Any topic that deals with bikes, HPV stuff, etc..etc..

Bikes in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Bikes in the Vondelpark, AmsterdamBikes in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam

First stop on our European vacation: Amsterdam. Yes, we were there mainly for the cycling culture and not the drugs!

The main beauty of cycling in Amsterdam is that it's completely normal. Almost everyone does it, young and old.

Cyclists Dismount

Cyclists DismountBack in January I noticed that these "Cyclists Dismount" signs were added along the Bloor St. sidewalk by the railway underpasses between Lansdowne Ave. and Dundas St. West.

I don't necessarily have a problem with telling cyclists to dismount while riding on sidewalks. After all, sidewalks are meant for pedestrians, and I have personally had some close encounters with sidewalk cyclists along here. It's especially dangerous to pedestrians stepping out from the Bloor GO train station.

However, these signs may be an indication of a bigger issue. Many cyclists hit the sidewalk when riding through these underpasses because they fear for their safety on the road. I often see cyclists ride on the roads along Bloor St., only to hop up on the curb when they reach the underpasses.

I can understand why cyclists might want to do that.

From the Don Valley to Central Parkway in Mississauga, this is definitely the worst part of Bloor St., for many reasons (Ok, Six Points stinks too). But for cyclists in particular, the problems are:

  • Between Dundas and Lansdowne, Bloor St. opens up into four lanes of fast-moving traffic. The only bit of traffic calming is the traffic light at Symington Ave.
  • The pavement is awful.
  • Motorists seem to speed through here in a race to arrive first at the next pinch point in the road.
  • When you're down in the underpasses, there's no chance to "escape" to a sidewalk in an emergency.
  • It can be difficult and dangerous to make a proper vehicular left turn off of Bloor St.

It's no wonder that cyclists take to the sidewalks here. But instead of hanging up some signs to address the symptoms, maybe something can be done to address the actual problems of the dangerous and scary roadway?

Cross-posted to I Bike T.O.. I have also been doing alot of work on the South Junction Triangle Residents Association website recently.

Rainy January? Ride on!

My feet and bike(I haven't posted anything here in almost a year! need to catch up soon. You can always check the photo gallery to see what I've been up to. I also post on the I Bike T.O. website.)

Did anyone else have an awesome bike commute this morning? I sure did!

I don't often look forward to biking 20km to work in the rain, but today was amazing. It was 11 degrees outside, and a light rain when I left my west-end home at about 8:40am (yeah, I was running late!). I was dressed a bit lighter than I usually would in January: underwear, MEC Rad Pants, long sleeve light "Powerdry" t-shirt, rain jacket, wool socks, Shimano cycling sandals, and rain booties.

It was actually colder in my garage than it was outside. As soon as I got into the alley, I knew I'd be shedding layers soon. Riding along Annette St., I was opening up my cuffs and unzipping the top of my jacket for more air. By the time I was around Dundas St. and Royal York, I had the pit zips open.

The headwind was very light, barely noticeable. I was flying along. I think I ride faster when I'm in a really good mood too. Warm January days do that to me.

Burnhamthorpe Rd., somewhere in eastern Mississauga. Really cookin' now, and even my feet were feeling hot! I stripped off one of my booties and shoved it in my pannier's rain cover. A few intersections later, at another red light, the other booty came off and now I was riding in a stylish combination of wool socks and sandals.

I hiked up my Rad Pants to let my ankles and calves breathe more. At the next red light, Dixie and Burnhamthorpe, I completed my transformation into a summer cyclist by taking off my jacket and rolling up my sleeves.

The final 4.5km to work were the best. Starting with the downhill from Dixie Rd., I was grinning like a madman as I pushed my way towards the centre of Mississauga. The people cooped up in their cars probably thought I was nuts. I think they're nuts. The rain was picking up a bit now too, but I didn't care. I was having too much fun to be annoyed by it.

Hell yeah. Bikes rule. Can't wait for the ride home!

(Ask me about riding when it's 11 degrees and raining in the summer and you might get a totally different opinion from me!)

Cross-posted to I Bike T.O.

The Long Way Home: Port Credit and Etobicoke

My ShadowSometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones. There aren't many better ways to end a day at work than taking the "Long Way" home on your bike!

The Long Way Home is something I try to do often, but not often enough. I commute almost every day by bike, and almost always enjoy it, but sometimes it's nice to see something else besides the same stretch of Bloor St. I often shake it up a bit by riding various sections of Rathburn Rd., Burhamthorpe Rd., or when I'm feeling more ambitious I'll ride all the way down to the lake and then head east.

