The last ascent of Atlas

Every since the Sikorsky Prize, Aerovelo has been trying to find a home for their human powered helicopter, Atlas. Their first choice was to find a place where the whole aircraft could be displayed. Regrettably, this turned out to be impossible, and so an agreement was worked out for it to be hung up at the Ontario Science Centre. Today was the day for it to be put together for display.

I thought that it would be appropriate to show up under human power, so I plotted a route using Google Maps. I noticed that on the last section, I was being routed along Eglinton, but in the reverse direction, it was taking me down into the valley, so I decided on the valley route.

Here are some fall colours on the way across town: Yonge St. as seen from the Beltline.

Here is what Google Maps is telling me; the trail comes off the end of a small stub of Leslie St.
Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 10.15.24 PM

Here’s what the entrance to the trail looks like.

It turned out that running this trail downhill on a road bike was a bit hairy. A bit steep and muddy was OK, but I didn’t expect this:
trail2 The first ramp was OK, but I had to bail on the second one because of a low hanging branch.

Of course, once I was down in the river valley, the trail was paved, and the fall colours were a wonderful bonus.

Interesting looking bike racks on the back of the Science Centre.

This section is closed.

Here’s the crew.

Here’s a top view of the plan. Two sections of the truss and two rotors are all that will fit.

By the time I got there, two sections of truss had been lifted into place, although there was more fiddling to be done.

Todd working near the central joint.

Preparing to mount one of the drive spools.

Cam keeps an eye on things.

Final adjustments.

Working a bit on the bike.

I’ll never stop marveling at this 8 spoke wheel.
Maybe that’s why they thought 20 spokes was plenty for Eta.

Here comes the first rotor blade.

Waiting for the lifts.

The blade lifted and being secured.

First blade done. The position of the whole truss was different from the original plan, so this blade protrudes into the entrance way.

Lifting the next blade.

Securing the next blade.

First rotor complete.

This is what it looks like from the entrance.

At this point, I had to leave, but thing were going pretty smoothly. You can see from this figure the plan for hanging the bike, and what a side view of the complete installation will look like.

Checking out more fall colours on the way back to work.

This intersection where Kilbarry crosses Oriole Parkway is the only signalized crossing for bikes that I’ve seen in Toronto that is comparable to what I’ve seen in Vancouver.

Sad to see Atlas hung up incomplete, but I can’t imagine a better home for it.

Update: this picture came across the Aerovelo twitter feed this morning.


Bicycle Therapy

I managed to carve out some time this afternoon to work on bikes, which is something that I find to be very relaxing, to the point of being therapeutic.

First up: finishing up a job that dates from a couple of years back when I entered a parking garage with my wife’s recumbent on the roof. Bad move.

Here is the tiller, massively bent and broken. Unfortunately, this is from a Rans Wave, which hasn’t been produced for a good number of years, and Rans also stopped making parts that were compatible with a 1″ steerer fork.

Fortunately, I could get compatible parts from Terracycle, which were expensive but beautifully made. Here is the new tiller and stem assembly, all installed and ready to go.
tiller The addition of the flip it makes it much easier to get on and off the bike.

Next up: installing a Japanese kickstand on my winter bike. This involved quite a bit of modification of the kickstand mounting plates to fit the dropouts on this bike. After about 7 cut off wheels on the Dremel, this is the result. It was a bit tricky since the kickstand was designed to fit on a bike with horizontal dropouts, whereas the Sub Zero has angled dropouts. This is why you see the weird little cutout that accommodates the keyed washer that keeps the internally geared hub happy.
dropout Sharp eyed readers will note the massive amount of rust on the chain in the background. I regret that I put this bike away wet at the end of last winter, and the chain was almost rusted solid. I’ve put some Chain-L on it, and we’ll see how it does, but I might have to replace it with one of those galvanized chains that I put on my other winter beater.

Here are some pictures of the kickstand in the down position, and the stowed position.

