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This Street Furniture Thing Is A Rip-Off

I posted about this last week, but thought I’d do it again because I think the City is being short-sighted and being ripped off by this whole Street Furniture thing.

Above is one of the proposed bikeracks, although nothing is wrong with our iconic post-and-rings. Other things advertising companies are proposing are bus shelters (didn’t we just get new ones?), newspaper boxes (I personally like what the current colourful varieties add to the streetscape) and “InfoPillars”, which seem to be billboards with a map on the back.

Yeah, we’re asking advertising companies to give us all this stuff and they get the right to slap their ads all over the place.

But… BUT… the deal SUCKS. Cities all over the world do this, but actually GET something out of it… take Paris, who is getting 10,000 community bicycles in exchange for advertising rights!

THAT is how you dole out street furniture contracts. Not by replacing things that don’t need replacing, but by getting something that is beneficial to the city.

With the City not funding the BikeShare program, which is now pretty dead, as well as wanting to be “The Greenest City in North America” and reducing Greenhouse Gases by 20%… isn’t this a “duh…?” moment?

It’s come out that there will be a brief 12-hour public display of the proposed furniture, Wednesday at City Hall from 8:30am-8:30pm.

AND… although the City doesn’t want public input, we can submit it anyways! Torontoist did the legwork and tracked down the email addresses of the people judging the furniture bids.

Email them… let them know what you think. If you think that Toronto should be getting more than just more advertising space for companies that continually break the law, DEFINITELY let them know.

You never know… they may listen to you.

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2007 season opens for Gay West Bicycle Club

Other than the cycling groups over at the Toronto Bicycle Network, the Gay West Bicycle Club may just be the largest in Toronto, but I don’t know for sure. What I do know for sure is that the GWBC is gearing up for 2007:

Gay West Bicycle Club is the only gay, lesbian and bisexual dedicated bicycling club in the province of Ontario. Now entering it’s fourth year in 2007 with close to 100 registered members.

They have their first ride of 2007 planned for 12-3 PM on April 29th. Be sure and let anyone you think may be interested know:

“First ride for 2007 season takes place on Sunday April 29-Noon until 3PM” We start off at Sunnyside Pavilion then make our way up the Humber River to just south of Lawrence Ave, where the Hurricane Hazel monument is located. For those who don’t know what Hurricane Hazel was, surf over to www.hurricanehazel.ca. We then make our way west along the Eglinton Ave bike path, south along the bike lanes of Royal York Avenue in Etobicoke, through the ever so posh Kingsway Village area, then back east via several side streets. We’ll then gather for an après-ride mix and mingle somewhere in the west end of the city.

The GWBC are also the co-ordinators of the Annual Toronto Pride Ride happening on Sunday June 17th.

Out of town visitors are welcome to join any of the club meets.

Please RSVP to gwbikeclub@hotmail.com if you will be attending.

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Bloor & Spadina

A lot of cyclists in Toronto are familiar with the intersection of Bloor & Spadina… the giant dominoes, the gardens, and the oasis from traffic at a busy intersection… but perhaps most significantly, it’s the startpoint for Critical Mass on the last friday of every month (BikeFriday).

The above photo is from around 1960, courtesy of the Spacing Wire. It’s looking southbound. The intersection is almost unrecognizable, except for the Jewish Community Centre on the right.

As a contrast to this autocentric, pedestrian unfriendly and asphalt nightmare that Bloor and Spadina used to be, below is the opposite view of this intersection, taken by Martino last friday:

(you can click it for a larger version – the person who took the 1960 shot was probably standing in front of where the Scotiabank is now…)

The actual Critical Mass ride on Friday was pretty fun. There were about 100 people when it started, but that soon grew to 200+ as people joined the ride. The ride made it’s way eventually to Bloor & Dufferin for a re-installation of a Ghost Bike, and then continued on it’s way.

CityTV was there, and there news story about it was pretty well done – focusing on the fact that drivers need to be careful to avoid more cyclist and pedestrian deaths.

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Today is BikeFriday

I’ll have a post up later today or this weekend with photos and stuff from the morning BikePools, but here’s some to tide you over:

Martino (Bloor West Ride)
Vic (HighPark to Mississauga Ride)

Remember that the UofT BikeChain will be open today from 12-5 PM, handing out free coffee and memberships (regularly $20-$60) to all cyclists!

The BikeChain is located at:
International Student Centre (basement level)
33 St. George St. (just north of College St.)
( map )

Critical Mass is tonight too! Meet at Bloor & Spadina at 6:00 PM, Ride at 6:30. I’ll be there for a little bit (look for a bright blue windbreaker on a dirty dirty mountainbike).

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World Class Cities Have Bike Rental "Street Furniture"

You may have heard the news that the City is looking at new “street furniture” (transit shelters, benches, etc) and DON’T want public input (which is a shame because the new “bikeracks” being proposed are not only unnecessary (our post and rings are iconic and do the job) but kind of ugly (in my opinion). Essentially advertising companies design these things for the city because they want to slap advertisements all over them (hopefully legal ones).

But, do you know what “world class” cities like Paris do? They let a company have access to advertise all over the city, but in return they have to make the city a better place by providing 20,000 virtually free rental bicycles for the citizens to use.

On July 15, the day after Bastille Day, Parisians will wake up to discover thousands of low-cost rental bikes at hundreds of high-tech bicycle stations scattered throughout the city, an ambitious program to cut traffic, reduce pollution, improve parking and enhance the city’s image as a greener, quieter, more relaxed place. By the end of the year, organizers and city officials say, there should be 20,600 bikes at 1,450 stations — or about one station every 250 yards across the entire city.

The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delano?, has the same aim, said his aide, Jean-Luc Dumesnil: “We think it could change Paris’s image — make it quieter, less polluted, with a nicer atmosphere, a better way of life.” But there is a practical side, too, Dumesnil said. A recent study analyzed different trips in the city “with a car, bike, taxi and walking, and the bikes were always the fastest.” The Lyon rental bikes, with their distinctive silver frame, red rear-wheel guard, handlebar basket and bell, can also be among the cheapest ways to travel, because the first half-hour is free, and most trips are shorter than that.

If a company wants to slap advertisements all over our public infrastructure, shouldn’t we in Toronto make them do more for us? Shouldn’t we have them help us become the “greenest city in North America“?

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