There's No Way In Hell I'm Attending Mass Tonight

Critical mass is no fun in the winter. Riding in the winter is only enjoyable if you are going fast enough to stay warm.


Now Magazine: My Butt

Now claims that it is better to bike to work on extremely snowy days:
The reason? Fewer cars on the streets. As unplowed streets and lower visibility compelled drivers to use alternative means of transport, the roads became clear for all-season bicycles to take over.
My experience tells the opposite. I find that the marginally decreased amount of traffic doesn't make up for the various problems associated with riding through this weather. The main issue, as it is in the summer, is the lack of space for cyclists. In the summer, there is generally at least a few feet on the sides of any road where a cyclist can travel. When the roads are tracked bare, you can either bike through several inches of snow and slush (undesirable) or in one of the car tracks (also undesirable).

Today was a good day to get some reading done on the subway.


Free Parking

The Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman disguised his van as a courier van, then parked wherever he wanted. He was never ticketed.

Maybe this is why the courier companies never took my complaints about their parking in bike lanes seriously.

questioning the power of a logo in public space via


Update from Adrian Heaps' Office

I just got a reply to my letter about snow in bike lanes from Adrian Heaps' assistant Diane Hilliard:
Thank you for your note. This year, there is a pilot project to clear a specific bike lane; the Martin Goodman Trail. This 'trial run' will be reviewed by staff to allow for more designated north-south, east-west routes are added next year.

We continue to work with Transportation staff to effectively clear all roadways however, are unable to delegate specific 'bike lanes' at this point.

Thank you for your patience as we work through this.



Letter to Adrian Heaps re Snow in Bike Lanes

It has been quite an ordeal biking to work this year. The extreme cold is a serious deterrent. Being outside in -20 windchill is painful for any exposed skin.

Another serious problem is that the bike lanes haven't been cleared of snow again this year. I have noticed this on College, St. George and Harbord. For a cyclist, there are two options for dealing with the snowy lanes:
  1. One could ride through the 1" - 2" of ice, snow and slush that is in most of the bike lanes. This is a laborious way to get around. The snow has the consistency of smooth peanut butter; it coats your wheels and greatly increases rolling resistance. The dirty snow on the tire generally flies off in all directions, doing it's best to create a mess of the bike and the rider's clothes.
  2. One could ride farther into traffic. This is great when there are no cars around, but an alarmingly high portion of the motorist population is hostile to having a bike come out into "their lane." Hostile drivers will often pass cyclists and leave very little margin for error (often less than a foot). This is dangerous behaviour, especially so in the winter when it's possible for a cyclist to hit a block of ice and travel that distance sideways with little notice.
The obvious solution to the problem is to keep the bike lanes cleared of snow. One of the committees at city hall said last year that a better job would be done keeping the bike lanes cleared. Of course, it's not happening. Because of this, I decided to send an email to the head of cycling affairs at city hall, Adrian Heaps:

Hello, Councillor Heaps,

Biking to work recently has not been very easy due to the large amount of snow in the bike lanes on Harbord, College, and St. George. I understood that more effort was going to be put into keeping these lanes cleared this year.

Would you please see what can be done about having the bike lanes around town cleared?

We'll have to see if the letter makes any difference. I haven't had any luck with these in the past.

The image of a snowy bike lane is from BikePortland.org.

Awesome Annual Bike Awards

The bike awards are like the Christmas of the cycling community. They get the "family" together at a relatively depressing time of year. It was good fun.
  • I didn't like the opening band very much.
  • The Clay and Paper Theatre was great. I loved their song. I still have the chorus "Two wheels are better than four" turning over in my mental mp3 player.
  • The reverse strip tease was very well done. The enthusiastic performance of the man really made it. A high point of the night: I overheard someone yell "Put it on! . . . Don some wool!"
  • Watching the Goldsprints was fun. I was hoping to partake, but I didn't get on stage before I had to go home to bed.
The goldsprint image above is not from last night, it's from Vengeance is Love on Flickr.


Back At It, And By Christ It's Cold!

Sometime last week, the $20+ weekly expense of the TTC started to seem like an extravagance to me. Since then, I've been riding to work again, and it's not fun. I miss reading on the subway.

As for the biking, I have all the winter gear, so that the ride is doable. Unfortunately, all of the fenders and snow pants in the world won't plow the bike lanes, or convince motorists to give you a bit of space.

On a more fun note, the Bike Awards are being held tonight at the Gladstone. The awards themselves are usually insignificant, but it's a good excuse to see some of the cyclati.

Frozen bike image from Teppo.


True Improv

I was just sifting through some comments on Torontoist, when I came across this:
Is it really improv if it happens like clockwork once every month or two?
Taking every situation to an extreme for the sake of argument is pointless, as real life happens exclusively away from the extremes. Because of this, I considered taking this "improv must be spontaneous" argument to its own ridiculous extreme.

In a vacuum, little bits of matter — subatomic particles mostly — are constantly popping in and out of existence. Occasionally, enough subatomic particles pop up in the same location at the same time to create a stable atom. Even more occasionally, enough atoms forms closely enough together to form an object.

Hypothetically, if the universe lasts long enough, jillions of years into the future, a comedian will suddenly appear. This comedian will most likely appear in a cold part of deep space, far in between dead galactic superclusters, billions of light-years from the nearest remnant of a star.

This utterly spontaneous event will provide the first ever possibility of truly spontaneous improv. We can only hope that this future comedian will be prepared for the event, and spends her last 30 seconds or so before suffocating acting out some preposterous situation in the midst of the bleak and eternal darkness. Now that would be funny!


Haven't Biked To Work Yet This Year

City of slush
Originally uploaded by leepus
I have been totally unmotivated to bike all week. It doesn't help that I've started buying TTC tokens either; they have a tendency to burn miniature token holes in my pockets.

Also not helping: having to dig my bike out of the snowbank every day.

Hopefully next week we'll have some more bikeable weather.