A Look at the St. Clair TTC Bike Shelter

TTC Bicycle Shelter St. Clair West Station

I stopped by the recently opening bicycle shelter at the St. Clair West TTC Station to take a few photos and try out the racks.

Located on the south side of St. Clair West and beside an station access point, this shelter is designed for daily use and offers some protection from the elements while your bicycle awaits your return.

Cradle Bike Rack at St. Clair West TTC Station

I’m not sure what these racks are called, so I’ll call them “offset cradle” racks. Offset because one bicycle is lifted higher than the other to allow for handlebar clearance as seen above.

Offset cradle Bike Rack at St. Clair West TTC Station

The cradle for your bicycle’s wheel was wide enough for my slightly fatter than normal 700c wheels. Big knobby mountain bike tires, or even balloon tires may have a tight squeeze in these racks. Arches attached to the cradles allow you to lock both your wheel and frame to the racks.

Lower cradle bike rack TTC St. Clair West Subway Station

"Offset Cradle" Bicycle Rack TTC Station St. Clair West

More of these bike shelters are expected to arrive at TTC stations throughout the rest of the year. Remember, these are for short-term parking only which is why they are only partially sheltered. Bicycles left for 48 hours may be removed.

TTC Bike Parking Notice St. Clair West Station

Have you been using the new bike shelter at the St. Clair West subway station? What do you think of this “offset cradle” style rack (and do you know what they are actually called)?

Possible Benefit of G20 Preparations?

Ont. Government building has moved all staff bike parking inside for G20. This is part of the main lobby.

At Queen’s Park they’ve moved bicycle parking indoors in preparation for the impending G20 demonstrations.

Maybe we’ll see excellent bicycle parking improvements like this stick around after the weekend?

It could help reduce bicycle theft and get more people cycling!

Photo via Twitter account kayakinstructor and found on Toronto Star G20 Blog.

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?

In Vancouver: More Places to Park Your Bicycle

It looks like the Olympics are bringing more bicycle parking infrastructure to Vancouver.

Full post on BeyondRobson

Photo via BeyondRobson.com

What are your 2010 Toronto bike commuting goals?

Going past

I’ll admit that I got a late start to bike commuting. It took me more than 3 years of city living to finally give it a try. In June 2009, on a bit of a whim, I took my new bike on a 25 km journey to my office in the outer reaches of Toronto (so far in fact that it’s not even in Toronto).

At first, I’d bike just twice a week as I needed the next day to recover. If it looked like rain, I jumped on the subway (then bus, then another bus and sometimes yet another bus).

All it took was one rainfall that I didn’t see coming and I lost the fear of getting wet. I was already soaked with sweat, so it made little difference, and rain actually feels good in the heat and humidity of a Toronto summer.

By the end of 2009 I had bought cycling shorts, tights, a shirt or two and a waterproof jacket. I now have a sturdy lock (and back-up lock for paranoia), panniers, two pumps, various lights and more cycling goodies than I can even remember.

So, what can I do more in 2010? Well, there’s been one big change for me. My commute, which was recently shortened to just 20 km each way has been drastically cut. I’ve joined the ranks of the work-from-home brigades, no commuting necessary. At least not daily.

This opens new doors for me. I get the chance to take morning or noon rides on trails I previously never would have seen on weekdays. I get to ride for pleasure, and if my route starts to wear on me, I get to change it. Lucky me, I know.

Yet, working from home also provides the opportunity to become lazy. I worked so hard getting comfortable as a bicycle commuter that it’s hard to give it up cold turkey. So, I’m going to make my morning rides my own sort of commute. It will be the longest distance between my bedroom and my home office possible, much more than a few shuffle-steps.

Over on Commute by Bike, Bike Shop Girl has compiled a list of 2010 bike commuter goals. Here are her 8 goals with my comments:

1. Learn how to properly lock your bike

There are a lot of different places to lock your bike in Toronto. It took me some time and practice to find the “sweet spots” for locking to post and rings and other spots. I find that a sturdy u-lock through the frame and front wheel is best for eliminating vulnerable gaps between lock, bike and rack. This also helps keep your bike upright as other people use the rack.

2. Start a Commuter Challenge

I’ve personally resisted getting a cycling computer. I’m a little too competitive and really want to keep my eyes on the road. But, if you find your commute getting stale, then why not strive to make the best time possible or work out how to catch every green light?

