dandyhorse magazine Spring 2011 launch party and bike raffle

Spring brings us warm rain, blooming flowers, more people on bikes and the dandyhorse magazine spring issue launch party.

Come to the Gladstone Hotel on May 30, 2011 and pick up a copy of the Spring 2011 issue showing you the many ways bikes are good for business on Bloor. Stick around and share a drink with fellow bike buddies and enter a raffle to win an Opus Cervin bicycle.

More event info on Facebook: dandyhorse magazine spring launch party!

Check out the new dandyhorse magazine website, too: dandyhorsemagazine.com

How to use BIXI and not get charged extra fees

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 is the official launch of the BIXI bike share system in Toronto. Based on my experience in Montreal last summer and from conversations with friends it seems as though there is and will be some initial confusion with how to use the BIXI system.

The BIXI web site has step-by-step instructions for non-subscription based usage. These instructions will also appear on the payment terminal at all BIXI stations.

The majority of BIXI users will only ever pay the base user fees and not accrue extra charges. Here are a few points to remember so you only pay the base access fees and aren’t charged extra when using BIXI Toronto:

1) Your access fees grant you an unlimited number of trips using any BIXI bike at any BIXI station. However, each trip must be completed in under 30 mins or you are charged additional fees that escalate the longer you keep the bike.

2) When planning travel by BIXI use the station location map to plan both your route and to determine your destination. Remember, your BIXI trip is from station to station. Unlike car sharing where you rent and return a vehicle to the same location, with BIXI you return the bikes to ANY STATION.

3) When you purchase 24 or 72 hour access your credit card is your access key. You need a new access code to release a BIXI bike from its dock for every trip. To get another code, repeat the same steps you took when purchasing access, your credit card will not be charged again and this is the only way to get another code to release a BIXI bike.

4) One credit card can give you access to two BIXI bikes at a time. To release two BIXI bikes from one station you need two access codes. Codes are only printed individually so you need to repeat the access code process twice.

5) The close proximity of all BIXI stations means that when you stop riding you should return the bike to a station. You may be tempted to stop and run quick errands without returning the bike to a station. Doing this could result in the BIXI bike being stolen if left unattended or you may exceed your 30 minute usage time.

6) If the BIXI station you intended to end your trip at has no empty docks you can use your credit or access key to add an additional 15 minutes to your usage time. This only works when there are no vacant docks at a BIXI station.

7) Many of Toronto’s BIXI locations are located on sidewalks and in parks. BIXI bikes are vehicles and you can be ticketed for riding on sidewalks just like any other vehicle would be. Walk your BIXI to the nearest street to start your journey and obey traffic laws. A fine by Toronto Police Services could make your BIXI rental much more expensive.

For more answers to any BIXI-relation question visit the BIXI Toronto FAQ

Update: Still unsure of how to use BIXI? Here’s an excellent video to help: How BIXI Toronto Bike Sharing Works

Bike share brings out creativity

Bixi Toronto is set to go live on May 3, 2011 and we can’t wait!

With bike share systems already up and running in many major cities we’ve already had a look at some creative uses for the system.

Here’s a Boris Bike Flash Mob Spin Class:

A pro BMX rider put the London Cycle Hire Scheme through some rigorous strength testing:

And Bixi Montreal is even filming “alleycat” style races that promote legal riding and provide information about cycling infrastructure in the city: An “Alleycat” Race on BIXIs?

What to do if your bicycle was removed by the City of Toronto

Abandoned bicycle

Although contrary to the snow and cold of this April it is spring in Toronto and with the season change comes a clean up on our streets. Bike lanes are swept and potholes filled and abandoned bicycles are tagged for removal.

But what happens to these bicycles?

via Twitter lindsaybanack

Abandoned bicycle clean up and recovery are handled by Right-of Way Management and Litter Operations.

If you have left your bicycle locked to a City installed ring and post rack and returned after a few days to find it missing, your ride may have been removed by Litter Operations. Bicycles that were not claimed after a notice was given yet are in working condition (no missing parts or excess rust) are photographed and stored with information of where the bicycle was removed from. To claim your bicycle simply call 311 and they’ll assist you in recovery.

Also, if you’d like to report an abandoned bicycle that is taking up much needed parking space then also call 311.

In short, if you’re missing a bicycle you left locked up for an extended period of time; call 311.
If you want a bicycle removed; call 311.

Information via 311 Toronto
Bikes in a truck photo via Twitter

New dandyhorse Magazine Website

dandyhorse website

The magazine that gives you an inside look at the people, the fashion, the issues and the bikes that keep Toronto moving has a new home online:

dandyhorsemagazine.com

The website brings you a look at past articles and a sneak peek at their upcoming issue to be released in May.

Subscribers get an extra treat by being able to access all back issues through the site.

Not a subscriber? Become one here: Subscribe to dandyhorse magazine.

Toronto’s Beater Bikes Wants You to Be a Test Pilot

You’ve probably seen the 2010 Beater Bikes models all over town. Bright green frames with and unmissable yellow “BEATER” sticker.

