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



posted by Joe on Monday, July 31, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

A couple of quick websites for your viewing enjoyment, while I've got a few spare minutes.

Geez Magazine:
Herb at the Cycling Cog gave the heads-up for this one... a new Toronto magazine premised on the concept of holy mischief, for "wannabe contemplatives, front-line world-changers and restless cranks. A place where the moon shines quiet, instinct runs mythic and belief rides a bike (or at least sits on the couch entertaining the possibility)." They've already got a great section called De-motorize your Soul, with the goal of "re-adjust[ing] normal - away from a gas-powered, hyper-mobile pace to a humane-powered, relaxed pace."

StreetsBlog:
I found this website a few months ago through the site of its editor, Aaron Naparstek, (check out this old view of Park Avenue in NYC on his site... it used to be a park!). StreetsBlog is a project of the New York City Streets Renaissance, and is an amazing site. I originally planned to call it NYC's answer to the Spacing Wire, but since the Wire has already posted about it, I won't. StreetsBlog and The Wire may be my two favourite sites at the moment. Great public space sites!



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posted by Joe on Monday, July 31, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Last week was a busy one, so I thought I should maybe do a This Weeks Events post this week too, except that I don't know of anything going on, bike-wise. If you do, please let me know in the comments. :)

Since there is an absence of events, I've decided to publicize my own, and you can all join in as much or as little as you want.

Monday: Bike To Work Day
(a great way to start the week)
Tuesday: Bike To Work Day
(heatwave! get a breeze biking to work)
Wednesday: Bike To Work Day
(don't add to the smog of Toronto)
Thursday: Bike To Work Day
(feel good about the money you're saving)
Friday: Bike To Work Day
(an energetic end to the week)

I had our computer working a bit on Sunday, but it's gone back into a coma... I was able to get my photos of Wednesday's Cog Ride and Friday's Critical Mass though... I'll have them online for you soon.

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posted by Joe on Monday, July 31, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Cyclometer is the City of Toronto's official Cycling Newsletter. It's a good source of news about what's happening with the Toronto Cycling Committee and community events and groups, such as the Bicycle User Groups (which have re-started their own newsletter called The BUGle [PDF file].)

It's an e-newsletter (delivered directly to your inbox, so it's very environmentally friendly!) that you can sign up for here. You can also check out the Cyclometer Archives on the website, which date all the way back to 1993!

Here's the latest stats about Cyclometer, from the latest issue of Cyclometer

Cyclometer stats - how many of us are there?

As of June 30, there are 3,443 subscribers to Cycling News and, of those, 648 live outside of Toronto. In June we added 67 new subscribers. The top three wards with the most subscribers are Ward 20 (Trinity Spadina) with 156 subscribers; Ward 32 (Beaches-East York) with 152 subscribers and Ward Ward 19 (Trinity Spadina) with 149 Subscribers. The word is not getting out to cyclists in some areas of the City, where we'd really like to see an increase: Ward 9 (York Centre), Ward 1 (Etobicoke North) and Ward 7 (York West). We'll post these stats on the website soon and ask you to talk to your cycling neighbours so that they can get the latest information on cycling issues, meetings and events in the City. Let's get growing.



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

The Good News:

Got the flat fixed. Picked up the bike, scooted down to the Esso Air Pump at Church & Dundas to top up the air pressure, where I was caught in the freak downpour rainstorm. Took refuge underneath the Esso shelter along with another cyclist. We chatted about the weather, where we were going, and my shirt. I'll be at Mass tonight.

The Not-So-Good News:

Our home computer died last night... and I mean a full-on, bad-acting, hamming-it-up, shot-six-times-in-the-gut death. I'll be working on restoring it to working order this weekend and/or looking at new ones (Tracy and I have been eyeing some laptops for a while now... our current computer is 3 years old... ancient in computer years... haha).

I'll be back on Monday, bringing you the usual high quality and super-interesting content you've come to expect from BikingToronto. Hahah. Just kidding. There is a ton going on bike-wise in this city, and I'll do my best to keep up.

p.s. Please note that I am not, despite the above illustration, a gorgeous cartoon redhead. I have never been a cartoon or a redhead.

p.p.s. Okay, there was that one time I experimented with being a redheaded cartoon in university... but I was really drunk, and therefore should not be held accountable.



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

Today marks the 3rd consecutive Friday (that I've ridden to work - I was in Nova Scotia on the 14th) that I got a flat tire on my way in to work. If I was a superstitious soul, I'd suspect there is some grudge against me by the Biking Gods (who don't need high levels of testosterone...)

I'm starting to think I should make the switch from my hybrid tires (4 flats in 4 months, 3 in the last month) back to my old knobby mountain bike tires (1 flat in 14 months of riding).... although maybe it's just bad luck.

Anyone have any advice to how to avoid more flats or tire recommendations? Perhaps the local bike shop (there needs to be MORE shops downtown - I got the last couple flats fixed at Cycle Solutions in Cabbagetown because I'm yet to be comfortable with my "skillz" on re-assembling the back wheel on my bike...) is giving me crappy tubes, or ... hell, I don't know. I'm getting tired of walking my bike to work. This morning's pouring rain didn't help either. :)

If I can get everything working today, you'll see me at Critical Mass. I'm crossing my fingers.



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





July's Edition of Critical Mass Toronto goes tomorrow night. Recent months have seen approximately 200 cyclists riding together, taking over the roads.

It's a lot like what the Don Valley Parkway looks like every morning and night, clogged with thousands of cars driving together, only Critical Mass does it with bikes, and on normal city streets.

Meet on the southeast corner of Bloor & Spadina at 6:00 for general mingling and chatting. The ride starts at 6:30. I'd tell you the route, but it's usually decided "on the fly", so to speak.

