Fun Bike Videos

Here’s a fun round up of bicycle related videos. The first three I found recently on Treehugger.

1. This guy turns a bicycle into an elevator for his treehouse:

2. In under a minute you can convert your bicycle to an e-bike with Rubbee. That is after you’ve made the initial installation.

https://vimeo.com/68219134

3. This is one of my all time favorites. Casey Neistat gets a ticket for not riding in the bike lane in NYC. He smashes into things to prove his point about safety and the absurdity of the ticket.

10 Most Dangerous Intersections for Toronto Cyclists

Most cyclists know from experience that cycling in Toronto can be dangerous. We intuitively avoid certain routes or exercise additional caution. Now, there’s quantitative evidence to back up our own hunches.

Adrian Verster, a PhD student studying genomics at the University of Toronto, has analyzed 24 years of bike collision data based on 31,000 accidents involving cyclists. The GPS-tagged data comes from the city’s Toronto Traffic Safety Unit reporting between 1986 and 2010.

Adrian was motivated to crunch the data after his girlfriend was injured in a cycling accident by a car turning right near Avenue and Davenport Roads, fourth on his list of the most dangerous intersections in Toronto.

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The top 10:

  1. Lake Shore Blvd. E and Carlaw Ave.
  2. Queen St. W and Niagara St.
  3. Queen St. E and River St.
  4. Bathurst St. and Davenport Rd.
  5. Avenue Rd. and Lonsdale Rd.
  6. Bloor St. W and Brock Ave.
  7. Bloor St. W and St. Thomas St.
  8. Lake Shore Blvd. W and Jameson Ave.
  9. Bloor St. E. and Castle Frank Rd.
  10. Bloor St. E and Parliament St.

See the list visualized on a map.

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Adrian makes a number of interesting observations, including:

  • Bloor and Queen Street, two major East-West routes for cyclists have a large number of incidents, and neither street has bike lanes
  • Many of the most dangerous intersections are not straight
  • Accidents were more like to take place during the evening rush hour commute.

The full list of the 50 most dangerous intersections in Toronto can be found on Adrian’s blog site Adventures in Data.

Ice Ride – Critical Mass for the Arctic

The Arctic is warming up and facing serious environmental challenges. The perverse irony of this situation is that climate change impacts are creating even more opportunities for further environmental degradation. As the thickness and extent of the sea ice diminishes due to global warming, scientists are predicting that the Arctic will soon be ice free during the summers. Oil companies see the receding ice as an opportunity to exploit the Arctic’s onshore and offshore oil reserves. Oil exploration in the Arctic threatens fragile ecosystems and sustain a global economy based on fossil fuels, which in turns contributes to global warming.

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Greenpeace organized an international critical mass ride for the Arctic. More than 100 cyclists joined in a ride through downtown Toronto to raise awareness about the risks of oil exploration in the Arctic.

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Led by two tall bikes, the ride started at Allan Gardens at Sherbourne and Gerrard ended at a Shell gas station at Spadina and Wellington.

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The ride drew young and old, men, women and children, and even a drumming polar bear in a Dutch cargo bike.

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Greenpeace’s ‘Save the Arctic’ campaign has drawn almost 4 million supporters, 1 million shy of their 5 million goal. Sign their petition in support of creating a global sanctuary around the North Pole, and banning offshore drilling and destructive industry in the Arctic.

Riding the Leslie Spit

Living in Toronto can make you crave a bit of nature sometimes.  Lucky for us, the Leslie Spit is just down the road. If you’re interested in going for a ride on a beautiful peninsula that cuts through marshes, bird habitat and juts out into Lake Ontario then this trail is for you.  You can access the trail from Unwin and Leslie St.  You’ll see a sign for Tommy Thompson Park at the entrance.  The road is mostly paved with a few gravel portions and a footbridge that can slow you down but also make the ride more interesting. This is a great place for kids to explore nature and get comfortable on their bikes.

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You can see the Toronto Harbour, the boat docks, the lake and the city skyline on your ride. You’ll also see wildflowers and wildlife, possibly even a snake. The Friends of the Spit have more details on the flora and fauna that can be found there. The end of the trail loops around a little lighthouse. My favorite part of the loop is the piles of bricks, cinder blocks, re-bar, driftwood and tiles scattered about. It is a reminder of Toronto’s past and future. Good shoes are definitely recommended if you like to rummage around.

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On the way back from the lighthouse you can take a fork on the right that goes South around the marsh and back to the trail entrance. The ride is lovely and gets you closer to the lake.

