developers given free reign these days - wide streets built for cars lined with parking lots for big box stores, and you'll probably agree that those of us biking Toronto need to pay attention to related issues.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I'm very tardy in posting this, but Herb has arranged a meeting for Toronto Cyclists tonight at 7 West Cafe. I won't be able to make it as I have one final practice before some dragonboating racing this weekend, but I bet it's going to be interesting!

Description:

The first meeting of the Toronto Cyclists will be held at 7 West Cafe, located just off Yonge St., one block south of Bloor in a narrow converted house. It might be a bit easy to miss, so look for the big "7 West" banner hanging from the 2nd floor.

Location:


7 West Cafe
Charles East and Yonge Street
Toronto, ON
Canada



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Biking on Toronto's waterfront, at present, is an enjoyable trip, even though a good chunk of the eastern part is through the derelict (and constantly waiting for improvement) Portlands, and the middle part is a little hectic on Queen's Quay.

Although there has been great progress made recently, with development of the waterfront expected to start soon (the winning proposal includes things like making the south half of Queen Quay exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists, and advocates the removal of the Gardiner Expressway east of Spadina), there are at present two major obstacles to making our waterfront the cycling, walking, shopping and living paradise we all know it has the potential to be.

The first is the Ontario Government's insistence that they re-develop the old Hearn Generating Station (right in the heart of the Portlands) into a gas-fired electricity generation plant. The insist this even though this will mean a big pollution-creating plant in the middle of what is supposed to be a lot of parkland and new neighbourhoods, nevermind the effect on air quality it will have for all of eastern Toronto. The good people at StopThePlant.ca have numerous health experts that say this will be disastrous from a health standpoint, but also energy experts and a plan that lays out how Toronto can reduce it's energy needs through conservation and renewable energy projects (which are cheaper than a new plant), making a new generating plant redundant.

The other big obstacle (and this is a doozy) is the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), an apparently autonomous agency of the Federal Government that seemingly only exists to ruin the Toronto waterfront. Most people in Toronto know the whole "airport bridge" issue (the promised cancellation of which got our Mayor elected), which was when the TPA wanted to replace the 1-minute ferry ride to the island airport with a bridge to encourage more business, with no thought to the extra noise and pollution that would impact the exploding waterfront neighbourhoods and the entire waterfront as a whole.

TPA's main opponent has been Community AIR, a citizen's group who cares about their waterfront neighbourhoods and doesn't want to see increased pollution and noise. While I'm sure that many unfounded things have been said about each side in this "argument", the TPA has sunk to new levels with a ($6.8 million total) lawsuit (Globe Article, Sun Article) against Community AIR for defamation:

Claiming that the group Community AIR and seven of its directors are "zealous and unbalanced" in their waterfront advocacy, the suit demands that each pay $500,000 in damages for defamation, $250,000 in aggravated damages and another $100,000 in punitive damages to the port authority, its president Lisa Raitt and two others.

I think that every Torontonian who is against not only an expanded Island Airport, but the very existence of it at all (which is everyone but rich businessmen who don't want to make the journey to Pearson International Airport on the outskirts of the city) should sue the Toronto Port Authority for the destruction of our waterfront and for being so slimey as to even consider a lawsuit such as this.

As John Barber says in the Globe, "If ever there was a time to support Community AIR, this would be it."



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I posted a few days ago about the Ontario government's plan to curb sprawl in the Greater Toronto Area (while at the same time announcing almost $4 Billion in highway maintenance and expansion funding - way to waste our money by going after contradictory goals).

I've had a bit more time since then to read about it in the Star and the Hamilton Spectator, and now feel I must apologize - these two goals are not contradictory at all - they actually complement eachother.

While the anti-sprawl announcement sounds good and "green" and warm and fuzzy like ecologically-friendly moss growing in an old-growth forest, it is actually just political "blowing smoke":

- To protect farmland, 40 per cent of all new growth must be contained within existing built- up areas by 2015.
- To better use existing infrastructure, such as roads and water lines, 25 city centres have been given minimum densities to meet by 2031.
- The growth that will still occur on undeveloped land must meet minimum targets, about twice as dense as traditional sprawl.
- Cities must promote more compact living and build "complete communities" where people can live, work, shop and play without needing a car.