I'll wear my I Bike T.O. shirt, so say "hi" if you see me. :)



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

Shanghai, China:
YouTube Video of Traffic in Shanghai
I actually found this in March, but found it again just recently... traffic full of scooters and bicycles. I would love this instead of the car nightmare Toronto currently is.

New York, NY / Montreal, PQ:
This is What a Bike-Friendly City Looks Like
New Yorkers look to Montreal about what a city that supports cycling looks like... they love Montreal's bikelanes that are physically seperated from the automobile part of the street.

Berlin, Germany:
German Traffic Lights Rock the Reichstag!

Sydney, Australia
Thousands buy cycles to beat the bowser blow-out
I had to look up what a "bowser" was in Australia... it's a gas pump. "Between 1996 and late 2005 the number of cyclists using the Harbour Bridge in a typical hour on a weekday morning rose close to five times to about 175. Growth was greater on the Pyrmont Bridge where numbers grew six times to about 185 cyclists an hour." This article is also noteworthy in that it mentions a Sydney Bikeshop named The Cheeky Monkey.

New York, NY:
Police Seek New Controls on Protesters and Bicyclists
It's well known that cyclists and police in the NYC do not get along very well. The police don't think the cyclists should have the right to ride in groups without a parade permit, and get violent about it. A New York City district judge disagreed with the cops and said the cyclists didn't need a permit, so NOW the police want to require parade permits for bicyclists traveling in groups of 20 or more, and any bicyclists or walkers who take to the streets in groups of two or more and disobey traffic laws for things like parades, races or protests, according to a public notice filed with the city..

Hmmm, if everyone who travels in groups needs a parade permit, shouldn't every single driver be forced to get one? Every damn street in every city is a parade of cars, all day long.



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

I've got to hand it to Margaret Wente - "The War Against Cars" is a pretty catchy title, so I'll use it for a title post on some news stories I've found about reducing the auto-centrism of the world.


The Competition for Talent Goes Green (TreeHugger)
"There's a war on talent out there," says Dave Mowat, chief executive officer of Vancouver-based Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, which offers employees the works when it comes to commuting options. "As employers, we need to take advantage of everything we've got to attract and retain talent."
Some Toronto companies who are offering incentives to attract car-free employees include PMA Landscape Architects (offers employees membership in a car-sharing program so when they can't bike to work they have an option) and BCE (lets employees "hotel" in offices all over the country so if they don't have to go downtown that day, they can go to a closer suburban office and use a desk). The Globe and Mail article referenced by TreeHugger also lists many ways employers can ease the commute for their employees.

London Mayor Wants $45 Fee From Pollution-Making SUV’s (StreetsBlog)
Mayor Ken Livingstone has said he wants a sliding scale, with lower charges for low-emission vehicles and higher charges for "Chelsea tractors." The mayor said he wanted to encourage Londoners to buy low-emission cars to help cut carbon emissions and protect the environment.

Contested Streets (Spacing Wire)
It's not just the environmental effects of cars that suck, but also the social effects. Cars create people who are cut-off and divided from eachother, seperated not only by glass and steel, but their neighbourhoods by highways, "arterial roads", and parking lots. Contested Streets is a documentary film that is meant to show the political leaders of New York that major cities around the world are adopting the philosophy that is is a right to walk or bicycle in your neighbourhood and not get hit by a truck. It is not a privilege. Reading the comments of this post I've also found out that Contested Streets will have its Canadian premiere at the October 26 screening of Streets To Screens, the fundraising cinema series of the Toronto Public Space Committee. Everyone is invited to join us at the Bloor Cinema — tickets are $9.

Lessons From... Portland (New York City Streets Renaissance)
This video is a great one about what happens when a city says "no" to a new highway cutting their city in half and instead uses the space to create parkland and awesome biking trails... even using some of the old partially-completed highway exit ramps! It seems like the cancelling of the Mount Hood Freeway in Portland was like the cancelling of the Spadina Expressway here in Toronto... it made their city beautiful and livable. Video by Clarence Eckerson of BikeTV.



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

Tonight is the previously mentioned Toronto Cog Group Ride of the Beltline, Mount Pleasant Cemetary, Moore Park Ravine and the Lower Don Valley.

I should mention that you don't have to be a member of the Cycling Cog to join us... we're not all elitist and stuff... If you ride a bike, you can come. :)

If you haven't biked it yet, I can't recommend the Beltline enough. It's a cool old railroad right-of-way through the backyards of the swanky Forest Hill neighbourhood.

The Beltline hooks up to Mount Pleasant cemetary (in itself one of the best places to ride on a hot summer day - lots of big old trees means lots of shade...), which hooks up to the Moore Park Ravine, reputably the longest downhill stretch of any ravine in Toronto.

At the bottom of the Moore Park Ravine, you find yourself in the Don Valley Brickworks (which produced all the bricks for the great old buildings of the city, like Old City Hall and the Gooderham building), at the start of the Lower Don Valley Trail.

After this, the group will stop for a drink in Cabbagetown. Yay! Drink!

We're meeting at 7 pm in front of the Eglinton West Subway Station. Here's a route map. Should be lots of fun. Remember to bring lights... it will be dark on your way home.

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

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


Wednesday, July 26, 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:

The Bikeway Network Subcommittee provides input to staff and makes recommendations to the Toronto Cycling Committee on the design, development and delivery of policies, programs and facilities to improve the physical infrastructure for cyclists, including bicycle parking, on-street bicycle lanes and routes, off-street trails, development within rail and hydro corridors, maintenance, intersection design and signage.



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

Okay, that title may be exagerating a little bit, but I couldn't help but name an entry that after reading that the Bishop of London has declared it sinful for people to contribute to climate change.

