Monthly Archives: August 2013

Protected Bike Lanes

There’s been a lot of talk in the Toronto cycling community about the city’s plans for separated bidirectional bike lanes on Harbord Street. The idea is to build a single, protected lane for cyclists travelling both east and west, extending all the way from Ossington to Queen’s Park. This would create at least one place in our city that looks like some of the more developed cycling lanes in the world’s more progressive and bike friendly cities, such as New York

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or Berlin

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or Rio

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In the August version of Ring and Post, Cycle Toronto comes out strongly in favour of the proposal. They give a cross-section of the road configuration planned between Ossington and Spadina:

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Cycle Toronto have even announced a Love-In at the Harbord Bakery (this being the business which, following an article in The Star, has come to be seen as the centre of resistance to the proposal).

The blogs are buzzing with discussions about the proposal. I’m not going to go into any detail here, since you can read the comprehensive run-down on ibiketo.ca and dandyhorse. As I see it, the more funding the city puts into projects like this, the better. Once drivers and cyclists begin to see how they can share our roads, we will find increasing support for safe roads. It may be true that, for the seasoned rider, unidirectional lanes on the north and south sides are better. But bike lanes protected by a physical barrier will get more people cycling, which means fewer cars on the roads. And it’s a small step toward realizing more comprehensive and progressive visions of what cycling in the city can be, such as, for example, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.


Dealing With Inflation

Do you ever have the feeling that your bike is handling more like a small sailboat? When you turn corners does it feel like the road becomes elastic and gelatinous? Do those little bumps and potholes jar your whole spine? It’s time to start dealing with inflation.

If you’re reading this, you probably know this already, but inflation is something that even the most experienced cyclists need to be reminded of from time to time. There are few things that are as consistently neglected, and few things that can improve performance and general riding pleasure as much as correct tire pressure.

Next to your helmet, the one accessory that’s really worth spending money on is a pump. If you have a good one, it’s easier to use, and you’ll find yourself taking advantage of it more often.

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Mine is the Steel Floor Drive model made by the California company Lezyne. It sells for about $60. I got mine from the helpful people at Liberty Street Cyclery, who use the same model in their workshop. It has a quick and easy coupling, and the gauge is easy to read.

If you’re not sure about the correct pressure, you’ll find its embossed on the side of the tire.

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And see those cracks? That’s another reason to make sure that your tires are always correctly inflated.


Doored! goes Live!

In Toronto, York Region and Waterloo, a collision is defined as “the contact resulting from the motion of a motor vehicle or streetcar or its load that produces property damage, injury, or death.” This doesn’t leave room for the dooring of cyclists, and as a result, there are no police statistics covering incidents of dooring in Toronto. Nor are there any real incentives for motorists to be more cautious. The traffic offence that leads to dooring — improperly opening a vehicle’s door, or opening it longer than necessary — carries a maximum fine of $85. In 2011, just 118 people were convicted of the offences Ontario-wide. According to an article on the topic in the Star, neither the police nor the Ministry of Transportation seem particularly interested in changing the fines, or even in tracking incidents of dooring.

This leaves it to cyclists to track dooring incidents. Justin Bull has created a website to this end, Doored!, which just went live. It allows cyclists to self-report a dooring incident. And it provides an archive of these incidents. Already, there are 12 incidents listed.

Doored

What the usefulness or outcome of this initiative will be, remains to be seen. But it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Meanwhile, remember, if you are doored — even if you are not injured — get the license plate number, the driver’s details, phone the police to register an accident, and get visual documentation if you can. Then file an incident report on Doored!


Cycling style

Cyclists is Lincoln Clarkes’ latest collection of photographs, a stylish view on what it looks like to look good on a bicycle in Toronto. In her introduction to the book, Judith Tansley describes this project (in Clarkes’ words) as “sexed-up, environmentalistic, fashionesque portraiture, which is a subtle protest against the petro-chemical and automobile industries.”

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A glance at these stunning, slick images tells you why. Watching the car ads on TV, you easily get the impression that people are at their best in automobiles. But watching the street through Clarkes’ camera lens, you realize that, for sheer style, beauty and grace, a person on a bicycle sure beats that quadrant of upper arm, shoulder and facial profile you see through a car window.

Clarkes is a Toronto-born and based photographer whose previous work includes Heroines, a photographic documentary of 400 addicted women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, which won the 2003 Vancouver Book Award.

You can download Cyclists here – apparently this offer only holds for a limited period of time.


West End Food Co-op

The West End Food Co-op in Parkdale, just around the corner from where I live, aims to connect local farmers to local eaters. It provides healthy eating alternatives to Parkdale residents, and works together with PARC, a social service agency focussing on issues of poverty and mental health. The alternative food network is closely related to the alternative transport network I write about on myTOwheels. So it’s no surprise that the Co-op is interested in linking these two networks. This has been the purpose of the past two annual Ride4RealFood events. This year, you can join other community members to ride one of three routes, all heading to the McVean Farm in Brampton. Sunday, September 15 is the day!
Ride4RealFood


Dynamic Bike Headlight Prototype

Matt Richardson has developed a prototype headlight / projector that clocks speed.


Counter-flow lanes proposed on Shaw

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This is part of the proposed Shaw Bikeway.