It's no earth-shattering news that biking with a baby or a kid turns regular, confident adults into super cautious and anxious parents. I become super aware of any movement and try to guess the intention of every driver before even they are aware of their next move. A slight movement to the right means they're thinking about turning right. A tilt of the wheels means they want get out of their parking space as quickly as possible. But this is exhausting, so for the most part I try to avoid busy streets as much as possible unless there is a dedicated and physically separated bike lane.

My daughter is 2 years old and we've been biking with her for over a year. She's content and happy to be riding in her front bike seat on our bikes (my wife and I both have one on the front). I get many wows and comments about the Yepp Mini bike seat (even though I think my bike is even more interesting). It's a bit of golden age for bike gear for children. It's much easier to find quality bike seats and bikes for children in North America, much of which is common in northern Europe where people have much more experience of carting kids around by bike.

The Yepp Mini puts the kid right in front of me, putting their head right near mine. This lets me hear a lot more of what she's saying and I can talk or sing to her without having to yell over car noises. The Mini easily mounts on the bike, in this case a Workcycles FR8. I love this bike. It's very sturdy, big comfortable tires, can carry a tonne, and can stand outside without getting rusty. It's also slow. It has a cool feature that allows it to comfortably fit a wide range of heights. In short, it's built like an SUV.

I've created a quiet route from home to daycare, avoiding the speeding cars on Queen Street West as much as possible. But we can't avoid Queen St entirely so for that section, without any sense of guilt, I ride on the sidewalk. I ride slowly and carefully and will give the right of way to anyone walking. People are quite accommodating when you've got a baby on board.

Once I arrive at the daycare, I use the double kickstand to prop up the bike safely. It is quite sturdy, but I'm thinking of getting an even wider one, which might require looking online.

At the daycare

The Fr8 has a built-in front rack that is attached to the frame rather than the handlebars and fork, which is typical for baskets. This means the bag for daycare stays stable and won't affect steering. They've thought of everything.

Local tourists

For last few months I've been with the toddler during the day for half the week and she's in daycare the other half. It's been wonderful. So long as there's been no ice, we've had the chance to explore many parts of our neighbourhood. For instance, we enjoyed taking the pedestrian/cycling bridge from Portland to CityPlace, stopping along the way to look at the trains.


We've enjoyed going further south to Queens Quay and bike along the new, completely separated bike path. Always get lots of looks at the bike and baby. My ego likes the attention and I think the toddler does too. It's quite sad that the City couldn't bother to provide a safe, comfortable link between the city and the water. Strachan sucks, Bathurst is worse. Simcoe has a semblance of a bike lane so is probably the best. But when I take the bridge at Portland, the easiest is to continue south taking Dan Leckie Way. For some reason the planners made this tiny road with minimal traffic into a wide, fast four lane road with turning lanes. It's sad and ironic, given that Dan Leckie was one of the first city councillors to champion bike lanes. According to Councillor Cressy, there are hopes to put bike lanes on this street, but it baffles me that the staff couldn't have just done it on this brand new road. It shows how much it's a fight against an internal culture with staff that ignores and devalues cycling, just as much as the more visible fights against knee-jerk politicians.

Regardless, riding along Queens Quay during a week day is great. No traffic, barely any bikes or pedestrians. Just us, the boats, ducks and perhaps another toddler/caregiver going by.


I've been accused of "age and gender discrimination" by a self-described "grey-haired guy", John Schubert.

At least I think its me. It certainly seems as if he's referencing a blog post I wrote a few years ago: "Avid cyclists as policy makers are going extinct and they've no one else to blame". I've accused John Schubert and company, of being "avid cyclists" who achieved positions of some influence over cycling infrastructure and were able to impede its progress for decades. Below you can see some of these surviving "avid" cyclists (source), on a trip to critique New York City's cycling infrastructure. The three on left are members of the obscure but semi-powerful National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices Bicycle Technical Committee (John Schubert, John Allen and John Ciccarelli, members of NCUTCDBTC, and New York bicycling advocate and planner Steve Faust).

I compared their approach to cycling with that of more recent leaders in cycling infrastructure, including Janette Sadik Khan (former head of NYDOT), Mia Birk (former Portland Bicycle Program Manager and Alta Planning principal) and Dr. Monica Campbell of Toronto Public Health. All my examples happened to be women (this will become important below).

I called the former cycling leaders "avid cyclists" to capture an attitude to cycling which is usually revealed by the specialized cycling clothing, specialized gear, and a focus on training to cycle in any kind of urban traffic. It certainly has its appeal to some people (as it does to me who has been known to have fiddled and repaired many a bike, taught CAN-BIKE to many, and obsessed over bike gear). But it does not appeal to the masses. And the evidence shows how cycling barely survived for decades in car-obsessed North America.

The new leaders do not focus on special clothing, nor gear, nor riding skills akin to training to "run among a herd of elephants". Rather they have focused on making cycling appealing to the masses by making the urban environment more comfortable and safer. As I mentioned in the previous post, "increasingly these policy makers are not the gear heads, "avid" cyclists and the road warriors - the survivors when everyone else stopped cycling. I'll happily put myself in the category of a reforming avid cyclist. Instead the leaders are increasingly women and men who are intensely interested in making cycling (and walking) safer for their families."