Chartres, the third most senior bishop in the Church of England, has declared his views as it prepares to publish Treasures on Earth, a booklet on environmental matters to be sent to every diocese for distribution... the booklet will say that scientific research supporting predictions that the earth faces serious climate change is “overwhelming”. It will also detail practical ways for Christians to cut their carbon emissions, at church and at home, including trying to walk or cycle to communion.


Maybe Tim in Anchorage will start to see less cars and more bikes in the Church parking lot (hypocritical, anyone?) now.

It's also really cool (also courtesy of Tim) that the parents of Floyd Landis, the cyclist who made that huge comeback to win the Tour de France a few days ago, couldn't watch their son because they don't own a TV. They do bike to church though!




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

A couple weeks ago there was a report about long commute times in Canada. Royson James of the Star wrote a funny little article about it which I particularly liked because of this quote:

How many of us have visited a house in Mississauga or Oshawa, only to find it every bit like one in Scarborough or North York? And we won't mention that many a neighbourhood, directly off an arterial road in the city of Toronto, has much more of a "country feel" than most of the subdivisions springing up around the region.

Yes, affordability is a factor for many. But so is stupidity. How many refuse to buy a house closer to work, citing price, only to opt for a similarly priced — but bigger — house further away.


He followed up this article with one on Friday about how to cut commute times, but forgot about cycling (probably because the commuting report didn't mention it... I'm pretty sure cyclists have the most enjoyable commutes of anyone!).

Good thing we have awesome people in Toronto like who will remind the journalists of the truly better way:

Thank you to Royson James for addressing the issue of urban commuting infrastructure. However, he forgot to mention that safe, designated bicycle lanes are also badly needed and would greatly help congestion in downtown Toronto.

I have always found it incredible that the Netherlands and Japan, both densely populated countries immensely pressed for urban road space, seem to have found room for designated bike paths on all their major urban thoroughfares, whereas we here in Toronto can't seem to get it together to create the safe spaces needed to encourage cycling.

Having more cyclists eases congestion, and also has public health benefits — it is not a coincidence that Japan and the Netherlands have some of the highest life expectancies in the developed world.

Many Torontonians are discouraged from cycling because they are terrified at the prospect of having to share lanes with enormous transport trucks and obese SUVs, not to mention the danger of parked car doors suddenly opening.

Beatrice van Dijk, Toronto


Great letter, Beatrice.



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

This week has a lot going on, bike-wise, in Toronto. Here's an attempt to list them all. If I've missed something, please let me know in the comments and I'll add it.

Mon. July 24th
Toronto Cycling Committee (Education and Safety Subcommittee)

As mentioned yesterday, this subcommittee works on the design, development and delivery of policies and programs to improve the safety of cyclists and other road users, most notably the CANbike program. More information about the Toronto Cycling Committee is online.

When: 7:00 p.m.
Where: Committee Room 4, Toronto City Hall


Tues. July 25th
Toronto Cyclists Union

I mentioned this last week. This is the first meeting of a new group who aims to pressure the government and encourage progress with regards to Toronto's stagnant Bike Plan.

When: 6:30 pm.
Where: Metro Hall, Room 304


Wed. July 26th
Toronto Cycling Committee (Bikeway Network Subcommittee)

This is the subcommittee that makes recommendations about where and how cycling infrastructure (currently stalled, as mentioned above) is implemented in our great city.

When: 7:00 p.m.
Where: Committee Room 3, City Hall


Wed. July 26th
Toronto Cog Group Ride

Continuing the grand tradition recently started by the Toronto Group of the Cycling Cog, there will be a Group Ride this Wednesday starting from the Eglinton West subway station. We'll meet up in front of Eglinton West subway station at 7 pm. The ride will tour the Beltline Trail (hardpacked gravel), Mount Pleasant Cemetary (paved), and the Moore Park Ravine (wide dirt path, should be fine with slick tires) before climbing out and touring the residential streets of Rosedale. We'll then end up at a watering hole in Cabbagetown. More info and discussion is here, and you can see the pics I posted on Saturday of the last ride (to the Leslie Street Spit) here.

When: 7 pm.
Where: Eglinton West Subway Station

Fri. July 28th
Critical Mass Toronto

Woo hoo! I've missed the last couple of these due to wedding and honeymoon stuff, but plan on going this month! I've heard the last couple have been pretty big affairs of approximately 200 people. If you don't know what Critical Mass is, think of the streets being clogged with cyclists instead of with cars. You can read my write-ups about some of the recent Masses: March 2006, April 2006 (Video), April 2006 (Photos), and Darren Stehr has a great video of June's Ride!

Meet at 6:00, Ride at 6:30
Southeast corner of Bloor & Spadina

Sun. July 30th
Graeme Parry's Laneway Bike Tours

Discover the hidden parts of the city, by bike! Graeme Parry guides cyclists on a tour of the laneways and back-alleys of our city. He has 3 tours available. You can read more about them here, and be sure and contact him at info@graemeparry.com to let him know you are interested.

10:00 am - The Junction, 10am at the Dundas West Subway station
1:00 pm - Trinity Bellwoods, 1pm at the corner of Gore Vale and Queen
3:00 pm - Corktown, Cabbagetown, 3pm at the corner of Trinity and Mill Streets


Sun. July 30th
P.S. Kensington

Okay, this isn't really directly related to bikes... but Kensington's Pedestrian Sundays are a car-free celebration of one of the city's most vibrant and interesting neighbourhoods. Bikes are welcome. This happens the last Sunday of every month, and this month's theme is "Water". Maybe bring some waterguns? Well, waterbottles, at least...

When: 12 Noon - 7 pm, approximately
Where: South of College St., West of Spadina Ave.

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posted by Joe on Sunday, July 23, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

The Education and Safety Subcommittee of the Toronto Cycling Committee meets tomorrow night at City Hall.