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If there was one thing I could change about the trail it would be the sharp speed bumps they use to control cyclists speed. You have to almost completely stop your bike (unless you have great shocks) to go over them. I’m sure they could come up with a softer and safer solution – rumble strips or more graduated speed bumps would probably work much better.

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The spit is only open on weekends and holidays because it is used as a clean fill dumping ground. The spit is actually a man-made peninsula, started in the 1950s,  built on the fill that comes from construction holes dug around the City of Toronto. If you have some time go check it out.

E-Bike Safety Blitz

Toronto Police have launched a month-long safety blitz on e-bike riders. The safety blitz will run through to the end of August.

E-bikes are not allowed on bike paths like the Martin Goodman Trail or the Lower Don Trail and riders could face a fine of $395.

E-bikes are, however, allowed to use bike lanes on city streets, but only if they are using muscular power. If e-bike riders are using their motors in bike lanes, they can face a fine of $80.

E-bikers, like bicyclists, have to obey all Highway Traffic Act laws like coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, or at a red light, and must have lights on the e-bike for use at night and a working horn and indicators.

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Five other important things e-bike riders should be aware of if they don’t want to get ticketed:

  • Bicycle or motorcycle helmets are mandatory for anyone on an e-bike (including passengers. And you can only have a passenger if the e-bike is manufactured for two riders).
  • The pedals cannot be removed from an e-bike — to do so will make it an illegal vehicle.
  • An e-bike operator cannot be impaired when operating the e-bike or he or she can be charged under the Criminal Code.
  • You must be at least 16 to operate an e-bike or be a passenger.
  • You cannot modify the motor to go faster than the top allowable speed of 32 km/h.

Door Prize – Part II

An estimated 300 dooring incidents occur each year in Toronto. The actual number if unknown because Toronto Police don’t keep track of dooring incidents because they don’t consider such incidents a collision because the car is not in motion.

Toronto Police Board Chair Alok Mukherjee has acknowledged the need for formal statistics on dooring and has requested a report from the police department on the feasibility of collecting these numbers. If the proposal is approved at the next police board meeting, the department will have several months to report back. Presuming the police department doesn’t resist the effort to collect statistics on dooring in their report back and presuming the full board supports the initiative, then police could start data collection later this year.

Justin Bull, a Toronto web developer,  doesn’t want to wait and has started building an online database for cyclists to record dooring incidents. He hopes his site – doored.ca –  will be up and running in a few weeks and will draw attention to the crashes and compel police to begin keeping track of the collisions.

The site will allow cyclists to post information about being doored, including when and where the collision happened, as well as the option of uploading photos or videos. The site will eventually map dooring hot spots in the city.

Tracking statistics around dooring is a critical first step in developing policies and strategies to prevent dooring incidents.

This is something Toronto Police should be actively supporting to keep city cyclists safe. But if they won’t do it willingly, then hopefully doored.ca will compel them to.

College Street Bike Corral – Part II

Four weeks ago we came across a bike corral on College Street and contacted City Hall to find out more.  We finally got a response from Jesse Demb, a Bicycle Parking Planner with the City’s Cycling Infrastructure & Programs.  Jesse provided the following answers to our questions:

1. Euclid and College corral was installed in late June.

2. This is a trial run.  If all goes well, a report to change the parking bylaw will be submitted at Council to make the bike corral seasonally permanent from April – November.  On-street corrals are removed for snow plowing season to avoid being damaged

3. There are currently five bike corrals in the city – two in Kensington market (Nassau and 236-40 Augusta Av), at 205 Spadina Av parking lay-by, and one at Northcote and Queen St West.

4. Other locations are being studied for on-street bike corrals.

5. Install cost in this case was included in the bid call for manufacture and delivery of the bike parking stall.

6. A business may request a bike corral.  We do not yet have a formal process for such a request.

Essentially bike corrals can be installed where there is no more room on the walk for post-and-rings to meet the parking demand, 24 hour car parking exists within the curb lane, and there are no major objections from the adjacent businesses, BIA, local councillor or internally from Traffic Operations or other relevant City staff. In this case, the local councillor requested a bike corral in Little Italy, and the parking lay-by makes it feasible there with the consent of the Parking Authority.

We emailed back to thank Jesse for the information and to ask a couple of follow up questions and this time got a prompt response:

1.Unit price was $5050 for design, manufacture, delivery, install and take away + HST

2.The company that installed the corral was Kramer Inc

3. Corral was based on a generic design and modified with City’s bike parking logo on the ends

See more photos and our first post on this here.