But here's what Schubert says in the quote taken up by NYC Bike Snob:

Here’s a story about age and gender discrimination: Some years ago, I participated in a review of some bicycle facilities in New York. We found that one facility, if you obeyed the traffic signals, would only allow an average speed of six mph (and that’s in uncontested traffic conditions). That’s unlikely to generate much compliance with the signals. We found other stuff, good and bad. We reported on it. So a few years after that, I found that some know-it-all had decided we were all irrelevant because we were old white guys. And published a picture of us, comparing it with a picture of Mia Birk of Alta Planning. And said how much greater Mia is, because she’s an attractive younger female, and we weren’t. Birk is known for defending bicycle facilities that cause bicyclists to get crushed underneath turning trucks whose drivers never saw them. (Hint: Google “truck bicycle blind spot” for some important information.) Most of the people saying, “No, don’t build this crap” are old white guys. But our viewpoints should be ignored, because we’re old and white.

For the record no where have I said "Mia is better because she's an attractive younger female". Note that he ignores Sadik Khan who is not young, and also Dr. Campbell (because he has no idea of her age). I have even less respect for Schubert now.

I couldn't care less about the age or gender of these people. Though it is telling of the background and environment in which they grew up. It wouldn't matter who these guys are except that as part of the semi-powerful NCUTCDBTC committee they've helped hinder truly transformative bike facilities in the US. It was only when some leaders who happened to be mostly women (with a range of ages) did an end run around this committee and created their own guide for cities that they helped break the strangle hold.

I am a white-bearded man in his forties. My mother rode her bike everywhere growing up in The Netherlands. I am quite happy that the old ideas are losing their grip and new ones are gaining power. And it doesn't matter if the people who embody those ideas are young, old, of any gender, class, race, culture.

My toddler also thanks the new leaders in safer cycling. Now we must ride off to the playground. (For gearheads: the bike is a Workcycle).

baby on bike


In the ongoing saga in asking for safe, comfortable cycling on downtown's John Street, Trinity-Spadina MPP Han Dong cancelled a planned meeting with constituents, community representatives and cycling advocates on less than a day’s notice and didn't respond to correspondence from Trinity Spadina residents and voters for months.

In his email to the cycling advocates in November of last year, Dong’s Senior Chief of Staff, Ted Lojko replied after a delay: 

After discussing the issue of conducting another Environmental Assessment for John Street which was already conducted in 2014, neither the local city councillor, nor the City of Toronto Planning Department feel there is a need to conduct another Environmental Assessment. Therefore we have cancelled the Meeting with Han Dong. He has no intent to work against the local councillor and feels the previously conducted Environmental Assessment sufficiently addressed local conditions. If the local councillor or City of Toronto Planning staff wish to request an additional Environmental Assessment Han would be happy to discuss this. But until that time, there is no need to discuss the matter further with our office. 

A group of private citizens paid for their own professional traffic bicycle count at the John and Queen intersection last fall which demonstrated there have been material changes to the facts on which that Assessment was based. Their count last year revealed that an average of 65% of all traffic are bicycles. From Brian Iler's February 21 letter to Councillor Cressy, who has also refused to change the plans:

Our study revealed that, in the six morning and evening rush hours,

  • 60.1% of 1013 vehicles southbound are bicycles, and 69.4 % of 867 northbound
  • southbound pedestrians numbered 4168, and northbound, 4459.

In the three midday hours,

  • 45.8%  of 193 vehicles southbound are cyclists, and 30.6% of 205 northbound
  • southbound pedestrians numbered 4634, and northbound 3215.

They sought Dong’s help, as their elected representative, to advocate on their behalves to the Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change. Their original request was to simply ask the Minister to decide on an application for reconsideration of the 2012 Environmental Assessment for the John Street Revitalization project. The application was made by well known Queen Street West restauranteur David Stearn in February 2017, relying on their traffic count. The response by Brian Iler, a year-round cyclist whose law office is on John Street, and a member of the group asking for the meeting: “Joe Cressy’s refusal to consider the facts is distressing enough. For our MPP to refuse to even meet with us to consider the facts is just appalling.”

David Stearn lost his original request in a letter from the Minister on November 30. But he has asked the minister to reconsider (pdf). I'm no lawyer, but it appeared that the Minister said that the Act doesn't allow him to reconsider this type of EA, and Stearn is arguing that he indeed does.

The 2012 Assessment assumed that cyclists constituted 2% of the vehicles using John Street which was easily proven at that time to be completely incorrect, and likely fudged. The report even included a graph that was very suspicious where the bike traffic never wavered at any point of day. The City later posted a correction. It boggles the mind.

John Street is the key link between the St. George/Beverly bike lanes and Richmond/Adelaide bike lanes, funnelling cyclists from the north and west into downtown Toronto. Revitalization is planned to expand pedestrian areas, but maintain two lanes of motor vehicle traffic, leaving no room for bicycles. We would likely see similar conditions to the top photo with cyclists stuck behind single passenger cars; prioritizing the few over the many.

John provides a safe, direct crossing over the busy Queen Street. Whereas the City-chosen alternative of Peter provides a still-unplanned, unsafe crossing of Queen requiring cyclists to make an awkward jog over streetcar tracks. Go there in person and observe people on bikes, cars and foot trying to figure out who has the right of way in a constant, awkward dance.

4 downtown resident groups have voiced their support for bicycle lanes on John Street, York Quay Neighbourhood Association, the St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association, the Toronto Island Community Association and the Palmerston Area Residents Association. Sadly, the Minister of Environment has made no response nor decision on the residents' application made last February. And even sadder, City Councillor Joe Cressy, normally a steadfast ally of the cycling community, has refused to reconsider the design in light of the facts revealed by the Fall 2016 or 2011 traffic counts.