Winter Cyclist Taxonomy

remind me to try this sometime

The Pacific Northwest Inlander looks at four types of winter cyclist:

THE METAPHYSICIST

Stealthy, swift and undeniably easy-going, the Metaphysicist doesn’t own a car. This type rides for pleasure — defying the norms of everyday transportation. You can spot him by the twinkle in his eyes, the ease with which he rides, his lack of concern over distance and weather.

THE BIKE GURU

This breed of winter commuter has a bike for every occasion. These specialized rides cost more than a lot of people’s cars, and they rip through the ice and snow better than any vehicle on four wheels. The Bike Guru is identifiable by his bicycle tattoos and his mastery of technical lingo.

MR. BUSINESS-CASUAL

This winter cyclist is equally at home in the conference room and the intersection. For Mr. Business-Casual, commuting is practical and efficient. His bicycle, like his briefcase, is an extension of his being — like an extra arm or a leg. Look for him to be wearing dress slacks and a sweater vest beneath his cycling jacket.

THE MARY POPPINS

This winter warrior rides because it makes her happy. Mary Poppins takes her bike into the grocery store, to work, and into her friends’ houses, because she forgot her lock and no one has the heart to tell this merry nanny “no.” She rides in dresses, baskets and bells.

Read the full article here: Winter Warriors

Where do you fit on the list? Personally, I’m trying to be a “Mary Poppins” but no one is letting this guy bring his slush covered bicycles inside anywhere!

Photo via the BikingToronto Flickr Group

On the Dangers of Cars

smog free car

Aside from the sensational headlines, this article brings to light many of the dangers of private motor vehicles. Dangers that are so common we mostly ignore them until they affect us individually.

From StraightGoods.ca:

Cyclist’s death highlights auto hazards

Cars are death traps in many ways.

by Albert Koehl

Darcy Allan Sheppard accomplished this year what almost 3,000 other Canadians will fail to do: get more than fleeting public attention for his death on our roads. If Sheppard’s death had not occurred in downtown Toronto, in gruesome circumstances, and under the wheels of a car driven by Ontario’s former top law-maker, the public would already have forgotten his name.

While the tragedy on Toronto’s Bloor St. may have highlighted the frailty of the human body in conflicts with the car, the fact is occupants of cars are hardly safe from the danger on our roads.

Polluting emissions from car and truck traffic claim 440 lives in Toronto alone each year.

Although cyclists are over-represented in road fatalities, the most common victims of road accidents are drivers and their passengers, comprising three quarters of all deaths. Motor vehicle occupants also count heavily among the 20,000 Canadians wounded so seriously by motor vehicles each year that they require hospital care, often for long terms.

So routine are serious traffic accidents that we more often hear about them as obstacles in the morning traffic report than in news headlines.

Cars aren’t deadly just because of collisions.

Polluting emissions from car and truck traffic claim 440 lives in Toronto alone each year, according to the city’s public health authority. Climate change, which is caused in significant part by transportation emissions, will claim more lives still. Over 35 percent of Toronto’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are from motor vehicles.

The tragedy of these numbers is not that we accept them so willingly, but that we accept them despite the obvious alternatives.

First, buses and streetcars are many times safer than cars, while emitting a fraction of the air and climate poisons. A 30 percent reduction in traffic emissions would save 190 lives in Toronto each year and result in $900 million in health benefits, according to Toronto Public Health. Mass transit can be improved quickly with better and more frequent bus service.

Second, bicycles produce zero climate and air pollutants — while posing minimal risks to other road users. Cycling fatalities can be reduced. In certain European countries where bikes have been given dedicated space, cyclists (despite shunning helmets) are much safer.

“Good fences make good neighbours” wrote the poet Robert Frost. Painted lines for bikes make good relations on our streets.

Yes, cyclists must obey the rules of the road, although this doesn’t help cyclists injured by motorists in so-called “doorings” that are all too common. When I cycle, I fairly diligently obey every rule of the road but sometimes marvel at the irony of it all: complying with the rules of a society that has already carelessly passed through urgent warning signs of climate change and unnecessarily wasted so many innocent lives.

Third, cars are transportation products, not necessities. Other personal transportation products would make our cities safer and healthier. Power and speed, along with polluting emissions, are car design features, and consequences, that kill.

We may be able to justify the use of a car to carry groceries, take kids to soccer practice, or pick up grandparents — but do milk and eggs really need to leave the mall in a machine capable of achieving 0-60kmph in 6 seconds? Low cost, low emission, low speed vehicles, similar to the electric ZENN car, provide another logical alternative, especially since city traffic doesn’t average even 40kmph anyway.

Finally, when our roads are safer and more hospitable places, people will walk more.