Toronto Vintage Bicycle Show

The second annual Toronto Vintage Bicycle Show was held at Trinity Bellwoods Park this weekend.  The sunny weather and collection of antique bikes brought out cycling enthusiasts and the curious in equal numbers.

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These vintage CCM Rat Rod bikes were two of the standouts. The curved frame is a 1938 CCM Flyte, which is an Art Deco style unique to Canada.

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This antique bicycle poster from Crescent Bicycles, a Toronto-based brand from the late 1800s, is a reminder of the city’s cycling heritage and a time when the car didn’t rule the road.

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The timelessness of cycling is in many ways predicated on the simplicity and elegance of bike designs. The basic design – frame and two wheels – really hasn’t changed since the early 1800s. While materials and components have evolved, the bicycle remains in its essence what it was 200 years ago.

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The Wheelmen, dedicated to the enjoyment and preservation of cycling, had a booth at the show that included a Penny Farthing and an antique tricycle. Their table held a collection of vintage bicycle badges, bells, advertisements and memorabilia.  I didn’t catch the gentleman’s name who I interviewed, but his view on what’s limiting cycling today? Safety and the lack of bike lanes.

How to get a Bicycle Ring Replaced

After our post about the lack of bike parking at The National concert at Yonge & Dundas square I wanted to be more proactive about bicycle parking downtown. I noticed there was a ring during the event that cyclists were avoiding because it was knocked over. It was only half the height as the other bicycle rings and it didn’t look very secure.  When I saw a similar ring that looked like it had been hit by a car outside the Best Buy on Dundas, I took the small measure of reporting it to the City of Toronto in an attempt to get it fixed. I emailed 311@toronto.ca and requested the ring be replaced. I’m going to keep updating this post until it gets fixed. Let’s see how long it takes….

June 25th

Please fix the bicycle ring outside Best Buy at Dundas between Yonge and Bay.

Thanks,
Amrita

The above photo was attached.

June 27th (2 days later)

Hello:
Thank you for contacting 311 Toronto. A service request was generated .  The service request number is SR#2159610 .  Please allow up to 5 business days for the area to be fully inspected.
I hope this information is helpful. Should you require further information or assistance, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Regards,
Frank
311 Toronto

July 5th (10 days later)

I popped by to check on the ring and found a children’s bike locked to it.

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July 20th (25 days later)

The same bike is locked to the ring. It doesn’t appear to have moved in the past 2 weeks. You would think they would put a notice on the bike requesting it be removed if they had any intention of fixing it.

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July 22nd (27 days after I notified the city)

Hi Frank,
Any update on the status of the bicycle ring I reported? I’ve been past the bicycle ring a number of times. It is still knocked over.
Thanks,
Amrita

July 25th (30 days later)

Hello Amrita,
Your email has been forwarded to Lisa Ing, Co-ordinator, Street Furniture Management, Public Realm, Transportation Services for response.
Regards,
Jeannie
311
August 9th (45 days later)
Hello,
The following response was received from Lisa:-
“Please be advised that our Contract was just awarded for bicycle locking installations and repairs.  Our Contractor will not be on board for another couple of weeks.
“We have this location listed for repair and will forward to the Contractor shortly.  The repair will probably not occur until the end of August.”
Regards,
Jeannie
311 Toronto
August 11th (47 days in)
I received the above response from 311 two days ago. The thing that struck me was that the contract to repair and install bicycle rings was just awarded  – it seems pretty late in the season for this to be just happening now.

S&C Cycles

Satchel Dille-Boyd of S&C Cycles had a serendipitous start to his business last summer.  The bright orange shipping container storefront at Scadding Court on Dundas West between Spadina and Bathurst was offered to him by a family friend the day he lost his job. Last summer he got his first taste of running a business with partner Chase and it went so well they’re back this year.

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They do a lot of flats ($5 tube, $5 labour) and tune-ups (starting at $40). A passion is making custom bikes. They’ve mostly done fixed gear bikes, but are happy to work with your requirements. Just pop over and let them know what you’re looking for and they can help you determine the best bike for your needs (custom bikes starting at $400).

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If your bike is in need of some love stop by. S&C Cycles is open Mon to Fridays from 10am to 7pm and on the weekends they’re open 12pm to 7pm.  They close when it starts to snow.

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Speed Round:

Taxis – inconsiderate

Helmets – necessary

Best cycling city – Toronto

Rob Ford – corrupt

Spandex – love it, though not everyone should wear it