Next up, installing some election signs on the Xtracycle. On one side, Albert Koehl, environmental lawyer and bike activist, who is running for City Councillor in Ward20.
albert I actually installed this sign a week ago, but I was saving the other side for….

Sarah Doucette, running for reelection in Ward 13 where we live. She has been supportive of our efforts to get better bicycle infrastructure in the Ward. She has also been working hard against some of the ridiculous proposals for condo developments in Bloor West Village, proposals that are massively out of scale with respect to the current building heights in the area.

Finally, I’ve wanted to put some new handlebars on the Tamarack. The builder was adamant that I would like Cinelli deep drops, but I was finding the sloped ramps to be annoying and when I rotated the bars so that the ramp was close to horizontal, the bar end shifters were in a ridiculous position.old

Here is the noodle bar that will replace the existing bars. I got a good deal from Martin at Hoopdriver Bicycles.

And this is as far as I got before I ran out of time for today. Just some handlebar tape, and I’ll be good to go.

I’ve been enjoying putting some miles on the Tamarack. It has become my “go fast in the city” choice, faster than the pink bike. I just can’t carry as much with it, but it is a sweet ride, and it tracks dead straight with no hands. I’ll try to get some more miles on it before winter comes.

A week ago today, Edouard Le Blanc was killed while riding his bike on the Gatineau Hydro Corridor. Here is an image of his obituary.
obit To quote the obit: “Passed away at the age of 63 years doing what he loved.”

The riders gather at Bloor and Spadina.

Doug’s shirt is a somber reminder of earlier tragedies.
mduffeyshirt (photo by Michael Duffey)

And off we go, up Spadina.

Mixing it up with traffic on Davenport.

Making the left towards Rosedale Valley Rd.

Regrouping at Bayview, then up the Don.
We meet up with two TBN riders at the elephants, and they advise us that our original route along Taylor Creek won’t work.

One wishes that we were enjoying the fall colours under other circumstances.

Seeing part of the hydro corridor at Dentonia Park.

On Pharmacy. Boy this road could really use a bike lane.

Arriving at the crash site.

It was particularly painful to be at this spot since the last two memorial rides to Scarborough passed this way, and this hydro corridor seemed to be a peaceful respite from traffic.

So much fast traffic.

Setting up the ghost bike.

Paying our respects.

Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Here is a photo from the Toronto Sun coverage.

The police investigation has started. Hopefully justice will be fully served. Evidently this green light is no guarantee of safe passage here.

Harbord Bike Lanes Update

Since mid September, on my regular commuting route, I’ve been following the day to day changes as the Harbord Bike Lane upgrades have gradually been installed. The first sign of any change that I noticed was the start of the painted buffered bike lanes at the west end of Harbord, nearest Ossington. Here is a photo from Sept 17 showing the first finished section past Shaw St, headed west.
Sadly, for most of Harbord, this is what passes as an enhanced bike lane: roughly a foot wide buffer between two painted lines. You can see the mockup of the road cross section from the original plan below:

From that day, there was visible progress on a daily basis, with old bike lanes being erased in sections gradually moving east, followed by painting within a day or so. Here is the west most part of Harbord again, this time looking east.
sept18-1 In this particular section, you can see the erasure of the old bike lane marking, and it seems that the buffer has been added by narrowing the old bike lane. At other points, the position of the buffer more or less straddles the old bike lane marking.

At the same time, there was quite a bit of roadwork at the intersection of Hoskins and Queen’s Park Crescent, with the conversion of that intersection to a “T” configuration so that the triangular island that facilitated high speed right turns was taken out.sept18-2

Here is what the intersection looked like before construction.
Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 8.51.31 PM

More significantly, work had started on short segment of bidirectional separated bike lane that connects this intersection with Wellesley.

By Sept. 23, the eastward progress of new bike lane markings had reached Montrose.

This was the first time that I noticed that they were going to do something different at the intersection: note the total erasure of all markings (which makes the road a little rough) and the word “Green”.sept23-2

At the same time, there as some more progress on the connector at Queen’s Park Crescent, with the first section of the bike lane being paved.