The car may be part of our culture but this is no reason to stand in the way of safer and more efficient options. The facts support a war on traffic deaths and injuries, traffic pollution, and vehicle GHG emissions that have made us all —- motorists, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians —- victims.

Albert Koehl is a lawyer with Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal), a Canadian environmental law organization.

In November 2007, Ecojustice and KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, a church-based social justice organization, demanded that Canada’s Auditor General investigate the government’s oil and gas subsidies and the cuts to programs for poor households.

Photo via Flickr

Cycling Comparison for Canadian Cities

From CTV.ca:

Montreal

Cycling is just one of many reasons to visit Montreal, though the city is getting props for its forward-pedalling ways.

The city has more than 500 kilometres worth of bike paths and was recently ranked by ForbesTraveller.com as one of “North America’s most bike-friendly cities.” And visitors can now rent bicycles for only $5 per day, while they wheel around the city’s downtown core.

But according to one cycling expert, Montreal has been making its downtown biking better for some time and has been making path improvements to some of its suburbs.

“From what I know, I think Montreal is in a pretty good position in terms of recent developments, especially in the downtown area,” said Jean-Francois Pronovost, executive director of the Velo Quebec Association, when speaking to CTV.ca by telephone from Montreal.

Pronovost points to the addition of a year-round bike lane along Maisonneuve Boulevard that opened up about two years ago. It allows cyclists to travel a bidirectional lane that is separated from other road traffic as they make their way through the downtown area.

Looking forward, Pronovost said Montreal needs to continue to cultivate its cycling culture with more designated bike lanes and paths. Then, he said, it becomes a question of sitting back and watching the bicycles hit the city streets.

According to statistics from Montreal police, 663 cyclists received minor injuries in traffic and road collisions last year. An additional 33 cyclists suffered serious injuries and two others died on Montreal roads in 2008.

Toronto

With nearly a million Toronto residents claiming to be at least part-time cyclists, Canada’s largest city has taken strides to make cycling better.

There are more bike lanes than in the past, Toronto has opened the first of several planned public bicycle stations and Mayor David Miller has said it is the city’s goal to see Torontonians making twice as many bicycling trips as they do today.

And the city’s efforts have been noticed.

“Toronto has done a lot to try to become a lot more bicycle-friendly,” Greg Mathieu, the head of the Canadian Cycling Association, said in a phone interview earlier this week.

But the system is far from perfect. Toronto bike lanes often empty into very busy streets and there is a perception that cyclists and motorists are at odds with one another.

“It’s always the battle, it would seem,” Mathieu said.

So far, Toronto police have responded to more than 600 collisions involving cyclists since the start of the year, compared to 34,600 involving cars.

Ottawa

Bicycles are a common site in Canada’s capital city, during the warmer months of the year.

You can see them gliding along the lengthy Capital Pathway network, which has more than 180 kilometres worth of paved bike lanes that wind along the city’s public parks, museums, rivers and other attractions.

But Ottawa still isn’t perfect.

The bike paths can’t get you everywhere you want to go and city bike lanes are not available on all major streets, says Michael Powell, a cyclist who contributes to the Cycling in Ottawa blog.

And while Ottawans generally enjoy a relatively good relationship with other vehicles on city roads, Powell said that there are places where the infrastructure is lacking.

“Once you get up to the suburbs, it’s a little more scattershot,” Powell said in a recent phone interview.

But he admits that the city has a good long-term plan in place for city cycling.

According to the City of Ottawa, 262 cyclists were injured in collisions last year, out of a total of 4,115 people who were injured in traffic collision within city limits.

Vancouver

Residents of British Columbia’s largest city make an estimated 60,000 trips by bicycle each day, meaning that cycling safety is a priority issue in Vancouver.

The city says it has doubled its bicycle network over the past decade and Vancouver has identified cycling as its fastest-growing form of transportation.

The newest development in Vancouver’s cycling scene is the addition of a walled-off cycling lane on the Burrard Street Bridge — a packed downtown passage that sees as many as 8,000 to 9,000 cyclists, pedestrians and drivers cross it each hour during peak times.

In May, Vancouver’s city council voted to convert one lane of the bridge solely for bicycle use over an indeterminate trial period. The goal was to see if the bridge could be made safer for pedestrians while keeping traffic flowing.

The project was the brainchild of Mayor Gregor Robertson, a life-long cyclist who had long held misgivings about the busy bridge.

“I’ve been riding this bridge all of my life, and that’s the first time I’ve really felt safe crossing it on my bike,” he told CTV British Columbia after trying the bike lane for the first time in July.

So far, the project appears to have been a success.

Earlier this week, Robertson issued a pres release saying that 25 per cent more cyclists were making use of the Burrard Bridge than before the bike lane became operational.

Read the rest here.

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