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A 52 year old female cyclist was struck and killed on Tuesday, June 23 while crossing an onramp to the QEW from Third Line in Oakville. Today we installed a ghost bike at the crash site.

The ride starts at Bronte GO station.

Joey and I start the short ride to the Third Line overpass.

Lots of high speed traffic at the crash site.

Others had already placed flowers here.

Joey holding the lock.

I’ve installed flowers on the bike.

photo: J. Schwartz

We decided to place the bike off to the side of the offramp. It would definitely have been more visible just underneath the large green sign, but there was some concern about it being removed by the city as a potential obstruction for people trying to cross the very onramp where the cyclist was killed.

During COVID-19 it is difficult to do a regular memorial ride with social distancing. ARC has been installing ghost bikes without prior notice, but with the permission of the families when it can be obtained.

Many thanks to Geoffrey Becarich for providing the ghost bike, and to Joey for being very patient with me during the long ride back from Oakville. Of course we had headwinds all the way back.

Postscript: off for another Tuesday night delivery run with the Toronto Bike Brigade, on behalf of #FoodshareTO and in support of #notanotherblacklife.

photo: D. Shellnutt

I must say that the cargo bike just flies after I finish dropping off the seven boxes of produce. I did get myself a little reward on the way home.

On the other hand, this last stop brought home to me the income disparity between parts of Alexandra Park, and just a short bike ride away, Trinity Bellwoods.

Ride safe everyone!

We had our first pandemic meeting via zoom. It was well attended.

The main items on the agenda were a discussion of ActiveTO, and whether we needed to request additional bike infrastructure, and an inventory of changes that needed to be made for signalling and beg buttons around ward 4.

On Active TO:

  • Lakeshore closure on weekends should happen throughout the summer, even post pandemic.
  • A request for Souraren to be a quiet street has already been sent to Perks. This group will develop a more detailed proposal on this point.
  • Keele and Parkside were discussed, but judged to be too dangerous for temporary bike lanes. Instead, Indian rd Cres and Indian rd were suggested as quiet streets to provide a north south connection.
  • Bike lane on High Park: this would be an upgrade from the current quiet street treatment that seems to be ineffective.

On signalling and beg buttons:

  • Northeast corner of Old Weston and Dundas W. Placement of beg button for pedestrians is well out of reach for cyclists.
  • Riverside and Bloor 
  • Southbound sterling on Dundas signaling turns green for cars but pedestrians need to press button to active walk signal and bike crossing. Given the high volume of pedestrians and bikes relative to cars at this crossing, the pedestrian crossing should be triggered by default.
  • signal timing changes at the Lakeshore and Parkside, to cross to get to Martin Goodman Trail. The current wait time for pedestrians to cross Lakeshore to get to MGT takes too long, and about half of the people will cross Lakeshore with the red light. Please shorten the pedestrian wait-time signal. 

Other business:

Janet Joy and Rob Zaichowski circulated a letter to the mayor demanding more bike lanes on TTC Routes (especially Yonge St. We need more signatures from groups on this letter.

We will have another meeting in August to review what has happened in the intervening two months. August is when installation of the westward extension of the Bloor bike lanes are due to be started.

Edouard Le Blanc was killed by a driver who ran a red light, back in October 2014. Many people participated in his memorial ride.

His ghost bike on the Gatineau Hydro Corridor at Warden was removed by the city as part of a clean up prior to the Pan Am Games, and it was never replaced. A new ghost bike was put up today.

Here are some decorations at the location of the original ghost bike. Edouard was a Habs fan.

Keenan arrives with the ghost bike in tow.

Joey is also in attendance.

Edouward’s widow Maisie writes his name on the bike.

Maisie, Edmund (his twin brother), and Edmund’s wife.

The family filled in a few more details about when Edouward died. The bike crossing light was green. At this point, Warden has two traffic lanes in each direction. There were already three cars stopped at the intersection, two in the southbound direction, and one in the other direction. Note the signficant distance between the crossing and the stop lines.

The killer drove past one car while the light was red and struck Edouard. It bears repeating that he was charged with careless driving and fined $700 as well as six demerit points.