Further south, there is a gap in the separator.

This shows the nature of the intersection with Wellesley. You can see that the bike lane directs bike traffic down the connector and then east, whereas car traffic is brought to a right angle stop. The gap in the previous picture is meant to allow southbound bikes to cross into the traffic lane so that bikes can then turn right into U of T.

Around the same time, someone posted this video of the Hoskins / Queens’ Park Crescent intersection in its present state, showing that it puts bikes in conflict with right turning cars.

However, it was pointed out that there will be separate bike crossing lights here with appropriate phasing so that this sort of bike/car conflict will be reduced.

We are hoping that this intersection design works out, since we are proposing a similar fix for the elimination of a right turn lane from Ellis to Lakeshore.

October marked the appearance of the promised green lane markings, with the first one just before Ossington.oct7

It was extended back to the previously painted bike lane on the evening before Oct. 9.

This provides a clear indication to motorists that the bike lane continues right up to the intersection. You can compare this to what we had before, with the bike lane tapering to nothing at the bus stop before the intersection, and just some sharrows beyond that point.
Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 9.01.46 PM

Things seem to have slowed down now, with the steady eastward progress of the bike lane markings stopping dead at Borden.

I hope that this is not a bad sign, since the section of Harbord between Borden and Spadina has only sharrows now, and so the addition of a bike lane along this section to provide continuity past Spadina is one of the most significant parts of the whole project. Adding bike lanes on both sides of this section entails removal of parking from one side of the street, which is why it was opposed by several local businesses, most notably the Harbord Bakery.

I posted this picture of another green box on FB
which led to a very long discussion thread. One interesting bit of information from City Staff was that similar green boxes are planned for:
st george2
most will be north and south side
-ones with a 2 will be advanced left lane for bikes”

Looking forward to these enhancements!

Changes along Annette

Sad to see this for sale sign.

Because what this neighbourhood is really crying out for is more church to condo conversions.


The Reading Line

Yesterday was the day for the Reading Line. I heard the flow of so many beautiful words that I hesitate to blog about it, but I’ll press on with my usual words and pictures to share my experience.

It was raining overnight, still raining at 7 am, and sprinkling at 9. Nevertheless, intrepid cyclists and book fans gathered at Book City.BC1 Think about the number of potential shoppers these bikes represent, occupying just two or three parking spaces….

Janet Joy coordinates with Dorothy from 11 Division. They escorted us through major intersections and made life easier for everyone.

A ribbon cutting (naturally a green ribbon), with Sarah Doucette, Peggy Nash, Cheri diNovo, Amanda and Janet Joy, some of our featured authors, Laurie Featherstone, and representatives from Cycle Toronto, Parks People, and the Friends of the Green Line.ribbon

We start off at our hosts, Book City, where Catherine Bush reads from her novel Accusation.

Some sweet treats provided by Sweet Flour Bake Shop that is right next door to Book City. I like the jump start cookie since it doesn’t have nuts or chocolate (I have allergies to both).

Now it’s time to hit the road. Janet Joy is assembling the people who will be riding with us. The sun has come out!

and we’re off!

Going a short way along Bloor to Jane.

The police took keeping us safe very seriously. Over seriously at times, but it was nice to have the peace of mind. Here we are turning at Jane and heading north.

I have never seen so many bikes on Jane St. Do you think Janet Joy is having a good time?

Along the Annette bike lane.

Regrouping at Keele.

Under the railpath.

Left on Symington.

Symington, approaching Davenport.
symington We rode along Davenport for a while, and a couple of blocks past Landsdowne we turned south on Lightbourn towards Geary Ave. This way, we cut off the diagonal portion of the Green Line that I scouted out last week. Just as well for this larger group of cyclists, and Laurie’s traveling bookmobile.

Our first stop, where Dave Harvey, director of Parks People, talks to us about the Green Line, and the vision of what it could be as a linear park connecting neighbourhoods along this rail line running east west, and following the hydro corridor further to the northwest to Earlscourt Park and beyond.