So, 60% of new development will still be allowed on farmland (80% currently is), and communities don't have to reach this goal until 2015 - 9 years from now. They have 25 years to reach target densities, and they have to "promote" sustainable living - so... um... issue some crappy pamphlets?

This "anti-sprawl" thing by the Ontario Government should be named "A Teeny Weeny Little Bit Less Sprawl, Wayyy In The Future, When Our Farmland Will Already Be All Gone And We'll All Be Eating Astronaut Food And Breathing Through Respirators".



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Monday, June 19, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

The Hoof & Cycle Courier Coalition has an awesome "what if idea (as outlined in the Star yesterday):

What if all the letter and small parcel deliveries were made by couriers who are walking, cycling or using the subway? A designated green zone would reduce the number of big-box delivery trucks clogging city streets and curb carbon dioxide and other emissions.

Obviously, this is an awesome idea, and I'm assuming that the borders of such a green zone would be something like Bloor / Parliament / Front / Spadina, and it makes complete sense, as bike couriers (and those who walk or use the TTC) most likely move far faster than truck/car couriers in the downtown core.

This would also be an excellent first step towards officially discouraging private automobile use in the downtown core, such as London and Stockholm have done.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Sunday, June 18, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There's a Toronto Cycling Committee meeting tomorrow night.

I have a feeling they'll be talking about a lot of good stuff about bikes. ;)

Monday June 19th, 2006
6:30 p.m.
Committee Room 1, Toronto City Hall
100 Queen St. West.


Lots of great details on BikeToronto.ca.

Committee Meetings are open to the public.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Sunday, June 18, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Tracy and I finally found time to see An Inconvenient Truth yesterday, and you probably expect me to say that I loved it, and you'd be right.

I do have one complaint though, and that's that it should've been longer. Most of the film is awesome at making one disgusted that global warming is happening and that politicians, for the most part, are ignoring it. I was sitting there, well aware of what needs to be done, waiting for Al Gore to get into HOW this Climate Crisis can be solved, to show people in the audience who don't think about this as much as I do how humanity can save itself.

Well, he does get to it eventually, but only at the very end, and it seems tacked on. Maybe there are plans for a sequel where there is a compelling movie made about "real people making real changes" to combat global warming?

I was just reading the transcript of when Al Gore appeared on Larry King Live this past Tuesday, and Gore did a great job of stating exactly what will cause real, meaningful change:

We can solve the crisis, but the next president, whoever runs in both parties and whoever is elected, must have a different climate of opinion in the United States because when the people at the grassroots level feel an appropriate sense of urgency about this, then the politicians in both parties will start competing to offer the really meaningful solutions that are out there.

This is exactly how I feel about biking in Toronto. When there are enough people biking that the values and ideals held by cyclists are really considered by the politicians at City Hall, that is when we'll see meaningful changes to public policy concerning bikes.

I know we can make that happen.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Sunday, June 18, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Like all governments, the Liberal government of the province of Ontario is trying to be all things to all people.

As someone who grew up in suburbia and knows the futility of trying to do anything there without a car, two articles in the Star have caught my eye.

The first is Roads to get $3.7 Billion facelift, an article about the government pumping money into expanding existing highways and creating new ones. What really bothers me about this is they talk about supporting transit-friendly, high density suburbs (which is the topic of the second article, More of us, living better), yet drop $3.7 Billion dollars so easily while transit systems such as the TTC have to beg and plead for a few hundred million just to maintain current levels of service.

While these announcements seem to be working against eachother, I'm pretty sure I know which one take precedence... the one with the auto industry, building industry and the "vote rich" 906 region behind it.

Nothing is going to change from the status quo until people are shocked into it. Sad, but true.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Friday, June 16, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark




Best photo I've seen in a while... thanks to the Sierra Club Compass (via Potrero Hill) for this.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Thursday, June 15, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Since there's been a lot in the news lately about guns (specifically, the arrests in the Jane Creba murder case on Yonge St. on Boxing Day), I thought I'd re-visit the issue of gun-related homicides and car-related homicides.

I last did this on April 21st, shortly after two cyclists were killed by trucks making right turns on Toronto streets, and compared numbers of car-related deaths (traffic fatalities) on the Toronto Police Service News Release page (look for "traffic fatality") to the number of gun-related deaths on the handy GoogleMap produced by the Toronto Star. Back on April 21st, cars were 3 times more deadly than guns, killing 21 people in 2006 to the 7 people guns had killed.

