Toronto’s Curbside Cycle to Give Don Cherry a Custom Bicycle

Via Curbside Cycle blog:

Dear Don Cherry,

We at Curbside Cycle are hoping you will lend an ear, an eye and an open mind.

Long ago American diplomats to China used to judge the prosperity of that country by the amount of cars on the road. Today, any city driver knows that the original ideals of autonomy and freedom that fueled the automotive industry have been replaced with frustration, rage, and gridlock. Prosperity can mean many things, and as drivers sit angrily in their vehicles haltingly crawling through the city streets, quality of life can feel less than prosperous.

You don’t know us, but we are an independent business – the independent business that introduced Toronto to the ultimate object of real prosperity, the Dutch bicycle, which transports its riders with dignity and swish of fashionable flair that looks fantastic with a snappy suit.  Judging by your eclectic wardrobe, by this time, your ears should be perked.  We’re probably the people that gave urban Toronto that image of the left-wing latte-sipping bicyclist. Our bicycles are probably not best suited to the suburbanite bicycle hobbyist that voted Ford into power; you see, for us bikes just aren’t political. Like a bed or toaster oven they are so embedded into our lifestyle, they become part of the background.  We aren’t using them to crusade, we are using them to take kids to school, to get to work (happy and refreshed instead of angry), get groceries, and explore this fantastic city of ours.

Mr.Cherry, the fact is that if you live downtown, bicycles are simply the best way to get around. They reduce car congestion, helping those who must drive do so faster and easier. Bicycles make a great deal of fiscal sense, keeping the population fit and healthy and reducing costs all over the map.

The stereotypes you are parroting have changed. Yes, many people who want a change ride a bicycle (you can call them left-wing pinkos but they are fighting for a cause, just as you do in your work with children’s charities), but many other cyclists simply do so because IT MAKES SENSE. They are as politically attached to their bicycles as they are to their toaster ovens. They have Bay Street jobs, watch hockey and some even voted for Rob Ford.  People ride because cars can no longer keep their promise of freedom and autonomy, the bicycle can.  You see, we don’t like the gravy train anymore than those folks in “Ford country”, but you may be surprised by how many Ford supporters ride around each day by bicycle. In other words, the stereotype isn’t particularly helpful and certainly doesn’t unify a city in desperate need of a diverse transportation solution.

So we’d like to take a little egg off your face and allow you to (literally) do a bit of backpedalling. We’d like to give you a bicycle. In a blushing shade of ironic pink, this bike will be customized to your own remarkable style. The bike will be a Pashley from the United Kingdom, a company that has been producing real city bikes for 80 years, and the details will be custom painted by Noah Rosen of Velocolour.  We’re asking the city to choose their favorite Don Cherry pattern (below) whether it be be a Plaid, a floral, or what-have-you. And we’d like you to come by, pick it up and person, and go for a latte with us.

Oh, and you can invite your friend Rob, too.

Kind regards,

Curbside Cycle

Give Curbside Cycle a hand and help them choose the colour for Don’s custom ride here.

Facts Behind the New Vertical Stagger Bike Racks

This past year a new bicycle rack design began landing on Toronto streets. You’ll find these racks in the bicycle shelter at the St. Clair West TTC subway stop and scattered around the Evergreen Brick Works awaiting permanent installation.

Made by Peak Racks, a San Luis Obispo based company, I really like how these racks separate locked bicycles keeping them from scraping against each other. Their staggered “up and down” design is to allow for a more efficient use of space and the thin, but sturdy, metal contact points make using smaller u-locks far easier than with post and ring bicycle racks.

The racks are made from recycled materials and I look forward to seeing more of these across the city.

Learn more at Peak Racks.

Winter Bicycle Riding Tips From The UK

Bike By

While we’ve really only experienced a few days of winter-ish temperatures here in Toronto we all know that snow and constant cold are right around the corner.

Whether this is your first or your fiftieth winter on your bicycle this article from the Guardian offers up some excellent winter cycling tips that are applicable to Toronto as well:

• It’s natural, when you’re a bit anxious about conditions, to ride leaning forward and tense, with your hands on the brakes. But try to relax the hands and arms, and keep your weight back.

