Doug Fritz was an 81 year old former police officer and grandfather who was killed by a driver who did a hit and run on North Shore Blvd at the intersection with the QEW offramp.

Today was a memorial ride and ghost bike ride in his memory.

We started off at the Burlington GO station. Many of the usual suspects in attendance.

The ghost bike was provided by Safe Streets Halton.

Rolling out.

On Plains Rd.

Gru and Joey in the lead, taking the lane.

This underpass on Plains Rd is just as dangerous as the crash site, but for the moment, there is safety in numbers. One driver yelled at us to stay in the bike lane.

Turning south on King.

A little detour to pass by the family home.

A video of all the riders riding by their home in a cul de sac. There were about 50 people on the ride.

Now riding onwards towards the crash site.

Approaching the crash site.

Installation of the ghost bike.

A minute of silence for the deceased.

Doug’s daughter Nicole was extraordinarily kind to thanks us for turning out in memory of her father. She said that as her father got older, cycling remained as one of the activities that he liked to keep active. She also was struck by the gathering of strangers that did not know her dad.

One of our mottos is that “you never ride alone”, and as a cyclist, Doug was a member of our community.

Afterwards one group rode back west towards the family home.

Back towards home on the GO train.

This tragedy is one of many that points out the need for vulnerable road user legislation. At a minimum, the penalties for hit and run should be as severe as those for DUI. The driver was apprehended in North York, and we will wait for proper justice to be served.

At the same time, it is deeply frustrating that the intersection where the crash happened was recently repaved, and yet no adjustments were made to the design to take into account the safely of cyclists and pedestrians.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.

As might be apparent from my previous post, I brought my Brompton along to Tokyo. The plan was to attend a specific event: a monthly meetup of local Brompton owners called “Brompton in Palace“, named after the fact that the group originally met up on the peripheral of the Imperial Palace. The organizer also has a website.

Unfortunately, the meeting was called off due to rain, and the announcement was made when I was already enroute with the bike. It turns out that having the bike gave me the opportunity to feel out what it is really like to travel around Tokyo by bike.

On the weekend, I planned out a ride along the Arakawa River, where there is open space on the west side with paved paths. I had visited the area before, but this time I was determined to check out a long artificial island on the east side that divided the Arakawa from the Naka River. It was hard to tell from Google street view exactly which bridges allowed pedestrian and cyclist access to the island, and to be safe I picked out a bridge near Yotsugi.

Here are the bollards blocking things like motorbikes from the river side area.

Riding north.

Approaching the Kinekawa bridge, and going across.

On the other side I see the same sort of trails as on the west side. There are parallel paths on top of the dyke, as well as lower by the river. The lower path is flanked by open space and a whole series of sports fields.

Here is one of the many youth baseball teams that I saw biking to practice early on a Sunday morning.

The other thing that I’ll note is that almost all the sports fields had a public restroom nearby. Although I didn’t go into any of them, and those that had open doors looked like they were pretty dirty, the fact that they were present was a strong contrast to what we have in Toronto. In fact, I noted a very high density of public bathrooms all across the city.

Here I am at the southern tip of the island at this location. Just a few fishermen about. I’m dressed all in wool, with a top from Pedaled and my aforementioned wool knickers from Rin Project.

Going back north, I see that in fact many of the bridges have access to Arakawa island, and I ended up going back across on the Komatsgawa bridge.

Here is a map of my ride that day,

Then it was Monday, and I was off to a downtown hotel with my backpack/carryon. Note the very narrow painted bike lane.

Many smart streets also had these useless sharrow markings, that are ignored by cars and truck parked curbside.

Most of the cycling that you see in Tokyo on major streets is on the sidewalk. In a few areas, there is signage to encourage a separation between pedestrians and cyclists, but these signs were often ignored.

I’ll also note that that bike routes suggested by Google more or less force you to bike on the sidewalk occasionally, as you are often directed the wrong way on a large arterial that is one way.

