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Bicycling in 2011 – A Personal Reflection

Happy New Year everyone! Hopefully you’ll have many happy rides in 2012.

Yesterday (Dec. 31/11) was my 52nd birthday.

Growing older evokes different thoughts and emotions in different people. But most don’t feel older, they just one day realize they are. I think the adage is “inside every older person there’s a younger person saying ‘what the hell happened?!’”

For someone born on the last day of the year, the sixth of six children – always the youngest in class; in family; among my friends – “suddenly” being older is an adjustment.

Many hide or deny their ages, but there are undeniable truths about aging and being older. For the first time in your life, there are more years behind you than ahead. There are more people younger than you than older. Your body is not as responsive.But I ride a bike. And it helps me deny the years. And I love it.

Poster on Pharmacy Ave.

And in my 52nd year, I rode more than ever before.

I know the following stats are unremarkable and they are presented as much to say “if I can do it, anyone can” as for any other reason, but I have regularly commuted by bike for at least 12 years and these are all personal bests, all set in 2011.  From them I take great pleasure as they are tangible evidence that, with each passing year, bicycling becomes more enjoyable for me, makes more sense and plays a bigger role in my life.

(Each stat is recorded during my regular commutes to work, which is about 20 km round trip, or longer rides)

  • Earliest commute of the year: Feb. 16
  • Latest commute of the year: Dec. 22
  • Coldest temp.: -2c (Mar 15)
  • Hottest temp: 36c (Jul 21)
  • Most consecutive business days commuting: 26
  • Highest average speed for a one-way commute (10 kms): 29.5 km/h (Sep. 14)
  • Highest average speed for round trip commute: 27.2 km/h (Aug 19)
  • Highest average speed for all commutes to date: 24.1278 km/hr (on Sep. 26)
  • Longest distance in a one-day ride: 170 kms (Sep 17)
  • Most kms ridden in a year: 2,840.6 kms

Notable Rides:

June 21: First of two rides to protest the removal of the Birchmount/Pharmacy bike lanes
July 12: Ride from Don Mills & DVP to City Hall for the vote on the future of the Jarvis bike lanes
July 20: Ride from Don Mills & DVP to participate in the ride to protest the removal of the Jarvis bike lanes
Sep. 17: Toronto to Niagara Falls

Thanks for letting me share this with you.

No one knows what’s in store for 2012 – hopefully I’ll find layers enough for a January commute – but regardless of what’s ahead, I’m looking forward to cycling there. Again, have happy rides in 2012.



Posted: January 1st, 2012
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Filed under: Bike Commuting
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Once is not Enough – Ride Again to Save the Bike Lanes

Birchmount Pharmacy Bike LaneDate & Time:
Wednesday, July 6, 2011 – 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm

Location:
Meet at the Victoria Park subway station

The first ride to save the Pharmacy & Birchmount bike lanes on June 28 was a  success with many local riders joined by cyclists from across Toronto.

Everyone who took part agreed it is important to build on the momentum of the first ride to raise awareness in the neighbourhoods (no one we spoke to on the first ride knew there was a pending Toronto city council vote to remove the bike lanes) with a second ride and we hope you can join us.

Toronto City Council votes on July 13th to accept all or part of Mayor Rob Ford’s Bike Plan, which calls for the removal of the bike lanes installed in 2008 on Pharmacy Ave. & Birchmount Rd..

This is a matter of personal safety for everyone who uses the roads and we will ride on Wednesday to help save the lanes.

Please leave a comment to let us know your thoughts or whether you can make it or not.

You can also let the Mayor and the two local councillors, whose wards the bike lanes travel through, know how you feel by sending a message to the following email addresses:

Mayor Ford: mayor_ford@toronto.ca

Ward 35 Councillor Berardinetti: councillor_berardinetti@toronto.ca

Ward 36 Councillor Crawford: councillor_crawford@toronto.ca

Also please join our Facebook Group: http://ow.ly/5vTTS
Let’s Ride!


