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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.
dorothy

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.
BC2

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).
BC3

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!
BC4

and we’re off!
BC5

Going a short way along Bloor to Jane.
bloor

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.
jane1jane2

I have never seen so many bikes on Jane St. Do you think Janet Joy is having a good time?
jane3

Along the Annette bike lane.
annette

Regrouping at Keele.
keele

Under the railpath.
railpath

Left on Symington.
leftturn

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.
lightbourn

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.
daveharvey

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.
dufferin

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

Our next stop is at this splash pad in the Geary Ave. Parkette.
gap0gap1

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.
gap2

and then off we go towards the next stop.
next
ossington

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.
alh2alh3

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

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.
hydro

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.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.
1902859_10153136252685828_3866265681038320394_n

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.
shadow

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.
davenport

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.
landsdowne

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.
parkettes

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

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.
dufferin

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

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

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.
bristol1

Lucy wants me to stop taking pictures of her.
bristol2

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.
geary

Looking back to the west at Geary Ave. Parkette.
gearyaveparkette

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.
ossington

Beyond Ossington is Garrison Creek Park.
gcpark1

There is a community garden on the east end of the park.
gcpark2

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

The next crossing is Shaw, and we’re going to have to make a detour one short block to the north to continue eastward.
at_shaw1

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?
atshaw2

One block beyond Shaw is another lovely park.
beyondshaw

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

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.
beyondchristie1

Unfortunately, before we reach Bathurst, we are blocked by the back part of the Hillcrest TTC yard.
beyondchristie2

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.
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.
IMG_1590

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.

Kings College Circle

Kings College Circle is a circular roadway that surrounds the front “lawn” of the St. George Campus of the University of Toronto.
map

Traffic circulates in a counterclockwise direction, and there are various roads that funnel traffic in and out. With the start of the fall term, the amount of foot and bike traffic increases. Apparently speed was thought to be a problem, so in mid September, these rumblestrips suddenly appeared.
sept18 They were cut fairly deep into the pavement with square edges, and in the City of Toronto Cycling group on facebook, there were suddenly a whole series of complaints, and some anecdotes about them causing flat tires. Here’s a lower angle shot showing just how nasty they are.
sept18a Similar strips were cut into Galbraith Rd, and the short connector to the underpass leading to Wellesley St.

Possibly in response to this type of complaint, the rumble strips were painted yellow to make them more visible.
sept19

Around the same time, it was announced that a narrow strip would be paved back for the use of cyclists. That happened this past weekend. Here is one such strip, which is about 50 cm wide.
sept23a

If you look at these fill ins from the side, they are pretty flat on top, and are a vast improvement.
sept23b

They even put two sets on sections of roadway with two way traffic, such as this section of Galbraith Rd.
sept23c

The only other issue is that these strips for bikes are not very visible, and in fact, while I was taking these pictures, the majority of cyclists were riding over the rumble strips as per usual.

A nice enhancement would be to have a mini bike lane symbol by these filled in sections. You could even use them to suggest the correct flow of bike traffic:
sept23d

Kudos to the City, or whoever it was for filling in the strips, but a raspberry for putting them in the first place without any public consultation that I was aware of.

Finally, there has been a radar gun installed on the circle. See how high you can score on a bike.
speed
Forget that; I’m not going to encourage speeding, especially when you’re taking a picture while riding. You wouldn’t catch me doing it.

Update: note that U of T Transportation Services has a FB page, and they did post notices about the rumble strip issue over the last week or two.

Update #2: Transportation responded to the suggestion of additional markings on their FB group, and we shall see what happens. There is also a response from a driver who notes that the filled in bits make it much easier to drive over the rumblestrips at speed, and so questions their effectiveness.