• As in any slippery conditions (such as very wet roads), do your braking early and as much as possible in a straight line. Definitely only use the front brake in this way; otherwise, use the back brake more. And you can also use the back brake to test the amount of adhesion you have.

• Try to steer “with your hips” rather than your hands: in other words, make directional changes progressively and with your whole mass on the bike, rather than by sudden sharp steering inputs at the handlebars.

• As snow gets grooved by car tyres and refreezes, you can encounter rutted tracks and momentary “tramlining” effects. Deal with this by allowing the front wheel of the bike to go where it wants; again, keep your weight back, stay relaxed and don’t be too ambitious about your speed.

• Mostly, on British roads, the snow is cleared or turns to slush quickly, but beware of transitions from snowy side streets to clear roads: this is where you’re most likely to encounter ice or tricky ruts.

Read the full article here: Tips on how to cycle in snow

GI Joe BMXer photo by LexnGer

Check Out the New Products in the BikingToronto Shop

I Bike T.O. HoodieI Bike T.O. Baseball Shirt

The BikingToronto Shop has just been updated with new shirts for men, women, children and babies.

The profits from all purchases go to Toronto cycling-related charities.

Visit the shop here: BikingToronto Shop
Learn more about ibiketo.org, the charitable arm of BikingToronto, here.

I Bike T.O. Kids ShirtI Bike T.O. Women's V-neck

(Click on any of the images here to learn more about each product)

Bike Polo in Toronto

Covet: YNOT Bags Made in Toronto

Here’s a fifth addition to the four cycling bags I recently “coveted.”

Based in Toronto, YNOT Cycle, run by Tom Mosher, has recently expanded to a new location and continues cranking out custom bags for local riders. From the massive, carry-everything-you-own Cobra to the roll-top and room for plenty Gulper (pictured above) Tom and his team are creating functional, durable and downright good looking bags.

YNOT Cycle bags and toe straps are available at Bikes on Wheels in Kensington Market and from the new YNOT Cycle space on Dupont (easily accessible from the West Toronto Railpath).

More info at Tom Mosher’s blog: The Moshpit
And the official YNOT Cycle web site.

How to Use a Bike Box – City of Toronto PSA

Nice heels on the woman riding the white bike with the front rack! Certainly would be approved by my girlfriend.

Via Cyclometer November Newsletter

City of Toronto Sharrows PSA

Daniel Egan, Manager Cycling Infrastructure and Programs Transportation Services shares information on what sharrows are and how they can be used by cyclists in Toronto.

This same information can also be found on the City of Toronto’s web site here: Sharrows FAQ
Video via City of Toronto Cycling on Facebook.

Recent Upgrade to Nexus Redline 8-Speed Hub

By the spring of 2009 I had given up my car and believed that it was simply going to take me 2 hours, each way, to get to work and back by transit. To me, there was no other way.

When I purchased a Marin Hamilton 29er I thought I’d found a simple, sturdy bike that would take me to and from my girlfriend’s apartment on the other side of town. After spending 4 hours of my day on transit, taking another trip by subway and streetcar was of no interest to me, so why not bike I said. Turns out the answer to that question would open up a much larger world for me. I found an escape from the restricting timetable of transit and I found a new obsession.

After many thousand kilometres the easy-going singlespeed setup of my Marin took me to work and back and recently, on 100+ km rides to my hometown. Now that I work from home my commute needs have changed. My Marin is now my one and only piece of exercise equipment (but you’re more than a ThighMaster to me, bike). My commute is as long as I want it to be as I search for new mobile offices around Toronto, hopefully spending part of my day in a warm space with tasty espresso and wifi. You see, I simply couldn’t give up commuting, that’s how much I loved my morning and evening rides to and from the office.

As I started to venture further and further from the city on my weekend rides I began to feel limited by a singlespeed. Just one more gear option could come in handy on longer climbs or descents. So I began searching for options and with 70+ bicycle shops in Toronto, well the options were plenty.