Maisie has worked with Friends and Families for Safe Streets to press for vulnerable road user legislation. His case was also used as part of the city’s “Art of Distraction” campaign that drew attention to tragic consequences of having unsafe streets.

Thanks to Keenan for being the beast of burden today, as well as Geoffrey for providing the ghost bike.

photo: J. Schwartz

RIP Edouard Le Blanc.

On the way back downtown, Joey and I were excited to see that the Gatineau trail was extended west past Victoria Park.

Unfortunately, it dead ends at Eglinton.

It will eventually connect to the Don trail system. To the east, the Gatineau Hydro Corridor will connect with Rouge Park, a project called the Meadoway.

Joey and I also enjoyed riding the missing piece of the Bloor bike lanes between Sherbourne and Avenue that just went in over the past few days.

Bike infrastructure is slowing improving across the city. However, deaths such as Edouard’s still show the need for tougher penalties for drivers who kill pedestrians and cyclists. It didn’t make a difference that he was riding on a multi use trail and that he had the right of way when he was hit.

In a terrible postscript to the death of cyclist Zhi Yong (Peter) Kang back in 2015, the woman who killed him in a hit and run and went to jail was arrested this past Sunday for drunk driving.

Her original sentence was seven years, with credit for time served, which was regarded as a fairly severe sentence at the time. She also had a 10 year driving ban. Obviously this aspect of her sentence had absolutely no affect on her behaviour, since she already had a suspended license back in 2015 when she killed Peter, and she was out drinking and driving again this weekend.

image source

It was extremely fortunate that she didn’t kill anyone else before being arrested. She was caught after police received numerous 911 calls about a car driving erratically on the 400.

This incident also brings to mind two other recent tragedies. The first in Brampton where an impaired driver killed a mother and three daughters

The second is the death of Safet Tairoski, another hit and run where the driver might have been impaired, and she tried to cover up her involvement.

Driving is a privilege, and penalties for flouting the law and killing someone as a result need to be strengthened.

Condolences again to the family and friends of Zhi Yong Kang. This week has been an unwelcome reminder of that tragedy back in 2015.

Updates:

Someone on FB suggested that there was some nice gravel riding to explore at the Clairville Conservation Area. I took a quick ride up the Humber River trail to check it out. It took a bit of trial and error to figure out how to get there by bike.

The Humber River Trail takes you all the way to the Clairville Dam.

There is an old paved road that crosses over the dam and turns north, and it looks like it connects to Albion Rd. However it dead ends at a fence that blocks all passage. In the past, it has also been possible to skirt the reservoir on the west side through the campground / trailer park, but all of the auxiliary exits are current closed off due to COVID 19. I ended up riding along Finch, and I used the sidewalk. It’s a quick ride two or three blocks, then you turn right into the entrance for the water park. Turn left towards the golf driving range, and that road turns to gravel and continues under the 407. Now you are in the conservation area, and the gravel road is actually designated as an extension of the Humber River trail. I checked out the northwest entrance as well as the eastern entrance off of Albion. The next time, I’ll try out some of the narrower paths.

This is what happened when I hit some loose gravel while trying to take a selfie.

I’m standing still to take this one, having learned my lesson.

Keep in mind that the Humber River Trail gets crowded on weekends. The conservation area itself was pretty deserted.

Ride safe everyone!

Safet Tairoski, a married father of three, was killed while riding his bike in Unionville on Monday morning. Police have charged 25 year old Alexandra Forrestall, from Markham, with failure to stop at a collision causing death, public mischief and obstructing justice. After hitting the cyclist, she drove to Stouffville, and filed a false police report to explain the damage to her vehicle.

Local volunteers built a memorial at the crash site, including a ghost bike. I biked up to pay my respects today. Here is the crash site, just east of Main St, on Carlton Rd.

The memorial is quite elaborate, with the many contributions demonstrating the affection that the community had for the deceased.

Used my saddle bag to carry some plastic flowers. Don’t want to be doing this again.

Paying my respects.

This is another case that illustrates the need for vulnerable road user legislation. There are too many loopholes in the current highway traffic act. The fact that the penalties for hit and run are less than those for impaired driving is a joke. Another issue is the difference in sentencing guidelines for distracted driving vs dangerous driving. Too many pedestrians and cyclists are killed while the driver involved gets away with a slap on the wrist.

