Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

As the holidays get closer my posting always ges less frequent so I’ve decided to sign off until the New Year.

2010 has been a memorable year for myself and this blog. Over the past year I’ve learned more about who is riding bicycles in the city, how and why they are riding and have discovered many new places to ride.

Despite the disappointment of the recent election, I know that many people who care about this city are still optimistic and will continue to push forward promoting and engaging in active transportation and helping others discover the joy of life on a bike.

Happy Holidays to you and see you in 2011,

-Duncan

Who’s the shark now?

Remember when Rob Ford said that incredibly stupid thing about bike lanes and blamed cyclists for their own deaths? Yeah, most people won’t forget that one…

In a strange twist comes this t-shirt from Dark Cycle Clothing out of Tampa, Florida. The Shark on a Bike shirt.

This shirt along with a whole slew of other large creatures riding bicycles are available here: Dark Cycle Etsy Shop

Who’s the shark now?

Toronto’s Curbside Cycle to Give Don Cherry a Custom Bicycle

Via Curbside Cycle blog:

Dear Don Cherry,

We at Curbside Cycle are hoping you will lend an ear, an eye and an open mind.

Long ago American diplomats to China used to judge the prosperity of that country by the amount of cars on the road. Today, any city driver knows that the original ideals of autonomy and freedom that fueled the automotive industry have been replaced with frustration, rage, and gridlock. Prosperity can mean many things, and as drivers sit angrily in their vehicles haltingly crawling through the city streets, quality of life can feel less than prosperous.

You don’t know us, but we are an independent business – the independent business that introduced Toronto to the ultimate object of real prosperity, the Dutch bicycle, which transports its riders with dignity and swish of fashionable flair that looks fantastic with a snappy suit.  Judging by your eclectic wardrobe, by this time, your ears should be perked.  We’re probably the people that gave urban Toronto that image of the left-wing latte-sipping bicyclist. Our bicycles are probably not best suited to the suburbanite bicycle hobbyist that voted Ford into power; you see, for us bikes just aren’t political. Like a bed or toaster oven they are so embedded into our lifestyle, they become part of the background.  We aren’t using them to crusade, we are using them to take kids to school, to get to work (happy and refreshed instead of angry), get groceries, and explore this fantastic city of ours.

Mr.Cherry, the fact is that if you live downtown, bicycles are simply the best way to get around. They reduce car congestion, helping those who must drive do so faster and easier. Bicycles make a great deal of fiscal sense, keeping the population fit and healthy and reducing costs all over the map.

The stereotypes you are parroting have changed. Yes, many people who want a change ride a bicycle (you can call them left-wing pinkos but they are fighting for a cause, just as you do in your work with children’s charities), but many other cyclists simply do so because IT MAKES SENSE. They are as politically attached to their bicycles as they are to their toaster ovens. They have Bay Street jobs, watch hockey and some even voted for Rob Ford.  People ride because cars can no longer keep their promise of freedom and autonomy, the bicycle can.  You see, we don’t like the gravy train anymore than those folks in “Ford country”, but you may be surprised by how many Ford supporters ride around each day by bicycle. In other words, the stereotype isn’t particularly helpful and certainly doesn’t unify a city in desperate need of a diverse transportation solution.

So we’d like to take a little egg off your face and allow you to (literally) do a bit of backpedalling. We’d like to give you a bicycle. In a blushing shade of ironic pink, this bike will be customized to your own remarkable style. The bike will be a Pashley from the United Kingdom, a company that has been producing real city bikes for 80 years, and the details will be custom painted by Noah Rosen of Velocolour.  We’re asking the city to choose their favorite Don Cherry pattern (below) whether it be be a Plaid, a floral, or what-have-you. And we’d like you to come by, pick it up and person, and go for a latte with us.

Oh, and you can invite your friend Rob, too.

Kind regards,

Curbside Cycle

Give Curbside Cycle a hand and help them choose the colour for Don’s custom ride here.