I test rode touring bikes, road bikes, cyclocrossers and everything in between. I tried out every frame material I could and started to enjoy the feel of drop bars. There are hundreds of beautiful, functional and simply awesome bicycles to be found here in town. Of course, many of the bikes that offered a better frame and components than my existing bicycle cost $1,000+, which when you’re looking for quality is certainly reasonable, but when you’re working on a budget like mine, well, they quickly become out of reach.

Knowing that I really enjoy the ride and position of the Marin Hamilton 29er I started looking at conversion options. With horizontal, rear-facing dropouts the Marin frame would make adding a derailleur challenging (though not impossible) so I began reading about internally geared hubs and the leading manufacturers; Sturmey Archer, Rohloff and Shimano.

With horizontal dropouts, accommodating one of these hubs on the Marin would be relatively simple. So I decided upon the Shimano Nexus Redline 8-speed hub due to the positive reviews online and middle of the road pricing. I paired the hub with a Mavic A 319 rim and chose a Shimano twist shifter.

After one week and a couple hundred kilometres I’m really enjoying the gearing options of the 8-speed hub. Being so used to a singlespeed I find myself sticking to just a few of the gearings, often forgetting that I can switch to higher or lower gears. However, when I do remember the options make the few hills on my daily rides far more enjoyable, both riding up and down.

I took the Marin out for a 35 km rain ride recently and the hub performed flawlessly. Once dry there was no change in performance as well. The hub does add around 3 lbs of weight to the rear of the bike. It is noticeable but doesn’t affect the ride.

I offer many thanks to Martin at Hoopdriver who helped me decide on what parts I’d get and for doing a great job on the installation.

You can learn more about Shimano Nexus parts here.

Be sure to visit the Hoopdriver web site or stop by the shop on College just east of Dufferin.

Visible Hands for Low Light Commutes

Donald “Go-by-bike” Wiedman, founder of BikesandTransit.com, has created a unique Facebook event that suggests Toronto cyclists wear bright orange (or yellow, or green) gloves to increase their signal visibility.

Many cycling (or skiing, or snowboarding, or just general winter) gloves are black. And black hands combined with low light on morning and afternoon fall commutes makes for invisible hands.

With bright gloves your hands become far more visible, and to go along with the visibility Donald Wiedman suggests a few creative signals to use in addition to the basics:

STICK OUT YOUR LEFT ARM, SHOWING THE BACK OF YOUR HAND
- to signal you’re about to turn or veer left,
- or bend your elbow and hand up, to signal you’re turning right.
* but you were already doing that anyway right?

POINT TO THE GROUND ON YOUR LEFT
- to remind distracted approaching drivers that there is a little bike lane white line painted there, under their tire,
- that there is too little space for them to squeeze between you, a parked car and a moving streetcar,
- and to let them know that if their left tire is on the inside of the streetcar track, then their right mirror is – by your calculations – about to pass less than six inches from your handlebar!

POINT TO THE GROUND WITH THREE FINGERS EXTENDED
- to remind motorists that they should give a good three feet when they pass a cyclist (according to the Driver’s Handbook – that is nestled there, unread in their vehicle’s glove compartment).

HOLD YOUR ARM OUT, ANGLED DOWN, SHOWING THEM YOUR PALM
- to remind all why-are-you-accelerating motorists that they should be slowing down, not speeding up, when they’re about to pass you.

SHAKE YOUR ARM, HAND AND GLOVE UP AND DOWN, VIGOROUSLY
- to remind dangerously approaching drivers in huge SUVs, vans and trucks that, if they drive with their fender so close to you, then their mirror is about to knock you (and your little styrofoam helmet) off your bike.

GIVE THEM THE THUMBS UP!
- if they’ve slowed, pulled out, and passed you with the decency and respect all cyclists in this town deserve.

Get the gloves at your local hardware store (but be sure to check with your local bike shop first as they may have gloves in colours other than black) and get pedaling with your far more visible hands.

While I haven’t tried these myself, check out these reflective safety gloves at Home Depot, not bad for $20.

Check out the Facebook event here: Let’s Try Biking With Orange Florescent Gloves On!