The accused’s life will be made hell for a while in this age of social media, but she still has her life ahead of her.

Ironically, it is very probable that the accused will face stiffer penalties for trying to cover up her involvement in the collision, rather than the simple fact that she killed a cyclist.

A go fund me has been set up for the Tairovski family.

Update: article by Patrick Brown (affliated with Bike Law) and Ryan Marianacci about some of the issues with the law as it stands.

Twenty years ago I treated myself to a new bike on the occasion of turning 40, a Tamarack that was built just for me in Halifax. It was specced for loaded touring, with 26″ wheels, but with 853 tubing and a sloped Cinelli fork crown, just to keep things a little interesting. I’ve had many a pleasant ride on the bike, although the loaded touring never really came to pass as that was the year we had our first child.

Last year, since I was going to turn 60, I decided it was time to start thinking about another custom bike. At the same time, one of my bike related highlights of every year for much of the past decade has been my annual pilgrimage to the World Human Powered Speed Challenge, and it was there in 2008 where I first met the world’s fastest man, Sam Whittingham. Here is a picture of me grinning like an idiot while sitting in Sam’s bike.

I discovered that he was also a bike builder, and I thought that maybe someday I would buy one of his bikes.

Fast forward to last summer, when I visited his shop to get fitted, and to nail down some details about what I wanted.

Despite my retrogrouch tendencies, I decided that I would finally go for a modern design. Although carbon fiber is a wonderful material, I wanted the durability of a metal frame, and given that Sam is an expert builder in both steel and titanium, I went for Ti. I was also influenced by the fact that one of Sam’s bikes was featured in the videos that advertised Shimano’s brand new GRX component group, and the fact that he built and shipped the bike to Shimano within 48 hours of being contacted for a bike.

Naturally that meant that I wanted a gravel bike. Apparently advertising works. As an aside, this was also my first bike with brifters, through axles, and a carbon fork. I drew the line at Di2 and went for manual shifting.

Earlier this spring, Sam was renewing his website, and the timing was such that my bike ended up being both a show bike at the Vancouver bike show, and also one of the bikes featured on the gravel bike section of his site. Here is a beauty shot of my bike from his site.

image source: Naked Bicycles

At the end of March, this big box arrived.

All built up.

The stance is similar to the tamarack. Nothing too aggressive. I now have two handbuilt Canadian bikes. I am totally spoiled.

Also, can you tell that I like purple bikes?

Our family crest, or so I was told by my father.

This must be one of the most beautiful seatposts in the world.

image from Naked Bicycles instagram feed.

Of course, my bell also had to be purple.

In keeping with the Canadian sourced theme of this bike, the only bag that I’ve put on the bike is a nigel from Porcelain Rocket. I really like this bag.

One issue that had to be worked out was that my GPS mount obstructed the bag opening.

This was addressed switching to the Garmin MTB mount. Obviously mounting the GPS directly on the very pretty painted stem was not an option 😉

I’ve now had about 1000 km on the bike, and it just glides. One thing that I asked for was to have the bike easy to ride no lands, and just like magic it has this combination of stability and responsiveness. Also, it was immediately comfortable, with no hand pain which was getting to be a bit of an issue with the Tamarack. Also, the GRX levers have nice flat tops on the hoods that help in this regard.

The only issue that I’ve had thus far was a misadventure with the tubeless tires due to my overinflating them.

In the past, 98% of my riding has been on asphalt. I’m determined to drive that percentage down, in part by weekly rides to Tommy Thompson Park.

Here a picture of the bike in a more typical urban environment. I must say that the 38 mm width tires help on all those potholes we have in Toronto.

The whole process of dealing with Sam and Andrea from start to finish was an absolute pleasure. If you are in the market for a bike that is unique and tailored to you, I cannot recommend Naked Bicycles more highly.

The beautiful weather brings out lots of cyclists. I was running a few deliveries tonight for the Toronto Bike Brigade, in support of #foodshareTO and #notanotherblacklife. Here is the pickup point at the Biking Lawyer’s office.

All loaded up.

Off I go.

