Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Police Chief Blair's licence plate number

BLD News - Our intrepid summer intern Gustav was at Ministry of Transportation office trying to attain his beginner's permit. He failed due to the lack of his understanding of the English language. While there he came across a surreal scene that he audio taped for us. The tape has Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair screaming at staff that, "...they were being complicit in a criminal conspiracy with a group of dyslexics!" We spent many hours trying to figure out what he was referring to and explaining to Gustav what was being said. Just before giving up on the whole thing we asked Gustav what else Chief Blair was doing. He told us he was holding a vanity licence plate that read "I B A LIAR".

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Saturday June. 26 Bike In Movie Night

Had enough of G20 bullshit and media paranoia? Join me for Yasi's Annual Bike In Movie Night. At dusk. Saturday, 299 Wallace Ave. Fine bike-themed short films to inspire, entertain and amaze plus a 2010 Oscar nominated short.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Park in the Bike Lane! Go Ahead! The City don't mind!

According to the secret City of Toronto handbook now made public you can get that parking ticket thrown out for so many reasons. 

This includes corporate courier companies.



The Bike shop


originally uploaded by spitsbergen.

Dedicated to the Bike Joint, Hoopdriver Bicycles and 
La Carrera Cycles, Toronto.

NYC claiming shortest CM ride?

Streetfilms Shortie - Bowie Dance Ride from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Classic Style

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Changing Gears As In 'Backwards' ...

While Paris is building 700km of bike lanes by 2014, Toronto is 'changing gears' and abandoning the bike plan from 2001 in favour of completing a reduced smaller network (maybe) which no one asked for. Got the message? Yes. Loud and clear.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

A Ghost Bike For Justice (slideshow)

Adrian Heaps & Michelle Berardinetti - Two Without A Clue

“I’m not going to go out there and pump paint to hit a quota,” he said. “Complete the circle, make it smaller, do it right. I’d rather have a smaller network that was fully integrated.”

Certainly the only thing worse would be electing Michelle Berardinetti, then we'd have even less
of a bike network

Ahem. I think every cyclist in Toronto would like a BIG network of connected bike lanes.
Photo: Thiago, Brasil

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The joys and sorrows of cycling (Star)

Albert Koehl
Cycling safety is in the news again in Toronto. Too bad it’s not to celebrate the simple, joyful act of cycling. For many cyclists the death of bike courier Darcy Allan Sheppard under the wheels of a car driven by the former attorney general of Ontario felt personal and frightening, if only because of the dangers we all face on our streets. If the City of Toronto actually paid attention to cycling safety — instead of being 400 kilometres short of its goal to install 500 kilometres of bike lanes by this year — the news stories might mostly have been about a violent altercation between two citizens. Instead, it became a flashpoint about cycling safety with Sheppard a proxy for concerns about road dangers and the inexcusable failure to give cyclists a fair share of the public roadway.
The popular stretch of Bloor Street where Sheppard was killed is a particularly sensitive point for cyclists. Two years ago, cycling advocates challenged the city’s adamant refusal to study the environmental impacts of a street redevelopment plan — which included the precise area where Sheppard was killed — that did not include a bike lane. Provincial planning laws actually direct cities to provide for the safety of cyclists.
Three years ago, city council approved a motion to do a “feasibility study” of a bikeway along Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue that would create a continuous 24-kilometre east-west route across the city. (A “bikeway” can include a combination of a painted lane, a separated lane with barriers, or just painted arrows.) A Freedom of Information request was required to pry the completed report from city hall. The 1,000 pages of the study showed not only that a bikeway was feasible along most of this route but that there would be only minor impacts on motor traffic. Instead of acting on this finding, the city has decided to rigourously assess the environmental impacts of the bikeway. This will cause several more years of delay without ensuring implementation.
Twenty years ago, a city report identified Bloor-Danforth as an ideal cycling route that could serve as a “spine” for Toronto’s cycling network. Since then, bike traffic on this corridor has increased, but the city has refused to hand over the recommended sliver of the road for cycling trafic. Despite the city’s inaction, politicians nonetheless missed no opportunity in the intervening years to celebrate the benefits of cycling: “bike days” became “bike months,” many speeches were given, and countless pancakes eaten, but city streets have not become “bike-friendly.”
It is perhaps understandable that a complex, technologically advanced society beset by major problems of traffic congestion, budget shortfalls, air pollution and climate change will routinely ignore or dismiss the bicycle as a part of the solution. Indeed, among the slate of would-be Toronto mayors in this year’s race are those who argue that we need to do even less for cyclists. Presumably they believe that a city with a scant 2 per cent of roads equipped with bike lanes is moving too quickly — and that 50 years of living with the negative impacts of the car proves that the answer must be more of the same.
It’s not just politicians who sometimes miss the point. Certain downtown merchants still suggest that they couldn’t possibly do without the small number of parking spots in front of their stores — even if a bike lane would bring far more patrons their way. Two recent studies for Bloor Street by the Clean Air Partnership found that pedestrians and cyclists spend far more at local businesses than people arriving in cars — and that there would be little impact from reducing on-street parking because of the plentiful spaces in nearby off-street lots. And the city’s own studies show that cyclists, on average, are from households with higher incomes than those of car owners.
Some committed motorists also stand in the way — although surveys show that many would be happy to cycle if they felt safer. A motorist recently stopped beside me at an intersection, rolled down his window and yelled (in response to my flag calling for bike lanes): “Do you want to pay for those lanes?” “Actually,” I began, “cyclists . . .” but the driver sped off without allowing me to answer his inquiry. I would have directed him to a recent study by the Victoria Transportation Policy Institute, which found that the average motorist underpays for city roads while the average cyclist and pedestrian significantly overpays. (Local roads, unlike highways, are mostly funded by general taxes instead of by vehicle fees or gas taxes.) Indeed, as a homeowner, I know that my property taxes aren’t any less than those of my neighbours who rely on cars to get around.
Other arguments are equally weak: “Cyclists don’t ride in the dead of winter so why devote space to them” (an argument perhaps most convincingly made by golfers); “cyclists don’t obey the rules of the road so why give them bike lanes” (an argument that would equally justify closing Highway 401, where most drivers break the speed limit); and “roads are meant for traffic” (except when motorists want to park their bulky machines in the public thoroughfare). The oddest argument is that bikes will cause congestion, as if the 401, DVP and QEW are congested because of bikes. Our streets are congested because we have too few bikes, not too many.
The real question is why we devote most of the room on our public roads to the least efficient vehicle (the car) and the least room to the most efficient vehicle (the bicycle). Cyclists don’t want to be quoted in news stories about the death or injury of fellow cyclists; we want to be celebrating the transformation of roads into places that are safe for cycling. It’s up to city politicians to give us those opportunities for celebration.
Albert Koehl is an environmental lawyer and founding member of the annual www.bellsonbloor.caBells on BloorEND parade (High Park, Saturday, May 29). He represented the Safe Cycling Coalition in a 2008 action against the city.

