“If I ride…” People for Bikes.org asks; Why Do You Ride?

People for Bikes

On a journey to find a million names to support cycling for all peopleforbikes.org asks “Why Do You Ride?”


Lower Simcoe Taxi Stand… Wait, That’s A Bike Lane!

I found these images on the blog Torypages. Looks like taxi drivers have found a new place to wait for fares on Lower Simcoe… the bike lane.

More photos here.

UPDATE: Here’s reaction from other sources in Toronto

Anger as cars clog new Simcoe St. bike lane (Toronto Star)
So, this is a cycling city? (Toronto Star)

UPDATE the 2nd: The Toronto Star is really digging in to this story!

Traffic cops powerless to enforce bike lanes

Keeping lanes clear may take higher fines and more ticketing power

three main obstacles for parking enforcement officers trying to enforce bike lanes.

One, there’s no specific bylaw. Smith can’t track how many tickets are issued to cars sitting in a bike lane because such tickets are bundled with any others handed out for parking in a no-stopping zone.

Next, the fine is too low. Last November, Yvonne Bambrick of the Toronto Cyclists Union made a presentation to the Toronto Police Services Board, asking for tougher enforcement around bike lanes.

She wants the $60 fine for cars that cross a solid white line to enter a bike lane to be doubled to $120, which is closer to the $100-$150 fine charged for parking in a fire route or a handicapped space.

“We’re told to stay as far right as possible, then we’re forced to swerve into traffic,” says Bambrick.

Her suggestions were passed on to the city manager. Councillor Adam Vaughan, a police board member whose ward includes the convention centre, says council should be discussing a bike lane bylaw by the spring.

“Ticketing is the only way to do it,” said Vaughan, who said the discussion would include the possibility of raising the fine.

Smith also sees it as a major problem that parking enforcement officers are required to ask drivers to move before ticketing them. Most will just pull away if they see an officer approaching their illegally stopped car.

The constable, who is on the Cycling Advisory Committee, thinks parking officers should have the power to immediately issue a ticket to any car parked illegally, and to have the ticket stick even if the car leaves. That’s a recommendation police have made several times to the province, which has said only that it will consider changing the “drive away” ticketing rules.

LINK (Toronto Star)

Cruisers, Cargo bikes, Handmades and More – The Toronto International Bicycle Show

On Sunday, March 7, 2010 I took a bike ride down to the Toronto International Bicycle Show held in the Better Living Centre on the CNE grounds.

For the most part this show is a spectacle of the latest road racing, BMX, trials and mountain biking products and accessories. Major Toronto and GTA retailers set up shop here to blow out last year’s inventory and highlight the latest designs from top brands.

While I recently started mountain biking again (I know, an oxymoron in Toronto) I was looking for the day to day cycling options at the show. Road bikes made of carbon composites and mountain bikes equipped with long-travel suspension are impressive, but I wouldn’t give them more than 20 minutes locked up to a post and ring downtown Toronto. And I think rear racks would look a little out of place on the back of a Trek Madone.

Much to my delight there were plenty of exhibitors who understand that cycling isn’t just about sport. Although, looking back of some of my morning commutes, I’d say a trip to work on Toronto’s busier streets can be a sport itself. Here are photos by Huy Le with a few words about what I discovered at the Toronto International Bicycle Show.

Until Sunday I had never straddled an electic-assist bicycle. The Sanyo Eneloop Bike looks like a regular step-through commuter with a battery pack tucked nicely behind the seat tube. And that’s the point. This is a bicycle first and foremost yet it also provides battery assistance to help commuters take on challenging hills and headwinds.

The battery connects to a surprisingly powerful front hub-motor as well as both front and rear lights. I took the bike for a quick spin around the carpeted test area at the show. As I lined up to head out I had the battery on and after a half pedal forward the motor kicked in and I thought the bike was going to take off on it’s own. Applying the brakes quickly kept me from taking an embarassing flat land spill. The reps from Sanyo suggested waiting until I was in motion to turn on the battery, and I recommend it.

Actually riding the bicycle was a pleasure. The motor is on the front wheel hub, so after a few pedals the electric-assist starts up and you feel a gentle pull forward. The first couple of boosts were a little terrifying on the short test track, but I quickly learned when to anticipate them and use them to my advantage for building up speed with little extra effort on my part.

In the manufacturer’s showcase Opus brand bicycles from Quebec had their commuter rides on display. If you speak/read French then be sure to check out their Urbanista Blog.