That's what I did today. I just took off straight down Hurontario St. to Port Credit, and then took the slow, meandering Waterfront Trail route back to Etobicoke. Of course I stopped at many places along the way to take some photos and just enjoy the spring evening.

The long evenings, warmer weather, and awesome sunsets make Spring an amazing time of year to "take the long way home". I'll have to do this as often as possible. How about you?

A bunch of photos from my ride are posted here.

Rubbermaid Bike Trailer

Rubbermaid Bike TrailerOn Friday I put together my newest bike cargo trailer. Actually, the only new part of it is the big blue Rubbermaid box. The trailer frame, wheels, and hitch are all part of the Bike Friday / BicycleR Evolution trailer that I got with my folding bike.

Since I bought the Rubbermaid bin at Zellers out in the boonies of Mississauga (near work), I had to get it home. So on Friday I just brought the trailer pieces and a drill to work inside a pannier. After work, I drilled some holes in the bin, and then put everything together outside at the bike rack. Voila! Now I could ride home with my new trailer.

I really like the BicycleR Evolution trailer system, for quite a number of reasons: 1) The hitch is made from high-pressure hose connectors, so it's strong and very easy to quickly connect/disconnect. 2) The frame and wheels can be broken down into a very small size for transporting elsewhere. 3) No tools are required for putting the trailer together or attaching it to a bike. 4) You can buy extra hitches to make the trailer useable with almost any bike. 5) You can use the basic frame for many different purposes. I now have the Bike Friday suitcase trailer, and my Rubbermaid trailer, but I can also turn it into a flatbed trailer simply by attaching a board, or attaching various other sizes of boxes, depending on my needs.

I'm looking forward to using this trailer frequently, especially when I want to haul things that wouldn't fit easily in my panniers.

More photos here.

Ice Bike '07

Ice RacerOn Saturday Night Jen and I went down to Dufferin Grove Park (West end, Toronto) for the annual Ice Bike races on the outdoor arenas (poster). We were there mainly as spectators to watch and cheer on the racers with their home-made studded tires flying around the track. I joined in on the final "rubber class" race at the end, where lots of people piled onto the ice and did laps while trying not to fall and crash into each other (without much success!).

Some people from the Georgian Bents recumbent group came down for the races with their flashy recumbent trikes/sleds to add some more spice to it all.

What a fun night. I can't believe I missed the races last year....definitely looking forward to next year already!

Quite a few people took photos and videos of this event. Here's what I've found so far:


Bubbles!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.

Toronto, Bikes, Jen...

Toronto Skyline at Sunset Today Jen left to go back to Vancouver after visiting me here in Toronto for a little over a week. We had a great time together while she was here, and it's too bad that she couldn't stay longer. It'll be a few months before we see each other again.

Last Saturday we took advantage of this NON-winter weather to go for a long bike ride around the city, and to run some errands downtown. We decided to stay off the beaten path (Bloor St.) so that we could check out some of the other neighbourhoods along the way. Sometimes slowing down and taking detours is much better than a fast direct ride! We had one small destination to stop at before running our errands downtown: we had to visit the big elephant on someone's front yard on Yarmouth St. Very cool....not your usual garden gnome lawn statue! We also hit the usual downtown spots (MEC and Urbane), and had dinner in Chinatown.

Last Sunday we met up with Jen's parents and drove out to Unionville to visit Jen's grandma. After the visit and a delicious lunch we were dropped off at Scarborough Town Centre to take the TTC back into the city. The rest of the day's adventures involved exploring the east end around the Coxwell/Pape/Gerrard/Danforth area and going for some tasty Indian food with other bike/HPV fanatics.

Tuesday was, of course, Valentine's Day. Jen and I stayed in to cook up a delicious dinner and dessert.

Friday night involved another trip downtown, this time by TTC. We walked around Yorkville for a while, then found some food and topped off the night out by going to a story tellers gathering at the UofT.

Saturday was Jen's last full day in Toronto. We spent most of the day out in Brampton visiting with Jen's family and celebrating her other grandmother's birthday. We also had a great time playing out in the snow with Jen's two year-old nephew Thomas. It was nice that Jen was able to spend a good chunk of time with her family during this short visit back in Ontario.

Click the above links for more pictures and details of these adventures.

Bike Parking at Islington Station

Smashed bike and rackI took a few pictures of the bike parking mess at the Islington Subway Station tonight. The sight of a bike rack completely destroyed by a car prompted me to go home and get my camera. Glad it wasn't my bike, but this sort of thing really ticks me off. I wrote up more commentary about the sad situation of bike parking and being a pedestrian around Islington Station over here.

Swing Bike

This page will eventually have a complete description of my Swing Bike built by Mike Watson. For now, there's just a picture...

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