Monday, July 24, 2006
7:00 p.m.
Committee Room 4, Toronto City Hall
100 Queen St. West.

Committee Meetings are open to the public.


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



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posted by Joe on Sunday, July 23, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark




Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail is at it again.

Yesterday, in an article entitled "The war against the car will never succeed", she maintains that government policies encouraging higher-density planning and public transit use are misguided, arguing that the province should be sinking more money into highways (which have worked soooo well to alleviate traffic congestion, eh?) to allow people to get around easier.

Anyone who has read Wente's previous rants against intelligence know that she's pretty much wrong on everything, but here's some more things she's wrong about:

The other day, as I drove to my exercise class (yes, yes, I know there's a contradiction there), people on the radio were telling me to take the TTC. There was a smog alert, and I was contributing to the problem. But it's next to impossible to get to my class by bus, so I drove.

I wonder if Margaret knows that picking a closer gym may be a smart thing to do, or that going out for a jog or a bikeride is way cheaper and better on the air? She probably does, but prefers to add to the smog problem anyways. We all know that running on a treadmill or riding an exercise-bike staring at a wall or at a TV is vastly more interesting than real running and biking. Sure.

Southern Ontario is the third-fastest growing region in North America -- in the next 25 years, the population is projected to grow by a staggering four million people. So what's the plan for constructing new road systems and highways? Um, there isn't one.

How can a "journalist" not remember (or do research to find) news from only a month ago which states that "the province plans to build 130 kilometres of new highway and repair 1,600 more. They'll also build 64 new bridges and repair another 200, all in the next five years". There's your new roads, Wente. Do some research next time.

The idea that people will use public transit to get to work ignores the fact that most people don't want to live near their work. And because people are so mobile, they no longer have to.

Yeah, that's why people complain about long commutes? Or why they complain about gas prices? Or why they try to live close to their jobs to cut down on commute times and increase the time they get to spend with their kids? Oh... you're saying that everyone likes their long commutes. Suuuuure. People won't be as "mobile" as gas prices go up (there is only so much oil in the earth, you know).

If there is a war against cars, there is no evidence of it in Toronto. Cars take precedence, relegating the rest of us to de facto second-class citizens.

Fortunately, The end of Cheap Oil will win this battle. Those of us who think cars have too much influence in society will happily provide reinforcements.




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posted by Joe on Saturday, July 22, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

(by The (Cycling) Partridge Family)

Hello, world, here's a song that we're singin',
C'mon get Bikely!
A lotta bike lovin' is what we'll be bringin',
We'll make you Bikely!

We had a dream we'd go cyclin' together
We'd share some bike routes we'd keep cyclin' on
Somethin' always happens whenever we're together
We get a happy feelin' when we're biking along.

Bikin' along there's a song that we're singin',
C'mon get Bikely!
A whole lotta lovin' is what we'll be bringin',
We'll make you Bikely!
We'll make you Bikely!
We'll make you Bikely!

(Bikely is all over the cycling "blogosphere" today, so in case you hadn't heard about this new site where you can post biking routes, I hope you enjoyed my bastardization of one of the classics... haha)



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posted by Joe on Saturday, July 22, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark


The Toronto Cog ride on Wednesday night started off from Berczy Park, which is behind the Gooderham building (the old brick one in the distance), near Front and Church. This is looking west along Front.


There were 9 of us one the ride, and here's 3 of us... Tanya (who was fixing her rear light in this photo), Herb (the brains behind The Cycling Cog), and Steeker (who loves "fixies").


Here we are on the Martin-Goodman Trail, near Cherry Beach, on the way to the Spit.


Here we are stopped on a little headland identified by a sign only as "big". It was here we could best see all the old construction material that made (and continues to add to) the Spit.


Tracy met up with us on the Spit. Here she is looking at me like I'm crazy (she does that a lot... haha).


Finally, one of the many many sunset shots I took of the skyline from the Spit.

You can see all 46 photos I took over on Flickr.



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

From the City's Cyclometer Newsletter:

Join us on Sunday, July 23rd to celebrate the splendid union of bicycles and transit! We are all gathering on Sunday, July 23rd to celebrate the marriage of two special modes of transportation - bikes and buses. Bike racks on buses, bike parking at subway stations, taking your bike on the subway - show your support by picking up a free cycling and transit t-shirt (while supplies last). Go further in the snow, sleet and rain with bicycles and transit.

When: Sunday, July 23rd from 10am to 2pm

Where: Outside Bathurst Station (Bloor/Bathurst)



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


While I'm working on writing up a short entry with photos from the Toronto Cog Group Ride on Wednesday night, here's a shot of the skyline from the lighthouse at the tip of the Spit. You can click it to see it bigger, although it's fuzzy, as I was zoomed in a bunch.

It was a great ride. Can't wait until the next one.



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

You know that cycling is gaining energy in a given city when it seems like there are a ton of new groups advocating, promoting and talking about cycling. While I was in Nova Scotia, a notice about a new one, called The Cyclists' Union, appeared in my inbox:

-----------
Hi all,

This is to notify you of the 1st meeting of Cyclists' Union:

DATE: Tues. July 25th, 6.30pm.
VENUE: Metro Hall, Room 304
(55 John Str.)

An effort to organize a Pro-Active Cyclists' Union:


- A union whose mandate is to pressure the government and make progress to
the standstill cycling infrastructure.
- To organize and form a movement as an issue of civil rights on safety,
accommodation, and choice of mobility.
- To monitor and observe compliance with safety issues in land use space
for cycling as a mode of transportation.
-----------

Through some fine investigatory skills (googling), it looks like this is being organized by the people behind ecopolitics.ca, frustrated at the lack of progress on Toronto's Bike Plan.