For cyclists with kids and basically anything else they need to haul around, WIKE from Guelph, ON had their line of trailers on display.

Around the corner and also from Guelph, True North Cycles had several handmade touring and cargo bikes on display.

v

Trek had some bright and shiny Madones on site… but the multi-thousand dollar price tag makes for expensive roadie dreams. On a more affordable note Trek also had their Eco steel bikes on display.

As part of the Globe blogger team I was hoping to see a few models at the show. Unfortunately all I found was this Globe Roll.

Sweet Pete’s had up on high, overlooking their booth, their Kona collaboration bicycle, the “Door Prize.” With tongue planted firmly in cheek this bike is named after the unique to Toronto term for colliding with a car door is outfitted with city riding essentials and is priced under $600.

On to accessories. Zef Kraiker (not pictured) was at the Urbane Cyclist booth with plenty of WIPT (Wear It Proud Toronto) cycling caps and Push The Envelope bags for sale.

Energetic reps introduced me to the iBert safe-T-seat that allows you to carry small children up front, improving rider stability and giving your child a view of more than just your back. The seat can be removed quickly and easily when not in use and is made of 10% recycled materials.

Introducing his alternative to panniers, Winnipeg year-round cyclist (you read that right!) Aphirath Vongnaraj had his Hybrid Backpack on display. He demonstrated the pack’s ability to secure all sorts of items to a rear bike rack. The unique “velcro” locking system ensures that what you want to carry stays with you for your whole journey.

I was pleasantly surprised to see so many commuter cycling options on display at this year’s Toronto International Bicycle Show. Of course, there was much more to be seen, but I’ll save that for another post.

Biomega Commercial By Cycle Chic’s Mikael Colville-Andersen

Screen shot 2010-03-08 at 5.16.59 PM

Now, I haven’t seen too many bicycle commercials, but there does seem to be a trend emerging. No hyped-up voice overs. No fancy-font tag lines. Just people on bikes, riding like regular people on bicycles do.

Copenhagen. Life. Cycle. by Biomega from Copenhagenize on Vimeo.

If you’d like to learn more about Biomega bikes, visit Curbside Cycle in Toronto.

Things You Can Do By Bike – Go To IKEA!

There’s a long, boring story that leads up this sunny, Saturday morning ride to Etobicoke. It involves hidden inventory and an obsessive search for a very simple piece of organizational furniture. That said, I had an exchange to make at IKEA. The Etobicoke store being just 13 km from my home, my girlfriend and I loaded up our Globe bikes and set off.

Shadows! Even after such a mild winter in Toronto, the first time you really see your shadow again is exciting.

Because traveling like a Toronto cyclist involves more than just roads, we took a detour through High Park.

Seriously, spring shadows are great!

After a quick ride along still icy and tree covered paths in High Park we arrive along the Queensway. Bike lanes here take you into Etobicoke.

Just as things get roomy with space between the bike lane and other traffic…

… our bike lane travels come to an end.

In Etobicoke they want you to know that there is to be no cycling on the sidewalks. Sidewalk cycling is illegal in Toronto too, but these signs at every sidewalk intersection almost appear as though there is simply no cycling allowed at all. Which isn’t the case, of course.

Once the bike lane ends the motorized traffic gets heavier, and closer. The vast majority of drivers did change lanes to pass us and only when we were close to intersections did a few motorists pass a little too close for comfort.

It’s amazing how wide the Queensway is. I didn’t stop to take a photo, but the road quickly widens to seven lanes across. There are new condos and townhouses lining much of the Queensway, but I simply couldn’t imagine living along a highway. The area is rapidly changing and is just a short bike or transit ride into the city, so this area does have many benefits. (Note: The photo below is from the less wide section of the Queensway).

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from simply too many IKEA trips it’s that you never use the front entrance. There may be bike parking at the Etobicoke IKEA, but since we had a return, I decided to get a little creative and lock us up near the service doors.

Exchange made, bungees secured and we set our sights on home.

Looking back at our simple trip, it’s amazing just how much we were able to accomplish in the morning while on our bikes. We got to experience one of the sunniest days of 2010 in Toronto so far. We got a little bit of exercise, especially when crossing the bridge just before you get to IKEA. We got the best parking spot. And we smiled the whole way there and back… when’s the last time you did all of that on a visit to IKEA?