More of those useless sharrows as I approach the neighbourhood of the University of Tokyo.

This is the one spot where I actually saw some cones laid down for a modicum of protection since there was a bit of an uphill climb from Nezu.

There are often commenting challenges set up in cities to compare commute times by car, bike and transit. In a city like Toronto, biking often wins as downtown traffic can be hopeless, and transit routes can be frustratingly indirect. I figured that in Tokyo, with its extensive network of subways and trains that transit would win.

The conference that I was attending actually at a day at a different campus that was across central Tokyo from our hotel, and I was determined to bike there during the morning rush hour. The rest of the group was to take the subway. Google predicted similar times for transit and cycling: about 55 minutes for the 7.5 km trip.

Here I go. Here are some crossing guards.

During rush hour, the sidewalks are packed and so if you want to bike any distance you need to bike on the street. Here I am at an intersection where I am taking the lane because of a left turn curb lane.

However, I did start noticing that the few cyclists that I saw would bike between stopped cars and actually position themselves right by the curb at the corner. The assumption being that drivers are observant enough not to left hook them. By and large, I found drivers here to be very careful, and I had no issues with traffic. I will note a fair number of close passes when traffic was heavy, but you didn’t get the sense that drivers were out to kill you.

It also helped enormously to have the helmet mirror so that I could keep an eye out behind me, particularly when I was riding around a parked vehicle. Ideally, the mirror would have been mounted on the other side of the helmet.

Some of the shadows were augmented with blue arrows, which you can see did not effect the parking.

Lighter traffic now as I skirt the new Olympic Stadium.

If you stick to major streets, then you can use the same signs as the cars for wayfinding, which was convenient.

Bottom line: I made it in about 50 minutes which was very close to the Google estimate. I started off at 8 AM which was a little past the peak of rush hour. My colleagues on the subway arrived about 15 minutes later, and they commented on how crowded the trains were.

After the day’s events, I’m headed to the Shibuya scramble crossing for a group photo.

Said group photo by Jason Tam.

Jason was also kind enough to take this shot of my and my bike.

At this point, I took the subway the rest of the way back, and regulations stated that bikes have to be bagged on the trains. Thus my carrying handle with shoulder strap and a Dimpa bag.

Two final notes. On the sidewalk, there doesn’t seem to be fixed protocol for which side you take when another bike is approaching. Also, most bikes do not have bells, and it is regarded as a bit aggressive if you use one.

Finally, on small one way side streets, this sign says that bikes are allowed to go the wrong way.

All in all, cycling in Tokyo was more pleasant than I expected. The comparative lack of bike infrastructure was offset by the courtesy of the drivers,

The other thing is that I can now mentally connect some of the districts that I rode through like Shibuya, Harajuku, and Omotesando in a different way than just popping up from the subway.

Perhaps the next time I’ll make use of their bikeshare system.

I’ve been spending the past week in Tokyo, squeezing in a bit of bike content where I can. Here are some brief notes on several shops that I visited.

The first was Blue Lug, which is well known for custom builds using frames sourced in the US from vendors such as Rivendell, Crust, Velo Orange and Surly. You can see some of their builds on this page. I visited their Yoyogi Park branch a few years ago, but this time I went to the Hatagaya shop.

There was a goodly assortment of staff bikes parked outside the shop. I really like the kid seat on this surly with the special cargo carrying fork.

Indy Fab


Step inside and it pretty much takes your breath away.

Paint samples on drink cans.


Their build area.

Their web shop is a good source for Japanese components and accessories that can be hard to get in North America.

Next up: Rin Project, near Ueno Station. They are a clothing and accessory shop.

I bought a pair of their wool tweed knickers maybe 15? years ago that I pull out on special occasions. You can see them in this picture. The sales man was a bit surprised to see them, and he said that they still make them in cotton.

I bought a pair of their stretch convertible pants which I will review at some point in the future. Also a Brompton carrying handle with shoulder strap that I anticipated needing during the week.