Even better, there's a kind of "origins" document on the ecopolitics site that explains that this group is arising out of various talks that took place at the World Urban Forum last month in Vancouver, specifically one:

The Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, talked of what could be done with real (political) [grassroots, community-based] will to meet some of the challenges of making cities sustainable... Additionally, [Toronto City] Councillors’ discriminatory attitude against cycling, whose adverse reaction is based on the preconceived notion that the automobile is the pivotal mode of transportation, progress for a bicycling infrastructure has been impeded by every possible method.

[text in square brackets is me]

I plan on attending.



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

There's a lot going on outside Toronto, so I'll try and collect some links and post them for you every once in a while. Here's todays edition of Bike News from Other Cities.

Portland, OR:
Local radio show promotes hatred toward cyclists
"When I hear on TV that a cyclist has been hit and killed by a car I laugh, I think it’s funny... If you are a cyclist you should know I exist, that I don’t care about you. That I don’t care about your life." (note - be sure and read the "Possibly related posts" linked at the bottom of the entry for more info - there's a TON of uproar in Portland about this.)

Chicago, IL:
The Most Ambitious Bike Plan in the United States
Chicago continues its fine policy work towards the goal of being the "Greenest City In America". Three years in preparation, the plan will implement Mayor Richard M. Daley’s goal to make Chicago the most bicycle-friendly city in the United States. (via The Spacing Wire and TreeHugger)

New York, NY:
YouTube Video of How Easy It Is To Steal A Bike
Fed up with losing bikes in NYC, two guys decide to make a video showing how easy it is to steal a bike in broad daylight in the biggest city in North America... numerous times, with a hammer, bolt cutters, hacksaw, angle-grinder... amazing vid. (via BikePortland.org)

Hollywood, CA:
Cyclist Delivers Hot Meals in Hollywood
This makes so much sense I'm surprised I hadn't heard about it before... I'm considering doing something similar here in Toronto. Maybe start a network of interested cyclists... Hmmm.

New York, NY:
BicyTaxi Comes to New York City

Portland, OR:
Bicycle Shuttle to Airport!
The service is free but tips are appriciated. (via BikePortland.org)



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

Despite being wiped out from my long trip back from the East Coast, I'm going to try and meet up with the Cycling Cog Group Ride to the Leslie Street Spit tonight.

To quote Shawn Micallef in his Psychogeography Blog entry, biking at night is automatically really fun because it feels "slightly out-of-control". As well, the Spit is one of my favourite places in the city... an urban wildlife park that has flourished in the middle of a lake from the architectural cast-offs of the old City of Toronto. It's an amazing thing, really.

The ride starts tonight at 7 pm, and the meeting place is Berczy Park, beside the Flat Iron building just west of Church on Front. You can see the route on Gmap Pedometer too.

As an added bonus, the Toronto Bicycling Meetup Group is combining their meeting tonight with this ride, so there may be a good turnout.



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

Unless I've done my math wrong, Monday's post here (the one about the UofT BikeChain) was post #250 here. As well, July 12th marked 6 months of BikingToronto.

While I'm having fun posting on this site, and have ideas for biking stuff in Toronto that I'll be putting together, time-permitting, I'm wondering what you would like to see on this site. Is there some cycling issue or perspective that you haven't seen on this site? If so, it's not from me ignoring it, but probably not knowing about it.

Educate me. :)

In the meantime... I hope you all like reading this site as much as I do writing it.



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

Hi everyone!

I'm back from my trip to visit family in Nova Scotia. Thanks to Darren J for posting things for me while I was away.

Some things I learned from the trip:

1) While I mentioned driving every once in a while to get a driver's persepective, I do NOT recommend large road trips. I think that if I drove a car any time soon I'll be physically sick. There's only so much "sitting still in one place staring at the road" that the human body is designed for, and I went past that point fairly early in the trip.

2) There are bikelanes all over Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec, but they are on quiet, residential sidestreets... where they aren't really needed.

3) People love biking the east coast. I saw tons of cyclists.



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

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


Wednesday, July 19, 2006
7:00 p.m.
Committee Room 1, Toronto City Hall
100 Queen St. West.

Committee Meetings are open to the public.


More about the Promotions Subcommittee, from the City website:

The Promotions Subcommittee provides input to staff and makes recommendations to the Toronto Cycling Committee on the design, development and delivery of policies and programs to promote and enhance cycling including co-ordinating Bike Week; stimulating economic development through partnerships with business, government and local communities; working directly with corporate and community groups to increase bicycle use in general; communications media such as Cyclometer and the Cycling web site and integration of bicycle-transit trips. To see other programs that the Promotions Subcommittee is involved with, see our Promotion page.

For more information about the Promotions Subcommittee you can contact Sean Wheldrake by phone at 416-392-1143 or by email at swheldra@toronto.ca.



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

A very cool cycling facility has come out of the University of Toronto's "Sustainability Office.

The BikeChain is a "educational repair facility. It is open to all members of the university community including students, staff and faculty. Stop by to learn how to give your bicycle some TLC". It's located on the basement level of the International Student Centre at the Cumberland House, 33 St. George St., just north of College St. (map)

This is a fantastic idea, and I can only hope that York U and George Brown have similar plans in the works.



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posted by Joe on Sunday, July 16, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

The Toronto Cycling Committee meets tomorrow night at City Hall.


Monday, July 17, 2006
7:00 p.m.
Committee Room 1, City Hall
100 Queen St. West.

Committee Meetings are open to the public.


More about the Toronto Cycling Committee, from the City website:

The Toronto Cycling Committee is designed to advise City Council and its departments, agencies, boards, and commissions, on the design, development and delivery of bicycle policies, programs and facilities to promote and enhance cycling within the City of Toronto. The goal of the committee is to provide a liveable and environmentally friendly city that is accessible and safe for people of all ages and abilities to get around by bicycle and to ensure the role of cycling in a transportation system appropriately balanced among all road users.