Share the Road Coalition Green Paper

Via SharetheRoad.ca

Share the Road Green Paper Unveiled

Advice to Province Includes Creation of $20 million “Ontario Bicycling Investment Fund”

Toronto – March 5th, 2010

Green Paper: When Ontario Bikes, Ontario Benefits – A Green Paper on Bicycling in Ontario [PDF]
Speaking Notes: Launch of the Green Paper on Bicycling for Ontario

The Share the Road Cycling Coalition (The Coalition) an Ontario-based provincial cycling advocacy organization released today a Green Paper for Bicycling in Ontario entitled “When Ontario Bikes, Ontario Benefits – A Green Paper on Bicycling in Ontario ”.

The Green Paper’s release comes in advance of the upcoming Speech from the Throne and Budget and outlines specific recommendations on how the Ontario government can and must play a direct role in encouraging cycling in Ontario.

One such recommendation is the creation of a fund for encouraging cycling infrastructure, policies and programs in Ontario. The $20 million “Ontario Bicycling Investment Fund” would provide funding for initiatives to promote cycling in Ontario. The amount represents the provincial component to the HST which beginning July 1st will be applied to bikes, bike parts and products, and is based on data from the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada (BTAC).

As the Green Paper notes: “Leadership involves making choices. Choosing to incorporate bicycling as part of a multi-modal policy approach at the provincial level is an idea whose time has come. This choice has a number of important benefits for our health and our environment.”

“Leveraging the benefits of cycling to our environment, our economy and to lowering our health care costs involves fundamental changes to the way the province develops and approaches transportation policy. It will also require an investment of resources. We are recommending that the province re-direct this HST revenue as an equitable investment of taxpayer dollars — particularly in light of the overall transportation spending envelope in Ontario – and as a means of level the playing field with investments made by neighbouring jurisdictions,” said Share the Road Cycling Coalition Founder and CEO Eleanor McMahon.

The Green Paper was developed by the Coalition in consultation with partners across Ontario, and further to the Coalition’s 2009 Ontario Bike Summit, a gathering of cycling experts, municipal leaders and international speakers. Best practices in cycling design, policies and initiatives were shared with a view to building capacity, developing best practices and learning from other colleagues and jurisdictions who have embraced cycling as a mainstream mode of transportation and recreation.

“Our provincial government, unlike other provinces such as British Columbia and Quebec does not currently play a direct role in creating policies and funding infrastructure, education and awareness initiatives to encourage bicycling. Our data and research, based on polling and surveys done in communities across Ontario, confirms what we heard at the 2009 Ontario Bike Summit. Communities across Ontario want the province to play a direct role in funding initiatives which will make Ontario a bicycle-friendly province,” McMahon said.

“In particular, jurisdictions such as Quebec have created a provincial bicycle policy which includes that province’s plans for improving cyclists’ safety and mobility; working with municipalities to give them the tools they need to encourage bicycling at the local level; and a vision for the future which leverages the positive economic benefits of bicycling – including promoting bicycle tourism and congestion mitigation. All of this in the context of the province’s recognition that cycling plays an important role in reducing the impacts of climate change,” said McMahon.

In order to develop a bicycle policy for Ontario – a comprehensive framework which includes the province’s plans to encourage cycling — the Coalition surveyed municipal leaders, planners and engineers, law enforcement officers, cycling experts and advocates across Ontario on what they the Ontario government should be doing in order to encourage bicycling in Ontario.

When asked to rank in order of importance, what role the provincial government should play 450 stakeholders surveyed in September 2009, said:

  • Enhanced Funding for Infrastructure – 86 per cent
  • Enhanced Education Programs for Cyclists (including children) and Motorists – 74 per cent
  • Enhanced Support for Public Awareness and Promotion Campaigns to encourage cycling – 71 per cent
  • Legislation and Policies to Encourage Cycling – 62 per cent

The Green Paper provides recommendation for action by the province in each of these areas.

In fact McMahon noted that this advice and direction are consistent with the critical elements already in place in jurisdictions around the world that have embraced cycling: “Countries across the globe – including the United States – are embracing cycling as a solution to many of the major challenges facing our society: environmental degradation, the rising prevalence of heart and stroke disease in our general population, obesity in our children, increasing transportation costs and congestion. Ontario can and must make cycling an integral part of its planning, and must provide to communities the tools necessary to enhance their economic competitiveness and the quality of life of their citizens.”

The Green Paper underscores the fact that Ontario can learn from our neighbors to the south, in addition to British Columbia and Quebec, jurisdictions that have invested in promoting and encouraging cycling.