I'm sorry to report that this sad fact is still true. As of yesterday, June 14th, cars had killed 31 people so far in Toronto during 2006 and guns have killed 10 people.

I always hear the term "senseless death" when the news does the stories about the gun-related homicides, but almost never when it comes to cars. What is sensible about people getting run over, crushed, thrown dozens of feet by a mass of fast-moving metal and glass? What is sensible about someone dying because a driver is inattentive or tired or talking on a cellphone, or simply in a hurry?

I'd really like to see the traffic laws re-written to reflect that people who drive should bear more responsibility than those who don't, as an Ontario coroner's report has suggested. Drivers give way to cyclists and pedestrians, cyclists give way to pedestrians, and pedestrians rule all:

Ontario's Highway Traffic act presently does little to clarify how bicycles interact with other traffic on our roads. The concept of motorized vehicles yielding to non-motorized vehicles, who in turn must yield to pedestrians seems to be a common sense rule which should be accepted by all road users. Entrenching this principle in the HTA would clarify the situation, and likely significantly reduce risk of injury and death.


With great power should come great responsibility.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Thursday, June 15, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Maybe you can't ride a bike. Maybe you live and work in the suburbs, where cycling is impractical and sometimes dangerous?

Great news is here. You can now build a solar-powered car yourself.

I have to admit, I'd love to have one of these for trips out of the city.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Thursday, June 15, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Below is the text from a News Release from the Toronto Police Service.

The police are starting a new "one-week traffic safety initiative" aimed at "encouraging safe cycling as a practical mode of transportation in our city."

This is good... educating drivers about watching for cyclists before opening doors, and checking blindspots before turning right, but probably more should be done, especially since the much-loved (that's sarcasm, folks...) Cycle Right program is expected to start soon.

I notice there is a page about this initiative on the TPS website, but it would be great to have cops educating drivers on the rights of cyclists, like that they should give us 1 metre of space when passing, and that we are considered vehicles according to the Highway Traffic Act, which means we can make left turns like cars, and take up a whole lane if we want to.

Hand out pamphlets to drivers... have pamphlets in car dealerships, car repair shops, Canadian Automobile Association offices... Hmmm... I think I just had an idea about promoting cycling. :)



On Monday June 12, 2006, the Toronto Police Service will be launching a one-week traffic safety initiative entitled Safe Cycling – Share the Responsibility. This will be the second initiative undertaken as part of the Service’s comprehensive traffic strategy, “Operation Safe Journey”.

The Toronto Police Service is continuing to focus its’ efforts on encouraging safe cycling as a practical mode of transportation in our city. Safe Cycling – Share the Responsibility will commence today and conclude on Sunday June 18 2006. This initiative is designed to reduce the potential for cycling related injuries, through awareness, education and enforcement.

The Toronto Police Service reminds motorists of the dangers of opening car doors in the path of cyclists and the importance of checking blind spots prior to making right turns. Officers will pay particular attention to those motorists who endanger the lives of cyclists including vehicles parked in designated bike lanes. Attention will also be paid to cyclists whose aggressive riding puts themselves, pedestrians and motorists at risk.

Each year about 1,200 cyclists are involved in collisions on Toronto roadways. Cyclists are vulnerable road users. The last 5 cycling fatalities have involved commercial motor vehicles. Motorists and cyclists have a responsibility to share the road equally by driving safely, riding responsibly, and by obeying all the rules of the road.

For more information on Safe Cycling – Share the Responsibility, please contact Sergeant Brian Bowman at 416-808-1926 or Constable Stephen Burns at 416-808-1919.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Wednesday, June 14, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

(Note: I always wear a helmet, even when riding in the ravines and park trails of Toronto, which sometimes garners me funny looks from people... but it's like being in a car without a seatbelt on... it just doesn't feel right not wearing a helmet.)

I'm catching up on all the stuff I missed the past couple weeks, and this story on helmet use in Toronto caught my eye, especially since I object to the public perception of bike helmets being the solution to cycling fatalities. The story is about an unscientific study done by a second-year medical student that counted 1,446 cyclists in "various times over a period of three weeks this spring" and saw only 44% of them wearing helmets.

