December 30, 2016

Pedalling Back Full Circle

My love for cycling started during childhood in Moncton, New Brunswick more than twenty years ago. It's a journey that lead me to bike in four provinces (New Brunswick, Québec, Ontario, British Columbia) and four other countries (United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Sint-Maarten); not to mention advocate for safer streets in Toronto since 2012. During Christmas vacation in Moncton, this passion has come full circle with some Viking Biking (or should we say Polar Pedal for a more Canadian tie-in?) to see what has changed since I last biked there in 2006.
Downtown Moncton from City Hall pedway

December 23, 2016

Time for a New Decade

It’s hard to believe, but it’s almost time to kiss my twenties goodbye and ring in a new decade. While I'm in New Brunswick for a much-needed vacation, there couldn't be a better opportunity to reflect on this past year.
Decorating bikes for Christmas? Bring it on!

December 13, 2016

When Accessibility Becomes Inaccessible

After almost four years of writing, I am pleased to announce this is my 100th post! With a boneheaded motion to allow vehicles with disability permits to park in bike lanes coming to city council this week and I haven’t covered accessibility issues yet, this milestone post features interviews from two accessibility advocates and reasons why city council should reject this motion. Having two advocates for this post helps provide a glimpse on how diverse accessibility issues are.
Accessibility is a lot more than having elevators at transit stations!

December 01, 2016

Beyond Ajax ... Cycling in Whitby and Oshawa

As far as Durham Region goes, Ajax is the Region's cycling leader and Pickering is the laggard. (more on this here) However, the Region has six other municipalities; those being Whitby, Oshawa, Clarington, Uxbridge, Brock, and Scugog. Thanks to a Strava map provided by Joe Arruda, I checked two more municipalities off my to-do list with a 29-kilometre ride from Whitby to Oshawa GO stations on Sunday, November 13.
Sheltered bicycle racks at Whitby GO station

November 14, 2016

Loop Around Prince Edward County

While the Niagara Region may be the biggest focus for cycle tourism outside of Toronto per the “Investigating Impacts of Cycle Tourism in Ontario” study (more on this here), another region which ranks among the top five is Prince Edward County. Getting to Niagara Region “sans voiture” is easy with GO trains during the summer and buses with bike racks year-round. Prince Edward County, on the other hand, requires transporting bicycles via private automobiles, given there is only one VIA train per day which stops at Belleville and offers a baggage car for transporting bicycles at a cost of $25 one way. On Saturday, October 8, Helen and I set out to Picton (a 2.5-hour drive east of Toronto) and do a 70-kilometre loop around the County.
Birdhouse City - just outside of Picton

October 14, 2016

Get Ajax Moving - Part 3

Last month, I wrote two blog posts about Ajax’s cycling network as part of the “Get Ajax Moving” series. Part 1 provided a first-hand view while Part 2 provided a point and counterpoint about the Town’s #GetAjaxMoving initiative and the Durham Region Cycling Coalition. To get an elected official’s perspective on developing Ajax’s cycling network and future plans, I interviewed Ajax Mayor Steve Parish, an avid cyclist who bikes to work. His answers were complemented with information from Elysia Leung, the Town’s Transportation Demand Management Coordinator.

October 03, 2016

Quirks Along Toronto's Waterfront

Toronto’s Martin Goodman Trail is THE signature destination for the city’s residents; especially the cycling community. The transformed Queen’s Quay opened last year to great fanfare and work is under way in completing a major gap in Etobicoke from Norris Crescent to First Street. Even with these improvements, here are the top ten concerns along the Martin Goodman Trail from a cycling perspective.

September 19, 2016

Get Ajax Moving - Part 2

In Part 1 of the “Get Ajax Moving” discussion (link to previous post), I provided a first hand view on Ajax’s cycling facilities and how they set the standard for the 905 suburbs. Completing this story requires learning what the government and public circles have done to bring us where we are today and what the future holds. Part 2 of this discussion will cover the Town of Ajax’s new #GetAjaxMoving initiative and a relatively new advocacy group called the Durham Region Cycling Coalition.

