Archives for November 2009

Cyclists Are Smarter

High Park1

Personally, I feel that choosing to start my day with an hour and ten minute bike ride makes me smarter than everyone in their cars who are eating processed foods and stressing over the fact they have to try and pass me (a difficult task for countless people so I’ve learned).
As it turns out, I’m somewhat right… if only a little arrogant…
From The Globe and Mail:

The link between exercise and more brainpower

Neuroscientists say parents who want to boost their children’s mental performance should encourage kids to hit the road before they hit the books

It is first period at City Park Collegiate Institute in Saskatoon, and the Grade 10 students in Allison Cameron’s class are priming their brains for an English assignment.

They strap heart monitors on their wrists and climb on a treadmill or exercise bike for a 20-minute workout. When they’re done, they move to their desks and start writing. The students are taking part in a program that aims to help them improve their focus, concentration and, ultimately, their academic performance through regular exercise in class.

The results have been startling: On standardized tests, the children in Movement Matters have dramatically outscored students in classes in which the program wasn’t offered.

Today, Movement Matters is in its third year and most classes at the school take part. Companies have donated equipment, as has cyclist Greg LeMond, who offered Ms. Cameron six top-of-the-line spinning bikes. A number of schools across the country are interested in setting up something similar.

Fifteen-year-old Benji, whose guardian doesn’t want his last name published, goes twice a day to the room with the exercise equipment. He alternates between the bike and treadmill, and usually gets his heart rate up to 140 beats a minute.

“When I first started, I was real tired,” he says. “When I got used to it, it woke me up more. I kind of got better at doing math and reading.”


Photo via BikingToronto’s Flickr Pool

Yellow Fenders and Stickers

Spotted on Roncesvalles. Increasing visibility and freeing the cyclist of a distinctive “skunk tail” with bright yellow fenders.

City of Cyclists

City of Cyclists:

Don’t worry Toronto, we’ll get there.

Jameson Avenue Impressions

From Jameson Avenue Impressions

What gives a bicycle personality? What gives a neighbourhood its charm?

The answer is simple; it’s you and me, the people who power cities and bikes.
Within the apartment buildings lining Jameson Avenue you’ll find a diverse cross-section of the world in the people who live there.
Jameson Avenue Impressions is a series of portraits on ceramic tile presenting the people and places of Parkdale to those who may not venture into the homes and shops of this area.

From Jameson Avenue Impressions

“I think of Jameson as this launching pad, people come here and you have different languages and cultures. So why not try to capture those kind of people and do a passport-style idea?”
Jameson Avenue Impressions artist, Jim Bravo

From Jameson Avenue Impressions

Many of the neighbourhood residents use bicycles daily. Parking can be a problem as many buildings often prohibit bicycle parking along their fenced front entrances. There are almost no post and ring racks to be found here either.

From Jameson Avenue Impressions

From Jameson Avenue Impressions

From Jameson Avenue Impressions

From Jameson Avenue Impressions

From Jameson Avenue Impressions

The artists behind the project, Jim Bravo and photographer Kate Young:

The artists with their street gallery

For more information visit Mural Routes

Quote from InsideToronto
Final photo via Flickr

18 km Cycling Trail as part of Waterfront Development for Pan-Am Games in Toronto

The newly-constructed Toronto 2015 Pan American Village will be located at the heart of the Games on an 80-acre site next to the Don River in Toronto’s waterfront district. The Village will be the Games-time home for up to 8,500 athletes and team officials, and will incorporate a full range of conveniences and amenities. Located just east of downtown Toronto, the Village is within 45 minutes of almost all Games venues and less than 25 minutes from the airport. All Village facilities in use during the Parapan American Games will be fully accessible and provide a barrier-free environment.

Construction of supporting infrastructure is already well underway, ensuring that the Pan American Village will be ready for the Games.