The Spacing.ca Wire covered this story back on June 6th, and the debate in the comments section brings out some issues:

1) Do helmet laws reduce fatal head injuries? A helmet law in Australia (good graphs in that link) in the 1990s reduced fatalities, but this may be because it reduced cyclist numbers since there is an opposition in some segments of the population (in any country) to the perception that a helmet makes a cyclist look stupid or "uncool". This page makes the case that mandatory helmet laws in Western Australia have increased cyclist hospital admissions, lessened the popularity of cycling, and damaged public health.

2) Helmets are not body armour. They will protect you from a very specific type of injury, namely a serious head injury. They will NOT protect you from anything else. I've found that in city cycling, one is much more likely to be side-swiped by a passing car, right-hooked by a turning car making a last-minute, unsignaled, and inattentive right turn, crushed under the wheels of a truck, or "door-prized" than landing directly on their head. A helmet will not protect you from inattentive drivers.

3) The study size is pretty low (less than 1500 cyclists in a city of 2.5 million), and studying 0.06% of the population is not considered a representative sample, even discounting the fact that many cyclists may have been counted twice if the cycled past the same point twice within a small period of time. This doesn't matter though... your study will be publicized in the Star. This is either proof that the Star has low standards or that cycling is becoming more of an issue in Toronto, and so the safety issues surrounding it matter more. I'm going to go with the latter.

The Wikipedia page on helmets is an excellent place to learn about some more issues, such as if helmets reduce fatalities and serious injuries, or if helmets only serve as a deterrent to using a bike as a form of transportation.

My favourite part of the article is when the medical student says:
...she knows there's a lot of opposition, with people pointing to places like Denmark and Holland, which have no helmet laws yet enjoy much lower rates of cycling fatalities. "You look around Europe and nobody's wearing a helmet, but there are so many cyclists," says Gardner, reached by cellphone in the B.C. Interior, about 50 km west of Kamloops. "It's safer because the drivers are very cyclist conscious."
It's obvious that what we need are more cyclists. It's more cyclists, not more helmets, that will make everyone safer. More cyclists slow down car traffic, and make drivers more aware of cyclist needs and safety.

Get on your bike and ride. Bring friends.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Wednesday, June 14, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Just wanted to share a great link out of Pennsylvania. It starts off with some talk about politicians doing things that politicians do, but gets a lot better when it talks about how non-car lives are possible (and embraced!) in other places, like Toronto:

I bought my first bicycle at age 45, inspired by a former mayor of Toronto, John Sewell. As part of a fellowship on land-use planning, I interviewed Sewell in a downtown Toronto restaurant in 1993. Afterward, I was surprised to see Sewell unhitch a battered bicycle from one of the city's ubiquitous bike stands, toss his briefcase in its saddlebag and pedal off (in a specially marked bike lane) to his next appointment.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I'm back from honeymooning in the Caribbean, where, thankfully, Jamaica escaped most of the rain and wind that Tropical Storm Alberto was whipping up down there. The first couple days of our week were a bit wet, but the rest of the week was sunny and/or dry.

As a result, despite a lot of laying around outside drinking drinks that consisted mostly of rum, I have a mild tan, but nothing too bad (SPF 45 sunscreen works). I saw a few people who were actively pursuing skin cancer though... pursuing Darwin's theories I guess.

As this is a biking site, it would be crazy of me to make my first post here without atleast some biking content for all you fine people, so I'll share with you a couple (out of many) photos from the honeymoon. I'll share the rest later for those who are interested.

First is a couple photos from us biking down Blue Mountain on one of the tours we did (the other was swimming with dolphins). You'll notice I'm wearing the swanky blue I Bike T.O. shirt I got from the CBN Poster Auction... and you can bet your ass that every single person on the trip had to ask me what "T.O." meant. Don't even get me started with Americans thinking that 30 degree weather with a bunch of humidity is something completely alien to a couple Torontonians. We do live in igloos and drive skidoos to the corner store to buy firewood, after all. Haha.

In the mountains we saw coffee plantations (on very steep hillsides), how coffee is made, different fruits like pineapples and jackfruit growing wild, super waterfalls, and cute Jamaican children who ran alongside our bikes joyfully yelling "white tourists! white tourists!" in Patois, an English/French/Jamaican dialect.

The resort offered a lot of watersports, and one of the first we tried was the "WaterTrike". It was big, slow to get going, and clumsy to steer, but once you got going, the paddles on the wheels made you get some okay speed up. The other watersport which I would definitely recommend is the Hobie Cats. A resort staffmember will take you out on a little sailboat made from a couple pontoons with canvas stretched across, and those things fly. I had a great time. Tracy, who is wary around deep water, had less of a good time, but agreed it was cool.

