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New data available through bike-sharing

An interesting study came out of Europe on how people use bicycles during their commutes. I wonder if our very own Bixi Toronto will be equipped to provide us with similar data that might help inform city-planning right here in TO?

Posted: December 13th, 2010
Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Nice jacket Mr. Cherry

Don Cherry, the bulldog speaks; it must be true! Like Rob Ford, he speaks forcefully and with great certainty, so he must surely be imparting wise truths on us. Funny thing about the truth, is that someone in a flashy jacket with a few well-placed strong words, can appeal massively to the masses, even while saying nothing.

So what is a pinko anyway? Does anybody born after 1960 even relate to that? Interestingly, a lot of the “pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything,” work in the downtown core, which is rife with such capitalist industries as finance and banking, which doesn’t immediately sound like a band of internationale-singing commies, does it? But, you saw it and heard it folks; Don Cherry wore pink – it must be so!

That’s alright though, Mr. Cherry probably didn’t think through his pinko comment. It just makes a good sound byte. Besides, being an old-timer, he isn’t as invested as some of us are in keeping our air clean. What does he care if we are all wearing masks outside as they do in China, ten or twenty years from now?

Interestingly this week, while Rob Ford and the Pink Panther were playing games at Toronto’s city hall, Mississauga’s Hazel MacCallion was shrewdly trying to move in on funding ear-marked for our city. If there ever was a mayor running her city hall lean on gravy, it’s mayor Hazel and now that our new mayor has opted to scrap Toronto’s LRT, Hazel is trying to convince the Provincial Government that her own city’s transit plans are shovel-ready, while ours are stamped with the anti-gravy-train-seal of Rob Ford’s boot print. Have we noticed yet that Rob Ford’s subway costs three times as much as the previously approved LRT, or do we still believe that because Ford speaks forcefully, he must be right?

Personally, while I may be disappointed with a porky-pig look alike sitting at city hall, I’m not really so worried about our city in the long run. Sure Mr. Ford may feel that he has both named and ended the so-called “war on cars.” But, here’s the thing. If the cycling citizens have failed to unite and promote a single, feasible message to convince the rest of the city that safe cycling leads to healthier cities and healthier citizens, I remain convinced that rising rates of respiratory disease, and the very finite space we have for cars will eventually wage a very different war on cars. And this one won’t be waged by pinkos. The front lines for this war will be in the lungs of children and the elderly. (Hopefully by that time, more of the city’s cyclists will have learned how to obey traffic signals and I won’t have to take the flak for some idiot who cut in front of a right turning car at the last minute, only to give the driver a near heart attack. But I digress.)

It isn’t that I feel that Rob Ford in city hall is the end of all that is good and wonderful in the city of Toronto. It is that I used to have higher esteem for the citizens of Toronto. I used to think we were forward-looking people who would prefer to meet challenges before they explode in our faces. I used to think we preferred working together to pinko-name-calling. I used to think we preferred to listen to scientists, (or my word, city planners!) and examine facts over passively believing the loud message of an entertainer.

Don’t get me wrong, Don Cherry and his pink jacket look great on hockey night in Canada. But what kind of expertise does he bring to a ceremony at city hall? Why does anyone especially care what he has to say about how to run a city? If the best he can do during his address is call people who ride bikes, pinkos, maybe he is wasting our time. He gets the microphone plenty during hockey games. Let’s keep him, his snappy jacket and bulldog mouth to verbally abusing NHL players and Ron MacLean, in between periods.

But one more thing, while we are talking about the jacket, Mr. Cherry, where did you find that stunning thing? My hope is to get one by springtime, when it will go just great with a pair of hot pink pedal pushers.

Posted: December 8th, 2010
Filed under: Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

Bixi’s headway in Toronto!

Bixi is looking more and more like a sure bet in Toronto! Have you signed up yet? The goal is to get 1000 memberships by November 30th. They definitely look well on their way to getting there!

Trajectory of Bixi Memberships

1000 Memberships by November 30 looks likely!

Posted: October 2nd, 2010
Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Anybody but Ford; our civic duty.