Next up, Shawn Micallef, co-publisher of Spacing Magazine, talking again about the Green Line, and how it brings a bit of the wild into the heart of the city. It was a treat to meet him since I am a big fan of Spacing, although I admit I don’t buy every single issue. I did buy a copy of his latest book: The trouble with brunch.shawn

As I noted last week, the biggest obstacles to the Green Line are the crossings with major streets. Here we are crossing Dufferin, which is no problem on this special day due to the efforts of 11 Division.

This bit of Geary is still a bit industrial, but as soon as we rejoin the hydro corridor, we’ll see more green spaces.

Our next stop is at this splash pad in the Geary Ave. Parkette.

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer relates an amusing anecdote about an earlier short story, in which a woman is followed by a pack of feral dogs and coyotes. Her character is at one of the entrances to High Park subway station, and her editor at Granta has an issue with the word “parkette”, which apparently is not in the OED. It turns out that “parkette” is a distinctly Canadian word.gap3 You can see that we’ve picked up a reasonable number of people en route.

She then reads to us from her novel All the Broken Things.

and then off we go towards the next stop.

Next up: Amy Lavender Harris reads an excerpt about a woman visualizing death by car while riding a bicycle. This cut a bit close to the bone.alh1

The sky is getting darker, and it even starts spitting a bit of rain.

Next, across Shaw St to our final stop at the east end of Frankel Lambert Park.

I took this picture just as Laurie (of two wheels green delivery) was remarking that I weave when I’m shooting and it looks a bit dangerous.
laurie She worked hard pedaling all the books the whole way, and she was going to have to move house later that same day!

The sky clears again.

Christina Palassio, who has worked with the Stop Community Food Centre, talks about the importance of food in community building, particularly in underserved areas of the city.cp1cp2

Finally, an uplifting spoken word performance by Tanya Neuemeyer.tn1tn2

After all the readings, there were some sandwiches on offer from Vert Catering, and some near beer from Premium Near Beer, both vendors that deliver by bike. Vert catering noted that he didn’t anticipate that the books and bikes crowd would be so heavily vegan or vegetarian. I took a pulled chicken sandwich to help him out, which gave me the fuel to attend to the rest of my day. At this point, I had to leave the ride which looped back to Jane St.

Here’s a video from the ride.

Apologies to Riders Cycle and Board; one of the shots was taken on your doorstep at Geary and Dovercourt, and I mislabeled it Geary and Ossington. I’m too tired to go back and fix it.

A big thanks to Amanda and Janet Joy for putting together this wonderful event.
a&jj The crossover between the CanLit, Urbanism and Bike crowds made it a unique experience.

I’m also left with a stack of great reading material, analog for a change.

In this time of virtually unlimited white noise on the internet (to which I’m aware I contribute), and Amazon Prime (soon with drone delivery) it was wonderful to meet some local authors, to hear their words as well as their stories, and to support local businesses.

Update: coverage from Dandyhorse Magazine.

Scouting the Green Line

This coming Saturday (October 4), Janet Joy Wilson of Ward13Bikes, and Amanda Lewis, both of whom work in the publishing business, have put together a books and bikes event called The Reading Line. It will start at Book City in Bloor West Village at 9:30 am, and we will be meeting authors and riding our bikes all along the way.

The full information for the event is here. You can also download the flyer by clicking on the link below;
The Reading Line FLYER 2014(1)

I had read about the Green Line on this excellent website; It is a strip of land just north of the railway tracks that parallels Dupont St. on the north side. The potential is there to develop a connected series of parkettes and other pieces of land into something like a continuous green route from the west end to downtown. Perhaps not a bike commuting corridor per se; more like an extended linear park that would be a neighbourhood amenity.

I’m going to be one of the bike marshalls for the event. Since I had never seen the Green Line for myself, and it was a beautiful afternoon, I decided to scout the route with Lucy.