Finally, a quick shout-out to DarrenJ who maintained this site over the past 10 days or so... keeping BikingToronto alive while I was drunk, napping, and eating down in Ochos Rios. Thanks Darren!



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark



It looks like there is some debate about how technically feasible a solar-powered bicycle is, but all I have to say is that it looks really cool.

Those are the biggest reflectors I've ever seen!



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Monday, June 12, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There's a Cycling Committee Sub-Committee meeting tomorrow night.

The Cycling and Transit Working Group is all about the design, development and delivery of policies and programs to encourage the integration of cycling and transit, enhancing multi-modal transportation.

Monday June 13th, 2006
6:30 p.m.
Committee Room 3, Toronto City Hall
100 Queen St. West.


Committee Meetings are open to the public.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Sunday, June 11, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Ah, Sweden.

When North Americans think of Sweden, we think of tall attractive blonds with uplifting lilts to their speech. We also think of Ikea, yummy meatballs, and awesome nordic athletes.

Now we can think about them (at least, those in Stockholm) as people enlightened enough to put car tolls into Stockholm's downtown:

During January and February 2006, the volume of traffic decreased by about 20 percent in and around Stockholm according to project manager Birger Höök at the Swedish Road Association. The goal had been between 10 and 15 percent. So far, the experiment has exceeded expectations.

I wonder how many cities need to be successful with this (I know of NONE that have failed so far...) before there is serious consideration of this in Toronto.

Obviously, lungloads of smog isn't enough to get politicians or citizens to act.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Saturday, June 10, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Something I've been intrigued with are after-dark bike group rides. I know that Critical Mass is often a visceral feast in the fall when the sun sets early and Massers not only put the required red and white lights on their bike, but rig 'em up with extra illumination too.

The New York Times had an article about this back in April about some New York night rides, and about some around the States.

While I'm not sure if there are any in Toronto (TBN may have some, perhaps?) that go late at night, but I know there is atleast one in the works.

While I was at the CBN Poster Auction at the CarFreeDay booth in case anyone had any questions about going car-free or about the Metropass Affinity Program, I was approached by someone who is working on bringing a huge and business-sponsored night ride to Toronto from Montreal, where he's originally from.

I'll be working with him to get the word out about this, and will let you know more when I do.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Friday, June 09, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

When I say "the urban centre of automotive culture", the city of Los Angeles most likely is the first city name that pops into your head, and with good reason.

La-La-Land is the place where the car is king. Where, in a city of millions, no one walks, or rides public transit, or rides a bike.

Or so we thought...

Thanks to a story on TreeHugger, I've become enlightened to the fact that not everyone there drives. In fact, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition has put together a fantastic .PDF about 10 urban biking myths that is applicable to all cities, not just L.A.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Thursday, June 08, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

The answer to the above question is looking more and more like a "no".

There could be a very small piece of the Tooker Bike Lane installed during the Bloor Street project near Yonge Street.

The stretch of Bloor St. between Church and University is to undergo a "facelift" to provide wider sidewalks, better "plantings" (trees and flowers), and fancier digs for all the frou-frous who carry their dogs around in their purses.

Originally, bikelanes (and the people who use them) were overlooked (an inadvertent mistake, I'm sure) in the plans.

Check out these links for some of the history behind this:

Toronto Star

Torontoist

Written by Joe, updated by Darren J., since Joe is busy reciting romantic poetry and sipping a colourful drink with one umbrella and two straws right now.




Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Wednesday, June 07, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Like what I posted about SongCycles yesterday, Sightsonbikes.com was something I noticed on a few peoples bikes at the BikeWeek Group Commute last week.

It looks like it's "geared" towards tourists, but I'm sure they wouldn't turn down giving pure-bred Torontonians or GTAers tours, either.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Tuesday, June 06, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

One of the musical groups that performed after last Monday's Group Commute was an ingenious idea and group called Song Cycles, a group of people that ride around on their bikes and sing.

"We’re a cult. It’s true. Why else would adults don purple and lime-green attire and try and drown out the noise of big-city traffic with melodic odes to the bicycle? Back in 1993, it struck us as a bit unlikely too. But founding member Sue Zielinski had a dream of "a symphony of self-propelled humanity.""

