Urban Repair Squad – Le Depart

Via YouTube

This video was created by Streets are for People! in honour of activist group the Urban Repair Squad. Directed by Michael Louis Johnson, the film played on the small screen (a vintage TV set) as part of the Creative Activism exhibit at the Toronto Free Gallery, the Actions exhibit at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and enjoyed it’s big screen debut in New York City at the 2009 Bicycle Film Festival.

For more on the URS visit http://www.urbanrepairs.blogspot.com

Bike Lanes Removed On Religious Grounds?

This is simply strange:


Hipsters, Hasidic Jews Fight Over Bike Lanes In Williamsburg

The war over Williamsburg has taken yet another turn.

In response to last week’s removal of bike lanes in the traditionally Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn, a group of local bike riders took it upon themselves to repaint the lane lines running down Bedford Avenue.

The Hasids had asked the city to remove the bike lanes from the neighborhood, claiming the influx of bikers posed a “safety and religious hazard.”

In an interesting twist, the group of guerrilla line painters reportedly included members of the Hasidic community who are not opposed to the lanes.

Last year the religious group complained to the community board that many of the young, female cyclists who rode through the neighborhood were “hotties,” who “ride in shorts and skirts,” both of which are against their dress code.

According to the New York Post, “a source close to Mayor Bloomberg said removing the lanes was an effort to appease the Hasidic community just before last month’s election.”

Bike! Bike! 2010 – August 12-15, 2010


Bike! Bike! 2010
Summer 2010

Bike! Bike! is an international annual conference organized by and for Not-For-Profit bike projects. It takes place in a different city each year. This year it will be hosted by Bike Pirates in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

If you have services, housing, or supplies you would like to contribute, or would like to help out in any other way, please fill out our volunteer form and/or send us an e-mail at: bikebike2010 -at- gmail.com

There will be an assortment of different workshops at Bike! Bike! geared towards helping bike projects better serve their intended communities. There will also be social events to help/encourage projects to netowork. Some things which may (or may not) take place include (but are not by any means limited to): Anti-oppression, Consensus Decision Making, and Working with Kids workshops as well as Spandex Dance Parties, Movies, and Bike Rides.

<!–

We appreciate your pre-registering for Bike! Bike! Donations to the conference will be accepted in person during the conference. We are suggesting a donation of $28-$49 as you are able, but also want to encourage anyone who does not have the means to pay for the conference to please feel free to come. Contributions in the form of volunteering during the conference to help with food or workshops are just as valuable as cash donations. We want no-one to be turned away for lack of funds. If you are in a position to be able to pay more, please do so in order to help subsidize the conference as a whole, and more people coming.

We have compiled a list of directions Which should get to Bedlam Theatre regardless of how you’ve gotten into the city.

–>

We’re working hard on getting everything organized. Soon we’ll have much more info available online as well as the ability to pre-register. For now, Canadians should sit tight, and Americans should make sure they’ll hold valid passports for next summer.

Bike! Bike! 2010

The Bicycle


the bicycle
Originally uploaded by uwajedi

Contemplating history in Toronto.

History on Our Streets

Rusty on Roncey

When was the last time you saw someone using a 40 year old (or older) vehicle running day to day errands and commuting to work?

Aside from the TTC, you really don’t see many older cars and trucks in daily use here in Toronto.

Unless of course you start looking at the bicycles that take many students and commuters around the city…

The Blue Beast, now in better hands

Hitching a Ride

Cruiser Classic

And you’ll find some brand new bicycles (with classic inspiration) on our streets as well…

An Early Ride Along the West Toronto Railpath

James D. Shwartz, editor of The Urban Country, has made this great video of an early morning (and chilly) ride along the West Toronto Railpath:

Read about the railpath in James’ article here.
Share your thoughts on the West Toronto Railpath in the BikingToronto Forum

My One and Only Complaint about Cycling in Toronto

hpim3225Edit

Ok, the headline of this post is a little misleading. I have plenty of complaints about cycling in Toronto. And, if you read BlogTO, you know that there’s a list and growing discussion of even more gripes going on there.

But… and this is a big BUT… nothing outweighs the benefits of cycling in Toronto…

We have trails through ravines!

We have a growing bike lane network!

We’re busting cops for parking in bike lanes!

We have a cyclists union!

We look damn good on our bikes!

We have more than 70 bike shops in Toronto!

However, I do have one big complaint… and boy-oh-boy is it a doosie!

There are simply not enough cyclists in Toronto.

That’s it, that’s my complaint.

Some days it’s just so lonely. I know there are thousands upon thousands of cyclists around. But, I want to see more… don’t you?

