Wright Night

The Bloor is showing two Edgar Wright films, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz this Saturday. Edgar Wright himself is hosting the event, and they will also be showing whatever exists of Don't. I'll be there dawg.


A Velodrome May Be Built in Hamilton

As part of the plans for Toronto hosting the 2015 pan-am games, Hamilton may get a velodrome. Rob Roberts writes, in The National Post:
Hamilton is slated for a ... permanent velodrome (which almost got cut for a lack of funding), but city councillors in Steeltown are balking at spending money on a marquee sporting event in tough economic times. They vote next week on participation.
I had selfishly been hoping that Toronto would get the velodrome. On the other hand, they could have just held the indoor bike races in the veolodrome in London; at least Hamilton is a bit closer.

More realistically, I'd probably never use the velodrome. Biking to Hamilton sounds nice though.

Photo of the Manchester Velodrome by johnthescone.


Icycle 2009

The Icycle races were held last night. Watching ice bike racing, a lot of people are like someone who goes to a hockey game mostly to see the fights. By this, I mean that they're mostly there to see people fall down. That's when people cheer the loudest.

The people who won the races were all folks with pretty high end bikes and appeared to be dedicated cyclists, until the rubber tire race, when a guy on an old beater seemed to have won, which is awesome.


AGO Redone, But...

So the AGO has been renovated, but forget about that because I have much better news.

While waiting for the 6 PM free AGO admission (Wednesdays), I stopped in at Mission Burrito across the street (on McCaul). It was great. Here are the high points:
  • The sweet potato burrito costs the same as a regular bean and cheeser.
  • It tastes great.
  • It's not too expensive!
One the downside, the large burrito is about as big as a small burrito as Big Fat, and they don't toast the burritos.

Mission is now in my top 3 favourite burrito parlours in Toronto.

Here is The List of the best burrito places in Toronto:
  1. Big Fat
  2. Burrito Bros
  3. Mission
  4. The McDonald's owned place at Yonge and Dundas, Chipotle
  5. The burrito place out on the Danforth
  6. The chain that has a location at College and Grace
  7. The place across from the ROM that is close to being horrible.
Burritos happen to be excellent cycling food. The unofficial figure is 53 miles per burrito.

The AGO interior photo is by wvs.


"Urban Goddess: Jane Jacobs Reconsidered" on TVO's The View From Here

Last night TVO premiered a documentary about Jane Jacob's theories, discussed in a modern context. The documentary "Urban Goddess: Jane Jacobs Reconsidered" discussed whether her theories are still relevant in modern city planning. I was disappointed to see that the documentary focused primarily on the debate surrounding new developments in Toronto and New York rather than looking to the future.

All global societies are faced with the potential of a coming energy shortage due to peak oil. Some societies are much more prepared than this for others. It is prudent to plan to be prepared for scenarios like these.

Energy use affects every facet of our lives, from heating, to transportation to food usage. In the extreme scenario, food may become much more scarce with the increase of price of fertilizers derived from crude oil. Meanwhile, transporting food or even driving to work could become cost prohibitive.

Walkable mixed use communities appear to be an effective inoculation against some of the issues posed by energy shortage. For example:
  1. Heating: multi-unit dwellings like apartments, condominiums and even row houses are in general more efficient to heat that separated houses.
  2. Food: cutting down on urban sprawl means that less viable farm land is used for housing. This is especially true in Greater Toronto, where on an almost daily basis more of what is arguably the best farm land on the planet is devoted to new subdivisions.
  3. Transportation: One of the legs that the theory rests on is walkability. This method of transport is the least affected by energy shortages. Walkability also generally means bikability.
In light of these points, Jacobsian planning should not be dismissed as a crutch of NIMBYist debate. Her theories offer cities a more stable future.

You can see the Jacobs doc again on TVO Sunday, February 22 - 10:37 PM and February 25 at 01:02 AM.


A Movie Theatre is not a Dance Hall

Last night I went to see a movie in Theatre 1 of the Scotiabank Theatre at 10:15. Throughout the entire movie there was a bass dance music beat. This was especially noticeable and disruptive during the more quiet scenes.

It's really annoying paying $12.50 to see a movie, only to find that the theatre isn't very well sound proofed. The management of the cinema should either invest in a proper sound proofing, or not show movies in that particular theatre so late at night.

Image from Raptortheangel.


The Bike Lanes Are Finally Cleared!

The recent warm weather was great. Not only did it cure me from what I (not a doctor) would call "Seasonal Effectiveness Disorder," but it cleared up all of the ice out of the bike lanes.

Motorists rejoice! Your parking spaces are back!

Image from Devon Meunier on Flickr.


In defense of staying downtown

Today's Eye has an interesting story about mental barriers people enact that prevent them from experiencing their city. I disagree with this assessment. The author, Shawn Micallef writes:
The worst is an often-heard West Queen West hipster sentiment that goes something like “I never go north of Bloor, there is nothing there.”
This is obviously not the case. Of course there is something North of Bloor street. The only problem is that it is relatively inaccessible.

Yesterday on Spacing Wire, Dylan Reid posted an interesting map showing the perceived pedestrian experience of a place. It is an interesting concept. I've made a similar map, posted above, which shows my overall impression of an area. The colors represent the pedestrian experience combined with the utility of the area, if a place doesn't do very well in one of the categories, it is marked as red or yellow.

With regards to the argument in Eye, a map acts as a good argument. As a pedestrian and cyclist foremost, and transit user when necessary, I'll admit that there are likely green areas on the map north of Bloor, or off the map. Mount Pleasant Village would be one on my map, so would a lot of The Danforth. The problem with this is that I almost never go to these places.

These are far flung locations to me, since I can't walk to them in an hour. They have a prohibitive transport cost compared to the downtown locations, where green areas are packed in very tightly and often abut one another.

This doesn't really refute Micallef's argument. He admits that he likes the journey aspect of travelling across town. I think it is a tedious waste of time.


Downtown Relief Line

Excuse my bar-napkin drawing of the new subway line, obviously inspired by the downtown relief line post at spacing.

The city has decided to look at putting in a new subway line on the East end, presumably after the transit city plans are all done. Neither plan offers transit improvement to those living downtown. My inner cycling advocate has trouble seeing either plan coming to fruition within their proposed time frames.

Every Torontonian considers "downtown" to be something different. It's generally something like "South of Bloor and between Bathurst and Sherbourne." To me, there is no dividing line, but the areas most well served by subways are definitely more urban. Hopefully running a subway line up through the East end will help to intensify the area. Still, it is unlikely that it will ever be consistently worthwhile to go east of Bay st. during my lifetime.


Giant Oil Slicks, As Seen From Space

There's an interesting photo on the NASA Earth Observatory today. It shows oil Slicks as seen From space. It would be interesting to know how much oil run-off it takes to make one of these streaks, several of which are over 50km in length.