September 06, 2016

Get Ajax Moving - Part 1

Before I left Ajax five years ago for Downtown Toronto, I used to bike the Duffins Creek and Waterfront Trails regularly, but was not familiar with other cycling facilities in the area. Having heard good things about cycling in Ajax from various sources and their most recent maps indicating a Minimum Grid in the making – thanks in part to Ajax Mayor Steve Parish being a cyclist - I wanted to learn more first hand. My two three part Ajax discussion will focus on a ride done on Saturday, September 3 and what the Town of Ajax and the Durham Region Cycling Coalition (DRCC) are doing to improve cycling.
Map of Ajax to Rouge Hill ride (48 km) - Note Google Maps did not have the
new Carruthers Creek Trail marked yet and Rossland Avenue was closed.

August 22, 2016

Victory Lap on Bloor Street

One of Toronto’s largest group rides is Bells on Bloor; one group among many calling for bike lanes on Bloor Street. Their ride started in 2007 and was held annually until 2014, which became part of Bikestock at Toronto city hall. After skipping 2015 to focus on building support for the bike lane pilot project, Bells on Bloor returns on Sunday, September 25 to celebrate its installation. I asked co-founder Albert Koehl about past advocacy efforts on Bloor, pilot project first impressions, and the upcoming ride.

August 15, 2016

Niagara By Bike

Aside from the 2014 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer from Toronto to Niagara Falls, all my cycling trips were limited to one day. Thanks to the suggestion of a fellow cycling advocate (Helen), I rode the Greater Niagara Circle Route from July 15 to 17 with her and another friend.

August 04, 2016

The Pedestrian Take on Road Safety

During the three years I have been blogging, I covered transportation matters associated with cycling, public transit, and driving. There has been one perspective that has not gotten the attention it deserved and is one we are all part of; that of a pedestrian. Maureen Coyle is on the steering committee for Walk Toronto and offered to provide this critical road safety perspective.

July 30, 2016

A Not So Yonge Cycling Idea

Cycle Toronto collecting signatures at Mel Lastman Square
While Cycle Toronto only launched their Yonge Loves Bikes pledge this month and the earliest Bells on Yonge ride happened in 2012, the idea of bike lanes on Yonge Street goes back even further. Back in 1977, when bike lanes on Bloor Street were first considered (but not recommended), the same Barton-Aschmann report recommended Yonge as a north-south spine route from Wellesley to Queen Streets with eventual extensions to Queens Quay to the south and the Toronto Reference Library (at Church Street) to the north. The report cited the high level of retail and commercial activity, the lack of on-street parking, the presence of the Yonge subway line, and the high number of collisions involving cyclists as key reasons for recommending Yonge Street. A feeder route was also proposed on Gould Street to connect with Ryerson University.

July 21, 2016

Cycling Towards Climate Optimism

Over the past twelve months, Cycle Toronto and advocates across the city were hard at work with the Bloor Loves Bikes campaign, which gained support from over 9300 residents, dozens of local businesses, and residents’ associations. One group which contributed significantly to the successful pilot project vote on May 4, 2016 is the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF). I interviewed Gideon Forman – their Climate Change and Transportation Policy Analyst – to learn more about the DSF’s campaign efforts and environmental leadership in general.
Yonge Loves Bikes ride in June 2016

July 15, 2016

Respecting Fallen Cyclists

When a cyclist gets killed in Toronto, a ghost bike memorial ride is organized one week after the crash in which a white painted bicycle (a.k.a. ghost bike) is brought to the crash site and locked to a post as a memorial to the fallen cyclist. The ghost bikes serve as a reminder to motorists and cyclists alike about the dangerous nature of Toronto’s streets.
Geoffrey Bercarich (with ghost bike) & Joey Schwartz leading the memorial ride

July 08, 2016

Open Letter RE Bicycle Licensing Article

Harbord Street on July 5, 2016 during the morning rush hour
During a week which saw the most dangerous day of the year for pedestrians and cyclists, including Toronto's first cycling fatality of 2016, a boneheaded idea which refuses to die - bicycle licensing - has once again been brought up by Councillor Stephen Holyday. Given the poor timing of this article and next week's City Council meeting which will debate the Road Safety Plan, I felt compelled to submit the below letter to the Toronto Star in response.