Join the discussion in the BikingToronto Forum

Photo via the BikingToronto Flickr Pool

How to Get Teenage Girls on Bikes; Focus on Something More Than Beauty

Recently, Scientific American released a much talked about article stating that in order to assess the “bikeability” of a city, you simply count the number of women on bikes. The conclusion is that the safer the city is for cycling, the more women you’ll have on bikes.
In Canada, women make up just 30 percent of cyclists and in Toronto under 2 percent of the population choose bicycles as their main transportation choice. Needless to say, we’ve got a lot of work to do.
To make cycling a more “attractive” option for women in the UK, campaigns are popping up that place emphasis on looking good while cycling. However, is this the only concern keeping young girls off their bikes? Sarah Phillips says, “no.”
What’s stopping teenage girls from riding bikes?

Campaigns to get women cycling seem to focus on how to look good over other concerns. Is this really all girls care about?

Posted by Sarah Phillips

Teenage girls don’t ride bikes. Or so says the Darlington Media Group, who have set about trying to rectify the problem with a campaign to get young women cycling.

Several years ago, the National Children’s Bureau published research that revealed that on average, boys cycle 138 miles a year and girls only 24 miles. This still rings true. Christie Rae, 16, from Newcastle told me: “I do have a bike, but I don’t really use it. Only sometimes in the summer when my friends and I cycle round to see each other. I don’t know many girls that do, actually.”

Darlington’s project began with the production of a documentary called Beauty and the Bike, chronicling a trip made by a group of teenage girls to Bremen in Germany, where they met their cycling-loving peers and found out about the joys of the open road. It all sounds slightly twee, but addresses the important issue that girls tend to get to a certain age and it’s no longer the done thing to get about by bike.

I have every admiration for such attempt to get women enjoying the numerous benefits of cycling, but what is frustrating is the focus on appearance that is often so integral to said schemes. Aside from the title, BATB, which incidentally has been used for a similar scheme in the past, Darlington’s site makes it clear they are keen to address the important issue of remaining fashionable while cycling. But as I recall, it was an overprotective mother that stopped me from spending too much time around the bike sheds in my teenage years, rather than any personal concerns over the way I looked.

Another offender is the site Bike Belles, run by the otherwise excellent charity Sustrans, which encourages women of all ages to take up cycling. One helpful section dedicated to beauty tips provides such gems as: “Use waterproof mascara when it’s raining on your bike, and take a powder compact for a quick refresher on arrival.” Admittedly, I write as someone who occasionally arrives at the office sporting a minor oil slick on my face, but I sincerely doubt that women are so image conscious that this is what is stopping them. As many a female cyclist will confirm, it is more hassle than it’s worth looking attractive while travelling by bike.

Aside from fashion tips, the beauty bikers and belles both voice concerns over the lack of decent cycle lanes and safety issues that make our roads a wholly unappealing prospect. Those two are serious issues that would put inexperienced riders off, and are much more worthy of a campaign to get people, regardless of gender, on their bikes.

Discuss this topic in the BikingToronto Forum

Did you get your bicycle "Safety Check"?

These days, a bicycle is often deemed road-worthy not by its level of safety, but simply by how it looks and functions.
Would we have “bicycle shaped objects” like those available at the big-box stores we love to hate if there existed a safety certification program ranking bicycles for safety?
The above photo was taken on Roncesvalles. The bicycle was locked with a rusty chain that was more than likely as old as the bicycle itself. Not much else remained on the bike to hint towards its origins, but this “Safety Check” sticker sure brings about many questions.
Was this sticker just a marketing tactic used to appeal to the want of having a safe bicycle? Or, was this sticker a requirement at the time. I’ve read that the city issued licence plates back in the 1950s after the bicycle was brought in to an officer who would then inspect the bicycle for safety. Although I haven’t found much else on what requirements needed to be met in order for a bike to be deemed safe.
On second thought, maybe this bicycle is even older than that. The peach basket on the rear rack could indicated that this bicycle was once owned by James Naismith… although I didn’t check to see if there was a hole cut in the bottom.
Do you know more about this bicycle or bicycle safety checks? Share your stories in the BikingToronto Forum

“If you don’t have congestion, then you’re actually in trouble because people aren’t moving around wanting to do things.”

Group Commute

Congestion. Downtown Toronto is congested with pollution-emitting vehicles. Yet, pockets of our city also have other forms of congestion, ones we certainly aren’t as worried about.

