Monthly Archives: December 2011

Bikes outside restaurants

One of the pleasing aspects of cycling down Harbord Street is seeing the restaurants and Cafés that make their cycling patrons feel welcome.

It’s not something to take for granted. Last night I had dinner at Acadia restaurant on Clinton Street.

A. and I pulled up on our bikes, locked them to the fence in front of the restaurant, and as we were entering, a wait staff came toward us and opened the door. I thought “Wow, welcoming place.” In fact, it was just to tell us not to lock our bikes on the fence. “Why?” I asked, “I could understand if there were tables in front and people were sitting here, but the whole area is vacant.” The reply was: “The boss doesn’t like it!”

Acadia Restaurant with Bicycle

A. convinced me not to complain, since we were there for a friend’s birthday party. So, I walked around the corner to College Street, found a vacant post, and came back to a meal which was actually pretty good. Good food (though not fabulous, and not quite up to the price), and knowledgeable, helpful wait staff.

Pity that the message sent to diners is DON’T arrive by bike! We don’t like cyclists here!

Back to Harbord Street. What a pleasure to find places like Terrazza with its innovative Bicycle Park.

Or the Sam James Coffee Bar

Urban Repair Squad Strikes Again

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0. From

You may not have heard of the Urban Repair Squad, but you may have seen their repairs.

Their mission statement is

  • To encourage bicycling as an antidote to the poison that is car culture.
  • To actively construct a positive future of what urban transportation could be by installing it NOW.
  • To encourage citizens to reclaim ownership and stewardship of their urban space.
  • To employ the concept of Critical Mass; encouraging cyclists to bond together and more safely take back their rightful place on the public roadways.
  • Your city is broken. Don’t wait for the bureaucrats to fix it.

The latest upgrade to our sad streets was performed at the site of Jenna Morrison’s death.

I can’t describe the Dundas & Sterling action better than Lloyd Alter of, so let me just refer you to what he has to say.

James Schwartz has also put up a very comprehensive article covering the latest bike lanes in Toronto on The Urban Country.

Rare Bike Signal Spotted on Eglinton

Eglinton and Allen

In many European cities you can see one of these at every major intersection. In Toronto you have to go a long way to find one. This remarkably rare sighting can be made on the north side where the Allen meets Eglinton. But… sshhhh! If the Ford camp hears about it, it won’t last another week.

Cycling Degree Zero

Zero Bike

Makita and Tsuzaki's Zero Bike

In 1988, Makota Makita and Hiroshi Tsuzaki, who were both students at the Los Angeles Art Center College of Design, produced a bicycle prototype aimed at reducing weight, friction and drag to an absolute minimum. At the same time, they wanted to produce an object of beauty. The ZERO bike replaces the standard central hubs with magnetically suspended wheel rims. This eliminates hub friction and drag from air moving through the spokes. The pedals also propel the wheels magnetically, eliminating the chain, which is one of the most friction-causing elements in the standard bicycle. The principle of the hubless wheel was first developed by the Italian engineer Franco Sbarra, and used initially for motorcycles. Makita and Tsuzaki combined this with magnetic superconductivity, the principle that suspends high-speed rail vehicles.

U.N. Climate Change Summit Global Day of Action

Not all cyclists are on their wheels because they are worried about climate change. But it’s one of the reasons I bike.

Oh, dear! Now that I’ve put that down on the screen, I see how futile it looks. A drop in the ocean. Bland conscience stroking.

Then again, maybe it’s important not just to imagine alternative lifestyles, but to act in a way that shows these lifestyles are viable.

On the other hand, I could be investing in an armoured Hummer, building a bunkered house in a gated community and stockpiling weapons. It’s just, that’s not the world I want to imagine. Which brings me to tomorrow’s U.N. Climate Change Summit Global Day of Action. The call to action is timed to coincide with the Durban summit on climate change, and its wording is:

“We demand that world leaders take the urgent and resolute action that is needed to prevent the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate, so that the entire world can move as rapidly as possible to a stronger emissions reductions treaty which is both equitable and effective in minimising dangerous climate change.

We demand that the long-industrialised countries that have emitted most greenhouse gases currently in the atmosphere take responsibility for climate change mitigation by immediately reducing their own emissions as well as investing in a clean energy revolution in the developing world. Developed countries must take their fair share of the responsibility to pay for the adaptive measures that have to be taken, especially by low-emitting countries with limited economic resources.

Climate change will hit the poorest first and hardest. All who have the economic means to act, must therefore urgently and decisively do so.”

As Canadians, we count among the worst climate offenders on the planet. What does that mean for our everyday lives? How does it change our perceptions of what we do when we climb onto our bikes or into our cars?

12 Dec. 2009, Copenhagen, Denmark - Global Day of Action for Climate. Greenpeace/Lauri Myllyvirta