Today was the official opening of the Sunnyside Bike Park. The park had been open for a while, but today was the day for speeches.
speech1

There were families, riders and kids everywhere.
kiodz

We were there representing the Ward 13 advocacy group of Cycle Toronto. It was a good opportunity to let people know about our concerns about intersection safety in the area, as well as broader CT campaigns such as #Minimumgrid. Here Janet Joy is networking.
networking

It was great to see Jay Hoots back at the park.
jayhoots

Time for some speeches.
pano
speech3
speech2

Then the ribbon cutting.
ribbon1
ribbons2

Then a riding demo.
demo1

Is this more distracting to drivers on the Gardiner than the video billboards that have been sprouting up over the last few years?
demo2

I saw this guy brazing around the BMX tracks on this scooter.
demo3

Janet Joy talks to the media.
global

A great day for biking in Toronto.

More pictures at the Ward13Bikes Tumblr.

Much prettier pictures and a nice article here.

BM2014: Wrap Up

This was a year of high expectations. We had two teams, HPT Delft/Amsterdam, and Aerovelo, coming in with the assumption that they would reset the world record. Reality collided with hopes, and yet this week of racing can’t be called a disappointment.

If the wind had been more cooperative during the last heat on Saturday, we would have had two more world records.

group photo

Highs:

  • Gareth Hanks beating Ben Goodall setting a new trike record.
  • local hero Teagan Patterson learning how to ride a recumbent, a shelled streamliner, and earning a 50 mph hat, all in one week.
  • adding a third person, Rik Houwers, to the 80 mph club, which is still very exclusive.
  • Numerous people setting personal bests.
  • Having several people ride the fastest they have done in a couple of years, such as Damjan Zabovnik, who appears to have bounced back from a terrible week last year.
  • Seeing all the new bikes, including Cygnus Chronos and Eta.
  • Seeing a new seeding system for starts work to general satisfaction.
  • Seeing that Ming Garden was open after all, after several people reporting that it was closed.

Lows:

  • Potentially losing the use of the Civic Center to work on bikes and to hold our meetings.

Here’s a few notes on each team, in order of top speed:

Human Power Team Delft / Amsterdam
hptAs per usual, this team had a very technically sophisticated bike, two strong riders, and lots of hands to help out. They go home a little disappointed in not having reset their own men’s world record, but that is a pretty high bar to reach. Both Rik and Christien have great potential, and if they can be enticed back, this team will have two experienced riders. 

Team Eivie
eivieDamjan went faster than he did in the last four years on Saturday morning, after running and dropping a chain the previous evening. He went even faster Saturday night; he is oh so close to 80 mph, but in conversation with him it is clear that he only cares about the world record. Good luck to him. He is an exemplar of the dedicated solo builder/racer who is also a bit of a mad scientist. He also showed his strength as a rider by going steadily faster on Friday night, Saturday morning and Saturday evening runs.

Aerovelo
aeroveloThis team came in with a lot of self generated hype about having a very fast bike and rider, with the expectation of resetting the record. It probably didn’t help that they had a video crew trailing around who were there on the assumption that Todd would win the event and set a new record. Unfortunately, although the bike was beautiful, and Todd did set a new personal best this week, the bike had not been tested before the meet, and it showed. Breaking four spokes during the week speaks of a poor design choice. Also, the configuration of the frame and fairing made it time consuming to load the rider. (Velox4 also had this issue to some extent).  They didn’t get any new hats, but they also set the bar pretty high last year with their performance on Saturday morning 2013. They should be back next year, and Eta would then be fully sorted. Their account of the week is here.

Team Cygnus
cygnus This team was so focused on the goal of getting Jan Marcel to 80 mph that they built a new, smaller bike around him. They got very close, but Jan Marcel had a series of back luck including several dropped chains, and a slowly leaking front tire that still got him through the traps at over 76 mph. He managed to remount a chain twice during one run, and he says that he has worked out a way to patch a tire while riding, but he still can’t get his head around how to reinflate it.

Team Varna
varna
It was great to see them back at Battle Mountain as they have the longest association with the event of any of the teams in attendance. It is always an absolute pleasure to geek out about bikes with Georgi and Steve. Barbara went faster than last year, and she went faster than her own record, but the winds were too high (and were a headwind/crosswind). She said she had a feeling that the wind was too high from seeing the banners at the traps. Ironically, the wind was dead still at both start and catch.

