On Parade

[daily dose of imagery] is one of my favourite Toronto photo blogs. The above image demonstrates the power Toronto police can wield on city streets. I dream of a day when regular cyclists can ride like this…

Be sure to visit [daily dose of imagery] for more stunning images like the one above.

Scenes from the Cold: Toronto’s Coldest Day of the Year Ride 2010

Minus 17 - Yeah, that's cold.Brr!

As part of Bike Winter, the city of Toronto hosted the Coldest Day of the Year Ride on Saturday, January 30th, 2010.

I bundled up in my down jacket, long johns, ski gloves and scarf and hopped on my Globe to join the ride.

While the weather did finally cool down to winter temperatures, it certainly doesn’t look like the end of January in Toronto. Where are the snowbanks? Where’s the slush?

I arrive just a few minutes before noon and find parking at a premium:

If you want to know what’s big for cycling in 2010… it’s yellow, and lots of it:

There’s two little ones all bundled up in there:

Excuse me, Joe, can you tell me which way we’re supposed to go? Thanks:

Just a few weeks earlier and Grenadier Pond would have been covered with ice skaters:

Just after we passed under the Gardiner Expressway and cross over Lakeshore Highway (errr, Boulevard) to the Martin Goodman Trail:

The Pizza Pizza pagoda was closed… but Joe and HappyStuffing wouldn’t be affected by the stink had it been open for business:

Free Hot Chocolate! Thanks!:

The BikingToronto community has been talking a lot about visibility. With a little flash here’s HappyStuffing’s taped up and highly visible ride:

The visibility theme continues with a bright jacket and reflective belt and cuffs… excellent dollar store finds:

Of course, you don’t need day-glo to be visible. Sometimes a suggestive slogan on your rack-mounted crate is all you need:

Okay, enough bicycles for a second. Let’s just enjoy the waterfront view… I’m glad this long stretch isn’t littered with condos (yet):

And seriously, bicycle computer, you’re pretending that it’s much warmer than it is:

Sure, you’ve probably seen this view a million times, but have you seen it by bicycle? Loverly:

The end of the line:

Just as we all arrive at Little Norway Park this guy rolls up and asks the way to Copenhagen:

Bicycle Courier Starter Kit – Just $500… Job Included?

Bicycle Courier Starter Kit

Do you want to become a bicycle courier but all you’ve got are just a few tattoos and cut offs?

Well, if you act fast, you could snap up this Bike Courier Starter Kit. It comes with everything you could possibly need to become a bike courier on Toronto’s mean streets.

Helmet? CHECK!

Bike? CHECK!

Bag? CHECK!

Lock? CHECK!

Pens? CHECK!

Job? Strangely, yes, CHECK!

Oh Craigslist… what will you offer me next?

Via BikeSnobNYC

When a bike lane needs to be more than just paint

bike lane potholes

City cyclists know the horrors of the Sherbourne bike lane. Those opposed to the Jarvis revitalization point to this street to the east where they believe adequate cycling infrastructure is unused. It is being used, by delivery trucks as temporary parking. If any piece of cycling infrastructure in Toronto is an example of why paint does not make a bike lane, it is this stretch of torn up, crumbling and downright dangerous pavement. I’d much rather take my commuter through the advanced trails in the Don Valley than have to risk being tossed around on this stretch of road.

While city councilors and mayoral candidates may believe that bike lanes are not safe, they seem to be basing their opinions on the poor examples barely taking up space on our roads today. But, this point isn’t going unnoticed, as an article in the Natoinal Post points out:

City’s bike lanes need revamp: advocates

Alan Heisey, a Toronto lawyer and former chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, has been cycling in the city for 35 years, but he is against bike lanes. That is, he says that the current bike lanes — a strip of paint at the side of the road — simply aren’t safe.

“The bike lane ends up making the street more dangerous than if it wasn’t there because it gives the impression of safety,” Mr. Heisey said. “It forces bicyclists who are in the lane legally to swerve around the cars that are parked illegally.”