3. Motivate a co-worker to commute by bike

You could start by taking them with you on a ride one weekend. Show them your route when the roads are less busy. Unfortunately, no one at my office joined me last year… but walking in all sweaty with a bike in tow certainly got us talking about something new.

4. Join your local advocacy group

In Toronto you can start by joining the Toronto Cyclist Union. Joining is a great start, but getting active and participating in events or volunteering is even better. My goal is to do more with the Union now that I’m a proud member.

5.  Take photos to inspire others and yourself

There are more than 2,000 photos in the BikingToronto Flickr Pool… why not help us reach 3,000? Edit: As mentioned in the comment below, the pool is now approaching 4,000!

6.  Setup a commuter zone

My bike accessories once filled a small tupperware container. Now, I have a dedicated shelf near the door where I keep bungees, gloves, lights, the odd tool and helmets. Making space for your bike stuff, and making it accessible, are a great way to remind yourself that it’s better by bike.

7. Practice preventative maintenance

Not sure what to do with those tools a family member gave you over the holidays? Make a visit to Bike Pirates or the Community Bicycle Network and learn how to fix your own bike before it decides it no longer wants to go. If you live in Toronto’s East end, why not get involved in starting a DIY shop as well?

8. Invest in your gear

It’s certainly not necessary to have a full cycling wardrobe. But, adding pieces like waterproof gloves, a waterproof jacket or even shoes can help make your commute more enjoyable no matter what the weather is like.

That’s all 8… but I’m certain there are many more. What are your 2010 cycling/commuting/living goals? Share yours in the comments below.

Photo via sevenman in BikingToronto’s Flickr Pool

Do you bike to shop? Let business owners know!

Bags

Via Third Wave Cycling Blog:

Bike Helmets on Customers Exposes Unnoticed Business For Retailers

January 11, 2010 by Jack Becker

We received an email earlier last week from the local ratepayers’ group:

There has been a request from VANOC and the Olympic committee asking Citygate and False Creek residents to keep their festive lights up and on throughout the Olympics so the world can see us.

Presumably this request can even include the festive Christmas lights that some boat owners festoon their masts along the waterfront.

What would be an equivalent, visibility tactic for the cycling community to announce the significance of cyclists?

It could be as simple as keeping your helmet on your head when you are shopping.  This action would go a long way towards changing the perception of local business retailers that their customer base and retail sales comes from car drivers.  It may start stopping retailers’ complaints any time that a new bike lane at their store entrance takes away more street car parking.  It may start retailer action to call for more storefront bike parking racks.  It may change perception that cyclists in a store does not contribute to the bottom line of retailer sales and profitability.  A “helmet-on-campaign-while shopping” would remind retailers that cyclists do comprise more of their customer base than retailers might realize.

Cyclists do shop, contribute to local businesses and the economy. Like everyone else, they still consume products and services.  In fact, cyclists, without the burden of paying for car maintenance, may have more money available for shopping.

In downtown Toronto, there has been an ongoing debate on implementation of a bike lane on the busy Bloor Street west of Spadina  Rd., an area  known  as the “Annex”.  For many decades and still now, the Annex is a gentrified neighbourhood with busy cafes, restaurants, independent shops, community centre and services that draw patrons and convivial street life.

A recent study of 61 local merchants, 531 patrons, and parking space use, revealed only 10% of patrons drive to the Bloor-Annex area. Pedestrians and cyclists were spending more money than the drivers.  This is not surprising since the area is served by 3 different subway station exits, feeder bus lines and an established bike lane grid in this Bloor St neighbourhood.

Meanwhile in Vancouver, the Canada Line opened in late August 2009.  Now changes in customer levels have been noted to be modest for businesses along the Canada Line on Cambie St.   Businesses closer to stations have seen an increase in foot traffic.  The full effect of a switch from car-based shopping to people-based shopping takes time.  It takes more than a full year business cycle for commuters to establish changes in their transportation choice, travel and shopping patterns.

Since no one is constantly monitoring where bikes are locked up outside  shops, then the bike helmet is the beacon to signal retailers that another customer that just arrived –in a different way.