Next up: Tokyo Bike, which is a relatively new shop catering to the crowd who wants a pretty bike over all else.

Tastefully laid out interior.

You can rent this stride bike, rather than buying it outright.

These single speed kids bikes were built around 451 sized wheels. High ten steel frame so they are not light.

I liked the chain guard.

Their main adult bike has 26″ wheels, Shimano Tourney derailleurs, and a very slack frame geometry. All yours for 86,900 yen and above.

Fairly close by was a micro brewery called Folkways Brewing. The best beer I had all trip.

If it is open, this keg is out by the curb.

Here is the small, spare interior space.

and the proprietor, Daisuke, with his nicely restored Moser.

Finally a few shots from the bike area of a department store buried in the depths of Shinjuku station. Since the last time I visited three or four years ago, it looks like e-bikes are much more common.

Most of the mamachari that I saw this time were e-assist.

It’s common to see unusual branding on very generic bikes in Japan, such as car brands like Hummer or Lamborghini. I was sad to see this folder branded Harry Quinn, who was a custom frame builder out of the UK. If you google, you can see the same branding on some Brompton clones.

I’ll report back later on what it’s like to commute across downtown Tokyo by bike.

On my way to work this AM I came upon a large group of parents with kids on bikes forming a bike parade, with police escort. The officer to the left told me that this had to do with bike to school week (although I thought that week fell in late May).

The group was being directed down this laneway towards their eventual destination of Lord Lansdowne Public School.

Although it was great to see so many kids biking to school with their parents, I found it a bit sad that such a big crowd was only enabled by a police escort that was also corking intersections.

Citizen led initiatives such as bike buses strike me as being more appropriate and sustainable.

Today was the second annual ride of the rebel pilots. A crowd of rebel pilots and other Star Wars characters gathered at Christie Pits.

This rider was a member of the reform branch of the Mandalorians, so it was OK for him to remove his helmet.

Grogu and his chauffeur.

Likewise, Wicket.

Rebel leader Natalie reads a land acknowledgment and reminds us that there is a fundraiser for Indspire associated with the ride. This is an organization that funds educational programs for indigenous peoples.

She also goes over some of the safety rules for the riders.

Off we go!

At Walmer and Bloor.

On Bloor.

Down Rosedale Valley Road.

Along Bayview.

The ride paused at Corktown Commons.

I took my leave at this point, which was exactly where I joined the ride last year. So between the two years I’ve been on the whole ride.

On the way home, picking up a little milk. I apologized to another rider for taking up most of the bike rack.

Thanks to Natalie for organizing the ride, and to all those who rode with us, especially those in costume.

…and may the force with with you……always.

It was recently announced that a good deal of Ontario place will be closed to the public as part of ongoing construction and revitalization of the site. Most of the access to West Island closes off May 1. I decided to bike down to take a last look.

Here are some installations that are part of Lumiere at Trillium Park.

This is the point at which access from the east will be gated off.

Not a fan of a lot of what this sign says: “including a commercial recreational facility in the first phase”….”below and at-grade parking on the mainland”

This sign gives a bit more information, indicating that what is going on now has to do with repairing facilities such as the pods and the Cinesphere, so it is not immediately linked to the proposed spa.

I had never been on this breakwater, part of which that was made out of an old laker.

Sad to see the marina closed. This has caused some hardship for boat owners.

Another view from the breakwater.

I certainly wasn’t the only one exploring the nooks and crannies of the West Island today.

I had a nice chat with a fellow cyclist who said that she often came down to Ontario Place, and that she would miss even things as cheesy as the fake rocks.

I had forgotten that this bell was put up to mark a centennial for the Japanese Canadian community.

Some tree limbs were left here so that people could ring the bell.

An appropriately mourning tone for the day.

One last look at the pods, with a crane lurking to the right.

Access will be maintained to portions of the perimeter of West Island via this bridge.

On the way home, I see that the sakura are still in OK shape, with the threat of rain keeping the crowds fairly light today.