The solution to this, he says, is separated bike lanes.

9th Avenue bike lane Manhattan

In Toronto, poor surface conditions and improper use by motor vehicles combine to make our existing bike lanes unsafe. While I fully encourage the creation of separated bike lanes, I’d also like to see governments addressing the selfish attitudes that result in motorists ignoring and abusing infrastructure. The Toronto Cyclists Union is pushing for this change as they propose updates to the Motorists Handbook used as a primary teaching tool for new drivers.

1st Photo of Sherbourne Bike Lane via Torontoist.com taken 3 years ago (street condition remains the same today)

2nd Photo of 9th Avenue Bike Lane in New York City via NYCBikeMaps

“Putting Priority on Pedestrians and Cyclists”

Bernhardt Jensen Cycling Mayor

The mayoral race in Toronto is just barely beginning and already cycling is becoming a hot issue. With a candidate, who I do not want to name, already vowing to “rip out” existing bike lanes and halt transit expansion, the race is off to a depressing start. While many cyclists felt we wouldn’t even be addressed in the campaigns, it is quite disturbing to see city infrastructure meant to support active lifestyles threatened so early.

On Monday, February 1st, TTC Chair Adam Giambrone is expected to officially announce his mayoral bid. While I can’t say I know near enough about any of the more than 20 candidates, Giambrone is already an active spokesperson in support of public transit and pedestrian safety. The video below shows Adam Giambrone addressing city council concerning the highly contested (and now possibly threatened) Javis revitalization that would see the removal of one lane of motor vehicle traffic and the addition of wider sidewalks and bicycle lanes:

Photo of Bernhardt Jensen (known as the Cycling Mayor of Aarhus) via Copenhagenize

A cargo bike that changes lives

worldbike

The Springwise newsletter is an excellent resource for ideas that are used to move businesses towards sustainable, ethical practices. In the latest issue, we learn about World Bike:

California-based Worldbike’s bicycles are designed to handle large loads, rough terrain and inclement weather. They’re configured to be not only affordable, but also maintained and repaired locally. Through partnerships with international and local agencies, private companies, foundations and NGOs, Worldbike even helps arrange microcredit financing for bike purchases and supplement sales with support from funders and private donors. Its bikes have already been brought to Cuba, Mexico, Rwanda, Senegal and Thailand, among other areas. However, as the company also notes, “the same cargo bike we deliver to rural Africa also turns heads on the streets of Seattle.” An official US version of the bike is now being configured, and proceeds from all purchases will help support bike distribution efforts in Kenya.

A similar initiative has been up and running here in Toronto. Bikes Without Borders, who continues to work to support their Pedal-Powered Hope program:

Bikes Without Borders is working with a Malawian-based NGO (YONECO) to establish a program that will provide Community Health Workers in 7 districts with 400 new bikes and 100 bicycle ambulances. Providing a bicycle or bicycle ambulance to a CHW allows them to reach up to 5 times as many patients, reach remote communities with patient support and HIV/AIDS prevention education, and do their work more efficiently and with greater impact.  400 bikes and 100 bicycle ambulances will allow our network of CHWs in Malawi to reach an estimated 15,000 additional people with lifesaving medication, prevention education and additional support services.

Just $150 purchases a reliable, durable bike for a Community Healthcare Worker in Malawi. $400 is enough to purchase a bicycle ambulance. Visit our donations page to make your investment in the future of African healthcare!

For more information about World Bike visit: http://worldbike.org
For more information about Bikes Without Borders visit: http://www.bikeswithoutborders.org

Image via World Bike

Bikeway Network Event Public Notice


Bike Path By Night
Originally uploaded by sniderscion

Make your voice heard and show your support for more cycling infrastructure in Toronto:

Bikeway Network Event Public Notice

Date: Monday February 1, 2010
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Metro Hall, 55 John St. Room 308-309

The objective of this meeting is to get community input on proposed new downtown bikeways that the Transportation Services Cycling Infrastructure and Programs group is working on for 2010.