Well, the bicycle company is currently testing out their 2012 models (mock ups pictured above) and they need your help. Beater Bikes is looking to lend out prototypes of the four 2012 models and all you have to do is promise not to be gentle with them.

To become a test pilot for Beater Bikes go here and fill out an application: Test Pilots – Beater Bikes

Also, click on the image below to check out a cool little Beater Bikes commercial:

Win Passes to the Green Living Show from BikingToronto

BikingToronto is giving away 5 pairs of tickets to this weekend’s Green Living Show at the Direct Energy Centre.

You have until midnight on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 to enter.

Go to this post now and enter for your chance to win!

Acura brings “elegance” to vehicular homicide

Acura ad in Toronto encourages aggressive driving

Since I work in marketing, and advertising is a large part of what I do, I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about words.

I’ll turn over a short sentence dozens of times trying to find a word or words that instantly convey my message. Some sentences speak volumes and every ad copy writer knows this.

The above ad is currently on display in Toronto. It overlooks both the Martin Goodman Trail and Lake Shore Boulevard West. This ad can be seen by thousands of commuters heading into downtown Toronto for work. I ride this stretch of trail by bicycle almost every day. I witness bumper to bumper traffic and on more days than not there are traffic police positioned to stop speeders and control aggressive driving.

Yet some copy writer, some ad agency and some company executive who approved the above ad felt that “Aggression” was the best word to use. To them aggression may mean strength. To them aggression may symbolize the drive to succeed in a busy metropolis. To them aggression is a powerful buzzword that connects their product, a car, to a life of financial success.

But “aggression” is much, much more than that, especially in Toronto right now.

Aggression and violence are sibling words. Aggression is usually first on the scene but where aggression exists you can be sure that violence isn’t too far behind. Aggression is the reason we have the “Street Racing” law in Ontario. Aggression is the reason why hundreds of people every year are killed on roads around the world. Aggression is the reason why we have so many police officers on traffic patrol.

Acura, there is nothing “elegant” about aggression. Aggression is an ugly and offensive word. In a busy city where you are going to encounter people who drive slower than you, people who walk across streets and people who are in just as big a rush as you are, aggression leads to collisions and regrets and death.

Let’s ask the family of Darcy Allan Sheppard what the word “aggression” means to them.

Let’s ask the family of Tahir Khan what the word “aggression” means to them.

Aggression is why there is strong opposition to the current mayor’s use of war metaphors to describe transportation choices. Behind the wheel of a car, on the saddle of a bicycle or simply walking on your own two feet is never an act of aggression. Aggression leads to rash decisions. Aggression is the result of selfish, anti-social behaviour. Aggression exists outside of rational thought.

Yet here is an ad placed outside of Ontario Place, a family destination. This ad faces thousands of people who may be frustrated that their drive was so long. This ad faces the commuting cyclists who will each have a story or two to share about the face of aggression.

You see Acura, Toronto has no room on its roads for aggression.

Changing My Point of View

The point of viewI’ve recently realized that I was a bad driver.

I remember sitting in my car in traffic, judging and hating everyone around me, “You call that a signal, idiot?!” “Get off my ass jerk or I’ll just tap my brakes a little harder and see how you like the taste of my bumper.”

Yet, the minute I arrived at my destination and stepped out of my car all my rage was lost. I couldn’t talk in that tone, in those words to my co-workers, I couldn’t treat the cashier at the grocery store with the same disdain.

And for some bizarre reason this all felt perfectly normal. Outside the glass and steel of my car everyone was out to annoy me or run me into a wall. But once I stepped out of my car I couldn’t blame anonymous others.

But now, after a few car-free years and experiencing a lot of road travel on a much smaller vehicle, I have finally realized that the problem was me.

In the one fender bender I was involved in it was everyone else’s fault but my own. The other driver braked too hard, the road was icy, the light was still yellow. Now I realize that I was traveling too fast for the conditions, that I was following too close and that I had no right to proceed through a yellow light without slowing down.

But it has taken me a very long time to come to this realization. It has taken a combination of no longer driving cars and reading about the way we behave in cars to come to the conclusion that I was a bad driver. But I was actively looking for reasons why my car made me miserable. It wasn’t just the price of gas and constant maintenance costs. It wasn’t just the insurance charges I felt too were too high, after all I thought I was a good driver. There was an underlying issue here and thankfully more and more people are studying why our cars can change perfectly decent people into rage-aholics.

In a recent Grist article, Sarah Goodyear looks at why people in cars seem to hate people on bicycles:

If you’ve ever been behind the wheel of a car, you’ve felt it: The dead certainty that everyone around you is a complete idiot who should get the hell out of your way.

If you’ve spent much time riding a bicycle, you have been the target of that wrath. And without the protective metal-and-glass bubble that shields drivers (mostly) from each other’s anger, it’s easy to feel the hate. A horn honked in your ear by someone zooming past, an insult shouted out a window, the grit kicked up in your face by someone passing too close — just to make a point. It’s scary.

