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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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Two Problems, One Solution

JamSometimes when I’m in a car stuck in traffic, I often think of how bad the traffic jams are in Los Angeles and I’m glad that I don’t have to put up with them.  On visits to New York City, I wonder at how terrible it must be to get caught in their rush hours, with only so many ways to get on and off Manhattan.

So learning that Toronto’s commute times had grown worse than those in both New York and Los Angeles was a shock to my T.O. pride (our commute times are also worse than London, Chicago and – arrggghhh – Montréal.)

That pride took another hit when I read that Torontonians are less active than other Canadians.  A study shows that 57% of us over 12 years old are inactive during our leisure time (is blogging leisure time?)  And it looks like we’re getting more inactive, with an increase of six percentage points in the last 4 years.

According to the report, the most frequently cited barrier to activity is: lack of time.

So we have one of the longest commutes in the world, and we are the most inactive people in Canada (which means we’re in worse shape than people in – arrrggghhhh – Montréal.)

We spend more time in our cars and we have less time for physical activity.

Hold the phone!  What if we reduced our commuting time?  Then we’d have more time for physical activity!  Wow.

BicycleIf we had the $4 Billion for transit infrastructure that the provincial government has withheld, and met the 10-year-old goals of the Bike Plan, maybe we will start to get people out of their cars and onto public transit, their bicycles and other modes of transpo. New York City proved that if you build better bike lanes, they will be used.

Simply using public transit increases our activity exponentially – from walking five seconds to our car to walking five minutes to the bus.

Then we will have fewer cars on the road, which means buses, street cars and bikes will move faster, further reducing commute times and more people will be encouraged to use them and … OMG!  It’s an enviable upward spiral of faster commute times and improved physical fitness.

Hmmm, all we need to start is $4 billion that is already earmarked and to meet the 10 year old goals of the Bike Plan.

Oddly, despite the profound benefits of these initiatives, a lack of courage and leadership stifles them.

Fortunately, there are positive signs, like the approval (so far) of a Public Bicycle system for T.O..

Now we’ve almost caught up to – arrrgggghhhh – Montréal.



Posted: April 28th, 2010
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Filed under: Uncategorized
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