 



Posted: July 3rd, 2011
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Filed under: Cycling Events, Cycling Issues, Cycling News
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Ride to Save the Bike Lanes

Pharmacy Birchmount Bike lane imageDate & Time:
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 – 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm

Location:
Meet at the Victoria Park subway station

Help save the Pharmacy Av. and Birchmount Rd. Bike Lanes by joining us for a ride to raise awareness and to listen to what the local neighbours have to say.

Toronto City Council votes on July 13th to accept all or part of Mayor Rob Ford’s Bike Plan, which calls for the removal of the bike lanes installed in 2008 on Pharmacy Ave. & Birchmount Rd..

This is a matter of personal safety for everyone who uses the roads and we will ride on Tuesday to help save the lanes.

Please leave a comment to let us know your thoughts or whether you can make it or not.

Also please join our Facebook Group: http://on.fb.me/ksA8GV



Posted: June 26th, 2011
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Filed under: Cycling Events, Cycling Issues
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Comments on Toronto Bikeway Network – 2011 Update

It’s less than a week since Mayor Ford’s Bikeplan was released and it faces it’s first formal review in a meeting of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee tomorrow, June 23, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. in City Hall.

If you can’t make it to the meeting y0u can submit your comments to the committee at the following site:
http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2011.PW5.1

For whatever it’s worth, I submitted the following comments:

To the City Clerk:

Please add my comments to the agenda for the June 23, 2011 Public Works and
Infrastructure Committee meeting on item 2011.PW5.1, Bikeway Network – 2011
Update

I understand that my comments and the personal information in this email
will form part of the public record and that my name will be listed as a
correspondent on agendas and minutes of City Council or its committees.
Also, I understand that agendas and minutes are posted online and my name
may be indexed by search engines like Google.

Comments:

I would like to register my comments on the “Bikeway Network – 2011 Update
Recommendations” as they are listed on the City of Toronto web site at the
following URL:

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2011.PW5.1

I very much appreciate that the Mayor’s Bike Plan is solid effort to improve
Toronto’s cycling infrastructure in a tough economic climate and in light of
the Mayor’s mandate to cut costs.

However, the Bike Plan’s focus on off-street trails does not serve bike
commuters well. While all improvements are welcome, to concentrate improvements on
off-street trails, those in parks, hydro corridors and ravines, etc., leaves
commuters still needing to find a safe way to get from the trails to their
residences and places of work.  Cyclists still need the protection of a
well-planned system of on-street bike lanes throughout Toronto.

I would like to comment specifically on three of the points in the “Bikeway
Network – 2011 Update Recommendations”.

First:

1.f.)  Not proceed further at this time on work on the Bloor-Danforth Bikeway Environmental Assessment and direct that staff refocus the current available resources on achieving the elements outlined in this
recommendation.

We should continue the work on the Environmental Assessment. A
Bloor-Danforth Bikeway might be the most important piece of cycling
infrastructure in the city as it could form the backbone of a city-wide
network of bike lanes and trails.

Secondly, the following points:

5.         City Council provide direction regarding the possible removal of
existing bicycle lanes on Pharmacy Avenue, from Denton Avenue
to Alvinston Road.

6.         City Council provide direction regarding the possible removal of
existing bicycle lanes on Birchmount Road, from Kingston Road to St. Clair
Avenue East.

Council should direct that the Birchmount and Pharmacy bike lanes be left
intact for the following reasons:

1.   The Bike Lanes Do Not Impede Traffic: Toronto city staff have
concluded that there has been no significant adverse effect on traffic since
the bike lanes were approved by council in 2008. As a local resident who
uses Birchmount daily and Pharmacy weekly, I have never witnessed or been
in a volume-based delay on either road where the bike lanes exist.

2.   High Cost of Removing the Lanes: Mayor Ford has said Toronto is
“cash-strapped”. So why spend $210,000 to remove bike lanes for no good
reason? The Mayor and current city council were elected primarily because
of their promise to eliminate extra costs, trim budgets and “stop the gravy
train”. To spend money on the unnecessary removal of these bike lanes under
the current economic conditions would be, at very least, imprudent – if not
an incredible waste of money.