* Toronto 2015 will create designs, policies and practices that respect the traditions, cultures, abilities, languages and cuisines of all residents.
* The Village will meet the requirements of the IOC’s Technical Manual on Olympic Village.
* It will meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification standards.
* The secure perimeter of the Village will enclose an 18-acre park featuring running and cycling trails, a recreation/fitness centre, a 400m track and a 50m pool.
* 24-hour service will be available throughout the Village.
* A large transport mall and accreditation services will maximize convenience for athletes and officials.
* The Village Polyclinic will offer a full range of health care services and professionals.
* The Village manager will be a senior member of the Toronto 2015 staff with direct experience in managing a village in a multi-sport games environment.
* The Village will be a safe environment for all residents and visitors.
* After the Games, the Village will become a diverse and sustainable residential and mixed-use development that offers affordable housing on a previously underutilized site.

Speaking of the underutilized site, here’s what it looks like now (click on the image for a better view):

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

On the Benefits of Physical Activity

Twin Towers (of East York)


Diabetes-prone neighbourhoods selected for research study

Focus on new immigrants living in poverty

With diabetes attacking a disproportionately high number of high-risk groups in pockets around Toronto, a new groundbreaking study hopes residents in North York and Scarborough can help stop the disease in its tracks.

North York’s Jane-Finch neighbourhood and Scarborough’s Agincourt North area have been chosen to take part in the first program of its kind in Ontario, said Michael Riddell, one of the project’s lead researchers and an associate professor at York University’s faculty of health.

York’s study is based on a report released two years ago from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

ICES concluded new immigrants living in poverty in Toronto had extremely high rates of diabetes due to a number of factors such as a lack of opportunity for physical activity.

Now, York wants to take that information and go one step further by finding out what it takes to prevent diabetes.

“We have known for quite some time that these neighbourhoods have very high rates of diabetes,” said Riddell, a world-renowned diabetes and exercise physiologist.

“When we saw (the ICES report), we thought (residents in high-risk neighbourhoods) must have high rates of pre-diabetes too. We thought ‘What can we do to change these neighbourhoods, to make the (incidence) of diabetes not so high?'”

More than two million Canadians have Type 2 diabetes, which is related to obesity and lack of exercise.

The disease can often lead to damage of many of the body’s organs. Once contracted, it is rarely reversible.

Riddell, who was diagnosed with Type 1 or juvenile diabetes at the age of 14, said the study will focus on 300 participants of Asian, South Asian, African and African-Caribbean in the Jane-Finch and Agincourt North neighbourhoods whose lifestyle puts them at an extreme risk of developing diabetes.

They will be matched with York University exercise physiologist graduates, who will tailor enjoyable sports programs to their needs. Activities could include games, badminton, basketball, soccer, cultural dances and tai chi.

“We’re not just presenting typical walking, jogging, biking (as exercise possibilities). We’re trying to be novel (with activities) we think they may like to do,” Riddell said.

The opportunities will be offered in small group settings to promote social networking and motivation among participants.

The study, which will last at least six months, will pay for participants’ transportation costs.

“We’re trying to determine whether we can prevent diabetes in ethnic groups who statistically have much higher rates of the disease,” Riddell said.

“Ontario’s diabetes rates have already soared past the high levels predicted for 2030. Preventing diabetes now is more crucial than ever.”

By bringing fun and free activities to participants in their own neighbourhoods, Riddell hopes the study will achieve two goals.

First, it will show participants the health and social benefits of taking part in activities they enjoy.

“I hope they will embrace it. You’re really being offered free trainers,” Riddell said.

“Normally, if you want a trainer, you have to shell out a fair amount of money. We’re giving it to them for free.”

Second, it will prove to governments the importance of investing in exercise to prevent diabetes.

“We expect to reduce diabetes by 60 per cent,” Riddell said.

“This is better than any medications, which reduce diabetes by 30 to 50 per cent and medications could be masking (the symptoms). We truly believe exercise or physical activity can reduce diabetes by 60 per cent.”

Researchers will work with local public health units, community health centres and culturally based recreation and community centres in Jane-Finch and north Agincourt.

The study will include adults in the targeted ethnic groups between the ages of 40 and 64, the group most at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The Ontario Ministry of Health promotion has provided $425,000 for the study with additional funds coming from the Canadian Diabetes Association.