Our route starts at Symington and Davenport. On Saturday, we’ll get here by using the Annette/Dupont bike lanes. Here, we are looking east along Davenport. There is a bike lane, but unfortunately it disappears under the railway bridge.

At Lansdowne, you can see that the Hydro corridor bears to the right. The unoccupied land under the hydro lines form the basis for the Green Line.

We’ll turn right on Primrose Ave, where we see the first of a series of block long parkettes. Just beyond the first two blocks, you can see a parking lot, and the power lines above.

This is an example of one of the gravel paths across a parkette. In this case: Chandos Park South.

Just beyond the park, we reach Dufferin, and what looks like a dead end. However, you can see a footpath between two chainlink fences that perimeter a parking lot and some hydro equipment.

Lucy says that we can squeeze by between the two fences.

Sure enough, the path opens back up and we are looking towards Bristol Ave. Parkette.

The entrance to the park is blocked to bikes riding through. I think at this point that our mobile bookmobile will have to divert a block south to Geary Ave.

Lucy wants me to stop taking pictures of her.

Once we reach Geary, you can see that the powerlines turn back towards the east. On the south side of Geary, there is a lot of open space, with some of it being parking, and other parts being parkland.

Looking back to the west at Geary Ave. Parkette.

The next major street is Ossington. On crossing like this, sidewalk ramps would help. Also, you would need some sort of road marking, and perhaps an overhead pedestrian crossing light. It is a challenge since the traffic at these crossings is high speed: the cars coming from the south (from the right) have just crossed under the train tracks.

Beyond Ossington is Garrison Creek Park.

There is a community garden on the east end of the park.

We meet a new buddy, Roxy, just by the garden!

The next crossing is Shaw, and we’re going to have to make a detour one short block to the north to continue eastward.

Right at Shaw, there are also these markings on the sidewalk. I’m not sure what the intent is since there isn’t a crosswalk across the road. There is also a bike lane along Shaw, but perhaps cyclists were in the habit of biking along the sidewalk under the train tracks?

One block beyond Shaw is another lovely park.

At the east end, we have another community garden that borders Christie on the east side.

This is where our ride will turn back, after some readings and a BYO picnic lunch.

Beyond Christie, the hydro corridor is more undeveloped. It is along this stretch where there is much potential for new green space.

Unfortunately, before we reach Bathurst, we are blocked by the back part of the Hillcrest TTC yard.

If you look on the map, you can see that there is potential to extend the Green Line to Bathurst, and perhaps even to Spadina. I took that last picture where the yellow bike symbol is placed on the map.

Hope to see a lot of people out next Saturday.

Please join us anywhere along the route for the various meet the author events as per the following schedule:

  • 9:30am  |  BookCity Bloor West Village  |  Catherine Bush
  • 11:00  |  Geary/Dovercourt West Side Meadow  |  Shawn Micallef
  • 11:20  |  Geary/Ossington Geary Ave Parkette  |  Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer
  • 11:40  |  Geary/Shaw Garrison Park east end  |  Amy Lavender Harris
  • 12:00  |  Frankel Lambert Community Garden/Christie north of Dupont  |  Christina Palassio
  • 12:20  |  Picnic at Frankel Lambert Community Garden/Christie north of Dupont  |  Tanya Neumeyer (spoken word)

As a side note, although Lucy likes her bike seat, she developed a habit of leaning hard to one side or another while riding so that she could see ahead.

We had an incident about two weeks ago where she fell out of the seat. Fortunately the harness kept her from falling off the Xtracycle. However, the problem was that the perimeter of the seat was not very rigid. I have since taken off all of the foam under the wooden base of the seat (which decreases the chances that the seat tilts on the Xtracycle’s wooden deck), and I found a plastic bin that fits under the fabric seat cover, but makes the foam walls of the seat much more rigid. These pictures show the nature of the modifications. We’ve had no issues since the mod.
seat1seat2 The walls of the bin fit the foam perfectly on three sides.


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