Rob Ford bears a striking resemblance to Peter Griffin

For a few choice quotes, check out

I have never liked “anybody but X campaigns”. They seem devoid of  information on whom we might choose instead and what makes the alternative better. (Although, when Newfoundland’s Danny Williams did it, it was pretty good. It’s just funny when one of the very members of the X party, hoists up an “anybody but X” flag.)

That said, the candidates I might propose in lieu of Mr. Ford, are Mr. Smitherman or Mr. Pantalone. Joe Pantalone has been the cyclists’ favourite for a while as he seems to be the candidate most in support of bike lanes. On the other hand, latest photo opps have Smitherman signing up for a Bixi Bike membership.

Ford, meanwhile describes a “war on cars” happening in the city. He feels that Toronto streets are for cars and not for bicycles.

While this election is not riding only on transportation, it is important to remember that we have an increasing obesity problem in this country. Cycling (and safe cycling infrastructure) remain part of the solution to that problem. Solutions to the obesity problem lead to greater quality of life and greater life expectancy among Canadians.

Further, the beauty in the bike as a mode of transportation is in having the option to get your workout at the same time as your commute. (I might note that good cycling infrastructure is a fabulous 3-in-one deal: it eases gridlock, helps to decrease Canadian obesity, while providing less wear & tear on our roads thereby requiring less costly, long-term upkeep.) Ford, who claims to be very business-minded, somehow misses the beautiful efficiency in this equation. While it is true that with Ford as Mayor, the city’s production of entertaining satire might go way up, let us also remember that by posing himself in opposition to something as sensible as bike lanes, he’s limiting our options in fighting a serious health problem in this country, and a serious gridlock problem in our city. Mr. Ford has every right to adopt whatever lifestyle and whatever girth he wants. But please don’t let him legislate yours and mine. Get out there and vote!

October 25th is the day we are called upon to do our municipal civic duty. Do you know if you are on the voter’s list? Here’s how you can check!

Posted: September 27th, 2010
Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

French media covers Bells on Bloor

Toronto’s French language newspaper, L’Express de Toronto, covered last weekend’s Bells on Bloor event. Journalist Vincent Muller covered the event and his article is translated here.

LExpress de Toronto covers Bells on Bloor

Cyclists paraded on Bloor street last Saturday, between High Park and Queen's Park, demanding bike lanes on Bloor.

Bike Lanes On Bloor?

The 4th Bells on Bloor event was held last Saturday, days after the announcement that charges were dropped against former Attorney General Michael Bryant, who was accused of having caused the death of a cyclist last August. Close to 2000 cyclists were on the annual parade route, prancing down Bloor street, between High Park and Queen’s Park. By it, they hope to bring awareness to the importance of creating bike lanes on this vital Toronto artery.

Though the date is a fluke, the fact that Bells on Bloor happened just days after the announcement that charges were dropped against Michael Bryant and the fact that the accident happened on Bloor street, gives the event a particular dimension. The death of [Darcy] Allen Sheppard last August, was without a doubt on the minds of a number of cyclists, like Albert Koehl, co-founder of Bells on Bloor.

Though this lawyer who uses his bicycle daily downtown admits to not knowing all the details of the affair, he is convinced that if the city put up the necessary means into the construction of bike lanes, this altercation might have been avoided.

“This incident gets people talking about the problems faced by city cyclists, but there are a lot more who are killed that we don’t talk about, because the circumstances were more banal”, he laments. “A few months ago, a cyclist was killed in Mississauga, and there was only a little paragraph about it in the newspaper.”

According to him, the city proves its hypocrisy through announcements for cyclists, like Bike Month, which began yesterday. “Politicians speak of the advantages of the bicycle, but don’t do their part; in other Canadian cities like Montreal and Vancouver or in Europe, where we see significant changes. But not in Toronto.”

Insisting on the importance of facilitating the movement of bicycles on Bloor, Albert Koehl remembers a study undertaken by the city 20 years ago, which highlighted the importance of creating bike lanes on this central line, on which according to him, 15% of users are cyclists.

“20 years later, there is still nothing, while the number of cyclists is increasing. What’s more, the city is far from the objective set in 2001 which was to put in place 500km of bike lanes by 2010. Today the city barely has 100km!”

The objective of this parade was to celebrate the bicycle all while putting out the message in a playful manner, with cyclists of all ages and all walks of life accompanied by musicians along the parade route.

