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]

To tie in to quaxing, Cycle Toronto Ward 18 hosted an event on Thursday, January 14 called “Bike Lanes Mean Business” to justify extending the proposed Bloor pilot project (currently from Shaw Street to Avenue Road) into their ward. The following speakers were featured by order of appearance:
From left to right: Ana Bailao, Nancy Smith Lea, Matthew Lynch,
Yvonne Bambrick, Jared Kolb, Liza Lukashevsky
Bambrick emceed the event and introduced herself as the Jared before Jared, given she was Cycle Toronto’s founding executive director. She introduced the other speakers and helped provide an advocacy perspective throughout the event.

Bailao started by thanking Cycle Toronto Ward 18 for their advocacy efforts, including their annual Custard Tart Rides. She expressed the frustrating reality of how citizens are so welcoming of change during elections but end up not really being so afterwards. She highlighted challenges such as intensification and how it’s our job as citizens to deal with such challenges while taking everyone’s interests into consideration. She concluded by stressing the importance of extending the pilot project into Ward 18.

Lynch provided an economic perspective by presenting the Cycling Economies slides; a staple in getting businesses on board. The presentation proved why the interests of cyclists and businesses are aligned, as evident with the growing cycling modal share and the merchants’ overestimating of the proportion of customers who arrive by car. In cities like New York, installing protected bike lanes on 9th street lead to a 49% increase in commercial activity compared to 3% citywide. Lynch also pointed out installing bike lanes would only lead to a 5-10 percent reduction in on-street parking, which could be accommodated with Green P lots.
Slides from Cycling Economies presentation (click to enlarge)

Smith Lea complemented that presentation with an updated local perspective. The Annex and Koreatown BIA’s will be studied to compare economic factors and bike counts before and after the pilot project installation. A control site outside of the pilot project area will also be studied with a final report expected in January 2017.

Kolb then lightened the mood by mentioning how only in Toronto could a bar be packed to discuss bike lanes. He asked how it was possible for a city which removed bike lanes four years ago could get this far in getting the Bloor pilot project realized. Councillors Mike Layton and Joe Cressy were given credit, as well as Cycle Toronto’s volunteers who collected almost 6000 signatures and canvassed businesses to put up Bloor Loves Bikes stickers, over 60 of which did. Kolb referenced CP24’s “Ask The Mayor” show, where John Tory practically endorsed the Bloor pilot project (with concerns) to great fanfare.
Packed house at Ciro's for the event
If there is one enthusiastically pro-cycling BIA chair on Bloor, it’s Liza Lukashevsky who owns Nuthouse. She drove the message home by citing her personal experiences on how cyclists (not drivers) are the best customers. Cyclists come more frequently (rain or shine) and are not in a rush to avoid getting towed. Her employees bike to work, which saves them from getting stuck in traffic or wiping snow off their vehicles. While Lukashevsky cited support from most BIA members, she mentioned deliveries are a legitimate concern. Even with side streets, it was easier than delivering to Kensington Market.

Before the event concluded with a musical performance by Coco Love Alcorn, a Q&A session was held. In addition to stressing the need to build consensus, Bailao announced bike lanes will get installed on Lansdowne Avenue from Dupont Street to Lappin Avenue this summer along with a new traffic signal at Lappin.
Coco Love Alcorn singing on stage with Kevin Lacroix
and Don Kerr on guitar, and Bruce on drums
If you are looking to shop on your bicycle, backpacks or messenger bags are good for small loads. Front panniers and rear luggage racks provide increased cargo capacity, while bike trailers or cargo bikes are recommended for large loads (along with an electric assist if needed).

Keep on quaxing!
Rob Z (e-mail)

UPDATE (2016/01/20): Dandyhorse Magazine reposted this post onto their blog. You can access it here.

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