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!

Cycling Breakthroughs

If there could be one breakthrough year for cycling, this one would be it. After forty years of advocacy, a bike lane pilot project has finally been installed on Bloor Street from Shaw Street to Avenue Road. A new bike plan was approved by Toronto city council which doubled the cycling infrastructure budget to $16 million per year. Bike Share Toronto was expanded to 2000 bikes and 200 stations for the first time since its 2011 introduction. And while there are still people like Councillor Stephen Holyday holding back progress, the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee quickly killed his bicycle licensing motion and City Council recently referred back to staff a dangerous motion which would have allowed disability permit vehicles to park in bike lanes. Hopefully, the referral of the latter will lead to proper consultation on accessibility issues. (more on this here)
Bells on Bloor - September 25, 2016
As far as my involvement goes, I stepped aside as Co-Captain of Cycle Toronto’s Ward 14 Advocacy Group and will be working on their Advocacy Committee for the next two years. Before this change, I helped organize a neighbourhood cycling town hall which saw all three levels of government present.

Travel Firsts
In late January, I boarded a cruise ship for the first time in the Caribbean. Before then, I only went south once in Florida almost ten years ago. The cruise experience provided a few additional firsts including scuba diving and snorkelling. While backpacking around Europe is more my style, it was still a fascinating experience and I did get to do a bike tour in Sint Maarten.
Cycle tourism this year wasn't limited to the Caribbean. Thanks to Helen, we have been able to do a few bike tours closer to home. These include Niagara Region with their multi-day circle route, Ajax with their minimum grid in the making, and Prince Edward County for a countryside feel.

Rediscovered Passions

Last Christmas, I got my first DSLR camera – a Canon Rebel T5. Photography was something I enjoyed while in high school and university, but was put on the backburner ever since except for when on vacation. Even with today’s phones doubling as cameras, there are certain pictures which can only be done with a DSLR and I sought to bring it everywhere. Especially for wildlife shots which require a telephoto zoom lens and covering events in low light.
One of my favourite wildlife pictures of 2016 (More on Flickr)
Normally, I don’t attend music festivals or concerts due to their high costs, but did check out Field Trip and NXNE Port Lands this year through some volunteering. Having listened to Indie88 regularly while commuting, many of the artists were readily recognizable such as Brave Shores and The National. For the number of acts presented, the $60 – 80 cost for one day passes sounds reasonable. Factor in the fun activities offered at music festivals – Field Trip had a pedal cell phone charger and kids activities while NXNE had some Texas themed booths – and they are a worthwhile experience to check at least once. The only concern is the high cost of food and drink, which is the norm at all sporting and music events.
Field Trip on June 4, 2016 - The Fort York grounds were packed later that evening
There were some music events which are free to the public such as the Beaches Jazz Festival, though I wouldn’t call it a jazz festival with the abundance of other genres. Finally, there was some hiking along the Bruce Trail in August and some skating, which has been an on and off activity.

Final Thoughts

There have been some disappointing events this year such as the passing of music legends like David Bowie and Prince, election reform botching by Toronto city council and the Trudeau government (remember the fiasco), and the election of Donald Trump south of the border. However, there has been a lot of good this year and I have found having the right friends and social circles always helps keep pessimistic thoughts in check.

I will close this off by thanking you for reading and commenting on my posts throughout the year, as well wishing you all a Merry Christmas! Now let's ring in 2017 in style!

Rob Z

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