It's beautiful in concept and simplicity.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Monday, June 05, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

A wonderful article appeared in the Seattle Times last week about a suburban family of four who don't own a car.

"Cars hold a unique place in the American psyche; driving the open road is synonymous with freedom... Kent and Christine Peterson used to believe this. But over time, they say, their dependence on cars began to rob them of money, time, and most of all, happiness."

As gas prices go higher and people realize that they are wasting their lives stuck in traffic in an expensive piece of metal that loses most of its value very quickly, I'm sure stories like this will cease to be regarded as stories of eccentricity and more as stories of common sense.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Sunday, June 04, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

There's a Cycling Committee Sub-Committee (say that 5 times fast) meeting tomorrow night.

The Education and Safety Subcommittee provides input to staff and makes recommendations to the Toronto Cycling Committee on the design, development and delivery of policies and programs to improve the safety of cyclists and other road users.

Monday June 5th, 2006
7:00 p.m.
Committee Room 3, 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.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Saturday, June 03, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Okay, the title post is kind of cheesy (I couldn't help myself), but gets the point across. Those of us biking Toronto pay nothing for gas (well, except yummy yummy food... which tastes far better than gasoline), but what about those people in their cars passing too close? How much do they pay?

Well, it turns out they pay pretty well nothing, in terms of gas taxes. For all their whining, they pay one of the lowest petrol excise tax rates in the world.

Here, look at this pretty graph from Spinopsys:



Okay, Australia is highlighted, but Canada is on there... way down at the left... only those republican-ruled imperialistic bastards fine Americans livin' the dream pay less.

Crank up the taxes.



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Friday, June 02, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

CBN now has photos up from the great Women & Cycling poster auction on Monday. My favourite has got to be "Mez" wearing an I Bike T.O. Shirt. Very cool.

Mez and Maogosha are drawing raffle tickets in this photo. I won a Hoof & Cycle t-shirt, plus a bike bell!

Ding-ding, my homies, ding-ding. :)



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Friday, June 02, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

From InsideToronto.com:

OnYourBike.ca is a non-profit group who collects donations for distributing bikes to disadvantaged youth (from kids, all the way to teens), to help these young people experience the fun and freedom that riding a bike brings.

"We've been doing it since 2003 and we've collected more than 400 bikes to distribute to agencies that have told us they're interested."

It looks like they'll accept any kids/teens bikes you don't have a use for, as well as any Canadian Tire money that you have kickin' around that you don't need.

Rosedale United Church
159 Roxborough Dr., off Mount Pleasant Road
Saturday June 3rd, 3 pm



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


posted by Joe on Thursday, June 01, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

From the Canada NewsWire

Torontonians urged to join national competition to reduce automobile emissions

If exhaust fumes aren't choking you, what about
the cost of gas? A new "drive" is on to get commuters out of
their cars by trying more sustainable - and affordable - ways to get to work.

It is called the Commuter Challenge, a friendly competition between Canadian cities designed to increase the number of healthy commuters and reduce road congestion and automobile emissions. It is a week-long event taking place from June 4-10, during Environment Week.

Businesses and individuals can click on www.commuterchallenge.ca to make a change. Registrants log their results online during the week of June 4-10, and the city with the most participants wins.

Some facts about pollution and Toronto:

- Gridlock costs the GTA $1.8 Billion per year (2005 Smart Growth
report)
- In 2005 air pollution caused 5,800 premature deaths and 60,000
emergency room visits in Ontario, with $507 million in related health
care costs (Ontario Medical Association)
- Toronto experienced a record 48 smog days in 2005 - up from 14 in 2004
and more than doubling the previous record of 20 in 2001 (Toronto
Public Health)


For further information:
Roanne Argyle, Argyle Rowland Communications, (416) 968-7311 x232, Roanne@argylerowland.com
Ryan Lanyon, Smart Commute Association, (416) 338-0498, rlanyon@toronto.ca



Discuss this topic and a lot more on the BikingToronto Forum


On The Blog




  • Every friday, BikingToronto takes all the bike news and sends it to your inbox.






    Advertise on the GreenLiving Network
    Advertise on BikingToronto

    Get a Weekly Events Email every Monday


    Advertise on BikingToronto



    Advertise on BikingToronto



    Advertise on BikingToronto