eYe Magazine Gets It Wrong Twice

Too bad so many writers secretly hate bikes & cyclists ... or so it seems.
In any case, the preachy tone in both articles is deeply offensive. And here is a newsflash: cyclists are not roadkill. We are your brothers, sisters, friends and family, your neighbour and that stranger you'll never meet.
On the Bryant case

On Bike Helmets and Sharrows (sigh)

Ghost Bike For Darcy Allan Sheppard - Old City Hall!

More on this story http://is.gd/czCay
Photos by Derek Chadbourne

A ghost bike was installed at old city hall earlier this week. As of Friday at 11AM it was still there and it has been seen by thousands... a very poignant protest, I thought.
This case will not go away i think until cyclists in Toronto get some form of justice.
For alternative views on this case against Bryant I suggest this podcast and especially this fine articleby lawyer Bob Mionske in Bicycling magazine.
The sign on the bike reads: "This is a reminder that cyclists rights were killed on this spot by the Ontario justice system - May 25, 2010.
Safe rides everybody.
Update: As of Monday morning (June 7) the ghost bike has been removed. It was still there Friday during the day so it must have been in that location for 5 days or more. Quite amazing.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A Ghost Bike On Bloor

(Excerpt) Darcy and me (working title) - A novel by Martin Reis

Darcy and me

"... the road is therefore, representative of many things on a symbolic, psychological, and practical level. It exists in a symbiotic relationship to the automobile for example, which is in turn related to the oil industry, which has a relationship to the military industrial complex and so on. The more roads there are, the more cars there are. The more cars there are, the more need for oil there is. The more need there is for oil, the more weapons are needed. The more weapons there are... This chain could equally be read in reverse, each link the catalyst for another chain reaction, and it is hard to say, at least for someone like myself who is not well versed in history, which came first: the chicken or the egg? The car or the cruise missile? This is inevitably a simplistic assessment of the situation but the point is, the road and its particular language (i.e. street markings) is for me, loaded with significance and therefore, ripe for re-interpretation. And because the road seems to take itself so seriously it is also a tempting target for satire. Road markings are for me, a metaphor for a certain state of mind and relationship to the outside world that is endemic of our time, and is engendered by driving."
Roadsworth - NY Arts Magazine Winter 2010

Chapter One

In this town the cars don't stop. They just keep going. It's God's will. Don't look back.
"Honey, I think you hit something."
John checked his rear view mirror annoyed. He sees something.
A figure by the side of the road, mangled. No longer able to get up.
He keeps driving, looks one more time. Very distant now. He's not sure. Or so he tells himself. She tries to look back but cannot see
anything. Another predator is in the way.
"It's nothing." he tells her.
"Don't worry about it."


It was, someone.