Many in the community are figuring out if the proposed development of a huge private spa, and the even more recent announcement about moving the Science Centre to the pods can be fought.

Ontario Place for All is a website that has more information on this.

Also, here are some picture from what was billed as the last public event on West Island before access restrictions, which was held last night.

This is not to be confused with anything linked to the twitter account “Ontario Place for Everyone” which is set up by the corporation that intends to build a monstrous nine story high private spa. They have signed a 99 year lease with the provincial government for the land where the spa will be sited, and the terms of the lease are being kept secret.

There are also many issues with the idea of moving the Science Centre. It is not clear how much thinking went into these ideas before they were proposed, and there was certainly no sign of public consultation beforehand.

Certainly this has become be a hot button issue for the current mayoral election, but even so it is not clear what power the city has to stop this project from going forward.

MSU Bike Jamboree

I decided that I would mark Earth Day by going down to East Lansing MI to meet up with some old friends and former colleagues, and to lend a hand at the MSU Bike Jamboree.

Here’s a picture of four of us just before we were to depart for a tour of campus in light drizzle. Second from left in bright yellow is Tim Potter, a good friend, our host for the entire event, and the director of MSU Bikes.

Here is his shot of the vendor area.

Photo: Tim Potter, image source

It was great to see the folks from TCBA, the Tri-County Bicycle Association. They were promoting DALMAC, their annual tour over Labour Day weekend that goes from MSU up to the Mackinac Bridge. I was a TCBA member the whole time I lived in the area, up to about 2004.

Here is a shot of three Ride of Silence organizers.

photo: Tim Potter

Pat, in the red cap, is the volunteer coordinator for DALMAC. He also organizes the local edition of the Ride of Silence, and he is also the secret source for the local ghost bike memorials. It was great to talk to him and to catch up a bit on the goings on at TCBA, as well as remembering some of the people that I had known, such as Pat Trudgen, Ed Noonan, and Lenny Provencher.

Later on, KC took over the stand, and Alicia of the TCBA youth cycling club also arrived. Great to see younger folk involved in the club.

Also present were some folks from STS Bicycles, a custom frame builder. Their line of bikes is focused on the gravel and adventure biking market.

They are proud to be from SE Indiana, Rushville to be precise. All frames are made right there. Support domestic manufacture!

This steel fork was part of a frameset headed to Ann Arbor.

Here is a fat bike prototype.

There were some interesting vintage bikes for sale as well. Here is a tandem from Santana for only $500!

Right beside it, an early ROSS police bike with very unusual Suntour brakes.

Speaking of tandems, at one point Thomas and son rolled up on their nicely equipped Co-Motion tandem.

Thomas explained that bike licenses in East Lansing were not compulsory, but were simply to register the bike with the city in case it was stolen.

The slow bike race for kids was made extra challenging by running it on grass.

Earlier in the morning, Erin was busy working on a wall map of campus.

All done later on.

People taking shelter from the cold wind and light rain, which unfortunately kept visitor numbers down.

Despite the drizzle, four of us departed on the tour de MSU.

Here we go.

By Beale Garden.

The local cherry trees look to be a little past their peak, about a week ahead of Toronto.

A little known WWI memoral.

Tim explained that several bike repair stations around campus were funded by an alum. MSE bikes pitched in the pumps, which they also maintain.

This rack design doesn’t keep all bikes from falling down.

At Beaumont Tower.

A much better shot from Tim’s camera.

This is the oldest tree on campus.

Here is one of two bike lock ups in parking garages on campus. They are run by parking services, but there doesn’t seem to be any signage promoting the system and explaining how it works. Inside the cage, you can see the newer design of bike racks.

Riding by Lex Luthor’s house.

Headed east towards Hagedorn on one of the earliest sections of improved bike trails.

We’ve crossed Hagedorn and are looking at the west end of the new MSU-Lake Lansing trail that is under construction.

Riding through the parking lot of the Community Music School.

There’s going to be a bridge installed here this summer. Once done, this will be a hug asset for Meridian Township.

