Batavus in the morning sun

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My mother has seriously upped her game when it comes to cycling. Sick of her unreliable hybrid, she’s gone back to her roots (she’s Dutch) and purchased this stunning Batavus Diva.

Many thanks to Aaron at Curbside for being a remarkable help.

We’re heading out for a ride this Friday, I’ll be posting more pictures and a review of this Dutch bike in Toronto!

Friday is for fun with Michou singing on bikes

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Probably the most fun you can have on an Ontario rural road without a pickup truck:

Via Andy

Michou

‘Dragon’s Den’ lands Modrobes back on Queen Street West

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“A big part of what we’re doing with Modrobes is making clothing for cycling and commuting on bikes.” – Modrobes founder Steven Sal Debus

Remember Modrobes? If you’re in your 20s or early 30s you probably had a pair of their pants on during Frosh Week.

After shutting down the company, founder Steven Sal Debus is back with a new clothing line made of recycled plastic bottles.

And, after a successful appearance on Dragon’s Den (is it just me or does that show love cycling products?) the brand relaunched online and has a new store at 620 Queen Street West, Toronto. I stopped in today after reading about the shop on 416CycleStyle.

The clothes are simple, straightforward and functional. I’m particularly fond of the men’s Williamsburg jacket made of a stretchy, wind and water resistant recycled material. And, in a strange twist, this jacket, which is made with cyclists in mind, isn’t covered in reflective piping. That means you can wear this while cycling and not worry about getting lumped into the “avid cyclists” club based solely on your appearance. (Just don’t forget your lights).

Inside the shop you’ll find a small selection of Abici and Batavus Old Dutch bicycles also for sale. Maybe they’ll let you take a spin to test out their clothes and the bikes.

Below is a YouTube video by the brand with clips from Dragon’s Den:

Update: Modrobes is hosting an opening party on Saturday, April 10, 2010 from 5-10pm. Enjoy a beer and get 30% off all clothing… nice! More info here: http://bikingtoronto.com/events/modrobes-opening-party/

Retire Your Ride – Trade Your Old Car for Bicycles, Transit Passes and More

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It’s not too often that I take notice of the ads on the back of TTC buses. But this morning, one really made me look twice.

The program is called Retire Your Ride:

Retire Your Ride is an initiative of The Government of Canada, Summerhill Impact and its partners, designed to enable people to get their high-polluting cars off the road and reward them for doing so. The program is committed to improving air quality by responsibly recycling vehicles and aims to retire at least 50,000 vehicles per year until March 31, 2011.

If you have a car that needs retiring, we’ll recycle its parts in an environmentally responsible way, and reward you for it.

Reducing Emissions and Saving the Environment

Did you know that 1995 model year and older vehicles produce 19 times more smog-forming pollutants than 2004 and newer models? In fact, these older vehicles make up one quarter of vehicles driven by Canadians and can generate as much as half of the smog-forming pollutants caused by personal vehicle use.

By ensuring that vehicles are properly recycled, we can prevent the release of toxins into the environment. By retiring vehicles earlier, you’ll be helping reduce harmful emissions.

Okay, the “environment” may not be the biggest incentive out there for many people. So, how about rewards?

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When my car was on its last legs my mechanic offered me $300 for it for parts, so this offer isn’t quite as low as it sounds.

For more info on the program, visit Retire Your Ride

Should an IQ test be added to driver’s evaluation?

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“I didn’t see it!”

Remind me to never ride my bicycle on the road in Tennessee!

Rick Mercer at the Toronto International Bicycle Show

Rick Mercer

LINK: RMR BMX Jam

Yvonne Bambrick of Toronto Cyclists Union at #voteTOin416

Yvonne Bambrick

Via #voteTOin416

I’m a member of the Toronto Cyclists Union. At the Toronto International Bicycle Show I volunteered with the Union and had a fantastic time speaking with Bike Show attendees about the issues facing all cyclists on Toronto’s streets. This was the first time I’d met Yvonne and listening to her speak passionately about cycling and cyclists was an inspiration. Advocating for cycling in Toronto can be as simple as using your bicycle as often as possible and, while doing so, setting a positive example for all cyclists.

Learn more about the Toronto Cyclists Union and become a member at http://bikeunion.to

In New York…

My girlfriend just returned from a weekend in NYC. It rained just as intense there as it did in Toronto over this past weekend. Knowing I’m all nutty for anything bike related, she took a few photos of the new bicycle infrastructure throughout Manhattan:

Also, Being Erica is a really great show that is shot in and proudly declares itself of Toronto. It’s been picked up by the SOAP Network in the US and they are promoting it in Times Square:

Looks like they are promoting it down south with an Alice in Wonderland feel… can’t wait for Season 3… c’mon CBC, break the news already!