July 05, 2016

June 2016 Toronto Cycling Updates

Happy belated Canada Day, fellow cyclists!

Last week brought some significant changes to Toronto’s cycling scene and the Bloor pilot project installation is still 1-2 months away.

June 23, 2016

Would you mind the Woodbine?

While the earliest a pilot project can be secured on Danforth Avenue (a.k.a. The Danny) is in 2018, there is another east end cycling project expected to be installed this fall, which is Woodbine Avenue from O’Connor Drive to Queen Street East. On Wednesday, June 22, I visited the consultation at Stan Wadlow Clubhouse to learn more on what is being done to improve cycling in the east end.

June 16, 2016

Zero Vision over Vision Zero

On Monday, June 13, the City of Toronto finally unveiled their much hyped “road safety plan” (RSP). The city’s cyclists, pedestrians, parents, and seniors’ advocates have been calling for Toronto to emulate Sweden’s “Vision Zero” approach discussed in a previous post. Unfortunately, the plan’s unveiling lead to the biggest cycling related public relations fiasco since the Jarvis bike lane removal in 2012.

June 13, 2016

Listening to a Legend

Cycle Toronto may be Toronto’s primary cycling advocacy organization today, but it is relatively recent in the larger advocacy story. Bike Pirates started two years prior in 2006, while Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists – the folks behind the ghost rides for fallen cyclists – and the Community Bicycle Network have existed since the 1990’s. In order to better understand the historic side of cycling advocacy, I interviewed one of Toronto’s legendary advocates, Wayne Scott. From the “food as fuel” campaign to demanding justice for fallen cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard, Scott’s 35 years of advocacy have been felt throughout Toronto’s cycling community.

A 1998 CBC clip from the show "Big Time with Daniel Richler"
featuring Scott, Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists & other advocates

May 30, 2016

May 23, 2016

Stop! Hammertime! Cycling in Hamilton

While MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” is one of my favourite hip hop songs, the Hammer I am referring to is the City of Hamilton. This nickname is loosely based on its steelmaking heritage, though a Raise The Hammer article mentioned its origins were in the music and arts circles; only entering the mainstream over the past decade. Just as how Toronto rapper Drake coined “The 6ix” last year as Toronto’s new nickname.

On Sunday, May 22, I biked 80 kilometres from “The 6ix” to the Hammer for some Ride For Heart training. Here are some cycling observations I made along the way.
Hamilton skyline from York Boulevard

May 13, 2016

Reflecting from Jarvis to Bloor

What a difference four years makes! On Wednesday, May 4, Toronto city council voted overwhelmingly in favour of a bike lane pilot project on Bloor Street by a 38-3 margin. Given this is the most significant achievement yet for Toronto’s cycling community, it is time to reflect on this journey from when I joined Cycle Toronto in fall 2012, the lessons learned along the way, and what work remains to be done.
My first Cycle Toronto button from 2012

April 29, 2016

Streetfight in Toronto

Full house at PWIC
If there is one word to describe Monday, April 25, it is Streetfight! It all started with a packed room at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting, which debated the Bloor Street bike lane pilot project. 30 community members took the opportunity to depute (26 supporters and 4 opponents), including some children and youth. Given the large number of speakers, deputations were cut from five minutes to three. In spite of this demonstration of support, 243 letters sent to PWIC (most in support), and 9,309 Bloor Loves Bikes pledge signatures after removing duplicates; the committee was deadlocked and sent the motion to next week’s city council meeting without recommendations. (link to motion & webcast) Councillor Holyday constantly questioned supporters which indicated his opposition to the pilot project, while Edward Keenan’s Toronto Star article called out Councillor Robinson’s objection over insufficient information. Councillors McMahon and Perruzza supported the pilot, while Moeser and Lee were absent.