Thanks to Tim for organizing the event. It was great to see some of the features that resulted in having MSU named as a gold level bike friendly campus. It was also good to catch up a bit on the local bike scene.

TBN Tourist ride

Today was the first TBN Sunday Tourist ride where the riders sorted themselves into three groups. Here Danny is explaining how everything was going to happen. Group A was the fast group. Group B was to be slower, and Group C was to stick together. It was a bit confusing since people in each group might also have been planning to do different distances. What helped a bit was that all the routes leading to and from Unionville were very familiar to many riders.

This was group A at the start, perhaps not realizing that leader Paul was also planning to do the 101 km route.

Here’s a picture with everyone, just before we started riding off.

Here is the lead group with a mix of groups A and B.

Here are the leaders of Group A about to turn north on Leslie. This is pretty much the last I saw of the three fastest riders. I’m looking at you Anthony 😉

My usual MO on these rides was to go off with the fast group, get dropped after about 20 km, and then ride the rest of the way alone. I managed to stay with the second fastest group to this point where I turned right on 19th Ave as part of the 60 km route.

On the way back, I took this picture simply as a reference for the future. This is on Kennedy, just south of Stouffville Rd. It will be subdivisions by next year.

As per usual when I ride through Unionville, I pause at the site where cyclist Safet Tairoski was killed. The ghost bike is long gone, but there is a bench across the street that serves as a memorial.

It was upwards of 22°C, and I was definitely too warm in a wool jersey.

Thanks to Danny for organizing. A beautiful, sunny day.

Jane has posted some pictures on Facebook.

Today was the first of two public consultations on the westward extension of the Bloor bike lanes, planned to extend to six points in two phases over the next two or three years. Rob has an excellent summary on his blog. It was hard to gauge how much opposition there was to the proposal. Certainly there was one gentleman who was talking about going to court to block the project. A few others raised the usual objections and suggested that bike lanes keep to side streets. Apparently some people just can’t get their head around the concept of people wanting to shop by walking or biking.

Today’s meeting was at Swansea PS Community Centre. Not quite as crowded as last week’s High Park discussion.

Some of the usual suspects. Nice to see David of the South Etobicoke cycling committee.

I’ll confine my comments to what is happening in Bloor West Village. The current plan is to have the east bound bike lane darting into existing lay-bys, much like this current treatment in front of No Frills.

On the north side, the bike lanes will be straight, and also protected by curbs and bollards.

There are a couple of curious features in the plan. For instance, just west of Runnymede (where the current lanes end), there is a section marked “informal loading zone” which sounds like an invitation to stop a vehicle at will. It is particularly problematic since it is right at the corner. Additionally there is a large cross hatched area (marked with a red arrow) that could just as easily be additional parking.

Note that there is a fairly large decrease in the amount of on street parking according to this panel.

The most active area of discussion appeared to be around the junction of Bloor and South Kingsway. There are some fairly significant changes proposed for this intersection,

I had an extended conversation with a staff member about the raised platforms for loading and the TTC. I pointed out the hazards posed by snow plow damage to the prebuilt ramps that have been appearing in various locations. She was aware of the issue, and she said that staff are working hard to come up with a solution that also allows for adequate drainage. I had assumed that anything made with asphalt would be more expensive than the pre fab platforms, but I was surprised to hear that even a smaller model of the platform costs more than $30K.

At any rate, it looks like a design for phase 1 (as far west as just across Mimico Creek, a little past Montgomery) will go to committee this June, and if approved, construction will start this year.

As Rob and others have pointed out, if we can get as far as Six Points, it is actually easier to install bike lanes further west since that section of Bloor is mostly residential. Pushing all the way to the border with Mississauga will allow a continuous link to what is being planned in that neighbouring city.

One step at a time though. A couple of years ago, it seemed unlikely that we’d be able to get bike lanes through the Kingsway, and now there are plans laid out in black and white.