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posted by Joe on Saturday, July 15, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Back in late-May and early-June, when BikeWeek (maybe next year we can make it BikeMonth, or BikeSummer?) was in full swing and I was too busy with wedding plans to attend too many of the multitude of BikeWeek events, I saw on the Bikeweek Calendar an event called PrideRide that mentioned the Gay West Bike Club and thought it would make a good subject for a post.

"This is a laid back cycling and touring club. There are frequent stops for a break or lunch at a local restaurent. No one is left behind anywhere on the rides. At the end of the tour, riders again cycling home to one of the many interesting restaurents or bars for jug or two of beer, a light snack and a gab fest, in the queer west end of the city and sometimes at Zelda's in gay Toronto."

It looks like a great group, run out of the Gay West Community Network, centered on West Toronto - apparently the fasting growing gay-friendly part of the city.



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

This beautiful story about cyclists, flowers, and chatting, which appeared on the Spacing Wire a few weeks ago reminded me of the daily reminders I see that those of us biking Toronto have so much more to be thankful for (relative to car drivers) besides a healthy, cheap and environmentally-friendly way to get to work, school, shopping or play.

Has anyone else noticed that car and truck drivers face commuting or getting around in the city (or anywhere, really) as a confrontational activity? They are continually cutting people off, racing to get past streetcars, buzzing cyclists by passing too close, doing last-minute, unsignalled turns. It's as if, because they have the potential to travel at 160+ km/h, they must constantly be in pursuit of that goal - to get everywhere as fast as automotively possible.

Cyclists, on the other hand, view commuting or travelling by bike as a more co-operative pursuit. They will share the road with other users. They often wave cars through although they may have the right-of-way. They move right for faster cyclists approaching from the rear. They wave at eachother. They talk to eachother at stoplights. They talk to pedestrians. They stop and shop at local stores quickly and easily (no trying to find parking!).

In addtion, there are a ton of social groups that exist (and are being created) for cyclists. I know of no similar groups for car owners (aside from old car afficionados - my brother once dated someone whos family was nuts about Oldsmobiles...).

Cyclists have the regular and fun-sounding rides of the Toronto Bicycle Network, the slightly anarchic and super-fun rides of Critical Mass (6 pm at Bloor & Spadina - last Friday of every month), the new Cycling Groups of The Cycling Cog - a site designed to facilitate community building amongst cyclists, and from an official "City of Toronto" viewpoint - there are the Bicycle User Groups (BUGs) that are popping up all over the city. They are bringing together people that live in the same neighbourhoods, people that work in the same building, and people that have a similar bike commute to work.

Personally, I get the "warm-fuzzies" when I recognize another cyclist or a pedestrian and give them a wave or stop and talk with them. Even better, when I talk with previous "strangers" about things - like my anti-pollution mask (which I use on smog days), my IBikeT.O. shirt, or if they have questions about how to start biking in Toronto.

You never get that kind of interaction in a car. Never.



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posted by Joe on Thursday, July 13, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

Back in April, the Toronto Star asked for idea from readers on ideas that would make Toronto a better, more livable city.

They received a ton of ideas, ranging from ideas for encouraging cycling, transit, the environment and urban planning. My favourites are obviously the cycling ones (as well as some from obvious whackos), but here's a taste of a few from many categories:

Create a bike station at Nathan Phillips Square that would include indoor, secure parking, a mechanic for small repairs, showers and change rooms, a café and shop, as well as bike rentals (free?) and bike tours similar to the Millennium Bike-Station in Chicago, but borrowing from the Copenhagen model of bicycle facilities.

Toronto could really benefit from some of Hong Kong's lessons: Someone HAS to get off the idea that the TTC isn't supposed to make money! Here in HK our transit system turns a profit. It doesn't get ANY government funding. Impossible, you say? No it isn't! They do it by giving the transit operator the land above some of its subway stations. They build shopping malls there and other things, the leases from which subsidize the operation of the system. If the TTC were given land above a few stops, they could do the same thing.



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

As Toronto cyclists push and push for more funding to help the city realize its own goal of 1000 km on bikelanes, other cities are leaving us in the dust.

Last fall, Toronto cyclists wrote to their city councillors in support of increasing the 2006 budget for cycling facilities in the city from $1.5 to $3.0 million (the Bikeplan originally budgeted $6.0 for 2006).

Meanwhile, over in London, cycling has been extremely popular ever since the bombings last July 7th (although people have returned to public transit).

After a decade of stagnation in the number of bicycle journeys, new figures show there has been a dramatic leap in commuters and leisure cyclists focused on Britain's cities and the burgeoning network of cycle routes. In London, trips by bike have increased by 50 per cent in five years to 450,000 per day.

This rising popularity of cycling is producing some political influence - funding for cycling facilities is way up in London:

Investment in cycling increased from £5.5m in 2000 to £24m in 2006-07. The projected budget for 2009-2010 is £30m, by which time there will be 560 miles of dedicated cycle paths across the capital, compared to 310 miles currently.

In case you're wondering, the £24 million London is spending is roughly equal to $49 million CDN. We're spending $3 million here. The fact that London is bigger than Toronto should be taken into account - it has roughly (~2.5M and ~7.5M) 3 times as many people as us... so if we were spending on their level we'd be spending about $16 million this year (1/3 of $49 million).

There, I'm done with the math. I guess the best thing we can do is do whatever we can to get more cyclists on the roads... to create some political influence.



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

It's a bit discouraging to the average Toronto cyclist to read last month that the outgoing General Manager of the TTC (yeah, the head of the transit system here), Rick Ducharme, thinks that Toronto is a city where "the car rules".