April 21, 2016

Review - Two Wheel Gear Backpack Pannier Convertible

As a way to become more familiar with hauling stuff by bicycle (a.k.a. quaxing), I got my first rear luggage rack from Bateman’s Bicycle Shop. This then prompted a search for a pannier. I wanted something that could be easily carried off bike, which lead to the discovery of Vancouver based Two Wheel Gear. Thanks to Two Wheel Gear and their president Reid Hemsing, they sent over their newest product – a Backpack Pannier Convertible – to do a review from a Toronto perspective and introduce it to the city.

April 19, 2016

Time to give Bloor pilot the green light!

It’s hard to believe work on Cycle Toronto’s Bloor Loves Bikes campaign started a little more than a year ago. A lot has happened since my last update in March (I lied about that being the last before the vote). For starters, the vote at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) got delayed by two weeks to April 25 due to the inability to get quorum on April 11. With this delay means more time to collect signatures. Thanks in part to another e-blast done by the David Suzuki Foundation, the Bloor Loves Bikes pledge now has almost 11,000 signatures; exceeding Cycle Toronto’s original 10,000 goal! Cycle Toronto recently encouraged members to thank Mayor John Tory for being supportive of the campaign in January when he took my question on CP24’s Ask The Mayor show.

April 15, 2016

Community Building under the Gardiner

In November 2015, Project: Under Gardiner was launched with a $25 million donation from Judy and Wil Matthews.[1] It is a 1.75 kilometre or 10 acre linear park which goes underneath Toronto's Gardiner Expressway – currently undergoing a $150 million rehabilitation – from Liberty Village (west of Strachan Avenue) to CityPlace at Spadina Avenue, with community hubs planned along the route. The project is expected to start construction in October 2016 and open in July 2017. To learn more about this project from a cycling perspective, I took part in the first Under Gardiner walking tour on Sunday, April 10 hosted by Jake Tobin Garrett of Park People and attended by dozens of local residents. Representatives from Public Work (the engineering firm leading the project) and Waterfront Toronto were also present.
Map of Project: Under Gardiner

April 09, 2016

Sowing the Seeds of Social Shift

From the 19th century Industrial Revolution to the 1960's Civil Rights Movement, civilization has seen periods of significant social change. Naomi Klein's book "This Changes Everything" and recent events like the Leap Manifesto town hall and Black Lives Matter tent city prove this shift is happening right now. Let’s take some time to discuss the book, the recent events, and how everything is interconnected.

March 31, 2016

Shore Excursions & Exploring (Part 3)

The conclusion of the Caribbean travel series goes back to where it started (and ended); that being Puerto Rico. While this Spanish colony – dating back to the days of Christopher Columbus – was invaded by the Americans in the late 19th century, Spanish remains the island’s official language. They also use a confusing mix of metric and imperial measurements, in which distances are in kilometres and speed limits are in miles per hour. Technical information aside, this Isla del Encanto (Isle of Enchantment) offers something for everyone.

March 18, 2016

Shore Excursions & Exploring (Part 2)

Truck-based jitneys in St. Thomas
Outside of the cruise excursion offerings (see previous post), taking time to casually explore the Islands is always a good thing to do, which is the focus of this post. There were two islands I couldn’t explore due to all day excursions; those being Barbados (for the Jolly Roger) and St. Lucia (for snorkelling).

