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stocking a community fridge

One of the pleasures of riding with the Bike Brigade is the opportunity for me to learn about community partners. Today was a glorious day for riding, and I took advantage of it to help stock a community fridge on Adelaide near Niagara. On the way to the pickup point, I see this binner with a large load on Dupont.

At the pickup point, I meet Chad, a fellow Bike Brigade Haul a Day pilot. He was already loaded up.

While I was loading up, fellow Bike Brigader Shahnaz pulled up on her trike.

She took this picture of me at about the same time.

image source

I have arrived at the community fridge.

Before:

After:

Lot’s of good food that will hopefully go to people that need it. Some gloves and masks as well.

The community fridge program is a wonderful initiative. You can find out more about it here.

Their instagram feed is below.

https://www.instagram.com/cf___to/?hl=en

The fixer column in the Toronto Star recently published a column called “Toronto is finally keeping cycling lanes clear of ice and snow in winter“. This of course has not been my experience, but I will hand things over to guest editor Hamish Wilson for his commentary.


Hamish Wilson (left) with fellow bike advocate Wayne Scott

While undoubtedly there has to be cause for praising the City’s removal of snow and care for some bike lanes, it’s absolutely not the case that such clear biking is the norm in some other parts of the City. While the dedicated bike facilities do seem to be consistently plowed, that’s only a small portion of what a cyclist might travel on, including the rest of the network. On a critical piece of bikeway, a finally-long-and-linked-in-summer Bloor/Danforth route that also provides subway relief, the Viaduct area seems to be remaining spotty and dangerous, even though the City is at times removing the snowbanks. The paint-only bike lanes in particular, between Castle Frank and Parliament especially, function more as a place to put snow into, and we have bike lines beside a highway, not a bike lane. There also remains a nasty pinch point on the rightwards curve at the top of Parliament, where all faster vehicles cut in to the bike lane exactly where a ponding exists, which can become ice. Fresh – and welcome – repaving recently didn’t get this fixed, and while Notice of Hazard etc. was given, shrug, nobody killed. Heck, even the extra effort of snow removal on the same day of the article may actually leave the bike lanes far less useful than the expressed intent as the standards aren’t to get to smooth dry pavement perhaps, but instead, something that a vehicle can drive over. Pouring salt on to the area isn’t as much of a solution as the City might like either: salt is now starting to show up as efflorescence on the masonry balustrades of the Viaduct, but – like sealing the gutters of the Viaduct – the interest of the City isn’t in preserving structural integrity because that’s a reason to stick the hands out for infrastructure monies from other levels of government. So while sure, there are some excellent efforts at times and in some places, it’s still far too dangerous and uneven, though one might think Canadians would know how to plow snow.

Going eastbound South side east of Sherbourne, not as bad as all that because of buffer. Internal time/date stamp is horribly off on third hand/old camera fwiw, but these are all yesterday.
But Not so Good, though better than say, Queen, and roads with tracks….thankfully not-fast traffic
Westbound at Castle Frank – totally! useless… and it’s a Highway, no interest in putting up a show-speed sign in painted empty median at top of Parliament either vs. side streets somewhere….
BIke LANES please, not bike lines, nor snowbanks, nor bike lakes as sometimes can occur…. approaching pinch point danger….
Today, maybe all of it is cleared out – was thinking that the City might have upped its care here from previous years, but at crosswalk markings is where the worst of pinch point is.

There’s a change in buffer width right at most concentrated pinch that a bit of cheap paint could start to fix, but nope, and there’s that ponding too, which if City did remove snow previous weeks, they left a batch of snow/ice EXACTLY at the worst spot. Yet another killing spot that oh, that’s dangerous maybe, but ignore till something does happen.
Astounding how the federal level can ship TO billions without ANY hesitation or restriction on performance – as if it’s all about pouring concrete and buying votes. If there’s any seriousness about improving biking to combat climate change and in this B/Danforth corridor as subway relief/options, it really MUST become far more consistently even/safe for riding year-round.
Notice of Hazard btw; and despite a degree of attention, NO, it is not as Mr. Sferrazza claimed yesterday, and I suspect that indented parking bays on College/St. George/Spadina are pretty much unplowed again, so the cars park out in to the bike lane, because again, the City doesn’t know how to plow snow.
Or it’s given away all of it’s leverage in extra-long 7-year contracts, and is that normal???
Plus City core itself is still! badly screwed/dominated by suburbans; tiresome.

Winter bike to work day 2021

Today is winter bike to work day for the northern hemisphere. Appropriately, it is genuinely cold at about -14°C this morning which is probably the coldest day of this winter in TO (although nothing like the weather that our friends in the prairies saw this past week). Even if you are zooming into work at home today, try to get out for a bit of a bike ride if you can.

