It makes me happy

Crossposted to Spacing

Riding my bike makes me happy.

That is why I would like to share this article by an Edmontonian cyclist-soul-sister called, Biking as spiritual exercise. It is an ode of sorts to fair-weather cycling. Although I ride in the rain, and sometimes snow, I no longer bike year round as I simply do not feel safe enough in our city’s streets. But, I will not rant on about the lack of cycling infrastructure and empty council promises today. This is a happy post for a beautiful day.


blockquote>Robins and crocuses are all well and good. But I know spring has arrived the first time I ride my bike to work.

I’m not one of those hard-core cyclists who ride in all weathers. I am a cycling wimp. I don’t bike in the snow. I rarely ride in the rain. And I never ride in the dark. I pedal slowly and sedately, down lanes and side streets, smiling to myself as grim-faced racers flash past. I could tell you I ride my bike because I’m concerned about greenhouse-gas emissions. Or about my health. Those would be the fashionable, politically correct responses. But in fact, I ride for the most selfish and sybaritic of reasons.

It makes me happy.

The Dutch and their bike (ads)

The following video is via Martino's Bikelane Diary, who is also a member of I Bike TO.

I second Martino's enthusiasm for this collection of Dutch bicycle promotion ads. They have a bit of humour. I don't think the Dutch are normally known for humour - tulips, pot, water, bikes and tolerance, perhaps - not so much humour. I was always told growing up that the Dutch are much more into slapstick than the dry wit style of the British. But not true: I love the ad with the mafiosa who laugh at the guy who rode his bike. At the end the two get into a Lincoln-style car and it explodes. It says: "Fietsers leven langer" (Cyclists live longer).

My Dutch is pretty lax so I don't know if I got the translation right for another ad:

Als we zo graag op de fiets zitten waarom staan we dan in de file?

Fietsen naar je werk. Een goede zaak.

(If we can so easily sit on the bike why do we then stand in line/traffic jam?

Bike to work. It's a good thing.

Bike Swap Earth Day


bike chalk outlineThe bike swap celebrated its first anniversary successfully and it can get even better next time.

I think there is a lot of pent-up demand for bikes. We had a lot of people come around expecting to see a lot of bikes for sale, but we just didn't get enough sellers! I know they are out there, the items for sale on the Toronto craigslist is huge.

Yesterday was Earth Day and I spent a good 12 hours of it co-organizing the Bike Swap for the Community Bicycle Network along with Steve of the U of T BikeChain and a bunch of great volunteers - all interested in helping out with the small details of bikes and trading them. We also had our local Bike Pirates volunteer their time.

The swap is organized around exchanging money for bikes, not so much trading a bike for a bike. We take a 15% consignment fee for our troubles of connecting buyers and sellers.

The whole bike swap is great because it meets two essential missions of the cycling community, it raises some money to do cycling education and advocacy, and it helps connect people with new bikes. It's a win-win.

A Manic Monday in the North End

Today started out with the sad news that a TTC employee was killed on the job inside the subway tunnel. The whole story isn't in yet.

This led to the closure of the Yonge subway for a few stops. Interestingly, the city closed Yonge Street to car traffic south of Lawrence to keep it clear for the bus shuttles. I went to the intersection of Yonge and Lawrence to see what this would look like. I even had my camera with me, but I was surprised to see things in general order, and traffic not really backed up. I didn't bother taking a picture.

The shuttle buses were packed, and were leaving from York Mills. When I arrived there, I could see more evidence of the strange situation.

There was a steady flow of people and more than enough to fill the shuttle buses.

After passing York Mills, everything seemed to be relatively normal.

Then came the afternoon commute.

Top Ten Excuses for not Commuting by Bike

10. I need my car for work.
Many transportation tasks could be handled equally well if not better on a bike. Meet with your employer and see if your company might not benefit from a more environmentally-friendly image if you conducted your business by bike. Consider that many traditional tasks adapt well to cycling, whether it's police work, meter reading, postal delivery, and so on.

9. I'd have to get up much earlier if I rode my bicycle.
You'd be surprised! Because of traffic in urban areas, cycling generally takes less time than driving for distances of three miles or less, and about the same time for trips of three to five miles. But even if your commute is longer, 30 minutes of extra sleep won't be nearly as invigorating as an early morning ride. You'll arrive at work alert and refreshed. Likewise, your evening ride home should leave you more relaxed since you won't face the aggravation of sitting in rush hour traffic. And you won't have to rush off to an evening work-out to unwind. You'll already have accomplished that! Also, don't forget your savings of time, money (and the environment benefit) when you eliminate visits to the gas pump.

8. I'm out of shape.

Herb - An (out of the) ordinary cyclist

A mock interview of Herb vanden Dool, by Herb vanden Dool.

We hope to make these cyclist profiles a major feature of this website!



  • What do you use your bike for?

    I ride everywhere - to work and back; to get groceries or to hang out with friends. Only the coldest, most miserable days of winter stop me. I just bought a trailer so I can carry larger items on the back as well.

  • How long have you cycled?

    I've been cycling since I was a kid on a farm in Alberta. I once biked the 20 kilometres to Lethbridge from our farm and figured it was a big undertaking. Now it seems easy, but perhaps it wasn't considering the regular hurricane force winds on the prairies.

  • How often do your ride?

    I end up riding whenever I'm not working from home. It gets me out of my neighbourhood which is getting a bit dreary.

  • Who inspired you to start bike commuting?

    I started commuting in Edmonton, but when I moved to Toronto I got involved with the Community Bicycle Network thanks to Ron Kuipers and Todd Parsons. They got me into cycling activism which eventually led to this website!

  • Any advice for new riders?
  • Cycling in Shanghai

    Shanghai still has a very high level of commuting by bicycle even though car ownership is booming. There are just so many people there that even at the current rate of car purchases that in 20 years car usage will still be in the minority.

    There has been a concerted effort on the part of politicians to get rid of all the bicycles from major roads in order to make room for cars. Recently the city has begun to reverse that decision at least in some ways. They've begun to build bike lanes while at the same as trying to make intersections more efficient for car flow. This may seem reasonable enough as a win-win solution, but from experience in the west you can't really encourage car driving in the city as well as cycling and walking. The current building of bike lanes seems to be a way to marginalize cyclists by shoving them from their current position across the roadway. This is quite the opposite use of bike lanes in western countries where a bike lane is welcomed as breather space by cyclists.

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