March 14, 2016

So Close Yet So Far … March 2016 Bloor Update

Four weeks from today, the Bloor Street bike lane pilot project from Shaw Street to Avenue Road is expected to be debated at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC). The motion then goes to City Council in May with the pilot project installed this summer if approved. This represents the culmination of twenty five years of work done by city planners and cycling groups such as Bells on Bloor and Cycle Toronto. For my final Bloor update before this critical vote, let’s find out where we stand.
Bloor pilot project open house - March 9, 2016

March 01, 2016

Public Works Politicking

Today, I used my day off work to make a deputation at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC), which is responsible for Toronto's cycling infrastructure. For those working nine to five jobs (like me), taking time off is the only way to make a live deputation; leaving most people to resort to written submissions. The motion in question requested the City's Cycling Unit to study higher funding levels for the new bike plan ($20 million & $25 million) in order to fulfill Cycle Toronto's call for a Minimum Grid of 100 km of cycle tracks & 100 km of bicycle boulevards by 2018.
Cycle Toronto used these ribbons to spread the
word on the Minimum Grid campaign in 2014

February 23, 2016

Shore Excursions & Exploring (Part 1)

While the cruise experience on the Carnival Liberty offered many on board activities, delicious food, and exceptional service per the previous post, the real action occurs at the ports of call! Swimming at beaches, exploring the nearby town (or even the entire island), and shopping are safe bets regardless of the island. To ensure you enjoy your Caribbean experience to the fullest, you will want to go on at least a couple of excursions offered by the cruise line. Since it’s easy to go financially overboard with these excursions, I will discuss a few of the ones I’ve done and would recommend to others.
One of the beaches at St. Kitts

February 16, 2016

Just Cruisin' For Travel

To temporarily shift the focus away from cycling, the next few posts will discuss the Caribbean cruise I went on with my dad on the first week in February, the excursions, and the ports of call. The cruise ship – Carnival Liberty – started its journey at San Juan (Puerto Rico) and stopped at the following five ports: St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands), Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and Sint Maarten. I will start off with the general cruise experience.

February 12, 2016

Twelve Days of Bicycles – Twelve Tourists Touring

After over two months of covering a diversity of cycling topics from group rides to protected intersections, there remains one last post in the “Twelve Days of Bicycles” series. Since I recently returned from the Caribbean and found some cycling tourism inspiration there, let’s wrap up this series and kick off some new travel talk at the same time!
Bicycle tour in Sint Maarten

January 29, 2016

Twelve Days of Bicycles - Eleven Trails Ablazing

UPDATE (2016/02/09): This post has also been featured in Dandyhorse, which can be viewed at this link.

Until February 15, 2016, stakeholders of the West Toronto Railpath Extension have the opportunity to comment on the Environmental Study Report (ESR). Hard copies of the report exceeding 400 pages (including appendices) can be read at the Parkdale, College-Shaw, and Fort York Libraries, while an online version is also available at The West Toronto Railpath is a multi-use path popular with west-end residents which goes along the Kitchener GO corridor from Cariboo Street to the current terminus of Dundas Street West. This first phase was completed in 2008 and won an urban design award in 2011.
Existing West Toronto Railpath next to Kitchener GO Line

January 18, 2016

Twelve Days of Bicycles - Ten Quaxers Quaxing

Upon reading this title, some of you may wonder what the duck is “quaxing” or if I had suddenly become loony. First off, quaxing has nothing to do with duck sounds. Instead, the term was coined in response to a gaffe committed by Auckland city councillor Dick Quax. During a Twitter exchange with a local cyclist last year, Quax ridiculed the idea of shopping by bike or public transit, which prompted cyclists to tweet pictures using the #quaxing hashtag to prove cars aren’t necessary to shop. This term has since become popular with cyclists around the world, including in Toronto.[1]

January 01, 2016

Twelve Days of Bicycles - Nine Lives A Saving

If you ask any person how many road fatalities are acceptable, chances are he/she will mention zero. Unfortunately, road fatalities are a common occurrence in which 38 pedestrians (including one on December 30) and four cyclists were killed in the City of Toronto this year alone. A recent report by the Pembina Institute called “Cycle Cities” cited Toronto had the highest cycling crash rate among five major Canadian cities (five per 100,000). In June, three cycling deaths over a two week period prompted Cycle Toronto to hold the city’s first “die-in” where over 100 cyclists lied down with their bikes at Nathan Phillips Square.[1] The following asks were made at the “die-in”: