Bells on Bloor - 2009

This years Bells on Bloor ride was a load of fun. The city'll be installing a little over 4 Km of bike lanes on Bloor this year (supposedly), and they are doing a study on doing bike lanes on the whole thing. We're making progress.

If you're interested in really cool things, check out the big version of my stitched image of the large group of cyclists at Queen's Park.

Say it with Flowers

Say it with Flowers
Originally uploaded by mowglibear


Critical Mass (of police) May '09

Unfortunately, Mass was besieged by police again this month. They only seem to come out to bug us in the summer months.

They don't like fun.

I overheard one of them justifying their party-poopery saying that they were just enforcing the law. If so, they should then have given us all tickets for tail gating, and noise violations. The goal wasn't to enforce the law, but to discourage cycling advocacy. What else is new?

Other than the preponderance of negative Nellies, it was a great Mass, with tonnes of energy and hundreds of folks out to have a safe, respectful good time. Too bad that Dredd & Co. showed up.


The Solution to the Parking Problem

While looking up images for my last post, I found this. This is clearly the solution to the destructible post and ring problem.

Photo by Auntie P.

Post and ring process

A few weeks back, I faxed in a post and ring request form. I live on a block with a bike shop, a coffee shop, some other stores, and 3 post and rings. I generally have at least one side of one of these in use. It's a good spot for more post and rings.

I hadn't heard back from the city, so I Pedestrian and Cycling Infrastructure Unit at city hall a ring. The line is set up so that you can only leave a message, so I did so. I heard back from someone there within a couple of business days. He said that there is a backlog on post and ring installation because they found out how easy they are to break. He said that there had been several requests from my block, and that it was possible that they'd be installed this year.

A week later I got a letter in the mail that said about the same thing as what I was told on the phone.

The process seems to be pretty smooth, but slow.

Post and Ring image by Richard Drdul.


Deserving praise

I'll often go onto Craigslist (I hope to find an affordable tandem on there some day). Today there was an interesting post about a bike thief vigilante:
To the owner of the red velosport locked to a tree at yonge/ college.

Your wheel got ripped off today, I chased the guy down and got it back. I tried to screw it back on as best as I could but you may want to take a wrench to it before you ride again.

Happy Riding!
...Another reason to always carry a #15 wrench.

Whoever did this good deed deserves praise. Bike thieves act with impunity in this city. This happened right across the street from police headquarters.

Photo of Bay and College by Mike Stich.


University Avenue in 1906

A year or so ago, I told a friend about the idea I had for University Avenue. He pulled out a book and showed me the image above (notice, as he pointed out, the cyclist on the sidewalk). This photo is from the Toronto Archive, and was posted to Flickr by Stephen James. It looks lovely, and shows a time when University Avenue was different than it is today.


A Better University Avenue

University Avenue has some issues. Two that I am concerned with are:
  1. There shouldn't be a two stage crossing right at the edge of Queen West. Being forced into the decision to dash across and skirt an amber light, or spend 5 minutes crossing the street is not pedestrian friendly.
  2. The linear park that runs the length of the "grand avenue" portion is relatively inaccessible, essentially being cordoned off from pedestrian access by traffic.
A solution to both of these problems would be to have half of the road turned into park. The other half of the road would be turned into a regular 4 lane arterial. The plan would create some much needed green space in one of the cities gloomier corridors.

University Avenue is closed a lot, be that for protests, construction or parades. It's been repeatedly shown that the city can exist without this gash running into its heart.

The originals of the crudely photoshopped images above are from wyliepoon, r.d.i., and The Rocketeer.


Why not e-bikes?

There's been some disapproving murmuring within the patchwork of the cyclists in Toronto. People are concerned about e-bikes. There are several points against:
  1. They weigh more and are faster, and thus are more dangerous in a collision.
  2. They take more energy to produce than a normal bike.
  3. The batteries aren't eco-friendly.
  4. People don't use them as power assisted bikes. The pedals come off very easily. Even young able bodied people do this.
Argument 1 is true. The more momentum is involved in a collision, the more damage is likely to be done. It's physics. The only problem is that by this logic, faster heavier riders are as much, or more, of a safety concern as someone on an e-bike.

For example, I weigh almost 200 pounds, and my bike another 25. I was going 48 km/h on College yesterday. If I'd hit someone at that speed, I would have been a lot more likely to kill or injure than a 150 pound person on a 100 pound e-bike going 32 km/h.

By the same argument as 1 and 2 use, it could be argued that recumbent bikes and velocars should not be legal: they are both faster and weigh more than a normal wedgie bike. Without legislating against heavier riders and certain kinds of bikes, it would be hard to make a law against e-bikes on the grounds of argument 1.

Arguments 2 and 3 are both true, but not if you compare to alternatives. The alternatives to e-bikes are cars, buses, street cars and subways. Each of these requires batteries, and each takes more raw material to produce than an e-bike. It would be interesting to compare an e-bikes footprint to the shared footprints of various modes of public transit per person, but it's pretty obvious that an e-bike is better for the environment than a car.

Argument 4 is surely true. I've seen people with no pedals using e-bikes in bike lanes. But there's no law that says a bike has to be operated with pedals on. It takes less than a minute to take the pedals off any bike.

There are a lot of people in society who want to get around town in something less resource intensive than a car, but don't want to bike for whatever reason. An e-bike is the obvious solution for these folks.

The arguments that e-bike opponents make are all true, but they don't form grounds for banning e-bikes, either from bike lanes or in general. I understand not liking e-bikes for aesthetic or environmental reasons, but to suggest that they don't belong on our roads is wrong.

The big recumbent image at the top is by Mark Stosberg. The smaller velocar image is by Björn Söderqvist.


From Lillian H. Smith to the Toronto Reference Library - A Timelapse

Timelapse photography from a bike on the streets of downtown Toronto. The ride was from Lillian H. Smith to the Toronto Reference Library.

Biking is really great. It always inspires me to do creative things.

The music is by Gustav Mahler: Symphony Number 2.


"Good riddance"

This morning, right outside of my office, lying in the gutter, is the corpse of a raccoon. I always stop to take a look at roadkill; I'm interested in seeing what kind of an animal it was, so I have a better idea of what kinds of animals we have living around us in the urban environment.

This particular raccoon looked fairly young. As far as auto-assisted animal deaths go, his wasn't too gruesome. The only signs of violence were a curd of coagulated blood sticking out of his mouth, and a slightly unnatural twist to his spine.

I only paused to look at the body for a second, then went into my office. As the door closed, a passing perambulator said, "Good riddance," loudly enough so that I'd hear.

The speaker could have just been a heartless bastard, trivializing another's upset for a dead animal. They could also be speaking honestly, and actually hoping that raccoons are exterminated. Reality remains: the urban environment is and always has been an environment. We shouldn't strive for an abiotic utopia, as none could ever possibly exist. If the raccoons don't occasionally go through your green bin, the freegans will.

Raccoons are as much a part of our existence in cities as we city-dwellers ourselves are.

The pictured raccoon, very much alive, was photographed by Leanne Eisen.