The congestion of foot traffic in Chinatown and Kensington Market. The congestion of bicycles along the Don River trails.
This is the congestion we want. Congestion that provides opportunities to be social, deliver a constant stream of shoppers to local merchants and gives you the feeling that we live in a city populated with more than just the latest models of Toyota, Ford and BMWs.
From The Globe and Mail:

Et tu, Toronto? Traffic a problem Caesar couldn’t solve

Options up for consideration at Transportation Futures conference include toll roads monitored by GPS and High Occupancy toll lanes

Anna Mehler Paperny

More than 2,000 years ago, Julius Caesar is said to have gotten so fed up with traffic congestion in ancient Rome that he banned all transport vehicles from the city during the day.

The ensuing nocturnal clatter resulting from this “war on the cart,” as Romans took their commute to the city’s narrow nighttime streets, caused mass insomnia and apparently drove Juvenal mad.

Traffic congestion is far from a new problem, or one exclusive to Canada’s largest city, whose overcrowded roads, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, are costing the Canadian economy $3.3-billion a year. Across North America, individual vehicle trips have grown at a rate far outpacing either population growth or new transportation infrastructure for years. When Toronto Mayor David Miller was first elected in 2003, he made addressing the city’s jam-packed roadways a priority – and was the target of a political drubbing for suggesting tolls might be the answer.

This morning in downtown’s Metropolitan Hotel, Transport Futures, a non-partisan think-tank, will host a conference to discuss the options open to planners seeking respite from clogged transportation arteries.

This meeting comes on the heels of an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development report released this week that found congestion in Canada’s most populous city costs the country an estimated $3.3-billion annually, and a gauntlet thrown down by the Toronto Board of Trade challenging the city’s mayoral candidates to come up with innovative solutions.

Here are some of the options up for consideration.

The Phantom Tollbooth

Nineteenth-century Torontonians had to stop and pay a fee at toll booths on Kingston Road, and although the endangered species of traditional toll booth is almost extinct, it’s still in common on bridges.

In the meantime, far more fancy incarnations are taking the “free” out of freeway: Toll gates that could be installed on highways around the Toronto area could charge drivers based on anything from their mileage and driving time to their carbon footprints.

Taking the high-tech route

The congestion-pricing system of the future operates like a souped-up Global Positioning System. It’s used in Singapore, the planet’s dean of congestion pricing – the island city-state has been fighting clogged roads since 1975. The latest technology involves transponders installed in each vehicle, and charges drivers based on where they drive, what time of day and for how long. Singapore adjusts its prices depending on how crowded roads are, charging more as vehicles’ average speed slows to a traffic-clogged crawl and dropping it when space frees up.

London and Stockholm, both cities with a clearly demarcated downtown core, charge drivers each time they enter the inner city. While London has a flat rate, the peninsular Swedish capital changes its fees based on time of day – a far superior, nuanced strategy in targeting congestion, argues Bern Grush. Mr. Grush is chief scientist at Skymeter, a Toronto-based company that researches and manufactures this radio-frequency identification for vehicles.

But a toll strategy that cordons off Toronto’s downtown could be a hard political and logistic sell. An ambitious alternative that just received legislative approval in the Netherlands would cover a wide swath – conceivably as much as the entire province of Ontario – so vehicles would be tracked and automatically billed varying prices wherever they went.

High-Occupancy Toll lanes

One more reason to bring your spouse, child or cubicle-buddy along for the ride. Within the next 25 years, Ontario has plans to create 450 kilometres of High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes that would be reserved for multi-passenger cars. But many jurisdictions are turning to High-Occupancy Toll lanes and letting solo drivers use them – for a price. Shortly after HOT lanes were set up on a bottleneck stretch of California highway between Orange County and Riverside County, almost half the drivers opted to use the less crowded toll lanes.

Parking

Simple equation: You’re less likely to drive your car to work if there’s nowhere to put it once you get there. In many jurisdictions there’s a growing push to lessen the number of parking spots available, or at least to make them more expensive. Copenhagen has been doing just this – taking away a few parking spots every year in an urban-planning version of musical chairs – for decades, says University of Toronto geography professor Paul Hess, and it seems to be working on the congestion-fighting front. That might not go over so well in Hogtown, however, where business owners and landlords are still required to provide a minimum number of parking spots in their establishments.

Transit and cycling

All those wallet-protecting commuters will have to go somewhere. Although some road space is expected to be freed up when drivers take less clogged routes or make their drive in off-hours, improved transit and cycling infrastructure is a vital part of the equation, says University of Toronto urban planning professor Paul Hess: The city needs to act aggressively to beef up its “skeletal” transit system and make the city safe and attractive for would-be cycling commuters – something it has taken other cities decades to accomplish.

But, Prof. Hess noted, “all successful cities face congestion issues.

“If you don’t have congestion, then you’re actually in trouble because people aren’t moving around wanting to do things.”