commuting

Lower speed limits proposal by Toronto councillor

Car Crash-Woodbine Danforth-May 08-2009-2242
(Photo: sniderscion)

Councillor Bill Saundercook will be proposing to the City of Toronto's Pedestrian Committee a 10 km/h reduction in the speed limit across Toronto. His call is taking place just as Councillor Walker is pushing his own idea of "safety" by imposing more restrictions on cyclists with mandatory helmets and licenses. Guess which proposal is not blaming the victims and trying to instead get at the root of the problem: almost all traffic fatalities involve heavy motor vehicles.

"When you start seeing the (pedestrian) fatalities across Toronto, and you start studying where they're occurring, then you're going to see in the suburbs of Toronto ... where we have posted 60 km/h speed limits and in some places even as much as 70, that whenever there's a collision in those areas, it's usually a fatality," he said yesterday.

"You don't want people to say, 'I'm not going to walk because it's too risky.' "

Collapsible Bicycle Trailer

Here's a short (sales) video of a collapsible bike trailer. I think this is a good idea.
I've often wished for a smaller trailer that wouldn't get in the way when empty. What do you think?

Extra points to those who can tell where it's filmed!

Time lapse cycling 2004-2009 in Toronto

Youtube user JHGRedekop has posted videos of their GPS tracings from 2004 to 2009, covering a large part of the city.

A time-lapse animation of my recumbent cycling in Toronto, spanning 2004 to 2009. In all, about 650 hours of cycling totalling almost 8100km.

This is the total record of all my recumbent riding. Individual years are also available as separate videos, and there are more details in the comments on those.

The red path represents five minutes of cycling. Rides outside the borders of the map are represented by a red arrow; the longer the arrow, the further the bike is from the border.

The routes are similar to my own: I am a heavy downtown cyclist. I sometimes venture further afield, taking the Don, Humber, Waterfront or the major arterial roads.

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.

Highway 401 cuts Toronto in half

Very few Torontonians attempt to bike across the 401. riconroy has crossed and has survived to give us a video of how little you'd want to repeat that experience. That being said, I've crossed it many times - I hate doing it every time but I can do it well.

The Dupont and Dundas Bicycle Mural

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Last evening I decided to finally document the bicycle mural at Dupont and Dundas West.
Fine work indeed. Noticed several cyclist taking a walk along the mural just to admire it.
Sweet.

Editor's Note: We will have a full-feature article about these new murals soon, once they are completed. Stay tuned!

How do you like your streetcar tracks?

San Francisco is looking at how Toronto cyclists deal with streetcar tracks. The answer: not very easily. Toronto streetcar tracks have been the bane of many cyclists, both experienced and green. Being one of just a handful of North American cities with streetcars, Toronto could provide valuable information.

What can San Francisco learn from the Toronto experience? What ways can cities improve the safety for cyclists crossing tracks?

Experienced bicyclists tend to figure out the best way to navigate the tracks, but what can be done to prevent less-experienced bicyclists from getting stuck in the rail depressions so regularly?

In Toronto, where bicyclists also have to contend with a maze of tracks, several at-grade railroad crossings are equipped with a rubber flange filler that is jammed down into the cracks of trolley tracks. The rubber is firm enough that it doesn't compress when a bike passes over it, but when a streetcar comes it squishes down and doesn't cause the train to derail.

The material is not used for Toronto's extensive network of streetcar tracks in the city's core, however, and bikes routinely get caught in the tracks. "The at-grade railroad crossings do have some of that incorporated, but certainly not the main hazards to cyclists, which are the arterial road streetcar tracks," said Yvonne Bambrick, Executive Director of the Toronto Cyclists Union.

"There’s a lot of places where several tracks meet and turn. They’re trickier to navigate, but folks that have been at it for a while have figured out how to do it. It’s not that hard: you pay attention and learn how to do it, it’s all good. It does catch people fairly regularly."

Fighting traffic tickets

Have you received a traffic ticket from Toronto Police's bike blitz this week? The ARCwiki has a great resource on fighting traffic tickets or our copy in the guide.

Tickets may be issued for moving violations (such as failing to stop), or for inadequate bike equipment (lights, for example). You can't receive demerit points on your driver's licence for tickets received while on a bicycle.

Don't escalate the situation by yelling, etc. Stay calm, it's just a ticket. You will be able to fight it. Don't assume that as a "law-abiding citizen" you can't be criminally charged just for being annoying. It has happened and it sucks. If necessary, there is a police complaints process.

Write down what happened as soon as possible after receiving the ticket. Include the location, direction of travel, the incident, witnesses, etc. Obtain as much information as possible at the scene. Sign and date it.

Call for witnesses: It is very hard to get them later. Get their phone number or contact information. Ask them to make a signed and dated statement of events as soon as possible. All of the information you need about your charge and the officer (such as badge number and division) should be on your ticket.

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