Looking at the number of people who participated in the event and the growing number of cyclists in the city, the potential is there. “Torontonians have done their part, it is up to the city to pass the act now,” insists Albert Koehl.

Posted: June 2nd, 2010
Filed under: Translation of something cool | 1 Comment »

Is Quebec Canada’s Cycling Nirvana?

Where is the best and most bike-friendly part of Canada, in your opinion?

So far, my vote goes to la belle province, (a.k.a. Quebec)! Look at the ground covered by their bike trails!
Vélo Québec

Clearly, we Torontonians need to send a reconnaissance team to check it out and get something going that cool here. I know we have the Bruce trail, which I quite enjoy… but how cyclable is the Bruce? Ever try to ride through the wooded parts up in the peninsula with gear on the back?

Posted: April 30th, 2010
Filed under: Cool and bike related elsewhere | 6 Comments »

Deux problèmes, une solution.

J’ai beaucoup aimé le commentaire récent Two Problems, One Solution de Stephen da Cambra, sur notre réseau de cyclistes, et donc j’ai tenté faire une petite traduction approximative:

Deux problèmes, une solution.

Des fois, quand je suis pris dans la circulation, je pense à combien les encombrements peuvent être mauvais à Los Angeles et je suis content de ne pas avoir à les endurer. Lors des visites à la ville de New York, je me demande combien ça doit être affreux d’être pris à l’heure d’affluence, avec un nombre limite d’issues pour sortir et rentrer sur Manhattan. Dès lors, c’était un vrai choc d’apprendre que la durée moyenne de la migration alternante à Toronto a dépassé celles de New York et de Los Angeles (elle est pire aussi que celles de Londres, de Chicago et (!) de Montréal.)

Ma fierté torontoise a encore été dégonflée quand j’ai lu que les Torontois font moins d’activité physique que les autres Canadiens. Une étude démontre que 57 % parmi nous, de 12 ans et plus, restent inactifs pendant nos heures de loisir (est-ce que le blogage compte comme loisir?) Et il paraît qu’on devient plus inactif : dans les quatre dernières années, notre inactivité a crû de six pour cent. Selon le rapport, la barrière à l’activité physique mentionnée le plus souvent, c’était, un manque de temps. Donc voilà, que nous avons la migration alternante la plus longue au monde, et nous sommes les Canadiens les moins actifs (ce qui veut dire que nous sommes en pire état que (!) Montréal.)

Nous passons plus de temps dans nos voitures et nous avons moins de temps à consacrer à  une activité physique. Mais attendez ! Et si on réduisait la durée de notre migration alternante ? On aurait alors, plus de temps pour notre activité physique. Chouette !

Si on avait les 4 billions $ pour l’infrastructure du transport en commun que le gouvernement provincial détient, et si on atteignait les objectifs du plan vélo, vieux de dix ans maintenant, on verrait peut être les gens sortir de leurs voitures et se servir du transport en commun, et de leurs vélos. La ville de New York a bien démontré que si on construit de meilleures pistes cyclables, on s’en sert.

Le fait simplement de se servir du transport en commun, augmente l’activité physique de façon exponentielle : on marche pendant cinq minutes à l’arrêt de bus, au lieu de pendant seulement cinq secondes à la voiture.

De plus, on aurait moins de voitures sur la route, ce qui veut dire que les bus, les tramways et les vélos pourront se déplacer plus rapidement, diminuant encore la durée de la migration alternante ce qui encouragerait les gens à plus utiliser [tous ces moyens de transport] et MON DIEU ! C’est une spirale croissante enviable : la navette en ville devient plus rapide, et on voit une augmentation en activité physique.

Hmm, tout ce dont on a besoin, ce sont les 4 billions $ déjà affectés aux fins particulières, et les objectifs du plan vélo, déjà âgé de dix ans.

Bizarrement, malgré les bénéfices de ces initiatives, un manque de courage et de leadership les étouffe. Heureusement, il y a quelques signes positives, tels que l’approbation (à date), d’un système de bicyclettes publiques pour T.O.

Nous avons presque rattrapé à (!) Montréal.

Posted: April 19th, 2010
Filed under: Translation of something cool | 6 Comments »