A Different Bicycle Shapes a Different Kind of Cyclist

Today in the Toronto Star, Catherine Porter writes about her unintentional conversion to a different kind of cyclist. Her conversion is from a “road warrior” to a “Mary Poppins” or as some would say, she’s become a convert to the Slow Bicycle Movement.

In North America the bicycle is a sporting tool. If you’re an adult, then the market sees you either as an aggressive trail shredder on super-suspension or as a spandex-clad Tour de France hopeful. Yet most North American cyclists are neither of these. $3,000 carbon fibre, full suspension rigs are used for leisurely rides along the lake shore and paper-light road bicycles become commuter rides with far more potential for speed than our roads can allow.

Currently, the type of bicycle pictured above and now owned by Catherine Porter, make up less than 10% of the annual bicycle sales in North America. Yet, these bicycles, with their upright positioning, room for baskets and limited gearing are possibly the best fit for the majority of people who use bicycles here.

Hidden within this small market is a growing movement, one that praises the ride over the destination, preaches respect on the roads and asks just one thing of all members; simply slow down. Slow bicycle movements are born of a particularly European kind of cycling. The kind of lazy Sunday morning cycling where no one is overly rushed, no one seems to be racing and everyone appears to be smiling. Only they ride like this every day.

For Catherine Porter, the gift of one of these city or urban or cruiser bicycles has changed how she rides. A less aggressive positioning helps one develop a less aggressive riding style. On my single-speed I am transformed into the racer I never was. Pedestrian crosswalk countdown timers give me reason to race through intersections and every car I pass is a notch on my belt, a step closer towards “winning” my commute. However, on my city bike, it’s about the journey. I’ll take a side street that I know will probably end or turn into a one way the wrong way, but that’s OK because I have my camera and will probably find some hidden part of the city.

If these bicycles are such a fit for many North Americans, then why do they make up such a small percentage of sales? Quite frankly, and as Catherine Porter also mentions, it’s that our infrastructure doesn’t promote this style of cycling:

The Highway Traffic Act is not written for bikes. The city’s roads were not made with them in mind. And the cycling equivalent — the bikeway network — remains a tattered quilt, leaving drivers irritated and cyclists unsafe.

Earlier this month, city hall decided to shelve a proposal to stitch up the network in the downtown core for yet “more study.” (The city’s bike plan is nearing 10 years old and still less than half done, despite a pro-cycling mayor.) Infuriating. Until things improve, even Mary Poppins will have to break the law from time to time.

Read Catherine Porter’s full article here.
Learn about The Slow Bicycle Movement here.
Photo is of the OPUS Cervin.

She Rides

Set to Peter, Bjorn and John’s Amsterdam, “She Rides” is a video by Michele Lugaresi (www.maikid.com) and is based on an idea by Cristina Onofri (www.babbu.it)

Via Copenhagen Cycle Chic

Covet: SHIFTY Cycling Clothes That Don’t Look Like Cycling Clothes

I really like these cycling clothes from Los Angeles. Anyone know of someone doing something like this in Canada?

See Jen Diamond for SHIFTY designs here.

Video and lyrics: Apparently (Al Sheppard) — Sunny D and Dropsi

LYRICS:

Intro (edited version for youtube etc): We and him used to get along / cause x-amount of bangarong (translation: cause a whole heap of crazy funtimes)

You’se a plaintiff with a tainted past, you ain’t entitled to trial
No need to hear your side, whether you’re dead or alive
Throw enough dough at a PR firm and the defendant won’t see trial
Still jog the beach and smile, maintain a bling lifestyle

Dropsi: Hey kids! Some advice for all y’all / get arrested when you’re someone you get 2 phonecalls
Personalities galore show examples, go ahead ask Winona Ryder, or Gordon Campbell
But they didn’t leave my pal to die in the street / hiding in the Hyatt lobby making alibis meet
They didn’t kill somebody breaking laws that they helped write, but at least one of them knows what a pitbull looks like
What a joke, eh? Listen up clear all about your justice system how it works two tier
Type for trailer park trash who love to drink beer ain’t the same as the one for the cats who own Lears
One for diplomats who drop half a mil a year between drugs and rehab clinics far and near
One for royalty and folks too rich to know fear and one for [niggaz] who can’t even afford to chuck spears
See what I’m getting at? It’s all about cash / with enough of it the laws you infract get bypassed
Wanna break some? Put aside about two mil/ that should cover for your legal fees and PR bill

Sunny D: Another murderer walks cuz dead bikes don’t talk / red Sheppard and the politician colour of chalk
Killed the messenger, then fled to the hotel / hyped up, mic’d up with some bull[shit] to sell
First call to the wife, hook up the alibi / second call to PR for those opinions to buy
The man is an attorney, yeah he got connections / so go on and call the cops so no one asks those questions
My suggestion? Car’s a weapon and that [shit] didn’t stall / hit the Sheppard like a boxer that don’t got any balls
Pick it up, dust it off and then confront your attacker / but who ever thinks it escalates to disaster?
After the dust dies down, crown attorney the clown / puts the Sheppard on trial while he’s under the ground
Drop the politician’s charges, sweep it under the rug but we’re all gonna haveta answer to the ultimate judge

Sunny D: If the Sheppard had the money, would the truth be told?
Would you believe what’s in your heart or what’s above the fold?
Would justice stand a chance or fall dead on the floor?
And would another person die because two wheels ain’t four?
Would you leave a human being like a dog to bleed?
Would you steal a man’s life who’s got four kids to feed?
Would my people find protection from the boys in blue?
And would you only care about it if it happened to you?