Since cycling is on the rise in Toronto, it’s time to make yourself visible to shop owners who apparently don’t believe that cyclists and pedestrians are good for business. Carry your bike helmet, keep your pant leg reflector on and make sure to mention how much you appreciate the bike parking or bike lane you found nearby.

Photo via Flickr user Life in a Lens

Where We Park Our Bikes in Toronto

Sure, we’re world-famous for our post and ring bike racks… but where else is there to park your bicycle in Toronto? Turns out, you’ve got plenty of options…

There’s the “Classic”:

Toronto bike rack

At BMO Field there are arches:

cne-bike-rack_0085

In Parkdale you get glasses:

Bike Rack - Toronto 1

On Toronto Island there’s room for bikes and canoes:

Bike Rack, Toronto Island

You’ll find hanging triangles:
Bike racks

And back in Parkdale there are more bike rack oddities:
Parkdale bike rack sculptures

On St. Clair you’ll spot these “knock-offs”:

bike racks2

Further north on Yonge street there’s a watch:
Watch my bike, will ya?
And then there’s the elaborate:

rack 'em up !

There’s the moving bike rack:

TTC 9431 Bike Rack

At the ROM there’s a dinosaur (bikes only!):

Help!!!

You’ll find vibrant blue at City Hall:

Blue Bike Racks

Make sure you get to your bike rack early, spots fill up fast:
Iron Horses

And if you’re lucky, your friend will save you a spot:

bike rack seat

All photos via Flickr, click on a photo for photographer credit.

Coming to a Bike Rack Near You: Strollers

Baby commute

From the Globe and Mail:

Stroller thefts on the rise in Toronto

Luxury prams are vanishing from Toronto porches. Are stroller bandits selling them for parts?

Kate Hammer From Saturday’s Globe and Mail

An opportunistic thief can recognize their state-of-the-art shock absorbers, rugged wheels, plush bucket seats and shiny chrome finishes from a city block, even a playground, away.

As their price tags have climbed beyond $1,000, an increasing number of luxury baby-transporting apparatuses have been vanishing from the front porches of family homes.

Police are cautioning parents to lock up or conceal their wheels, especially in 11 Division, the west end of the city, where six stroller thefts have been recorded so far this year.

The geography of the thefts hints that there could be a more maternal version of Igor Kenk prowling the streets, but police say it’s still too early to tell.

“It’s just something that somebody’s twigged onto, that these things are expensive, and a lot of people look for secondhand children’s equipment,” said Constable Wendy Drummond, a police spokeswoman.

Earlier this year, a couple was charged after they posted two of the stolen strollers for sale online.

Two more remain unaccounted for, and the final pair appear to have been abducted for the purposes of a buggy joyride through the neighbourhood. Both were promptly found abandoned a short distance from where they were stolen.

An employee at Macklem’s, a baby store that sells nearly everything buggy from Firstwheels to Zoopers, said one of her customers who lives in the Beaches had her jogging stroller stolen last weekend.

The Baby Jogger City Elite is one of the store’s most popular models, according to Natasha, who declined to give her last name. It retails for $549, but it’s on sale right now at Macklem’s for $479.

“Their real claim to fame is that it’s a one-handed fold stroller so that it’s really easy to close up,” she said. “But it has your big wheels so it’s really appropriate for snow or any sort of all-terrain use.”

(It also boasts a “multi-position sun canopy with clear view windows and side ventilation panels.”) Given all these kinds of state-of-the-art offerings, it might be no surprise that there is evidence of chop-shop behaviour on the streets.

“I have heard people say that they’ve left their stroller outside a restaurant or … sometimes they’ve locked them up with a bike lock, and when they come back somebody’s taken the wheels off of them,” Natasha said. Toronto residents aren’t alone in their plight. A neighbourhood in the south of Brooklyn, N.Y., is under siege by a serial stroller thief.

The Brooklyn Paper reported a popular theory that wheels were being stolen as spare parts for motorized mini-bikes, which are popular with teens.

On both sides of the border, the consensus is that most thieves are looking to take advantage of a thriving market for secondhand items for babies and children. “With the coming colder months and then with the snow and the mess on the tires of the melting snow and salt, people are more likely to leave [their strollers] outside and we feel that the public should know that, in fact, these thefts are happening and to take precautions,” Constable Drummond said. “Being without a stroller and with a small child is a big inconvenience and also a big cost.”

LINK

Photo via Flickr