3.   Community Consultation Needed Before Making any Recommendations:
While I disagree with the contention of some people that the bike lanes were
installed without community consultation, if we accept the contention, it
would then be a “two wrongs” situation to remove the lanes without proper
and extensive community consultation. In particular, residents living
directly on Birchmount Rd. and Pharmacy Ave., those most affected by the
bike lanes, should be consulted.

4.  The Usage of the Bike Lanes must be reviewed in context of the Bike
Plan under which they were constructed: The criticism of both lanes, that
they are not well used, is unfair because they are a partial manifestation
of the previous Bike Plan, which was never fully implemented. Bike lanes
cannot succeed in isolation, as is the case with both of these lanes. They
must be connected to a network so riders can access them.
Given a connected network of bike lanes, including the Dawes Rd. bike lane
recommended in the Bikeway Network Update 2011, the proposed/under
construction St. Clair Ravine and Warden Woods bike paths, and the extension
of the Birchmount lane to Steeles Ave., cycle traffic would increase on both
lanes.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best Regards,

Stephen Da Cambra

 



Posted: June 22nd, 2011
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Filed under: Cycling Issues
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The Middle of Winter – Time for a Historic Cycling Event in Toronto

This Friday, February 4, at 10:30 am, Team Spidertech powered by C10 holds a press event at the Hockey Hall of Fame to officially launch its 2011 season.

Why is that so historic? In the off-season, Team Spidertech powered by C10 became the first Canadian cycling team to earn a Professional Continental license from the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the sport’s governing body.

The UCI Continental circuits are international bicycle racing’s Tier 2 events.

What’s Tier 1? The UCI World Tour: the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta a España. In other words, Team SpiderTech is now one step away from competing at bicycle racing’s highest level – and the plan is to do so within the next few years.

01 Toronto Criterium 2010 - Photo by Cycling50Plus

Toronto Criterium 2010

How Canadian is Team SpiderTech? The red and white starts at the top. The team’s manager and driving force is Steve Bauer, the only Canadian to wear the yellow jersey on more than one occasion, doing so a remarkable 14 times in 11 Tours de France.

16 of the 19 SpiderTech riders are Canadian and all the riders are from North America.

Even the bikes are Canadian, custom made for the team by Argon 18 of Montreal.

All the team’s major sponsors are Canadian, including RIM, Saputo, Nucap Medical (SpiderTech), PineTree Capital and Planet Energy.

How good is Team SpiderTech? A top 10 finish in the Tour of California – against Lance and many other Tour de France riders – capped the team’s very successful 2010 season.

Locally, they placed six riders in the top 10 of the Toronto Criterium, including first to fourth places, and four riders in the top 10 of the Queen’s Park Grand Prix.

Individually, many team members produced personal best performances and Guillame Boivin of Longueuil, Que., placed third at the U23 World Championships in Australia.

02 Toronto Criterium 2010 - Photo by Cycling50Plus

Toronto Criterium 2010

But the team has added even more pedal-power since the end of the season, including:

- Will Routly – Canadian Road Race Champion
- Hugo Houle – Canadian U23 Road Race Champion
- Zach Bell – 2009 and 2011 silver medalist at the UCI Track Cycling World Championship

Most recently, Team SpiderTech signed their highest profile rider, Svein Tuft, of Langley, BC. A 2008 World Championship silver medalist and stage winner on the UCI World Tour, Svein brings two years of World Tour experience to the team.

Along with another recent signing, Pat McCarty, and 2010 team member Lucas Euser,  Tuft gives Team SpiderTech three riders with experience on the World Tour.

A Canadian team playing on cycling’s world stage is not just a source of national pride. If anything will give cycling a stronger voice in Canada, stifle the Toronto naysayers and garner the attention that cycling deserves, it will be success at the highest level. It will be when the members of Team SpiderTech ride along the Champs Elysee, champagne in their hands and the maple leaf on their backs. It will be historic.

And to that I say – GO TEAM SPIDERTECH GO!!

Read More:

CBC Sports
The Globe & Mail
The Toronto Sun
Pedal Magazine



Posted: February 1st, 2011
Author:
Filed under: Cycling Events, Cycling News
Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

A Gallery of “Pinkos That Ride Bicycles”?