To explain why this happens, Sarah looks to Tom Vanderbuilt, author of the book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us):

What happens to most of us, in most driving conditions, is that we’re losing some of the key attributes that facilitate human cooperation and, in a larger sense, society.

Eye contact, for example, has been shown in any number of experiments to increase the chance of gaining cooperation – that’s why when drivers give you what was called on Seinfeld the “stare-ahead,” your chances that they’ll let you merge in ahead of them are greatly reduced.

Then there’s the anonymity in traffic – there’s no one to spread rumors or gossip about you about how bad your behavior was — not to mention the lack of consequences for acting like an idiot. It’s all strikingly similar to the way we act on the internet, in what’s called the “online disinhibition effect.”

This is how door prizes happen. A driver, still in complete social isolation, fails to look for cyclists approaching and opens a door into their path. In an instant, the oblivious driver has made a potentially fatal mistake.

The question now is how do we socialize anti-social drivers? Most don’t realize they behave this way and those who do often feel it is absolutely acceptable behaviour.

As Joe Simonetti explains to Tom Vanderbuilt in a recent Outside article:

“As a couples therapist, I tell people that we take things so personally,” he says as we near the Whitestone Bridge, on the first dedicated bike path we’ve seen in more than two hours. It’s easy, when a car edges too close or cuts him off, to “go to that paranoid place where they’re just trying to fuck with me. We’re so worried that someone else can steal our sense of self that we fight for it at every turn.” But it could have been just that the driver didn’t see him. Under the spell of what’s called “inattentional blindness,” people have been known to miss obvious things simply because they’re not looking for them. Either that or what seems inconsequential in a car—passing by within a foot or two—can be terrifying to someone on a bike.

In my car I believed that every move I made was the right one. I was always acting in my own self-interest. When I first started commuting by bicycle I often behaved in the same manner. Only now I was exposed and on a different vehicle. I was confused when I’d aggressively “take the lane” only to have my aggression thrown back at me with 2 tonnes of steel. That’s how you behave in protective cocoons. You can be aggressive and the consequences are rarely anything at all, sometimes just an annoyance of expensive bumper dings and scratched doors. On a bicycle the consequences can be more dire, fatal.

Changing driver attitudes isn’t something that will happen inside of our cars. Listen to talk and news radio any morning and you’ll hear a consistent mantra in the news reports and commercials reinforcing the idea that other drivers are out to get you, other drivers are creating terrible traffic and other drivers are the ones making dangerous maneuvers… it’s always someone else.

So some cities are looking not at changing how we drive but at making changes that encourage people to get out of their cars. Vanderbuilt explains:

Few American cities have done a better job of getting people on bikes than Portland, Oregon, where around 7 percent of the population bikes to work and children cycle to school in huge “bike trains.” And yet, last year, like many recent years, no cyclist was killed. (By comparison, Tampa, Florida, a city where fewer than 1 percent of the population commutes by bike, had nine cyclist fatalities in four months in 2009.) Greg Raisman, a traffic-safety specialist with Portland’s Bureau of Transportation, says one key to getting people biking is providing infrastructure—actual or symbolic. The city features “bicycle boulevards” and bike-only traffic signals, and it’s planning new six-foot-wide bike lanes. It recently put some 2,100 “sharrows” bike symbols on 50 miles of residential streets. He says the symbols send messages to motorists and are, as many Portlanders have told him, changing “people’s mental maps of the city.”

“We need to get people to change the way they think about transportation,” Raisman says. While all road users need to step up in terms of behavior, he believes, calling for cyclists to be licensed, as some critics have lately done, isn’t the right place to start. “I recently got my driver’s license renewed,” he says. “They just asked me if my address was the same.” Among the things he was not asked was whether he was aware of traffic-code changes like the 2007 Vulnerable Road User law or a new Oregon rule that makes it legal for cyclists to pass on the right so they can filter to the front past queues of cars stopped at traffic lights.

I’ll be renewing my own drivers licence in Ontario this year. In the five years since I last renewed, I’ve changed my address from a small Ontario town with few bicycle lanes and even less pedestrian infrastructure to a Toronto address in a city with pedestrian activated crossings, turning and parking restrictions and a new piece of cycling infrastructure known as “sharrows.” Yet I won’t be asked if I’m familiar with any of this. I’ll confirm my address, get my photo taken and away I’ll go, free to drive as I’ve been driving since I became a G level driver more than a decade ago.

Will Toronto’s reputation for terribly long commutes make others search for alternatives? Or will we continue to think only of ourselves and place the blame on a faceless other? When looking in our rear view mirrors will we catch a glimpse of ourselves and realize that we are someone else’s “other?” As I’ve found out, changing our own behaviour is extremely difficult but it can be done.

Read Grist: Why Do People In Cars Hate People On Bikes So Much?
Read Outside: Rage Against Your Machine

Photo via BikingToronto Flickr Pool

Winter Telegram Delivery