December 24, 2021

2021 Gone to the Dogs

This past year ended as it began with COVID-19 cases surging thanks to the Omicron variant. Before then, it appeared the pandemic was being brought under control in Canada with millions rolling up their sleeves to get vaccinated. Speaking of which, we got our booster shots last weekend. 2021 saw the threat of climate change brought to our doorstep with British Columbia experiencing record heat, wildfires, and floods, while democracy south of the border was under threat with the January 6 Capitol Hill insurrection. As I mark my 35th orbit around the sun tomorrow, it’s time to reflect of some significant personal changes that happened over the past year.

Mozzie when we first picked him up in Ottawa

By far the biggest change is welcoming Mozzie into our home. It’s hard to believe how fast our miniature poodle has grown since we got him during the May long weekend. He outgrew his bike basket less than three months later, but is still a cute furball. He gets walked twice a day and enjoyed lots of new adventures along the way. Especially hiking in the woods and accompanying us on countless bike rides. Which brings us to my next big change …
Mozzie inside the cargo bike in December

Since Mozzie outgrew his basket, Helen got a Muli cargo bike to bring him around, as well as haul lots of groceries. Having attended a cargo bike meetup in September, I was impressed with how cargo bikes are becoming more popular in Toronto. One thing that remains contentious for some advocates is e-assist bikes, though I certainly understand why people would opt for e-assist when it comes to cargo bikes. Helps make going up steep hills and/or hauling heavy cargo over long distances a lot easier.

A peaceful protest organized by Safe Parkside in October

After having volunteered with Cycle Toronto for about eight years, I said goodbye when my three year board term expired and opted not to run again. This allowed me to focus my efforts with the more grassroots oriented Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition, as well as spend time with Mozzie. I joined a new neighbourhood group called Safe Parkside which kicked into high gear when Valdemar and Fatima Avila were killed in October. A motion was passed at City Council in November to put in improvements such as a 40 km/h speed limit, speed cameras, and including the redesign of Parkside Drive as part of the High Park Movement Strategy. We were disappointed over adding Green P parking which could become difficult to remove later on. More news on the movement strategy will follow in the New Year.

December saw a few cycling related motions approved by City Council. Seven of the eight ActiveTO bike lanes installed last year were made permanent; the eighth of which was removed on Brimley last year. The 2022-24 bike plan was approved which called for 100 km of bike lanes including extending those on Bloor to Six Points, as well as those on Danforth into Scarborough and onto Kingston Road. The City opted for an e-cargo bike pilot to allow cargo bikes heavier than 120 kg while a new TransformTO motion calls for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 and 75% of commutes under five kilometres to e made by foot, bike, or transit by 2030.

Mozzie hiking by Eau Clair Gorge

One thing I am sad about for this year is the lack of long rides except for one to Brampton in April. No out-of-town bike rides were done this year, though future ones would require renting a minivan so we can bring the cargo bike (and Mozzie). However, we did go to North Bay in late July and Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area for the Labour Day weekend to do some hiking, blueberry picking (in Sudbury), and a couple of failed attempts with the folding canoe.

Eau Clair Gorge in Mattawa (east of North Bay)

There was one cyclist fatality this year at Avenue and Bloor in August. Despite the media attention regarding the crash – one caused by the City not following through with ActiveTO on Avenue – nothing is being proposed for that street before 2025. It serves as a sombre reminder how much we advocates have to go in making our streets safe. Even with the 29 kilometres installed last year and 21 kilometres this year per the bike lane tracker.

Ghost bike being installed at Avenue and Bloor

With two elections coming in 2022 – one for Ontario in June and one for Toronto in October – I am encouraging Torontonians to donate $35 to Progress Toronto as a birthday fundraiser. This organization has been instrumental in standing up to Doug Ford’s destructive agenda and organizing for various city-wide issues in between elections such as affordable housing, public washrooms, and snow clearing. In election years and during by-elections, they help organize to elect progressive champions to City Council and succeeded in 2018 by defeating one of the worst city councillors (Giorgio Mammoliti).

I look forward to continue organizing for a better Toronto (and Ontario) with you all in the New Year.

Merry Christmas!

No comments:

Post a Comment