On Dundas St, I run into this nattily dressed gentleman, and couldn’t resist stopping for a chat. Martin was riding a Bridgestone Moulton, which is a pretty rare bike.

On the way home, I also saw someone riding a Pedersen, but I didn’t get a picture. Can’t be too many of those in town either.

Thanks to David Shellnut and FoodshareTO for organizing the food drop offs.

Ride safe everyone!

Update: David posted some photos here.

Helmets with lights

My default winter helmet has been a Torch T2 for almost five years now. Before that, I had a T1, which was the original kickstarter version of the helmet. The thing that is really nice about the helmet is that it has built in lights for those dark commutes.

However, the original LA based company that sold these seems to be gone, and their domain name has been taken over by what I assume was their original european distributor. My own T2 is close to being retired, since the battery life isn’t what it was, and the switch on the red lights to the rear is getting a little flaky. Not that this is a complaint; this helmet has seen four years of hard use. I’m told that you’re supposed to retire a bike helmet after several years anyway.

In the meantime, several other companies have come out with helmets featuring integrated lights. One of the most prominent has been LUMOS, and I’ve seen quite a few of these around town.

Now LUMOS is in the process of kickstarting with a newer design, and it looks pretty good. Notably, it comes in a range of sizes and colours, and it is their cheapest model yet.

Given that the projected weight for this helmet (370g) is only slightly more than my T2, it probably has much more efficient LEDs, it looks like it has a more secure fitting system, and that it is available with MIPS, I’ve gone ahead and backed the project. The project is already oversubscribed, and the deadline is still not until July 19.

The anticipated delivery date is November 2020. Of course, kickstarter projects can be delayed. My previous kickstarted helmet was several years late. I’m just hoping that since LUMOS has been in the business of making helmets for years now, that I’ll get the helmet in time for the bulk of winter. (I’m hoping that biking to work in the winter will actually be an issue, but that is another story).

Another weekend of glorious weather with #ActiveTO road closures. This time I wanted to check out both the Bayview and the eastern Lakeshore closures in addition to the western Lakeshore closure, with a few detours to check out some new bike infra improvements.

After biking from Ellis to Strachan and across Garrison Crossing, I turned along the newly installed bike lanes on Douro and Wellington. Here is the start at the western end where Douro meets King St. You can also see the pedestrian bridge that is under construction.

Parts of the bike lane are buffered by parked cars.

Approaching Strachan, the bike lane serves a bit to accommodate an existing bump out of the sidewalk.

The bike lane continues along Wellington and ends here at Niagara. It is unfortunate that it does not continue further eastbound.

At this point it is possible to jog north to Adelaide, which I did, eventually making my way to River St, and then biking down to the closure on the Bayview extension. Bayview was closed from Rosedale Valley Rd (shown here) to Corktown.

Peaceful family biking.

Rather than continuing to the lakefront, I turned back, and biked up River St so that I could check out Dundas St. BTW biking up and down River St to get to Bayview is much easier than doing the same on Rosedale Valley Rd.

Here are some newly installed bollards on curbs on River St, headed south from Gerrard. This treatment is very similar to what I saw on Harbord.

Turning left (west) on Dundas, I see the new cycle track on Dundas that extends across the bridge. This cycle track was installed as part of ActiveTO and will be up for “re-evalution” in the fourth quarter of 2021. I was impressed that it looked pretty permanent for a quick installation.

The bike lane is nice and wide, and so much better than the sharrows that were there previously.

The enhancements last for exactly four bollards past Broadview, and then we’re back to the existing bike lane on Dundas.

Approaching Jones, there are some added safety features here.

Looking diagonally across the intersection, I see a cyclist checking out the Douglas Crosbie ghost bike.

Here is the eastern start of the Woodbine road closure.

The eastern Lakeshore closure is a bit different in that there are two places where you have to stop to allow for car traffic. This is the one at Northern Dancer. The other one was at Coxwell.

In might have been just time of day, but this part of Lakeshore was much less crowded than the western section.

The closure ends at Leslie, and signs direct you to turn south towards Tommy Thompson and the MGT.

At any rate, these weekend road closures are terrific for getting cyclist of all ages out and about. More importantly, I look forward to seeing more of the #ActiveTO related improvements to the city’s cycling network.