Dropsi: My view? Let me get to the point and state a fact:
Driver side window attack, I don’t promote that
Got provoked, went there, fatal mistake
Did it for the fuck of it? Gimme a break!
Does that make sense in your pristine reality?
Mr. Never-done-wrong, Ms. Error-Free?
Ok, so you’re sinless, your life’s perfect, fine
Prove that shit come turn my water into wine
‘Course you knew that request was rhetorical
So shut the [fuck] up, finish your editorial
There’s a collision at Yonge & Bloor you might like
Tailor-made for you to spin as car vs. bike

Download and share the song FREE: sunnyd.bandcamp.com

Ad for Bike Share in Valéncia, Spain

A simple ad that demonstrates the easy mobility bike share can provide.

Learn more about Valenbisi here.

Via Copenhagenize

Important Number Missing From Toronto Police Bicycle “Blitz”

Toronto Critical Mass - April 25, 2008 066

Every time the Toronto Police launch a “blitz” campaign, all we seem to care about are the numbers.

How many tickets were issued? How many law-breakers were brought to justice? How many scofflaws now have to pay a hefty fine?

But when all is said and done there is one number that is almost always absent. This is probably the most important number, the one that ultimately frames the true issue at hand. The one number that could reveal whether or not these “blitzes” actually yield results at all.

Let’s look at the numbers we already have: Prior to the “blitz,” Toronto Police warned 250 cyclists that they were breaking laws in relation to the Highway Traffic Act.

During the “blitz” 367 tickets were issued to cyclists. (PDF: http://is.gd/eF3q0)

Without the missing number though, these totals are meaningless. Alone, these totals can be spun to mean whatever you want. And that’s exactly what is happening…

You see, the missing number from this scene is the number of people on bicycles that the Toronto Police actually encountered. With this number we’d have an idea of possible problems. We’d have a percentage, one that would carry over to future campaigns. We’d have context.

However, without these numbers we have generalizing. We have people jumping to conclusions based solely on their limited experiences. Is 367 tickets a lot? Since we do not know how many cyclists passed by Toronto Police during these 3 days, then we cannot know. Did they ticket 90% of the people on bicycles they encountered? Or was it just 10%?

If the Toronto Police really want to influence positive change, then include this vital missing number. Every cyclist should follow the rules of the road. But how many do? We want to know! Do not let anecdotal evidence, the kind that runs rampant in news article comments, distort the facts.

Photo via the BikingToronto Flickr Pool

Live, Tonight: ArtSpin Toronto

Be a part of a group bicycle ride that explores Toronto’s west end art district. Not sure what to expect? This short video will fill you in:

More information at ArtSpin.ca

The meeting point is the gate to Trinity Bellwoods Park at Queen St. & Strachan, between 6:30 – 7 pm and ending around 9 pm. Art Spin is a free event, and anyone regardless of age or cycling ability is welcome.

Map

An “Alleycat” Race on BIXIs?

BIXI Montreal have uploaded a series of videos demonstrating the many ways you can integrate bicycle sharing into your daily life. These videos can be found on the BIXI Vimeo page.

Of these videos, the series, À vos BIXI! is an “alleycat” style challenge where competitors must check in at specific locations while using BIXI bicycles. The competitors are timed and, it appears, are required to follow the rules of the road. Each episode also features an interview with Jean-François Pronovost, general manager of Vélo-Québec, explaining various aspects of cycling infrastructure in Montreal. The series is only available in French.

Check out Episode 3 here:

Find all episodes and other informative BIXI videos on Vimeo here.

Can we expect a similar series to be run when BIXI arrives in Toronto? Only time will tell, subscribe now and help BIXI Toronto reach its initial 1,000 subscribers needed to bring this fantastic system to our streets. Go here to become an early BIXI Toronto member.

No Heart Feelings: A Toronto Film with Bicycles-a-Plenty

No Heart Feelings

This looks fun! Ron Sexsmith, Kensington Market, bicycles, Trinity Bellwoods Park… what’s not to love?

No Heart Feelings opens Friday, August 27, 2010 at The Royal

Quickly Convert Old Tubes to Bungee Cords and Tie Downs With IT Clips

Here’s a simple way to reuse your old bicycle tubes. IT Clips are a set of plastic clips and metal hooks that convert your old tubes into usable straps for securing loads to your bicycle.

More information at IT Clips.
Available in Toronto at Sweet Pete’s and Mountain Equipment Co-op.