According to the website, there are 70 of us signed up to ride in Toronto. Congrats to Montreal for being the top ranked Canadian city this year, narrowly beating out Hamilton at the last minute. Seven of the top ten cities are in Sweden, fair enough.

There is a thin layer of snow that can hide black ice, so if you do go out for a bike ride (or for a walk) bundle up, and stay safe everyone!

One of the biggest issues that I’ve had while biking during the pandemic is whether or not to wear a mask. In particular during cold weather, fogging of glasses has been a huge issue for me. The best solution that I’ve found so far is to use a disposable mask with a strip of first aid tape across the nose.

Here is me after a 35 minute commute in about -8°C weather. No fogging.

However, this solution is less than ideal since repeated use of the first aid tape caused skin irritation. There were some positive reviews of a high end mask from Oakley, the MSK3, so I decided to check it out. Note: $74 in Canada.

Here is a user video review showing unboxing, etc, so I won’t bother going through all the details.

His conclusion is that it does a pretty good job of preventing fogging.

However, my experience was quite different, and I imagine it is because I have a relative low nose. Here is me after a ride under more or less the same conditions.

Lots of fogging, just in case you couldn’t tell.

However, as the video above makes clear, it does work for some people.

I have a couple of small notes about the mask. It comes with two filters, one disposable, and the other reusable. They almost look the same; you have to look at the labels on the bag, and also the reusable one has two strips of velcro on the sides.

The other thing is that the replacement filters are also not cheap but I did notice that they were very similar in shape to KN95 masks that are readily available for about $1 each. I’ll be trimming one down to see if it fits.

I will note that the KN 95 mask is quite a bit thicker than the filters supplied by Oakley, and the Oakley mask package has lots of lawyereaze to assert that they make no guarantees about the protective properties of the mask.

a little ice biking

Given that it was fairly cold over the last week or two, I decided to see how thick the ice was on Grenadier Pond. In the past, I’ve skated from this spot just off the bottom of Ellis Ave.

This turned out not to be ideal. In fact there was a spot where my foot went through the ice and I got a soaker. Second time in the last few months when my feet got wet. However, once I got clear of the bull rushes, it was clear that the pond was well frozen. I can’t really explain why the ice was so thin nearer the shore.

The ice was relatively smooth and largely clear of snow which made for good riding. I was on my trusty Garneau winter bike which has not had much use thus far this season. Studded tires, of course.

Given my earlier misadventure, I was reluctant to ride too far from shore, but I did chat with a fellow that said it was perfectly safe to walk across. I didn’t see too many skate tracks.

A short video to give you a bit of an impression of what it was like.

If you want to check it out, it turns out that this spot off the MUP on the south side of the pond is a much better entry point.

Ride at your own risk, obviously.

and yes, I miss the Ice Cycle races.

Also note this. “Man issues warning to others after falling through ice”

Patrick Brown of Bike Law Canada, and MPP Jessica Bell are quoted in this excellent Toronto Star article about the need for vulnerable road user legislation.

Quote from Jessica Bell:

“In addition to making engineering changes to make roads safer, the province must stop the “systemic pattern of smaller fines being handed out to dangerous and destructive drivers,” she said, otherwise “people are going to continue suffering life-altering injuries or die.”

You can sign MPP Bell’s petition in support of VRU here.

The weekend closest to the last day of January has been the traditional time for an organized “Coldest Day of the Year” ride. Unfortunately such group rides are not possible this year. However, Saturday also offers the chance to ride with the Bike Brigade, so I decided to call today’s ride the coldest delivery of the year. It was about -11 earlier this morning, but by 1 pm, it was a balmy -5°C and sunny,

Lanrick also felt that he had massively overdressed.

I also upgraded the pogies on my cargo bike to a pair from Rock Bros. Ordinarily I would have sourced them from a domestic company (like the coldbike pogies on my other winter bike), and I tried to find a pair of safety orange pogies from Dogwood Designs but they were out of stock everywhere I looked.

The Rock Bros version work well on handlebars that are swept back.

Action shot.

They were almost too warm today. Looking forward to testing them out when it is colder. Strike that, I want it to start warming up now.

Coldest Day of the Year Ride 2019

Coldest Day of the Year Ride 2018

Coldest Day of the Year Ride 2017

Coldest Day of the Year Ride 2016

Coldest Day of the Year Ride 2015

Coldest Day of the Year Ride 2013

Coldest Day of the Year Ride 2012

Update: it was definitely colder delivering on Feb. 6.

RIP Alan Wayne Scott

Yesterday Toronto lost an elder statesman of the bike community, Alan Wayne Scott, who passed away after a long battle with cancer.

He will forever be remembered for winning a court case “Food as Fuel” that gave bike messengers the right to deduct $17.50 a day as a business expense.