Where We Park Our Bikes in Toronto

Sure, we’re world-famous for our post and ring bike racks… but where else is there to park your bicycle in Toronto? Turns out, you’ve got plenty of options…

There’s the “Classic”:

Toronto bike rack

At BMO Field there are arches:


In Parkdale you get glasses:

Bike Rack - Toronto 1

On Toronto Island there’s room for bikes and canoes:

Bike Rack, Toronto Island

You’ll find hanging triangles:
Bike racks

And back in Parkdale there are more bike rack oddities:
Parkdale bike rack sculptures

On St. Clair you’ll spot these “knock-offs”:

bike racks2

Further north on Yonge street there’s a watch:
Watch my bike, will ya?
And then there’s the elaborate:

rack 'em up !

There’s the moving bike rack:

TTC 9431 Bike Rack

At the ROM there’s a dinosaur (bikes only!):


You’ll find vibrant blue at City Hall:

Blue Bike Racks

Make sure you get to your bike rack early, spots fill up fast:
Iron Horses

And if you’re lucky, your friend will save you a spot:

bike rack seat

All photos via Flickr, click on a photo for photographer credit.

Toronto Riding Far Behind – Now’s the Time to Catch Up!

Pile Up

As the article states below, Toronto isn’t on par with other Canadian cities when it comes to cycling infrastructure. However, we are making strides and with dedicated, vocal and influential cycling advocates and the Toronto Cyclists Union, we may soon see big changes.

Via The Lyon:

Toronto Riding Far Behind

Mithula Loganathan

Covering 3,600 kilometers, the Tour de France 2010 will be set in 20 stages over a span of 22 days. Drawing in teams from over ten coun­tries world-wide, this bike race exemplifies our strong global bike culture. The British Columbia Bike Race, an epic, seven-day route from Van­couver to Whistler highlights the well-developed bike trails found throughout our westernmost province. While Ottawa lacks an intense race of any sort, Canada’s fourth largest city is home to 822 kilometers of bike lanes. Toronto, Can­ada’s largest city, can barely count for 250 kilo­meters (Only 76 of which are not shared with motor vehicles). Though our city prides itself on becoming a world class cycling city, evidence proves otherwise.

Struggling to maneuver through the chaos on Toronto streets, the lack of cyclist-only lanes forces our Toronto bicyclers to share streets with cars, buses, streetcars and trucks. The Toronto Cyclists Union continually strives to change this, as these local cyclists struggle for safety, legit­imacy and accessibility of cycling in Toronto.

With over 800 union members and nearly 2000 members on Facebook, both active cyclists and concerned Torontonians are voicing their con­cerns with safety for bikers.

Competing with big-shot motors not only causes hassle, but the numbers of bicycle-related incidents have steadily increased. As of last year, 1,068 accidents were reported to the Toronto po­lice. The Toronto Transportation Department re­ported more than 110 cyclist-involved collisions that at occurred major intersections. The death of Toronto native, Darcy Allen Sheppard drew the much needed attention to our city’s bike lane conditions. The 33-year old cyclist was killed on August 31 this year, when a car struck the cour­ier on his way home. Sheppard was the father of three.

In hopes of decreasing these severities, the city of Toronto has partnered with the Min­istry of Transportation and the Ontario Trucking Association to create the “Don’t Squeeze” cam­paign. The DS campaign targets educating cyc­lists and truck drivers, stressing the importance of driving with ample space behind, in front of and on both sides of one’s vehicle. “Can-Bike” courses have also been made available through Parks, Forestry and Recreation to help Toronto bicyclers understand safety issues.

Adrian Heaps, Toronto city councilor and bike-committee chair argues Toronto bike culture would flourish with the addition and creation of new cycling trails, paths and roads, blaming the number of bike related collision on the lack of facilities.

“You don’t buy a car if there’s no roads. You don’t ride a bike if there’s no infrastructure for it. And we don’t have anywhere near enough” Heaps reasons.

92 kilometers of bike lanes are to be add­ed in 2010, but the city’s goal of doubling the distance of bike routes by 2011 seems hopeful. While bike activists continue to fight for safety and accessibility, the city has taken to educating cyclists in hopes of preventing future accidents. Tour de France may be out of Toronto’s league but hopefully, the current situation can be im­proved- for the sake of the cyclists, their safety and our city’s reputation.