Topics will discuss concepts and criteria for new projects, including:

• 2010 bicycle lanes
• Rush hour sharrow bicycle markings on streetcar routes
• New bicycle lane intersection treatments at signalized intersections
• Locations for bicycle boxes at intersections
• Updates on the West-End bikeways project

Participants are invited to attend for a brief presentation and question period with City Staff from 6:30 – 7:00 p.m. From 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. the floor will be open for the public to view maps, talk to staff about projects, and submit comments and suggestions.

Visit our website at www.toronto.ca/cycling

What are your 2010 Toronto bike commuting goals?

Going past

I’ll admit that I got a late start to bike commuting. It took me more than 3 years of city living to finally give it a try. In June 2009, on a bit of a whim, I took my new bike on a 25 km journey to my office in the outer reaches of Toronto (so far in fact that it’s not even in Toronto).

At first, I’d bike just twice a week as I needed the next day to recover. If it looked like rain, I jumped on the subway (then bus, then another bus and sometimes yet another bus).

All it took was one rainfall that I didn’t see coming and I lost the fear of getting wet. I was already soaked with sweat, so it made little difference, and rain actually feels good in the heat and humidity of a Toronto summer.

By the end of 2009 I had bought cycling shorts, tights, a shirt or two and a waterproof jacket. I now have a sturdy lock (and back-up lock for paranoia), panniers, two pumps, various lights and more cycling goodies than I can even remember.

So, what can I do more in 2010? Well, there’s been one big change for me. My commute, which was recently shortened to just 20 km each way has been drastically cut. I’ve joined the ranks of the work-from-home brigades, no commuting necessary. At least not daily.

This opens new doors for me. I get the chance to take morning or noon rides on trails I previously never would have seen on weekdays. I get to ride for pleasure, and if my route starts to wear on me, I get to change it. Lucky me, I know.

Yet, working from home also provides the opportunity to become lazy. I worked so hard getting comfortable as a bicycle commuter that it’s hard to give it up cold turkey. So, I’m going to make my morning rides my own sort of commute. It will be the longest distance between my bedroom and my home office possible, much more than a few shuffle-steps.

Over on Commute by Bike, Bike Shop Girl has compiled a list of 2010 bike commuter goals. Here are her 8 goals with my comments:

1. Learn how to properly lock your bike

There are a lot of different places to lock your bike in Toronto. It took me some time and practice to find the “sweet spots” for locking to post and rings and other spots. I find that a sturdy u-lock through the frame and front wheel is best for eliminating vulnerable gaps between lock, bike and rack. This also helps keep your bike upright as other people use the rack.

2. Start a Commuter Challenge

I’ve personally resisted getting a cycling computer. I’m a little too competitive and really want to keep my eyes on the road. But, if you find your commute getting stale, then why not strive to make the best time possible or work out how to catch every green light?

3. Motivate a co-worker to commute by bike

You could start by taking them with you on a ride one weekend. Show them your route when the roads are less busy. Unfortunately, no one at my office joined me last year… but walking in all sweaty with a bike in tow certainly got us talking about something new.

4. Join your local advocacy group

In Toronto you can start by joining the Toronto Cyclist Union. Joining is a great start, but getting active and participating in events or volunteering is even better. My goal is to do more with the Union now that I’m a proud member.

5.  Take photos to inspire others and yourself

There are more than 2,000 photos in the BikingToronto Flickr Pool… why not help us reach 3,000? Edit: As mentioned in the comment below, the pool is now approaching 4,000!

6.  Setup a commuter zone

My bike accessories once filled a small tupperware container. Now, I have a dedicated shelf near the door where I keep bungees, gloves, lights, the odd tool and helmets. Making space for your bike stuff, and making it accessible, are a great way to remind yourself that it’s better by bike.

7. Practice preventative maintenance

Not sure what to do with those tools a family member gave you over the holidays? Make a visit to Bike Pirates or the Community Bicycle Network and learn how to fix your own bike before it decides it no longer wants to go. If you live in Toronto’s East end, why not get involved in starting a DIY shop as well?