He was a constant presence at bike advocacy events. He was a familiar face at PWIC, here making a deputation in support of the Bloor bike lanes.

Here celebrating the initial installation of the lanes.

and here, helping to sweep up excess glass spheres that were a slippery hazard for cyclists.

He was also the keeper of the flame of the memory of Darcy Allan Sheppard, and the injustice of his killer, Michael Bryant, getting off scott free.

It was always a pleasure to see him out and about on his trike. In recent years, despite his failing health, he was unfailingly positive. He was posting on facebook up until about a week ago, giving frank updates about his cancer treatment, remembering his music, and above all expressing his love for his family and friends.

You can see many of his deputations at the HoofandCycle youtube channel.

His articles for NOW magazine are here.

This picture taken this past July at the critical mass for black lives matter, was the last time I saw him in person.

RIP Wayne, in this case “ride in peace”.

UpdateFeb 2021: an article in NOW magazine in his memory “In memoriam: Cycling advocate Wayne Scott”

Salt is the enemy of bikes

It’s been an unusually temperate winter so far, and on a day like today, with some sun and a high of 4°C, the temptation to get out the good bike for a ride is huge. The roads are clear, and there was rain yesterday to wash the salt off the roads. Nevertheless, the city is a little too diligent in salting the roads, even on a day like today.

In fact, not 10 seconds after I took this picture, a roadie passed me on his very nice Cervelo. I do acknowledge that carbon does not rust, but salt still does a number on the drivetrain and other components.

You only have to look at some of the hardware on my winter beater to see what can happen. This is partly why I was thinking about switching over to riding bikeshare bikes during this winter back in November.

So I consulted the Cycling in Toronto hive mind on facebook to ask what I can do during the winter to keep the effects of salt at bay. I was looking for an easy thing that I could do on perhaps a weekly basis to keep the bikes that I ride during the winter in better shape, even in sub zero weather. Bear in mind that I store my bikes in an unheated garage, and I do not have the luxury of cleaning my bikes indoors.

One thing that I’ve tried is to hose the bikes off, and then to apply WB40 to displace the water, and then to apply some lubricant. Of course this is only possible outdoors when it is above freezing.

After reading many helpful suggestions, this is what I’m going to try. First up: acquire a pressurized plant sprayer that I can fill with hot water.

Here’s my cargo bike before.

After a quick spray: the loose dirt and salt is gone, although greasy dirt remains.

After giving the drivetrain and other components a rinse, I apply some finish line cleaner/lubricant. I’m going to hold off on the wet lube for the moment.

This didn’t take very long, and I can see doing this on a weekly basis. We’ll see how well it works for the rest of the winter. I only used about half the water to clean off three bikes, but the excess capacity means that the water stays warm for a longer time.

At the same time I took the opportunity to put winter tires on the tandem. We’ve been using it to commute, but last week on a day when the weather changed suddenly, the roads got a bit slippery on the way home, and this was unnerving for the stoker. The front tire was swapped for a Schwalbe studded tire. This tire is a bit cheaper than the winter marathon because it has only two rows of studs. Otherwise it is the same casing, as you can see from the rows of holes that flank the studs.

The volume of the tire was similar to the summer tire, both being nominally 26 x 1.75″.

On the rear I put on a Continental Top Contact winter tire, which has gotten good reviews. Why the two different tires? This is what my LBS happened to have in stock: one of each. We’ll see how this works out.

It is nominally 2″ wide, but there was plenty of clearance for both the chainstays, and the fenders.

I’ll report back on how this works out, but for the moment we are going to work remotely during this latest phase of the lockdown.

Toronto monolith #2

Sometime before dawn on Dec 31, someone erected a monolith by water’s edge at Humber Bay Park. Sadly, it didn’t take long for it to be vandalized. It was then reportedly cleaned off, but then slapped with white supremacy posters. The city took it down this morning before I had a chance to see it.

Then I heard that there was a second one at the foot of Windermere, so it was time to hop on the bike to check it out. It turned out to be on the breakwater.

Several people waded across to take a closer look. I decided to brave it myself.

The workmanship on this one is not very good. The aliens must be outsourcing their monolith fabrication.

Naturally I was lazy so I biked out to the monolith on the breakwater. This was one of the rare occasions where I elected to keep both hands on the handlebars, so no pictures while riding.

While I was out there, I thought I’d go to the other end of the breakwater to take a shot of the Humber Bay bridge from an unusual angle.

BTW, my feet stayed warm while soaking wet because of my wool socks.

A bit of fun to bring in the New Year.

Update: now quoted in the Star: “Toronto removes the shiny Space Odyssey ‘monolith’, but another mysteriously arises on Lake Ontario breakwall