Thursday, December 31, 2009

A look back

Cycling in Toronto has changed greatly in the past couple of years; from the creation of the Toronto Cyclists Union to the adoption, stalling of and slow implementation of the city’s Bike Plan. There have been a lot of ups and downs in cycling in Toronto that have really shaped the culture of the bike. We’ve been home to the Toronto Criterium races in the beautiful St. Lawrence Market and hosted the CMWC on the island. We lost cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard in a controversial altercation and notorious bike thief Igor Kenk lost his bike shop and nearly 3,000 stolen bikes. We got some bike lanes slapped down on our streets but were slapped by the Provincial Government by our lack of cycling infrastructure. Despite a lot of adversary from motorists and some city councillors cycling in Toronto has only gotten better and will continue to do so in the coming years.

Here are a few stats taken from various sources:

Kilometres of cycling lanes in Toronto’s network
2009 – 418.2km
1999 – 166km
Though we’re barely halfway there; the original Bike Plan deadline calls for 1000km by 2011

Percentage of Torontonians who cycle to work or for play
2009 – 54%
1999 – 48%
Granted the majority of the population who cycle do it for leisure rather than for leisure and utility but at least people are out there being active.

Cycling fatalities
2000s – 26
1990s – 38

Percentage of commutes done by bicycle
Toronto – 1.7%
San Francisco – 2.5%
Vancouver – 3.0%
Minneapolis – 3.8%
Portland – 3.9%

So what's in store for Toronto in the coming years? Well in city is boosting efforts for finish the Bike Plan, increasing the budget by a hefty sum. In 2010 Toronto will be hosting the International Bike!Bike! Conference ( and we'll also be hosting the Pan American Games in 2015 which will mean we'll be getting a velodrome in Hamilton (yay!). In addition, the Province is stepping up efforts to deter unsafe driving by doubling or even quadrupling fines for violations such as running a red which will (hopefully) make the streets just a bit safer. Oh and don't forget the cell-phone ban will be coming into full effect too meaning less careless drivers on our streets.

Happy new year and safe riding!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Some good news for '10

Fines for dangerous driving in Ontario are set to increase in 2010 with some fines doubling or even quadrupling. Though this won't deter all drivers one can hope that the increased fines will definitely send out a message to motorists that running a red light is just not worth it. Hopefully this will, in combination with the hand-held device ban, result in a decrease in dangerous behavior on the road making cycling conditions safer in Ontario.

2010 is starting to look real good now.

Oh and belated merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Toronto Top 5 in Cycling Ridership!

Toronto is one of the 5 North American cities with the highest levels of ridership at 1.7%. Sure we pale in comparison to places like Vancouver or Portland but we're working our way up.

I don't know what bugs me more about the photo the fact that it's a Republic Bike or that the saddle is so damn low.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Inspired by Chicks & Bikes II

Another set of photos I took featuring the 2 things I love most: girls and bikes

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Riding!

December 21 was the first day of winter so I celebrated by going on a road ride (It was also my chance to finally get some riding in after weeks of inactivity due to exams). It was pretty mild for this time of the year with temperatures barely dipping into -10 with the windchill and winds calm at 5km/hr.

I set out with a buddy of mine, he on his vintage Raleigh and I on my track bike. This was my first cold ride wearing my road shoes so I was not sure how to winterize properly but some folks suggested wearing plastic bags over my socks to help block the wind and I’m so glad I listened to them. My toes were freezing only 10k in! Luckily I had an extra pair of socks but it was still chilly with 2 pairs of socks and a pair of plastic bags but by the time I put them on it was pretty much too late and there wasn’t a chance for my toes to re-warm up. We decided to call it quits at Port Credit, just 25k out from the ride rather than going the extra 15km to Oakville. After a coffee break at a coffee shop to warm up and regain feeling in my toes it was back to TO. Overall, I pulled off a wee bit over 50km at an average of 23km/hr and my legs are super sore but I deserve it for taking a long time off the bike.


My Ride.

My accomplice.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Inspired by Chicks & Bikes

I admit that I peruse every so often and who wouldn't? Lovely ladies, lovely bikes :D

Here's my contribution to the increasing photos of girls and bikes on the internet:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Folding Bikes

Hello bike people,
so with final exams *almost* out of the way (my last one is in 14 hours) I decided to treat myself a little early and got a folding bike. I've used a folding bike on a week long research trip to NYC and I had a blast, I brought it everywhere and it went everywhere. Sure I couldn't keep up with the roadies or messengers as I'm spinning 90rpm just to get 22km/h, but I didn't mind.

The bike was "on sale" on Craigslist for $120 so I had to jump on it. I got the 3-speed model, which is 2 gears more than I can handle; my XC and main commuter are both single-speed, but I'm coping. I wasn't expecting too much for $120 but it isn't bad. It looks nice, it comes with fenders, working brakes AND can fold up really quickly, but it's heavy as heck the derailleur/brakes are junk and it's heavy (did I also mention it's heavy?)! granted, I do play on changing out the derailleur and brakes for some other parts I have lying around which are lighter/more reliable.

I've been commuting with it for a week and I can say that it's something peopel should try out. Using a folding bike with other modes of transportation (Multi-modal) can be efficient and very beneficial, but it may not be for everyone. I live 7.5km away from my work and school so biking takes me anywhere from 25~30 minutes depending on traffic. Taking the TTC, I can expect 35~40 minutes. By mixing both I can easily pull into work in 20 minutes while wearing a suit! Folding bikes may be ideal for GO riders working downtown wanting to avoid paying both GO and TTC fares, or condo dwellers who need something compact. This bike will definitely be my bar hopping, cafe going, grocery getting, bike which is cheap enough to lock up without worrying while giving me the mobility I want and the option of hopping on the TTC without worries.

There are some things I've noticed though. One, it attracts a lot of attention. At every red light, someone is looking at it. Perhaps it's weird seeing a big man on a small bike? Two, people will either think of you as being urbane & practical or just plain dorkey. I brought my bike into an exam last week and I can hear the mur murs behind me; people were complimenting the bike or it concept, people were making fun of it, people thought it was cute, people thought it was lame, lots of different reactions. Three, people will talk to you. So far my bike has resulted in 3 random conversations and I can only see it increasing in the future. Needless to say, if you get one expect some attention.

I'll upload real photos of it after my exam!