Clara Hughes - Olympic medalist, Summer & Winter Games, cycling and speed skating

Steve Bauer - 1st Canadian in Yellow, not pink

Paralympic Cyclists - WOW

My Cousin Terry - Rode his bike from Kaiteur Falls, Guyana, to Niagara Falls, Ont., to fight the stigmas associated with mental illness.

Lance - 'nuff said

John Lennon - It was 30 years ago today.

The King

The Prince

My wife on the day 20 years ago when we found out we were going to have a family.

Our son some years later.

Albert Einstein looking happy, relatively.

Danny Macaskill - Best biking video ever?

Bean

Audrey Hepburn

Pink, no o.

15,000 riders for charity - June 5, 2011 is coming up!

Snoopy dog

Satisfaction

Paul Newman in the only western in which the outlaw rides off on a bike.

St. Nick

Seasons’ Greetings Everyone! Happy Rides in 2011!
Steve



Posted: December 9th, 2010
Author:
Filed under: Cycling Issues | 1 Comment »

The Night Rider

Last week’s clock rewind is yet another dead giveaway that winter approaches. And it’s turned many bike commuters into night riders

The basic trick to night riding is to see and be seen. Even on well-lit streets, darkness not only makes it more difficult to see, but also judge distances and direction, which means slower reaction times – for both drivers and riders.

Reflective helmet & clothing, rear light under seat, reflector and reflective tape on fender, reflective strips on pannier

Got Your Back?

In addition to the lights needed by law, a few simple additions to your bike will help drivers travelling in your direction spot and react to you a mile away:

Standard reflector – Many fenderless bikes don’t have rear reflectors, but try attaching one to your seat or bike frame.
Reflective Tape – Good old Canadian Tire or your local bike shop will have reflective tape for your bike and helmet
Reflective Strips – On clothing, panniers, helmets – anything. When buying any bike accessory that might be seen on the road, try to find one with reflective strips.
Armband – Armbands, visible from the back and front, help make your hand signals more visible
Safety Vest – Too cumbersome for many, the ultimate in nighttime visibility for others

Be Seen All around

Try to improve your visibility from all angles to help motorists approaching from the opposite direction or from other streets. Bright clothing is a good start.

Headlight, reflective tape on forks, reflector on rearview mirror

From the Front

Sometimes your headlight is all an oncoming drivers can see of you – and you’re competing with the headlights on the cars travelling in your direction.   Be seen and let ‘em know you’re coming down the road:

White front reflector – If you don’t have one, they’re usually reasonably priced packed together with a rear reflector.

Reflective tape – A couple bits, placed in the right spots, make a big difference.

Gloves – Day-glo or reflective gloves help you be seen and help drivers see your hand signals – read more on gloves for visibility at Duncan’s City Ride

From the Side

At night, especially during rush hour, many drivers approach intersections and simply scan each direction for headlights – not expecting to see a bicycle. Improving your visibility from the side will help you be seen by all cars in an intersection.

Wheel reflector, reflective tape on forks, headlight, reflective strips on panniers

Wheel reflectors – Made to be seen from the side, the motion of your wheels also helps wheel reflectors get noticed
Reflective tape – Yes, I know this is the third time I mentioned it – but it works really well all around your bike
Lights – You must have front and back lights anyway, choose ones that are visible from the side too

Remember, the darkness reduces your reaction times too. You’ll need to keep a closer watch for bumps and debris in the road. Quick glances over your shoulder are not as quick, the images in your rearview mirror not as easily identified.

Night riding takes a bit of adjustment, but it’s as much fun as riding at any other time of day.

Does anyone else have any tips on being seen at night?

(via fwd, photo via securiteroutiere)



Posted: November 17th, 2010
Author:
Filed under: Commuting
Tags: , , | 4 Comments »

Your Ride & Prejudice

This post is inspired by Joe T.’s blog entry “The Last Thing Toronto Need is More Cyclists”. Joe makes the point that the term “cyclist” is often inaccurate because most cyclists are also drivers, pedestrians and/or transit users. As Joe puts it: “People who ride bikes are not “cyclists”… they are people who happen to ride bikes.” And if we had more of them, Joe suggests riding would become more mainstream.

