Archives for February 2010

Globe Live 1 Review by my girlfriend!

As I have mentioned before, Globe, a new sub-brand of Specialized, has loaned a few Toronto cyclists bicycles try and blog about. Here’s my review of the Globe Haul 1 I’ve been riding around since late October (I know, that’s a strange time to start trying out a new bike in Toronto. Luckily, the weather has been great).

My girlfriend, Cat, has also been participating in the Globe Revolution. She’s riding a different model, the Live 1, and has just recently posted her review.

Photos and her review can be found on the Globe Revolution site here.

The Mysterious Mystery of the Bicycle Pile

Spotted on College Street at Brunswick. Spare part storage? Bike hoarding in plain sight?

Cycling Mascots of Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic Games

Tandem biking

Via BikeHugger

What Colour Should Toronto’s Bicycle Sharing Program Use?

Over on I Bike, herb has posted his own mock-up of a Toronto Bixi bicycle. To reference the BikeShare program that folded a few years back in Toronto he’s gone with a bright and distinctive yellow as shown below:

Yellow to pay tribute to BikeShare as suggested by herb on I Bike

Yellow to pay tribute to BikeShare as suggested by herb on I Bike

BikingToronto member Bikeroo posted a stealth photo of a BIXI bicycle at City Hall that reveals blue as a possible colour for Toronto’s bicycle sharing program:

Blue Bixi spotted in Toronts City Hall

Blue Bixi spotted in Toronto's City Hall

Taking a look around the world, what colours are other bicycle sharing programs using?

Bright red on the tail end of Vélov in Lyon, France

Bright red on the tail end of Vélo'v in Lyon, France

Red and white for Bicing in Barcelona

Red and white for Bicing in Barcelona

Red for the first bicycle sharing program in the USA, DCs SmartBike

Red for the first bicycle sharing program in the USA, DC's SmartBike

In Helsinki you cant miss the neon green and yellow

In Helsinki you can't miss the neon green and yellow

Blue and Red bike share bicycle in Copenhagen, although this may change

Blue and Red bike share bicycle in Copenhagen, although this may change

In Stockholm its blue and white

In Stockholm it's blue and white

Classic styling and green in San Vicente del Raspeig, Spain

Classic styling and green in San Vicente del Raspeig, Spain

Bright yellow for OYBike in London, UK

Bright yellow for OYBike in London, UK

A subtle grey for Vélib’ in Paris, France

A subtle grey for Vélib’ in Paris, France

Grey and black for BIXI in Montreal, Canada

Grey and black for BIXI in Montreal, Canada

What colour would you like to see Toronto’s bike share system?

Photos via Wikipedia

A Google Street View Tour of Bike Lane Parking on College Street

At the Begining

The College Street bike lane is quite possibly one of Toronto’s most used. Hundreds, if not thousands, of cyclists use this east/west bike lane to go to work, school, shop or simply get across town. Unfortunately, this bike lane is also a perfect place to let your car idle while you quickly run into one of the many shops and businesses that line this busy street.

The bike lane starts at Bay Street at its east end. In the image above we see a cyclist using the lane, a parked bicycle and another cyclist peaking into a window, a nice little slice of daily life.

Heading west, we pass the long intersection of University Avenue. And we find our first bike lane parker. Sure, a delivery truck may only park for a few minutes at a time… many times a day, every weekday… oh I guess that adds up:
Special Delivery

Moving further west, we see things are as they should be at Henry Street:

Bikes in the Bike Lane

But then we spot a van on the south side of the street just east of St. George:

The White Van

A little further west and it’s another white truck, only this one is much larger:

Big Delivery

On the north side of College, east of Spadina, the bike lane ends as the road narrows. On the South side we see the bike lane makes the perfect place to park or wait for your next fare:

Double Parked

Even when not parked in the bike lane vehicles pose a risk… watch out for the “door prize”:

Door Prize

Just because you’re making deliveries in the bike lane doesn’t mean cyclists can get by you… you just make it more dangerous to do so:

Another Delivery

Another delivery truck, another squeeze out for cyclists:

Brown Truck Blues

Delivery trucks could use empty parking spaces, but, since they don’t buy parking permits they could get a ticket, better stick to the bike lane:

This Truck Gets Around

As we continue our trip we see things get back to normal:

More Bikes in the Bike Lane

Parallel parking also poses a risk. Sure, it is a temporary risk that does come with the added benefit that cars are equipped with reverse lights, so you know they’re coming. I assume this car was waiting to park:

Backing Up?