With that kind of attitude from a person in that position, it's easy to think "what's the point" in trying to make Toronto more bike-friendly, but I'm reminded of what every single cyclist does when facing a big, seemingly insurmountable hill.

They draw energy from deep within themselves and attack, climbing that hill bit by bit, crank by crank, until they reach the top and enjoy racing down the other side.



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posted by Joe on Monday, July 10, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

The Cycling and Transit Working Group of the Toronto Cycling Committee meets tomorrow night at City Hall.


Wednesday, July 11, 2006
6:30 p.m.
Committee Room 4, Toronto City Hall
100 Queen St. West.

Committee Meetings are open to the public.


More about the Cycling and Transit Working Group, from the City website:

The Cycling and Transit Working Group provides input to staff and makes recommendations to the Toronto Cycling Committee on the design, development and delivery of policies and programs to encourage the integration of cycling and transit, enhancing multi-modal transportation. The main objectives of the group include working to improve bicycle accommodation on transit vehicles, bicycle parking facilities at transit stations and bicycle access to transit stations.

Activities of the group to date include working with the TTC to make the bike rack on bus pilot project a reality, recommending suitable bus routes and participating in the evaluation and community outreach activities for the project.



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

Good news for University of Toronto students on the Mississauga Campus - A Bike Loaning Program has been started to allow "faculty and staff sign out any of two dozen bicycles free for 24 hours to get across campus to their next class, visit friends or even go to the mall for a little lunch or shopping."

The most perplexing part of the whole article is the absence of the information that the inspiration for the program (including the name) comes directly from the Community Bicycle Network's BikeShare program, which has been in place since 2000 ... but hey, whatever the name, if it gets more people biking, then it's great.

Oh, and you can support Bikeshare by donating - $75 gives you the ability to name one of their cheerful yellow bikes (and they'll give you a receipt you can send to the gov'ment) and you'll help them expand the fleet and add new hubs, to more closely integrate BikeShare with Toronto's public transit systems, and to make bicycles ubiquitous on all roads across the GTA. You can be part of the solution by getting your name, your cat's name, or your best pals's name painted on a BikeShare bike.



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

We all know this already, but let's just remind ourselves of it again:

Cars Make You Fat.

Fitness experts now blame U.S. cities and suburbs, because all natural physical activity has been removed from American life... as a result, people who want to walk around their homes generally have to make an "activity" out of it -- buying stupid "walking shoes," driving somewhere for the specific purpose of walking a mile or two, getting stared at by neighbors who find an after-dinner stroll around the block to be deeply suspicious, etc.

I wonder if people who drive everywhere can feel their arteries clogging, their waistlines growing, their muscles seizing up due to inactivity?



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posted by Joe on Friday, July 07, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I'm heading down to the ancestral homeland (My Mom is from Cape Breton, NS) for the next little while. In order to keep up appearances here at BikingToronto.com, my friend Darren J (aka BikeRefugee) will be posting some entries I've pre-written for you fine folks.

I may check in every now and again (my parents, who lived in Newmarket but are now retired in Cape Breton, on the water very close to the above photo, have internet access), but I'll most likely be busy swimming and eating a lot of steak and lobster. Oh, and Keiths. Must not forget the Keiths.

This summer is turning into an awesome "Summer of the Bike" here in Toronto, and I think we can expect an awesome BikeAutumn too.

Happy Biking,

Joe.



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posted by Joe on Friday, July 07, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

The National Post is not my favourite news source in Toronto (in fact, only the Sun is worse), but last month did see them publish an article about Toronto street furniture (link goes to urbantoronto.ca discussion) that was in fact about more (whether they knew it or not).

The article, on the surface, seems to be about the current initiative to harmonize street furniture like newspaper boxes, benches, bus shelters, and the like. But when you read the article, it is, in fact, about what makes up the streets - how friendly they are for people, not cars:

Think of the last great city you visited. Paris, or London, maybe. But also smaller cities like Boston or San Francisco. Now what was it that made that city ''great'' for you?

I'll bet it wasn't a specific site or attraction. But rather a neighbourhood, a waterfront, a downtown, an entire city.

What makes them so attractive?

It turns out you can walk around these places and just soak up the atmosphere, that's what. The history, the energy, the buzz, the action. What we remember when we visit other cities isn't so much ''the sites,'' but ''the streets.''


I don't think the Post is aware of it, but what makes streets great are things designed for people - wide sidewalks, "podiums" (those several story bases housing stores) at the base of tall buildings, and above all, people-friendly traffic. They've alluded to it without coming right out and saying it.

Traffic that does not whip by at high rates of speed is people friendly - perhaps a reason for increasing parking (which should please business owners) and painting bikelanes all over the place.

When people visit Toronto, do you want them to remember how they almost got run over on Yonge Street, or that they had a nice experience there, shopping with thousands of other pedestrians as cyclists and streetcars rolled by, helping keep the air clean and breathable?

It's a no-brainer.



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posted by Joe on Thursday, July 06, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I'm constantly amazed (and inspired) by the creativity and energy of Lori and Kevin of NewMindSpace.

Lori and Kevin have already stormed the public domain of public space in Toronto and New York by organizing Subway Parties, Streetcar Parties, Easter Egg Hunts and Giant Pillowfights, amongst many others.

On Friday, they have planned, with the help of lots of Toronto groups (including the CBN)something called "Flight of Fancy", which I can best describe as a "mobile party" in downtown Toronto.

As far as I know (I emailed with them about it during the planning stages) Toronto cyclists are not only invited, but welcomed. Toronto cyclists are known for their energy and willingness to have a good time.

Many of the details are still secret, but if you join their mailing list today, they'll send you an email with more info at around 7 pm tonight.