Facts which support this include:

  • The United States invested over $1.5 B in cycling enhancement, education and awareness programs in 2009. This amount does not include proposals to increase the $671 million made available via the “Safe Routes to School” legislation passed in 2005.
  • British Columbia, through a provincial cycling fund “Bike B.C.” has invested $31 million in cycling.
  • Quebec has invested over $200 million in initiatives including the 4300 km cycling route – “La Route Verte”, launched in 2007. That province is earning an estimated $130 million a year as a result of this initiative.

“This Green Paper is being released in advance of the Ontario government’s Throne Speech and upcoming Budget so that our province can begin to include in their vision, the development of policies, legislative constructs, programs and funding necessary to encourage and facilitate bicycling as a mainstream mode of transportation and recreation. It is our hope that stakeholders across the province will see the Green Paper as a useful contribution to furthering cycling in Ontario,” McMahon added.

About the Share the Road Cycling Coalition: The Share the Road Cycling Coalition is a provincial cycling advocacy organization created to unite cycling organizations from across Ontario and work with and on behalf of municipalities to enhance their ability to make their communities more bicycle- friendly. The organization’s mandate is province-wide with a specific focus on the development of provincial policies and initiatives to encourage and enhance cycling in Ontario. The Coalition was created in memory of OPP Sergeant Greg Stobbart killed in a cycling collision in June 2006 and the husband of the organization’s Founder and CEO.

For more information, or to schedule interviews, please contact us.

Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel

ontario.ca/eyesontheroad

Do Pedestrian Crossings Make for Safer City Cycling?

Crossing

A few weeks after getting my G2 driver’s license, I was on a trip through Guelph when I made a huge mistake. Even though I saw the flashing yellow lights and painted yellow stripes on the ground I blew right through a pedestrian controlled crossing. My passenger gave me a pretty good scolding, “How could you be so ignorant?” “Why didn’t you stop?”

I was later forgiven and thankfully I didn’t run anyone over. I don’t know why I didn’t stop. My hometown didn’t have crosswalks like this but that’s certainly no excuse.

Years later I moved to Toronto and, as a driver, it felt like there were pedestrian controlled crosswalks everywhere. I was always on the look out, careful not to drive through when the lights were flashing, careful even when they weren’t.

Pedestrian Crossovers (as they’re called in Toronto) allow pedestrians to cross safely under flashing lights at areas that do not have stop signs or traffic lights. There’s one on Christie Street at Fiesta Farms that gets a lot of use and for the most part drivers approach this crossing slower than they drive through other intersections in the area.

Now that I’ve ditched my car, the pedestrian crossovers I felt were everywhere have seemingly disappeared. Probably because the space between them takes just seconds to cover in a car yet on foot the time and space in between is much longer.

In fact, I’ve noticed that pedestrian crossovers are few and far between on roads where they would get the most use.

Along Bloor, between Bathurst and Spadina, there are only 2 pedestrian crossovers. One at Brunswick and one at Walmer and both at intersections with traffic lights. Yet, the distance from Bathurst to Brunswick is 300 metres. Now, that may not sound like a large distance, but consider that to cross from one side of Bloor to the other is only about 16 metres, well, who is going to walk an few extra hundred metres to get to the nearest crosswalk?

As anyone who’s traveled this strip in the very popular Annex area knows; most people will simply cross where they want. There is ample space to add more pedestrian crossovers here. There is certainly demand from the thousands of pedestrians who shop and live in this area, so why then aren’t there more crossovers? Well, when you design a city around cars and not people, just like much of Toronto has been, the answer becomes clear. Here arterial roads are for moving cars, with as little delay as possible.

As a cyclist I believe pedestrian crossovers can work to our advantage. On a busy street such as Bloor I’m constantly scanning parked cars to avoid door prizes, shoulder checking to see who is going to pass on my right and keeping an eye out for pedestrians who can pop up in the narrowest spaces. The more pedestrian crossovers along a stretch of popular road, the slower the cars will drive (for the most part) and the more predictable pedestrian crossings become. Yet, this isn’t how the city of Toronto handles streets that have a demand for more pedestrian crossings.

Take for example the intersection of Northumberland Street and Dovercourt Road just north of Bloor Street:

Dovercourt and Northumberland

Bloor Street is just a little further south, out of frame at the bottom of the above image.