But after we pass by and look behind us, the car is still there and the way is perfectly clear. Possibly they are just very slow parallel parkers… hopefully:

Still There

On the south side it looks like a biker has met with a cyclist:

A different kind of bike

Is this a stand-off? I’m not sure what’s going on here, but that biker is quickly outnumbered:


And I bet you thought only parcel delivery trucks used the bike lane… All cube-shaped trucks are welcome of course:

The Bell Tolls

And just a few more metres beyond Euclid, it’s delivery time:

Purolator... PuroNow

And then we reach the end of the bike lane as College narrows and on-street parking is a must:

The End

For cyclists using the College Street bike lane, I’m certain that the above images come as no surprise.  The fact that the Google Street View car was able to capture this many bike lane parkers in such a brief amount of time shows just how prevalent this illegal activity is.

Appreciating Toronto’s Street Scene

Artist Jerry Waese for Spacing Toronto

Artist Jerry Waese for Spacing Toronto

Everywhere you look in Toronto you’ll find bicycles. A cyclist keeps pace with a streetcar on Queen. A young woman walks her bicycle along Yonge, looking for an empty post and ring. In the dark corner of a towering steel and glass building you’ll find a bicycle rack and more often than not it will be full.

Artist Jerry Waese has been contributing colourful sketches of Toronto scenes to Spacing Magazine. Many feature bicycles and cyclists. Whether you’re looking for them or not it is hard to miss the sheer numbers of bicycles filling the visual landscape of Toronto streets.

More of Jerry Waese’s work can be found on Spacing.

It’s Your Ride

I’m at odds over fixie culture. Sure, it’s great that bicycles are receiving so much attention from young trend setters (or followers, be that as it may). But, laying a big skid mark isn’t really a “trick” or “cool.” Maybe, when I was 5, sure, skids were cool. But now, when I know that skid just significantly reduced the lifespan of a $50 or more tire… well, waste isn’t “cool” in my books.

And, when it comes to racing through traffic and ignoring all rules of the road… give me a break. As someone who has been involved in “extreme” sports for more than 15 years, I can tell you that if what you’re doing poses major risks to people who are not involved with you… then your behaviour is simply reckless and irresponsible. I may have put my life on the line for a stunt or two and been kicked out of more spaces than I can remember, but not once was anyone other than myself at risk of serious injury. When you blow between cars and act like the road is your own personal obstacle course this isn’t “sport,” it’s foolish.

That said, this commercial for Hutchinson tires is really pretty:

It’s Your Ride from Cinecycle on Vimeo.

Strict Liability – Drivers Become Responsible Around Vulnerable Road Users

Obviously, this doesn’t exist in Canada.

Edit: Apparently, this does exist in Ontario LINK Thanks to Kevin Love for the link in the comments.

Here’s the text at the end of the video:

UK is only one of four Western European countries that doesnt have ‘strict liability’ to protect cyclists and pedestrians.

Strict liability entitles a crash victim to compensation unless the driver can prove the cyclist or pedestrian was at fault.

Strict liability encourages more careful driving (and cycling, because a cyclist would be deemed to be at fault for crashing into a pedestrian).

Via Copenhagenize

Taking the Laneway Around

Last year I wrote about learning to travel like a cyclist in Toronto. A lack of connected cycling infrastructure and car-oriented city planning makes many of the most direct routes in Toronto also the ones with the greatest potential for door-prizes, right hooks and distracted drivers.

Traveling like a cyclist means exploring side streets, cutting through parks and taking multi-use trails where they exist. There’s also another option. One that can give you the feeling of urban exploration, even if it’s quite obvious many people pass through here on a daily basis.

In between many of Toronto’s downtown residential streets runs a grid of laneways. Barely wide enough for a large truck these laneways were originally used to deliver coal. Over the years they have become shared driveways with garages squeezed together lining each side.

Many of these laneways remain unnamed, they are often visible on Google Maps, yet can’t be integrated into trip planning. It’s as if they are a mirage, an extra layer of quiet streets untouchable online.

There are exceptions and the other day I took a winding way home starting at Croft Street:

Simple brick townhomes face this narrow laneway:

Colourful doors welcome home the owners of these bicycles:

Backyard trees throw shadows over the grey and graffiti of many laneways:

Several residents have decorated their garages, a secret pleasure for those who explore here:

Oddities abound:

Colour, though scarce, often makes a bold appearance:

Will you take the unnamed way home?

For more information on Toronto’s Laneways visit Graeme Parry’s Laneway Tour site.