Shoppers Support Bike Lanes on Bloor; Merchants Resist

A study by the Clean Air Partnership:

The dominant mode of transportation in the Bloor West Village is walking, followed by public transit. Only 1 in 5 of visitors surveyed reported driving to the neighbourhood and parking there. The visitor survey data indicate that the majority (58%) support changes to the street use allocation. Curiously, cycling is the least frequent mode of transportation in this neighbourhood, and yet nearly 75% of those visitors who preferred a change in street use allocation would prefer the addition of a bike lane.

Visitor survey respondents who reported that they usually drive, were found to visit less frequently and spend significantly less money per month in the neighbourhood than those who did not drive. Visitors who preferred changes in street use allocation spend significantly more in the neighbourhood than those who prefer no change.

In terms of merchant perceptions of the impacts of changes in street use allocation, 54% of merchants in Bloor West Village indicated that they would expect no change or an increase in their number of daily customers as a result of either a bike lane or widened sidewalks, even if half of the on-street parking were to be removed in order to accommodate the changes.

Read the full study here: Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business (PDF)

Photo via the BikingToronto Flickr Pool

Fewer Stop Signs Attract Motorists, Not Cyclists

stop-sign-bikes_0095In Winnipeg, city planners are looking at ways to make cycling a more attractive option for commuters. Fewer stop signs for cyclists eyed While changing traffic law to allow “Idaho Stops” would have to happen at the provincial level (same as in Ontario) there has been another idea put forth. The report suggests:

“Reducing the number of unwarranted stop signs on streets identified by ATAC will improve the efficiency of these routes for cyclists as well as reduce unnecessary vehicle stops, reduce fuel consumption and emissions, reduce traffic-noise levels and may promote overall compliance at stop signs in general”

Of course, this doesn’t sound like a good idea. Removing stop signs will increase traffic speeds and is likely to attract more motorists than cyclists. Streets without stop signs are highways something Winnipeg resident Dan Prowse elegantly points out:

DEAR EDITOR:

Reducing stop signs on routes preferred by cyclists “to reduce unnecessary vehicle stops, reduce fuel consumption and emissions, reduce traffic-noise levels” (Fewer stop signs for cyclists eyed, March 5) makes sense if you are thinking about cars. If you are actually thinking about saving fuel, reducing emissions and reducing noise, or if you are actually thinking about the interests of cyclists, which was the reason for the City of Winnipeg transportation report, the decision is absurd. The proposed approach would only attract more cars to use routes favoured by cyclists making it more dangerous to cycle.

The quoted report doesn’t want to treat bikes and cars differently. But that is the whole point — bikes are different. Cycling is three to 10 times more space efficient (in road use and parking space) and 100 times more energy efficient. Being energy efficient means no fuel, no emissions and essentially no noise.

I became a convert to active commuting almost 40 years ago in Toronto based on the superior mental and physical condition of my retirement-age boss who walked to work. Since then, I’ve mostly walked but also run, cross-country skied and biked to work. In the last year, I’ve become an all-season cycler, commuting to downtown Winnipeg.

With modern technology, winter cycling is no longer a miserable experience.

I’ve got cheap clothing that keeps my skin warm and dry, studded tires, amazing LED lights with lithium batteries that will light up signs two blocks away at -30C and hi-tech goggles. I, with two or three dozen other co-worker cyclists, would have to be the president to have a better parking spot. My route is relatively safe. My commute times are often better than a car and shorter than the bus. My commute is as scenic as a holiday. In winter rush hours, it is a delight biking under bridges on the river trail from Churchill High School down the Red River and up the Assiniboine compared to driving over those bridges.

What’s not to like about biking? More frostbite risk in biking than walking. It takes the city a couple of days to plow the cycle/walking path from Osborne to the Forks. There aren’t enough safe routes to keep bikes and cars apart. Most drivers are very considerate but probably only professional drivers appreciate how big a safety zone cyclists need.

About 75 per cent of regular cyclists stop for winter, not because of the cold, but because there are insufficient safe routes.

We can fix those things, but only if we treat bikes differently than cars.

It’s taken me about 40 years of trying out commuting options to figure out what Apple, and before them, Sony have demonstrated so well — elegant solutions to human needs that are space and energy efficient married with good technology are winners. Let bikes work.

DAN PROWSE

Winnipeg

LINK

Stop Sign photo via BikingToronto Flickr Pool