    Later over dinner the TV news has the usual fare of road carnage to lead off the show. If it bleeds it leads. Right. The tired looking Police officer is going through the daily hit and run appeals. Elderly woman, suburbs, killed. They are appealing for witnesses to come forward. John hears it while sitting in the kitchen. She is busy over the stove. His head turns toward the screen. The accident scene is grizzly. The woman was transported to a nearby hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. John chews on his piece of bread. The News anchor moves onto the next traffic fatality story.

"Dinner's ready." she announces beaming.

"I made your favourite."

He smiles at her. All is forgotten. All is forgiven.

Chapter Two

    When you get on your bike in the morning you don't remember a bad ride home the day before. The macho revving off the engine behind you or the near miss door prize. All is forgotten. Washed away overnight or sufficiently wrestled with in dreams. You look forward to just hop on your bike and go where you need to go. B. unlocked the garage door and grabbed her bike pushing down the on seat making sure the back tire had enough air in it for the ride. Good to go. Lock door, swing chrome courier bag over her shoulder. Mini lock tucked away in her back pocket. Her friends tell her she looks like a bike messenger to which she laughs and usually tells them she is just ready to do battle.
Let's ride.

    The sun kissed her pink face and a rush of joy began to circulate through her veins in anticipation. Better take the rail path south she tells herself. Bloor is murder during rush hour.

Roadkill roulette.

Traffic was light on the side streets since the soccer moms had all finished dropping her precious ones off at school and day-care. Only the Portuguese and Italian moms stilled walked their kids to school but even that was starting to change. B. sailed down Perth and hung a right onto Wallace passed the new condo developments and left onto the peaceful rail path which was bathed in a spectacular warm and golden glow. She took a deep breath and sped on the ever so slight downhill toward Bloor. Bliss. Freed of the constant worry and traffic noise she was able to think. B. weaved carefully around early morning shoppers (heading toward Value Village or No Frills) and dog walkers and crossed the brightly painted orange bridge at Bloor throwing a dismissive glance at the gridlocked traffic below the wooden boards rumbling beneath her her tires. The rail path was now empty before her and she took off her feet off her pedals letting her bike roll. She felt like yelling out a childish 'Whee' but instead she just smiled from ear to ear and let out a little laugh. She inhaled the chocolate-scented air ever so deeply and rode on toward the Dundas bridge eager to test herself on the short curving incline at the end of the rail path.
    B. sped up again just before and stood in her pedals as she climbed up the ramp. As the climb got steeper she reminded herself to pull on her handle bar for extra leverage. Good. She felt like she was flying and as she slowed on the loose but compacted surface made up of clay and gravel she was very satisfied with herself.
    Coming to a full stop at corner of Dundas and Sterling she realized that fun was over. The Dundas overpass was choked with predators dust being whipped up from the bone dry streets like mist in early morning sunlight. B. frowned and got off her bike and stood at the corner staring into the ear-splitting traffic. More predators were idling at the top of Sterling. So she walked her bike across over to east side of the street. She briefly considered using the crosswalk to get to the bike lane on the other side of the street but chose against it. Even more street car tracks to cross that way and a very intimidating left turn onto College. Having learned long ago that the safer move is not always the legal one B. hopped back on her bike and rode on the deserted sidewalk. The road will teach you if you are willing to learn and the mean streets of Toronto were no exception. And as long you don't endanger anyone she was certainly okay with it. Though in her heart she wished things were different. That someone, maybe some planner had had the foresight to design things with the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in mind. Makes no sense putting in a prefectly good rail path and not connect not properly to nearby bike lanes and bike routes. B. crossed the street car tracks safely and turned onto the shortest bike lane in town. The south side of College bike lane extends from Dundas to Lansdowne and if you blink you miss it.
    B. picked up speed on the downhill and veered slightly to the right onto College. She was just about to start pedaling again when she noticed in horror that a predator was inching closer and closer on her left.
A right hook! She barely managed to grasp the potential danger when the side view mirror of the predator touched her elbow and quickly pushing her into the curb. The predator was obviously turning into the parking lot of the small strip mall. B's survival instincts kicked in. She placed her hand on the side of the predator as it slowed to make the turn and tried to match its speed. She smirked at the driver who was surprised to see a cyclists stuck to the side of his vehicle. She tried to hit the brakes but it was too late. B. crashed hard into the curb, her right pedal scraping and her bike falling on its side with her on top of it sliding onto the sidewalk. She cried out as she fell. "FUUUCCCKKK!!" The predator stopped straddling the entire sidewalk.

Time For A Reality check, Mr. Heaps

"People have always been obsessed with 1,000 kms of bike lanes - I think we're more obsessed with quality over quantity," Cycling Committee Chair Adrian Heaps said at the event.
Note to Adrian Heaps: The Bike Lanes in Toronto are nothing to be proud of. They are poorly maintained. They are abused daily by cars and delivery trucks parking in them and they often stop before an intersection. 
Btw, that was about 500 km of bike lanes but hey who's counting?