Not a cyclist.

Photo courtesy of SpacingToronto


It’s a good read and the comments are equally as thought provoking. But the task of popularizing cycling by making it more pedestrian (forgive me) is very daunting. Why? “Cyclist” and “motorist” are labels used by others. Most riders don’t call themselves “cyclists”, just as most drivers don’t call themselves “motorists” – as Joe puts it, “when someone asks a car driver “so… tell me about yourself”, no normal person says “I’m a motorist!”.”

Unfortunately, the labels are often used negatively, like when riders complain that “motorists” won’t share the road and when drivers decry “cyclists” for always breaking the rules.

Worst of all, the labels engender prejudice.

Behind the Labels – Rider or driver; take away the wheels and what do you have? In both cases: a person. One person rides a bike, the other person drives a car.

Most altercations between drivers and riders are based almost entirely on the fact that one is a “cyclist” and the other a “motorist” – and the prejudice brought by each against the other based on the respective modes of transportation.

Looking at it another way: did you ever see a pedestrian give the finger to another pedestrian after being cutoff, blocked or forced to slow down while walking?   (Happens to me every time I go to the mall – mall walkers are the worst. ;) )



Posted: October 20th, 2010
Author:
Filed under: Cycling Issues
Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

A Blogging Thought Process
or
David Byrne Thinks Like Me

My line of thought before writing this blog entry:

can’t think…..

~~~

lemme search “biking Toronto” see if I get any ideas … that Mississauga bit worked out OK –  hey, ….

what’s this “David Byrne Bike Cam” thing….

wonder if it’s “the” david byrne …

…. that’s him- his voice -  wow, this is cool, he’s getting pissed at cars and pedestrians – just like I do

“Lady, if I was a truck you wouldn’t be doing that”
oohahhahahaaaa.  I thought david byrne would ride around NYC thinking of how to turn the Statue of Liberty into an oboe – but he’s thinking like me on the bike

he’s getting cut off – that cab isn’t going to stop – this video is good

“The sights of New York, you never get tired of it
imagine riding along and you pull up to Times Square –  New York fuckin’ City is cool…..

“That’s one of the rules I’ve learned, if you see New Jersey license plates, watch out, they’re not familiar with…non-cars on the road”
– hehee heee – non-cars – that’s our 905ers, like you’re an apparition – that’s another one I could write –  boy, the sight of a bicycle can freeze a 905 Benz at 50 yards, heh, heh, heee

~~~

wow, cool, this could work, if I write about this video, better find out more about him

~~~

What? “activism in support of increased cycling” – get the fuck out – I guess it makes sense – “nothing but flowers” – was that the name? there was another one I  remember really liking off the album with the monkey, but I think  it must’ve been “nothing but flowers”

…how old? …1952, yes, older than me

what else – Grammy…Oscar… Golden Globe…Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – Oscar?  fuckin’ hell I didn’t know he did all this shite

check his site, probably cool  –> “Bicycle Diaries” good lord, he’s all over the bicycling thing – the site’s  a giant ad – sucks

jeez – turned the building into an instrument,– and he designed bike racks, and NYC put them up, they’re cool, — always could watch a talking heads video, — it’s a true artist, creative with anything

lemme check that cam video again, ….

wow…heh, hee, heee, … david byrne thinks just like me



Posted: October 5th, 2010
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Filed under: Cycling News
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Mississauga Calling

The City of Mississauga has invited you to the opening ceremony of a new cycling and hiking trail on Thursday, September 23, 2010, at 1:00 p.m..

Here’s six reasons why you should think about going:

  1. You can be one of the first to ride a bike path that runs through GTAA property just off the end of runway 24 R.
  2. You’ll get a preview of the only type of new cycling infrastructure we can expect to see in Toronto if Rob Ford is elected.
  3. You can hang with Hazel.
  4. When’s the last time you went to Mississauga?
  5. OK, when’s the last time you went to Mississauga to check out a new hike/bike path?
  6. You can see the “Marilyn Monroe” building under construction – it’s really starting to look hot.

Happy trails!



Posted: September 21st, 2010
Author:
Filed under: Recreational Biking
Tags: | 4 Comments »