Curbside and Toronto Cyclists Union Event – Friday November 6, 2009 at AnnexLive

Via Curbside Cycle Blog:

Best Bike Store 2009!
Wow! Thanks NOW Magazine once again for once again giving us the ‘critics pick’ for Toronto’s best bike store. Curbside is proof that in the case of Toronto bike culture, the citizens are ahead of the government. In the last five years we have romanced some of Toronto’s most unlikely cyclists onto bikes that make them feel safe and fashionable. But fashion is one thing, safety another. The bikes we sell are safer than most, but more than ever, we need to get this city moving with its cycling infrastructure projects.

This year we are throwing all of our weight behind the Toronto Cyclists Union, and to start, we are throwing a Thank You party for all NOW readers. Featuring Juno award winning songster Andrew Rodriguez, male-burlesque performer Corey Swelling (who strips in an amazing ‘bike mechanic’ routine not to be missed!), and many more acts, we want to get all Curbside customers under one roof for a good night of fun. Cover charge is $5 and goes straight into the pocket of the Cyclists Union. So c’mon out!

The Annex Live
296 Brunswick Ave
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 2M7

Cut a Ribbon and the Cycling Begins

Photo and story via

Old rail corridor opens to new recreational use

West Toronto Railpath Park officially open

The long-awaited West Toronto Railpath Park officially opened with a little pomp and circumstance Friday afternoon, Oct. 30.

Davenport Councillor Adam Giambrone hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony along with representatives from the City of Toronto, Scott Torrance Landscape Architect Inc., artist John Dickson and Friends of the West Toronto Railpath group.

“It’s already changed the neighbourhood,” said nearby resident Kevin Putnam who, undeterred by the rainy weather, attended the festivities at the Wallace Avenue Railpath entrance with his toddler son. “(The park has) quickly become a focal point.”

The pedestrian, in-line skating, cycling and skateboard park pathway stretches 2.1 kilometres of land between Cariboo Avenue to the Dundas Street West and Lansdowne Avenue area to the south of Bloor Street West. The city acquired the land in 2001 to develop the multi-use trail for both recreational and commuter purposes. Construction began in June of this year and was completed in September.

“Good things come to those who wait,” said Putnam. “My son, he’s got a place where he’ll be able to ride his bike car-free. For a lot of people it really facilitates a car-free lifestyle.”

The new railpath winds its way along the abandoned railway beds that have been out of commission for more than four decades. Because the rail corridor has a substantial width, the railpath will not get in the way of existing train routes. The railpath park’s features include a system of wayfaring signs indicating each access point along the route.

“I’m very glad to be here as we inaugurate the West Toronto Railpath… This is a neighbourhood that has a lack of green space. This railpath will add to the green space and community space,” said Giambrone. “The community has pushed for this for a long time.”

During the construction, the City of Toronto took an inventory of flora and fauna in an effort to protect and enhance the land, which is already a sanctuary for birds, animals, insect and plant life. As part of the project, the city planted a wide variety of trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials.

“It was a day like this that two years ago I collected seeds from plants growing here,” said Landscape Architect Scott Torrance. “We started this project in 2006. It takes a real team to complete something like this. One of the most rewarding times for me was when I came this summer. The trail was so well used by parents and children out for an evening stroll.”

Toronto artist Dickson created four sculptures, collectively named Frontier, inspired by the changing landscape of the Junction and Railpath Park area. They are constructed of galvanized steel, erected at the south end of the pathway, said Dickson.

“The sculptures’ proportions came about through the proportions of the railpath. I wanted a large scale so you could see them from the trains,” said Dickson. “I’m looking forward to seeing them incorporate into their environment.”

Along the 2,100 metre path, which translates into about 20 walking minutes or five cycling minutes, there is the Wallace Avenue pedestrian foot bridge and the Bloor Street GO Station entrance in addition to several bike stations.

“The neighbourhood is blown away,” said Scott Dobson of the Friends of the West Toronto Railpath group. “You hear people talking about this, people are meeting on this trail. It’s very incredible.”