Check out this free workshop on Saturday, August 14th, that’s being offered as part of the Newcomer Cycling Outreach Program. This workshop is just the thing for a newcomer to Toronto, or if you want to brush up on your cycling knowledge. Pass this message along to new (or even not-so-new!) Torontonians.
Date: Saturday, August 14, 2010
Time: 2 pm – 4 pm
Location: Lillian H. Smith Library – 239 College Street (east of Spadina Avenue)
BIKE DRINKS – Monthly Toronto Cyclists Union Social!
First Thursday of the month starting August 5th, 2010
6:30 to 7:00pm – New bike union member welcome & sign up
7:00 to 9:00pm – Bike social
BIKE Drinks kicks off at a special location on August 5th!
215 Spadina Ave. Suite 120 @ Centre for Social Innovation
From 6:30pm – presentation at 7pm
BYO – (Beverage sponsor TBC)
Regular location: Victory Cafe – 581 Markham Street (1 block S of Bloor, 1 block W of Bathurst) The Victory Cafe is a family-friendly environment.
We thought it was time to get a regular social started up again and we’re going to kick it off with a special presentation by the bike union’s Yvonne Bambrick.
Yvonne will be giving a short and informal presentation about her recent trip to the Velo-City global cycling conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, and will also share some observations on the 20,000 Velib public bikes and new infrastructure from her short stop in Paris.
Brand new bike union T-shirts will be available for purchase ($20 including tax)
Special Announcement regarding a custom painted bike giveaway!
Why are these people riding their bicycles down the middle of Jarvis?
Well, it’s quite possible that they’ve been following some mainstream media outlets, and these outlets have been giving them the wrong information. I’m looking at you Toronto Sun.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and bike lanes painted on city streets don’t appear overnight. In order to avoid delays and stave off a mainstream media feeding frenzy of “OMG, GRIDLOCK” stories, city crews are slowly changing over the lane configuration of Jarvis Street that will extend from Queen St. and run north to Bloor St..
Here’s the facts. 5 lanes will become 6 (2 bicycle lanes separated by 4 regular lanes) and street parking is being nixed.
While I no longer bike to work, (I actually roll and then step to work in my home office) I still wanted free breakfast pancakes and chose to join the hundreds of Torontonians in the Bike Month Group Commute.
A whole lot of cyclists on the same route sure slows things down, but unlike when this happens with cars (every day), you can chit chat with your neighbour, sing a song or two and simply enjoy the fresh morning air.
Every day should be bike to work day for you. If it isn’t, ask yourself why? What is keeping you from biking to work? Is it because you feel you live too far? Is it because you don’t want to get sweaty? Is it because you don’t have a bike?
Remember, there are no good REASONS for not cycling to work, there are only EXCUSES.
I’m a member of the Toronto Cyclists Union. At the Toronto International Bicycle Show I volunteered with the Union and had a fantastic time speaking with Bike Show attendees about the issues facing all cyclists on Toronto’s streets. This was the first time I’d met Yvonne and listening to her speak passionately about cycling and cyclists was an inspiration. Advocating for cycling in Toronto can be as simple as using your bicycle as often as possible and, while doing so, setting a positive example for all cyclists.
Hundreds of cyclists huddle in a cramped conference room. The room’s walls are covered with pieces of paper on clipboards. At the top of each page are suggestions on how to best promote cycling issues in Toronto, followed by a series of empty dots. Jason Diceman, a facilitator for BikeCamp, yells above the crowd.
“Read these, fill in one dot to record your opinion! How many dots?” Diceman playfully asks the crowd. “One,” the crowd responds. “Tell your friends!” Diceman jokes. “Fill in one dot and sign the sheet!” As Toronto’s next municipal election approaches, city cyclists join forces to strategize about how to get their issues on the agenda.
The Toronto Cyclists Union (TCU) and community members met at BikeCamp in mid-October last year to outline what issues they want to push for during the 2010 mayoral race. Their strategy is decided on democratically. The TCU aims to act on those ideas which received the most dots.
What were BikeCamp’s three top ideas? The first is get a segment on cycling rights and rules into Ontario’s driver handbook and driving courses. Second, to promote a specific route or bike lane with support from wards across Toronto. And the last is to get cycling education in schools.
Brainstorming is the easy part, according to Margaret Hastings-James, a BikeCamp organizer and avid cyclist. The hard part is actually getting people to work on those projects. “The most important thing that will come out of today is getting some new energy. People that are interested to pick up on some specific campaigns or events and to actually run with that and make it their own project,” Hastings-James explains.
Hastings-James has been a bike advocate since 2003, after she was hit by a car while cycling. Luckily her injuries weren’t serious, but the accident made Margaret realize the need for more bike lanes and stricter traffic rules. Although hundreds of cyclists showed up for BikeCamp in October, only a small group donates their time to bike advocacy.
“You come and there’s people here all presenting awesome ideas and then they leave the room and it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, who’s going to implement all this?’” says Hasting-James. But she remains positive. Rising gas prices, concern for the environment and crowded streets have increased participation in cyclist movements. Only decades ago bike advocacy was virtually unheard of, but now attracts support from people in all walks of life.
“It’s really encouraging to see a lot of new faces here today. I find that the movement in general in Toronto is changing face,” said Hasting-James. “It’s not the same die-hard sort of ‘enviro’ freak types… there’s a lot of variety in people here.” In only one year of operation the Toronto Cyclists Union is 730 members strong. And continues to grow.
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.
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.
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.