This intersection is one where pedestrians want to cross. The city knows this and instead of installing a pedestrian crossover, we get a sign. Yes, Bloor Street is where pedestrians are expected to cross:

Cars and trucks tend to speed along here. Impatient drivers heading north from Bloor floor it after waiting at the lights and take the bend in the road at pretty intimidating speeds. Exactly the recipe for disaster when pedestrians are involved:

Why then isn’t there a pedestrian crossing here? Why not slow the cars and trucks down and make this street safer for pedestrians and cyclists? Why, instead, has the city ignored the bull in the china shop? Of course, the bull is asked to watch out, there are children around:

Bike lanes seem to be hogging the headlines in Toronto these days, but I want to know why there aren’t more pedestrian crossovers? Wouldn’t these be an easier sell to the neighbourhood residents who probably want little more than to just cross the street without running?

First photo via Flickr photographer Seeing Is
All other photos by Duncan

416cyclestyle Toronto Cycle Chic Search – Spring Moments

416 Cycle Style

BikingToronto member ‘Xander who runs the great photo blog TorontoBikeChic (and 416CycleStyle) is on the hunt for signs of spring. He wants to know how bicycles have changed or influenced your life.

Here’s ‘Xander’s own words on the subject:

My bicycle was there during first kisses in Trinity park. It supported early morning rides for spring lattes at the café curbside to the design studio. I’ve found alleyway shortcuts to where flowers bloom on side streets and the smell of 3am baked bread still lingers past noon.

I recall getting chills watching flowing skirts, and drinking in wafts of perfumed sweat on summer breezes as the red changed to green. I hear the distinct ding of vintage bells whose sweet alarm teased of upcoming conflicts, or flirts of unknown around each turn.

My bicycle crossed the beaches at 2am with bottles of wine to rest amongst the flicker of skyscraper fireflies. Its two wheels have heard the slander of lovers quarrel and felt the side swipe of oncoming traffic during periods of emotional insanity.

My Bicycle took me away through rain wind and snow, always without a care to the destination.

It has inspired films, music, poems and photos. Its simple stencil holds strength in its slender spokes. It creates a relationship that binds the stiletto to the pedal. It fuels a fire that pushes one leg to mimic the other in a rhythmic dance that brings reason to the here and there.

If you own a bicycle and are a Toronto Fashion Designer, Fashion Photographer, Blogger, Musician or any Torontonian whose style has been inspired by the simplicity and sexiness of two wheels please join this virtual ride to somewhere.

Please send any photos of you and your bicycle and a brief description of who you are to 416cyclestyle@gmail.com We will show case your inspiration on www.416cyclestyle.com

I eventually hope to have enough to make a poster of 1000 Toronto Cycle Chic stylish riders

If you Flickr please join this group http://www.flickr.com/groups/torontocyclechicsearch/

Please forward this post to any Fashion Friendlies who you think may be able to contribute.

Ride on.

‘Xander

Well, what are you waiting for? Send your submissions to him!

Marcus Gee is a Winter Cyclist and Darn Proud of it!

Marcus GeeThe guy to the right swears he’s not nuts. He’s one of the 10% of Toronto cyclists who ride all year round. Sure, that number may be larger this year since it hasn’t been much of a winter… but that doesn’t make him (and us) any less proud.

Marcus Gee, we salute you!

From the Globe and Mail:

Folks, a rusty steed is a friend indeed – even in winter

It’s liberating at any time of year to avoid the restrictions of driving or public transit and set out on your own, a free agent of the street. In winter, with the sharp, fresh air on your face, it’s exhilarating. You begin and end your day with a little adventure. As the winter cycling website icebike.com puts it, with perhaps a trace of irony, “You arrive feeling very alive, refreshed and with the aura of a cycling god.”

The cold is no big deal. Your body heats up fast when you’re pedalling. I get by nicely with a waterproof Gore-Tex windbreaker with office clothes (and, okay, long underwear) beneath. I wear a thin wool tuque under my helmet. When it’s really cold – say, minus 10 or worse – I add a polyester balaclava that covers everything but my eyes.

For the hands, I have a pair of those lobster-claw gloves with two fingers instead of four and a fleece strip on the thumb for nose wiping, a bonus in the eye-watering cold. On my feet, I wear thick wool socks under pull-on Blundstone boots.

If it’s slushy or rainy, I complete the ensemble with a pair of canary-yellow rain pants. With front and rear helmet lights flashing after dark, I look like a safety-conscious ninja assassin, but most of the time I’m perfectly warm. If you ski or skate in the cold, why not bike?

Read the full article here

Photo via Globe and Mail