In the spirit of the season buy your loved on a new bike, or else

From Tamara Askew. If your ungrateful child just hates all the expensive gifts you purchased for them, perhaps they just wanted a bike. The video mentions a UK bike store, Bonthrone Bikes, as the place to buy these ungrateful ones what they really want, but really you can find some closer to home. If you're thinking of buying me a bike, please first consult at Hoopdriver Bicycles first, but I can make do with Urbane Cyclist or Curbside as well. Now you have no excuse.

New cycling mural at Dupont and Dundas

If you haven't been through the railway underpass next to the Dundas St. West and Dupont St. intersection in West Toronto recently, you have been missing out on some incredible changes! The streetscape has evolved tremendously in the past couple of months: The West Toronto Railpath linear park and trail is now open, there are bicycle lanes on Dupont St., and a brand new mural dedicated to bicycle culture has been painted along the entire 400 foot south wall.

Talk about a major transformation! Standing next to the railway bridges, you can see all these sights come together into a single place where a formerly desolate bike- and pedestrian-unfriendly area has been completely transformed. Just stand there and look at the bright colours, watch people walk by above you on the Railpath, watch cyclists stream by on the Dupont St. bike lanes, and listen to people as they talk about the new mural. Beautiful!

The mural, titled Strength in Numbers, was installed by a group of artists from Art Starts, an organization that helps build Toronto communities by using the arts. Funding for these murals came from the City of Toronto's Graffiti Transformation Investment Program, as well as the Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council. Lead artists Joshua Barndt and Jamie Bradbury, along with five youth artists painted the murals over four weeks in July and August 2009.

I interviewed lead artist Jamie Bradbury, who provided some insight about the mural:

Why did you choose to do a cycling-themed mural? Why this location?

The cycling theme was chosen as a starting point for the mural initially as we started the mural due to two main reasons. The west Toronto bike path being built above, we felt that biking as an issue was an umbrella for many other issues such as sustainability, eco-friendly cities, green space, alternative transportation. An artist and avid cyclist named Galen was also killed 5 years ago right at this location, and it was somewhat of an homage to him.

Curating a beater bike

David Chant, owner of Resist Gallery in Toronto, had enough of the cheap but disfunctional department store bikes. He decided to do something about it by "curating" a bike for the masses: the Beater Bike. Dave endeavoured to create an inexpensive bike that was still strong and practical for the urban experience. I went to its launch party at Dave's Gallery/Showroom.

These sturdy, steel bikes are assembled in Bulgaria and the frames come from China. Canadian tariffs are much lower on EU bikes compared to Chinese bikes: 15% versus 150%. Dave took the "Henry Ford approach of offering any colour the customer may want so long as it was army green. The costs are reduced by offering only one size, one colour, and two different frames: step-through and "regular".

The whole process started only 9 months ago, but was delayed by the unavailability of ships to Montreal due to the global recession. Despite the late launch Dave is confident that he'll sell them through the fall and chalk it up to a learning experience. Next year Dave is planning to offer an even more stripped down bike, possibly an "ugly" fixie or coaster brake with a front drum brake. He'll also be looking for bike stores to start stocking the Beater Bike.

Photo journal contest of your commute

Send your commuting photos to Smart Commute Toronto and Spacing. The winners will be published in Spacing! Winning photos and runners up will also be posted online at Spacing.

Only submissions of 3-5 photos or a multi-photo compilation based on a commuting theme will be accepted, captions are optional.

I know there's got to be a lot of great cycling commuter photos out there. Let's get someone's outrageous commute from the far edge of Scarborough.

Contest closes April 30th, 2009.

The Other School

Driving SchoolDriving School

Art by Fauxreel & Specter @ 39 Lisgar


Crossing the line of "vandalizing" public property, artist Peter Gibson a.k.a Roadsworth was arrested a few years ago for his spray-painted art on Montreal's roads. The Canadian Film Board has a film about his work and struggle with the legal authorities (thanks to Mark Shouldice for telling me about him). The law may have been against him but the public was quite sympathetic.

bike stencil

Peter's first stencil was a bit of bicycle political activism. In his own words is was his "belief that every street should have a bike paths."

footprint stencil

Peter soon graduated up to some great, fun stencils provoking our ingrained assumptions of "public" space that has become highly controlled and more often than not given over to the dominant creature, the motor vehicle. One of my favorites is the giant footprint, a simple but smart way to bring back the pedestrian: "A huge boot print dwarfs the surrounding area implying that the streets, ultimately, belong to pedestrians."




Local artist Barry Prophet is opening his latest work on Centre Island (just north-east of the bike rental place), this Sunday, June 22 at 2:00pm. Synthecycletron is a pedal-powered interactive sound exhibit that allows anyone to create improvised music by pedaling a bike and moving their bodies to shape the sounds.

Read on for more details about the work, as well as a sample sound clip.

Music for 6008 Spokes

One of our I Bike T.O. regular readers forwarded us the following email. Sounds like a creative way to have fun with bikes!


blockquote>May 31, 2008 - 3:00 p.m. - 6 pm.

New Music Arts Projects
Track field, King Edward PS, 112 Lippincott St., Toronto

Sometimes, interesting means simple, and a bicycle with a bell is more useful than a graduate degree in making music. Case in point - Mauricio Kagel's Eine Brise for 111 cyclists. This musical work may have been intended as a two-page testament to conceptual art, but mere technicalities cannot stop the two-wheeled artistic soul. A critical mass of cyclists will ride around the audience in formation, creating a web of sonic undulation. It could sound wonderful, it could sound awful, but in truth we'll have no idea until the actual performance!

If you have a bike with a bell or horn, are not too ashamed to make strange noises, can ride in formation at a comfortably moderate speed, and are interested in "riding" some Kagel, go here to find more details on how to join in the fun:

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