The city’s materials on this project are here. There is a link to a feedback form in order to comment on the project until April 27.

And there is a second public consultation tomorrow (April 13) at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute (AKA the Mean Girls School) from 6-8.

Today was the open house that revealed the city’s preferred future plan for High Park. As you can see, there were many people eager to attend.

Here’s the crowd at 4:45, shortly after people were let in.

These fine gentlemen were present.

Gord Perks made a brief speech. His emphasis was very much on High Park being a park for all users. He also said that what was being presented was a first draft, but given the amount of effort apparent in the materials presented, and the fact that the proposal is to go in front of IEC and the City Council fairly soon, I’d be surprised if there were significant changes to the proposal as it now stands.

The materials are now available on the city’s page. Scroll down to “Get Involved” and you will see the information about the open house and links to the poster presentations.

There is a lot to unpack here.

  • Motor Vehicles enter from High Park Blvd, and can drive to the zoo area, or up Centre Rd to the Grenadier. They can proceed up Colborne Lodge to Bloor, which would be the exit.
  • The west branch of the loop and Colborne Lodge south from the Grenadier are permanently closed to motor vehicles. This eliminates the southbound through traffic that has been an issue.
  • There will be a wide bike lane northbound from the Grenadier to Bloor, along with a section of the Grenadier parking lot repurposed as a cut through for cyclists.
  • Dedicated “sport cycling times” TBD. Perks mentioned that speed limits would not be enforced on cyclists during those hours, and that they would probably be two or three early morning weekdays.
  • The park would remain car free on Sundays, but it will be open to cars on Saturdays.
  • There will be significant reduction of parking between the Grenadier and Bloor, with all spaces reconfigured to parallel parking.
  • All public parking will be pay parking.

This is what cyclists northbound from the Grenadier would see. I was told that there would be a fast and a slow lane.

This is what the car free west branch would look like, with clear separation between pedestrians and cyclists, and again, some indicated of separate lanes for slow and fast cyclists.

There are promises of a new shuttle service, but there were no details. I fear that if this is dependent on the TTC, given their budgetary situation, I can’t imaging this service would be very frequent.

What comes next?

Take particular note of the second column: the immediate improvements (pending council approval)

  • cycling infrastructure implementation using paint and quick build items.
  • temporary traffic control features for road closures
  • opening the park to cars on Saturdays
  • dedicated sport cycling pilot.

I hope that these half measures aren’t put into place and then just allowed to decay (like the King St. pilot)

Subsequent improvements will include permanent changes to parking spaces, new sidewalks, etc and I imagine that they will be years away.

One poster did include the following statement: “The option of full road closures also performed well in the evaluation process, and many park users expressed support for a car-free High Park. This approach can be upheld as a long-term goal; key conditions should first be met, specifically implementation of a new shuttle service and expanded transit service.”

Overall, my impression was that the proposal is better than the initial impression given by the Star story. Obviously there has been lot of staff time put into this.

I asked why the section of Colborne Lodge with cars couldn’t have bi directional car traffic, with the High Park Blvd entrance only accessing the zoo area. I was told that there wasn’t enough road width, and that traffic flow would be chaotic. I asked about the concerns of Parkside residents about traffic build up if High Park Blvd was the main entrance to the park (I suggested that perhaps the traffic could flow south from Bloor and out High Park). I was told that a southbound flow would result in some awkward crossings and conflict, and that the traffic into the park should be less than before due to the reduction of available parking.

I feel that the concerns of the Safe Parkside group have been given short shrift.

At the same time, there are many more features that will upset the motorists would wanted to regain full access to the park. In particular, the road closures, the reduction in parking, the lack of free parking, etc.

One addition point that I’d like to make; given all the concerns expressed about accessibility, they had better make a sizeable fraction of the available parking handicap spots. The proposed scheme of pick up and drop off zones does not feel very well thought out.

In summary, a typical Toronto compromise: a pilot study that will inform permanent changes in the future. Given the budgetary situation for the city, I fear that future might be very far away.