8. Invest in your gear

It’s certainly not necessary to have a full cycling wardrobe. But, adding pieces like waterproof gloves, a waterproof jacket or even shoes can help make your commute more enjoyable no matter what the weather is like.

That’s all 8… but I’m certain there are many more. What are your 2010 cycling/commuting/living goals? Share yours in the comments below.

Photo via sevenman in BikingToronto’s Flickr Pool

Do you bike to shop? Let business owners know!

Bags

Via Third Wave Cycling Blog:

Bike Helmets on Customers Exposes Unnoticed Business For Retailers

January 11, 2010 by Jack Becker

We received an email earlier last week from the local ratepayers’ group:

There has been a request from VANOC and the Olympic committee asking Citygate and False Creek residents to keep their festive lights up and on throughout the Olympics so the world can see us.

Presumably this request can even include the festive Christmas lights that some boat owners festoon their masts along the waterfront.

What would be an equivalent, visibility tactic for the cycling community to announce the significance of cyclists?

It could be as simple as keeping your helmet on your head when you are shopping.  This action would go a long way towards changing the perception of local business retailers that their customer base and retail sales comes from car drivers.  It may start stopping retailers’ complaints any time that a new bike lane at their store entrance takes away more street car parking.  It may start retailer action to call for more storefront bike parking racks.  It may change perception that cyclists in a store does not contribute to the bottom line of retailer sales and profitability.  A “helmet-on-campaign-while shopping” would remind retailers that cyclists do comprise more of their customer base than retailers might realize.

Cyclists do shop, contribute to local businesses and the economy. Like everyone else, they still consume products and services.  In fact, cyclists, without the burden of paying for car maintenance, may have more money available for shopping.

In downtown Toronto, there has been an ongoing debate on implementation of a bike lane on the busy Bloor Street west of Spadina  Rd., an area  known  as the “Annex”.  For many decades and still now, the Annex is a gentrified neighbourhood with busy cafes, restaurants, independent shops, community centre and services that draw patrons and convivial street life.

A recent study of 61 local merchants, 531 patrons, and parking space use, revealed only 10% of patrons drive to the Bloor-Annex area. Pedestrians and cyclists were spending more money than the drivers.  This is not surprising since the area is served by 3 different subway station exits, feeder bus lines and an established bike lane grid in this Bloor St neighbourhood.

Meanwhile in Vancouver, the Canada Line opened in late August 2009.  Now changes in customer levels have been noted to be modest for businesses along the Canada Line on Cambie St.   Businesses closer to stations have seen an increase in foot traffic.  The full effect of a switch from car-based shopping to people-based shopping takes time.  It takes more than a full year business cycle for commuters to establish changes in their transportation choice, travel and shopping patterns.

Since no one is constantly monitoring where bikes are locked up outside  shops, then the bike helmet is the beacon to signal retailers that another customer that just arrived –in a different way.

Since cycling is on the rise in Toronto, it’s time to make yourself visible to shop owners who apparently don’t believe that cyclists and pedestrians are good for business. Carry your bike helmet, keep your pant leg reflector on and make sure to mention how much you appreciate the bike parking or bike lane you found nearby.

Photo via Flickr user Life in a Lens

The Community Bicycle Network wants to hear from you!

Community Bicycle NetworkWhat is wrong with your bicycle?

The Community Bicycle Network located at 761 Queen Street West (map) wants to know what they can do to improve their current workshops or even create new ones:

Workshop Feedback Survey

January 18, 2010

Help us cater our workshops to our community more effectively. Or, maybe we’re already doing such a great job that you don’t have any suggestions!

Either way, if you have thoughts about what we’re doing right, or what we can do better, or what else you’d like to see offered, please take a few moments to visit the survey at the link below and give us your thoughts.

Workshop Survey

Thank you!

Want to learn more about CBN before filling out their survey? Go here to see their current workshops and other programs.

You can also find out when CBN will hold their next workshop by checking out the BikingToronto Events Calendar.