Critical Mass July '09

Toronto Critical Mass July 2009 by you.
Another month, another mass ruined by Toronto's Finest. After they crashed the party, I swiftly and unceremoniously bailed.

Memo To Members of Toronto Police Force

re: New Procedures In Effect

In light of the events of Toronto Critical
Mass on July 31st, 2009, the
Toronto Police Service is enacting new
procedures, to be undertaken by all members
of the Toronto Police Service as soon as

1. Using your service 10 tonne industrial
jack, pry your buttocks into an unclenched
2. Apply penetrating lubricant generously
to butt crack area.
3. Give the lubricant 24 hours to set in.
This will work best if the officer assumes
the inverse prone position.
4. Firmly attach a hydraulic winch to the
36+ inch oak trunk that somehow found its
way up your ass.
5. Run the winch at full power until the
blockage is dislodged.

What's better and what's worse in Austin, Texas

A warm welcome at the airport.

I've just returned from an 8-day vacation to Austin, Texas. It was a really nice place, and I'd love to go back someday. Of course, I missed Fair Toronto while I was away. Here are some comparisons between that city and Toronto.

The backside of the State Capitol Building.

The Good

Their streets there are in much better shape than ours. They don't have pervasive dug-up and filled-in patches that make cycling a much more rattling experience than need be. Nor do the roads have cracking nor are they filled with pot holes like ours are. It seems that the lack of winter makes the roads last a lot longer. Not having to replace the roads as often must be wonderful for the city's budget.

Their Transit is a lot cheaper. It's $0.7 5 for a one way trip, and $0.50 for a two-hour downtown pass. A weekly pass is only $7.

Maybe I am just used to it here, but Austin seems to exude personality much more than Toronto.

Some local colour.

The Bad

Sprawl is much worse there, and transit service is slower. Coupled with the extreme summer heat, which was near 40C for my entire stay, it's really a driver's city. This should improve when the city's light rail line starts operating this fall.

Because of the layout of the city, a much higher proportion of desirable locations are in strip malls. This isn't without its charm, but walkable communities make more sense.

Our bike network is more connected than theirs. They do have an extensive trail network.

Although beer costs under half as much, things in general are a bit pricier.

There is a casual attitude toward drinking and driving. There are no ride programs in Texas. Gas stations sell iced single beers right next to the checkout, and beer purchasers are offered a slice of lime, implying that one is expected to drink their beer while driving.

Lance Armstrong lives in Austin.


Bike to Centre Wellington

So the bike to Centre Wellington is doable. I didn't manage to bike back the next day because I stayed up too late at a wedding that I went to. The ride is fun. There's very little traffic if you leave at 6 AM. The headwind and consistent uphill course is a drag though.


Don't ride on the sidewalk

not on the sidewalk

Occassionally it is okay to ride on the sidewalk (i.e. you're 7, or 77, or you're in the 'burbs next to an arterial). Usually it's not okay.

Do you know what would be nice . . .

Ideally, Toronto would have an outdoor closed loop cycling track. This would complement the system of recreational trails by allowing for uninterrupted outdoor cycling for any distance.

The track should be fairly long but not too long that individual loops are daunting for riders with less ability. A track length of either 1 mile (1609 m), 2 km or 2 miles (3218 m) would be ideal. Using a round number is good because riders could count individual laps and not need a cycling computer to keep track of distance.

Such a track would need to be sufficiently wide to allow for a range of skill levels safely. A pace line of riders going 35 km/h should be able to coexist here with riders going 20 km/h. As such, the track should probably be either 3 or 4 bike lanes wide.

BikingToronto has a map up showing hydro corridors in Toronto. I haven't spent much time on these, but they have the reputation of being large swaths of unused land. If this were the case, they might make a good location for the proposed track. As an example, I've put together this map of a 2.4 km loop near pharmacy and Eglinton:

View An outdoor loop in a larger map

Note that I'm not proposing this as a location. The map is just to suggest what form such a venue might take. A study would have to be done to find a suitable location.


Wooden Handlebar Spotting

Wooden Handlebars

I spotted these wooden handlebars outside of Sneaky Dee's the other day. They're quite beautiful. I'm not really into this style of handlebar (preferring drops), not that I'd be able to afford them any time soon.

I wonder why they call these track bars. Track riders always use bars that allow an aerodynamic position more easily. These should be called fixie bars. It may just be another case of people calling fixies track bikes.

I'm pretty sure that these are made right here in Toronto by Alexander Beck of Fluorescent Brown.

Ingenious dog carrier

Right next to this bike, I saw an interesting dog carrier. It's just a basket with a wire cage over the top. It's a couple of fancy bikes, likely ridden together by a real-life human couple.

Film Screening: H2Oil

Last night Olivia Chow hosted a screening of H2Oil at the Bloor cinema.

Olivia Chow, MC

The film portrays the alarming story of what the tar sands are doing to the water in the Athabasca river. All sorts of run off is getting into the river and contaminating the drinking supply. The film mainly focused around how this contamination is affecting a first nations community, but also on some water bottlers (because they were friends of the film maker). The latter focus noticeably weakened the film's impact.

H2Oil Panel members discuss the tar sands


Check out "Will you be my bicycle?"

Martin Reis, co-proprietor of the Bike Lane Diary blog is currently featured in an art show at *Hotshot gallery, along with several other artists. You should check it out:

June 19 - July 3 | "Will You Be My Bicycle" Hotshot Gallery Photographs from a 'Public History of Cycling in Toronto' by Martin Reis (includes photos of Ghost Bikes and ARC memorials and more) PLUS! Artwork by Paul Johnson from his popular 'Cycling in Toronto' comic series ... HotShot Gallery | 181 Augusta (in Kensington Market)