Monthly Archives: November 2012

Slow Bikes, sorry, Slow Bicycles

If you like, you can listen to múm’s song Slow Bicycle while reading this…

The more I cycle Toronto, the slower I ride. At least that was what I thought until I bought my new Opus Citato.

Opus Citato

It’s light as a feather, handles like a mountain bike, rides like the wind. With 27 gears and a top front/rear ratio of 48/11, it’s the fastest bike I’ve owned. My ride home from work, which used to take 25 minutes, suddenly takes 15 minutes. It’s just so much fun to ride that fast. Especially now that the weather is getting colder and the bike lanes are freeing up.

And Opus bikes are Canadian designed, most are assembled in Ville St. Laurent, Montreal.

There’s just one thing that intrigues me about the Citato. The blurb on the Opus website says its design was inspired by the Slow Bike movement.

What is the Slow Bike movement?

On the face of it, it’s as simple as it sounds. Ride more slowly. The idea comes from Copenhagen, though it’s now spread everywhere people ride bikes in cities. Back in 2008, the cycling blog Copenhagenize had this to say:

“I’m fascinated by the growing Slow Food movement which started in Italy in 1989 and I can certainly understand its popularity. So why not start a bicycle-friendly version of the movement? The Slow Bike Movement – no, make that the Slow BICYCLE movement – the very word ‘bike’ is a speeded up version of the original.”

I love this idea. Like Walter Benjamin’s flaneurs, taking their tortoises for walks through the arcades of 19th century Paris, the slow cyclist tries to put brakes on the relentless speeding-up that drives modern life. In that sense it is (like the Slow Food Movement, and like almost everything to do with urban cycling) a political activity.

From Mariateresa Aiello’s blog sketchbloom

You can read more about Slow Bicycles on The Slow Bicycle Movement site. You can even watch some slow bike races if it’s not too tedious for you (it is for me!).

From copenhagenize.com

As I exceed the speed limit for cars riding my Citato down Gladstone, I doff my helmet to the Slow Cyclists.


Folding Fenders

Some people don’t like fenders. They add weight, they cost money, they look unsporting. Whatever the reasons, if it’s raining, not having a fender leaves you sitting after your ride with an interesting damp stripe down your back.

Some light, folding products can potentially help.

The Quick-Fix look good, are pretty stable, and easy to attach.

A similar principle secures the designboom fender, and the Full Windsor foldnfix. The latter website is worth visiting, incidentally, just for the brilliant mouse interface.

My favourite is the Ass-Savers in-seat fender.

There’s only one problem with all of these. If you’re a downtown rider, you should think about the cyclists behind you. These folding fenders may keep the damp stripe away, but none of them stop you spraying the person riding behind you.


Another cyclist dies

Another cyclist has died on Toronto roads, this time a 56 year old bike courier, struck by a taxi on university avenue.

It’s dismaying to watch the Global TV news  coverage. Apparently, this is his own fault for “running red”.

If you’re a downtown cyclist, you know that safe riding involves setting out across the intersection a few seconds before the cars. You watch for yellow, make sure there are no cars trying to beat the lights, then you go. this avoids the side-squeeze, or being endangered by careless right-turners.

When will we have reporters who ask the real questions about cycling safety? For example, shouldn’t we install separate bicycle signals that go green a few seconds before the signals for cars?