Team Trisled
ben&johnThis team comes in and executes perfectly, resetting the trike record. Gareth went incredibly fast on Saturday night, but it didn’t count because of the wind. Hope to see them back, and to see their compatriot Ben Goodall as well.

Team Elan
ellenHans and Ellen were back with last year’s bike, and they went faster than last year, with Ellen getting a new personal best of a little more above 70 mph. Rumor has it that they will be back next year with a new rider for their bike, and Ellen will ride a trike.

Greg Thomas
gregetalIt was good to see Greg racing again, after he went over 70 mph in the Varna Mephisto a couple of years back. This time, he was back with the (now second) fastest trike in the world, and he just barely missed going 70. His fellow racer, Peter, got 60 at age 60, and went home happy.

 Tetiva
russiansandalanThe Russians were back, this time with two young riders that were still a little slower than Sergey. Maybe with a little more seasoning, they will be able to catch up with him.

 Team Ascension
teaganThis was one of the nicest stories this year. Eric Ware told me that this team arose from a conversation at last year’s awards banquet, where it came out that a local woman raced bikes and was interested in racing a streamliner. Her crew came together from all over, drawn from the usual suspects. Larry built the bike, and Eric Ware and John Jackstone provided crew and support. Teagan got steadily faster as the week went on, and she should wear her 50 mph hat with pride.

Orin Peters
okpetersThis is what happens when an HPV enthuasiast attends the WHPSC just for fun, and ends up racing, just to see what he can do. He went 40 mph, which has made him somewhat of a hero to the coroplast velomobile community. It was clear from his infectious laughter that he was having the time of his life.

Team Slippery Slug
slugThis is another story of people coming together to campaign a bike at Battle Mountain. Alan grace built this bike, completing it with not much time to spare, and the drawing on the UK HPV community for support. Longtime attendee Jonathan crewed, along with two young lads from Liverpool who will be bringing their streamliner to town next year. Alan was pleased to have gone 35 mph, but he sees that he needs to get a better bike to go faster.

Adam Ince
adamAdam has been attending for many years, and taking really excellent pictures of the bikes. This year he finally translated his dreams into a bike. He didn’t make it down the course, but he should feel good about riding down the course in a bike that he made. Many, many people don’t even make it to the starting line.

All in all, it was a good week, with a final evening that would have been incredible if the wind had cooperated. Although only one record was reset, many people set new personal bests, and we have a bunch of riders knocking on the door of the 80 mph club. In addition, there were several teams attending that had bikes in the works for next year.

I’ll sign off this year with a picture of sunset on Saturday. Thanks for reading, everyone!
dawn

BM2014: Awards Banquet

The end of WHPSC is marked by an awards banquet at the Owl Club. One last chance to chat with everyone at the event, and to swap stories. Another tradition is to have the law show up to announce traffic violations.
thelaw

First, speeding tickets for everyone that exceeded the 70 mph limit.
ellen

gareth

barbara

damjan

Check out Jan Marcel’s shirt.
jm

todd

rik

All the speeders.
70+

Next up: all the people who crashed off the course, being cited for “failure to maintain lane”.
christien

calvin

alexei

vadim

russians

alan

The Russians wonder what kind of justice system America has.
russians

All the violators.
ticketholders

Next, fun with door prizes.
fun1DSC00614

Bas, always at work.
bas

Three amigos.
3amigos

I get more stroopwafels!
stroop

All the riders (including drag racers) are recognized.
allriders

Then, awarding of the new hats.
newhats

Next, Garrie Hill’s awards for the three fastest flying females.
3females

Finally, the top three in each category. First, multitrack.
trikes

Then women.
women

Then men.
men Note that these placements were awarded not taking into account the fact that Damjan’s run was not wind legal. Counting wind legal runs, Todd was second, and Jan Marcel third. Sorry about that folks!

Al and Alice sign off by thanking everyone for coming, and hoping that we will all be back next year. They get a well deserved round of applause.
alandalice

There were a lot of fast runs, but none with legal wind, which was a tragedy because otherwise we would have had two new world records.

Results as follows:
Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 11.48.42 PM

Pictures and coverage of the banquet to follow at a future date.

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