From NewMindSpace:

This Friday, July 7th 2006, we invite you to join us for a massive, mobile
celebration in Toronto.

A sparkling waterfront, a piece of history, an industrial wasteland, the
skyline from a glamorous beach. Think roving soundsystems, packed subway
cars, outrageous costumes, bold marching bands and a healthy dose of joie de
vivre in the heat of the summer. This is your night.

Meet us there at 7 sharp. Dress wild. Bring a token or a Metropass ;)

Downtown location to be announced 24 hours in advance at
newmindspace.com

Tell everyone. Everywhere.



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

BikeToronto.ca has some awesome entries up about recent improvements to a couple sections of the Martin-Goodman Trail along the waterfront.

First up is the section at Marilyn Bell Park. A new "twin" trail has been added, and they are still working on the original trail right next to the water, where a boardwalk will be added for pedestrians (the original bike trail will remain, but widened). Is it just me or do those blue and green lines in that photo look darn purty?

I actually biked on the new twin trail when it was brand new, a couple weeks ago after my dragonboat practice at Sunnyside, and it's a dream... so smooooth!

The other section to get an upgrade is Leslie, south of Lakeshore. A new seperate trail extends south to Commissioner's Street (soon to go all the way to Unwin and the entrance to Tommy Thompson Park (the Leslie Street Spit).

My favourite part of this has got to be the generous tree plantings on both sides... in 10 years these will be nice and big and provide lots of great shade and atmosphere for cyclists here. While there are a lot of new trees on either side of Lakeshore too (where the eastern stump of the Gardiner used to be), I'd love to see the city plant a lot more... there are a lot of empty areas on both sides and in the wide grassy median.



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posted by Joe on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

We went out of town on the weekend, and so we rented a car (no sense owning one when you only need one once in a "blue moon" - which our suburban and rural friends and family can't get their heads around...) and I hated every minute of it.

Stuck in traffic, asphalt everywhere, psychotic drivers, and buying dead animal matter (oil) to power it all. I physically gagged a little when we were on the outskirts of Aurora and saw hundreds and hundred of acres of farmland being "primed" for suburban development - all scraped "clean" and devoid of any life - a vast, brown, desolate landscape. I felt guilty the whole time I was in that car.

For all that - I recommend every cyclist try to drive every once in a while - if only to see things from a driver's perspective.

I personally tend to forget that driving through a landscape (urban or rural) is a vastly different experience that cycling through it, and not just in terms of time and speed.

When I'm biking, I am used to hearing everything around me. I can tell where cars are behind me, mostly by how they sound (how loud they are, where the sound is coming from, and what the sound is doing - speeding up sounds rise, while slowing down sounds lower...). I can also hear all the pedestrians, see how they are interacting on the sidewalk (very handy for predicting when one is going to step off the sidewalk), and I feel a part of the environment around me.

In a car (even one with the windows open), one is physically seperated from that environment. You often can't hear other cars or things external to the vehicle (often a "selling point" in car commercials), and in fact, cellphones, stereos and even DVD players are designed to distract people in a car from what is outside.

Thus, when you drive, you are not "part" of the environment. The environment is simply "something to get around / through / over" on your way to your destination. It's a horrible existence, and I don't understand why people choose to trap themselves in cars for hours every day of their existence.

Having said that, I recommend driving every once in a while to see things from the other side. If only we can get drivers trying cycling every once in a while, to educate them on our point of view.

Hmmm, maybe we should start an education exchange program?



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posted by Joe on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 Share/Save/Bookmark

I've been writing posts here for almost 6 months now, and while I do talk about biking in other cities periodically, I'm far overdue to have a post about Biking Websites from other cities.

I actually am quite addicted to reading these sites. Although they don't directly impact biking in Toronto, it's always really cool hearing about news and initiatives from other cities... not only for inspiration and assurance that there are people in other cities working for the same goals of encouraging sustainable transportation where they live, but also that they often have good ideas that could be imported here to Toronto. I'm working on setting up a couple of these ideas, actually. You'll find out more... don't worry. :)

Here's a list of 4 sites that I visit the most... I know there's more out there that I haven't become addicted to yet... if you know of some (I'm looking for sites that aren't run by governments, but rather individuals/groups who are in it to promote cycling) please leave details in the comments. I'll update this post with a more comprehensive list with the new ones.

BikePortland.org - I've mentioned this site a lot. Jonathan Maus has set up a fantastic resource of Portland Biking Information (including an awesome Stolen Bike Listing which has already resulted in a bunch of recovered bikes!) that seems to be the "go-to" place for cycling information in the "Rose City". The site is a little over a year old, and yet draws in thousands of visitors a day.

Transportation Alternatives (NYC) - I just discovered that "TA" has been around since 1973! It's mission is to "Encourage bicycling, walking and public transit as alternatives to automobile use, and reduce automobile use and its attendant environmental and social harms." They look like a great group, with lots of great cycling campaigns underway to make things better in New York (My 2nd favourite city ... Tracy and I visited a few years ago and loved it! I want to bike the Brooklyn Bridge the next time I'm there - I hear it's a great trip!).

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition - Ahhh, San Francisco. The origin of Critical Mass and a huge and vibrant cycling community despite being one of the famous hilly cities in the world. The SFBC aims "to transform San Francisco's streets and neighborhoods into more livable and safe places by promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation." Their campaigns page is amazing, especially since they've got campaigns in every single neighbourhood of the city that are pushing for bikelanes and integration of them into a comprehensive city-wide network.

TheWashCycle - Okay, I have to admit that the name sucked me into this website about cycling in Washington D.C. Beyond the name of this blog though, is great content about everything happening concerning cycling, including a great map of all the cycling trails in and around the city.



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