This week I went to the second public meeting about the Six Points Reconfiguration, which is basically a complete redesign of the Bloor - Dundas - Kipling intersection in Etobicoke (west Toronto). The purpose of this reconfiguration is to make better use of land that is swallowed up by this highway-style interchange (new civic, residential and commercial development), and better pedestrian and cyclist access to the area. Click the photo for some map displays that I photographed. Here's the Google Map of the area.
There's a ton of information about this project on the City's website, but I just wanted to share some of the things I learned at the meeting, and comments that people made. Note: I don't necessarily agree with many of the comments and concerns, but I'm quite pleased at the turnout (probably over 100 people) and the enthusiasm of the attendees.
Several options had been discussed, but the planners are currently favouring the "Fully at-Grade Dundas St. Loop" solution, which would eliminate all bridges, introduce more traffic lights, and re-route Dundas St. with a south-east loop. The rest of the commentary in this article will deal with this proposed solution.
Here's what I like about it:
While Jen was in town recently, one of the first little excursions we planned was a trip to the local nursury to buy some plants for a balcony garden, and to decorate the apartment a little more. We rode our bikes down, with me towing my Bike Friday trailer and Jen towing my child trailer.
We didn't really have a good idea of what to buy, so we spent quite alot of time browsing around. We ended up getting a nice selection of veggies and flowers though! Plus, all the pots, containers, and soil to put it all together. Here are some photos of our ride to the nursury.
We spent some time the following evening preparing the pots and planters, and planting everything. It was pretty exciting, since the balcony is rather dull without a bit of life out there. Yes, I took photos...
Finally, here are some more recent pictures of the balcony garden. Check out the flowers, spinach, lettuce, chives, cilantro, dill, carrots, and of course the sunflower (it hasn't bloomed yet!). Unfortunately, my balcony doesn't get very much sunlight, so I probably won't get the biggest and best veggies around, but it's better than nothing.
I spent a week up in Ottawa recently. Jen and I went up there to attend Jodi and Henk's wedding, in addition to visiting my brother's family, camping, and me going to work at our office up there. We really packed in alot of fun stuff that week! More about all that later...
I just wanted to share some photos of the HPVOoO gathering on Sunday night while we were there. Our timing for being in Ottawa was excellent: This was the weekend that Dustin "The Purple Pirate" and Farah "The Smiling Yogi" were in town after finishing their cross-Canada 5000 For Health! bike tour from Vancouver to Ottawa. They were riding a most unusual Micwic back-to-back recumbent tandem bike.
So in addition to the usual great food and fun times with the HPVOoO crew, we got to test-ride this awesome bike after dinner. It was great to hang out with the HPVOoO folks again, and to meet Dustin and Farah. What a fantastic night. Makes me miss living in Ottawa even more.
I took plenty of photos, of course, and they are posted
My first Critical Mass ride of the year. I had fun, even though I broke my camera right near the start of the ride and didn't take many pictures. Ohwell. You can see the small bunch of pictures over here.
I covered quite a long distance on my bike on Thursday, especially for a regular weekday. Almost 70km. My usual commute to work was followed by a ride out to the depths of North York for a memorial for a 16 year-old cyclist named Bianca Gogel who was killed by a truck last week. Although the main destination for all this riding was to attend a sad memorial, I wanted to make the best of this nice riding weather and enjoy myself.
The pictures tell more of the story.
Saturday wasn't the most pleasant day to be out riding my bike (about 10C and rainy), but it's very rare that bad weather stops me from getting out there! I still had a fun time riding downtown to meet some people and run a few errands.
As I rode home along Bloor St., I saw a huge pile of bubbles all around the fountain at Jane St. There were a bunch of kids having a great time playing with the bubbles. Definitely a fun site to see on a dreary spring day.
Check out the pictures to see more bubbles'n'bents.
I spent the Easter long weekend visiting my family in Hamilton. It was great to get away and relax for a few days, especially after having to work the previous two weekends. Plus, I haven't visited my parents much lately, so it was great to be "home" again.
Since I now have my Bike Friday folding bicycle, I was able to take a bike with me to Hamilton for the weekend without having to ride all the way there. It turned out to be a bit more of a pain than I expected, but still definitely worth doing.
Friday: After spending most of the day catching up on some housework at home in Toronto, I took off on my folding bike down to Union Station. It was a great day, so I was happy to be out riding. When I arrived at Union Station, I folded up my bike and put it into the "travel bag". Fitting it into the bag was a little trickier than I expected, but like packing it into a suitcase, it may require some more practice before I'm good at it. I lugged the bike and my panniers through Union Station, bought a ticket for the GO bus to Hamilton, then went to board the bus. I placed the bagged bike myself into the luggage compartment under the bus. I probably should have waited to bag the bike so that I wouldn't have to carry it around as much.
When I arrived in Hamilton, I upacked and unfolded my bike, then hopped on and rode to my parents' place. It's very close the GO station, but it's straight up the escarpment! This was my Bike Friday's first real hill climbing test, and I must say that it passed with flying colours. The gearing is excellent, so I had no trouble finding a low enough gear. The bike is also nice and light, especially when compared to my heavy recumbent.
Saturday: I slept in and relaxed on Saturday. It felt great to do that! In the afternoon I rode my bike over to my grandmother's place to paint Easter eggs. It's a tradition that I've been doing pretty much all my life. My cousin Bob was there too, and we had fun hanging out with my grandma and painting psychedelic Martha Stewart easter eggs.
On the morning of Wednesday March 29 2006, 46 year-old Andrzej Sacawa was riding his bicycle westbound on Burnhamthorpe Road over the Credit River bridge in Mississauga. His handlebars struck the railing, causing him to fall off his bicycle and over the railing to the river below. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
This story struck a nerve with me for several reasons. The first time I rode my bike out there, I noticed the very low railing and thought to myself, "This is dangerous! How can this be part of the Burnhamthorpe Trail system?" Yes, this bridge with a railing that is only 38 inches high is part of a cycling route. The other reason why I was bothered with this incident is that the city of Mississauga seemed to put the blame on Mr. Sacawa for riding his bike on the sidewalk!
I rode along the Burnhamthorpe Trail to the Credit River Bridge to survey the scene. In my opinion, the "trail" provides cyclists a false sense of security by separating them from traffic, while funneling them onto sidewalks and over bridges with low guardrails.
Please click here to see my photos and read my commentary about this trail and bridge.
Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists (ARC) has followed up on the incident by holding a memorial, calling for a formal coroner's inquest, and demanding an apology from the city of Mississauga for creating a dangerous situation and blaming the cyclist for his own death.
I had a great Sunday! Woke up early, got the Streetmachine set up after keeping it in hibernation all winter, and then spent a good chunk of my day out on the bike!
My ride took me through downtown, along the Lakeshore recreational paths, the Leslie St. Spit, etc. To top off the evening, I went to a restaurant on Yonge St. for dinner with some of the local HPV crew. Great day all around!
My pictures tell a little bit more about the ride.
Short version of the story: Rode my bike to work, and then down to Port Credit station, took the train to Burlington, then rode to Hamilton. On the way home I rode from Hamilton to Oakville, took the GO train from Oakville to Mimico, then rode home. I ended up only riding about 77km over the weekend, so the GO Train cut my biking distance approximately in half.
Read on for more pictures and commentary about the rides.