The Bike Heist “You Can’t Fly”

The Bike Heist:

Mike and Barry are lifelong friends and roommates who have drifted apart, collateral damage from Mike’s misguided pursuit of a corporate career. One summer morning, Mike, an avid cyclist, becomes the victim of bike crime when his “Bullet” is stolen. Barry convinces Mike to borrow the bicycle of their lovely lady neighbour to get him to work on time. Unfortunately, this bike gets stolen too. Not to worry- Barry concocts a hairbrained plan in which the two friends and an unusual team of heisters will steal all of the bicycles locked up outside their apartment building in order to cover for the missing one. However, nothing goes according to plan and Mike and Barry must deal with the utter chaos that ensues. This bromantic comedy-caper takes audiences on a wild ride, illustrating the importance of friendship, cycling, and choosing your own adventures.

Learn more here: The Bike Heist.

Tap into a far more efficient energy source… man power

What is a “pinko”?

After Don Cherry’s mostly incoherent and offensive “speech” yesterday, many are asking… “What is a pinko?”

According to Wikipedia:

Pinko is a derogatory term for a person regarded as sympathetic to communism, though not necessarily a Communist Party member. The term has its origins in the notion that pink is a lighter shade of red, the color associated with communism; thus pink could be thought of as a “lighter form of communism” promoted by supporters of socialism who weren’t, themselves, “card-carrying” communists.

And who (also according to Wikipedia) uses this term:

Common term to describe younger people among 80 year olds.

Now you know.

What is Prohab and Who Are These Ladies in Helmets?

Vancouver based Prohab Helmet Society is a non-profit incorporation that donates helmets to the Vancouver area community. In British Columbia, where helmet use is mandatory, the Prohab Helmet Society is working with partners to provide helmets to those without.

To raise funds for their 2011 campaign the Society has crafted a calendar featuring cycling beauties wearing their helmets.

To show your support and help provide helmets to those without you can purchase the 2011 calendar here: Prohab Society Calendar

Image via The Deadly Nightshades

Facts Behind the New Vertical Stagger Bike Racks

This past year a new bicycle rack design began landing on Toronto streets. You’ll find these racks in the bicycle shelter at the St. Clair West TTC subway stop and scattered around the Evergreen Brick Works awaiting permanent installation.

Made by Peak Racks, a San Luis Obispo based company, I really like how these racks separate locked bicycles keeping them from scraping against each other. Their staggered “up and down” design is to allow for a more efficient use of space and the thin, but sturdy, metal contact points make using smaller u-locks far easier than with post and ring bicycle racks.

The racks are made from recycled materials and I look forward to seeing more of these across the city.

Learn more at Peak Racks.

Winter Bicycle Riding Tips From The UK

Bike By

While we’ve really only experienced a few days of winter-ish temperatures here in Toronto we all know that snow and constant cold are right around the corner.

Whether this is your first or your fiftieth winter on your bicycle this article from the Guardian offers up some excellent winter cycling tips that are applicable to Toronto as well:

• It’s natural, when you’re a bit anxious about conditions, to ride leaning forward and tense, with your hands on the brakes. But try to relax the hands and arms, and keep your weight back.

• As in any slippery conditions (such as very wet roads), do your braking early and as much as possible in a straight line. Definitely only use the front brake in this way; otherwise, use the back brake more. And you can also use the back brake to test the amount of adhesion you have.

• Try to steer “with your hips” rather than your hands: in other words, make directional changes progressively and with your whole mass on the bike, rather than by sudden sharp steering inputs at the handlebars.

• As snow gets grooved by car tyres and refreezes, you can encounter rutted tracks and momentary “tramlining” effects. Deal with this by allowing the front wheel of the bike to go where it wants; again, keep your weight back, stay relaxed and don’t be too ambitious about your speed.

• Mostly, on British roads, the snow is cleared or turns to slush quickly, but beware of transitions from snowy side streets to clear roads: this is where you’re most likely to encounter ice or tricky ruts.

Read the full article here: Tips on how to cycle in snow

GI Joe BMXer photo by LexnGer

Mikael Colville-Andersen on Cycling at TEDx Copenhagen

Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagen Cycle Chic and Copenhagenize