Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Yeah, it’s cold

Yesterday and today, we’ve been having a bit of a cold snap, with the overnight temperatures reaching about -20°C. It was cold enough that I bought out my really cold riding gear for the first time this winter.

It was about -16°C when I rode into work, and I found that I got overheated a bit. On the way back home, there was a bitter headwind so I was glad that I was dressed the way I was.

This time, I guess the seal around my nose for my North45 balaclava was not quite perfect, so there was a bit of fogging and icing on my glasses by the end of a 45 minute trip. Still much better than a standard balaclava./

For the record, my clothing was:

  • Winter pants by Makers and Riders, although this pair by Eddie Bauer is decent. (anything fleece lined and relatively wind proof will do.)
  • wool undershirt
  • wool shirt
  • Winter jacket. Mine is by Arcteryx, but I can’t recommend it as I’ve had to send it back to get the front zipper repaired, a process that took months.
  • Woolie Boolie socks
  • Boots (I use flat pedals)
  • North45 balaclava.
  • earflaps on helmet.
  • Pogies, and medium weight gloves.

On Thursday evening, I attended a winter biking workshop given by Cycle Toronto.

Our two presenters were Rick and Dave.

Here Rick is talking about the importance of regular cleaning of your bike, along with re lubing after the clean. I do the same thing roughly weekly, rinsing the salt off of the drivetrain with a garden sprayer, filled with hot water.

If you look closely, you will note the homemade mudflap on the front fender that keeps your drive train cleaner. A front mudflap also keeps your feet drier in the rain.

They had a lot of good advice. They promised a bunch of links after their talk, and when those are distributed, I will add them to this blog post.

Some of the talk was about not purchasing a lot of expensive gear for winter riding. In that spirit, I did some experimenting with a home-brew solution to fogging glasses. Here I cut part of the bottom off of an N95 mask so that breath would escape out the bottom.

Here it is combined with a balaclava. (a reminder that my favourite is this wool one from TST)

Here is a picture riding with this combination, and there is no fogging of the glasses.


BTW, CycleTO has finally announced this year’s version of the “Coldest Day of the Year Ride”. It will be Sunday February 12 at 11:30, when the forecast is for a balmy 0°C. The ride starts at Sumch-Shuter Parkette, and it looks like it will go west on Shuter, north on Sherbourne, and then east across the viaduct and along Danforth to East Lynn Park.

Hoping that the temporary ramps on Danforth will be OK, as there has been a repeated problem with one of them having the edge of the metal ramp being bent up by snow plows.


At any rate, hats off to all those who were out biking yesterday or this morning. Know that you were probably biking on the real coldest day of the year.

Also note that the International Winter Bike to Work Day is this Friday. Somewhat confusingly, there is also something planned for Saturday according to this website.


Update:

The midtown Yonge St bike lane pilot goes in front of the Infrastructure and Environment committee this morning. Yonge4All organized a rally at City Hall at 9, timed so that it would be just before the IEC meeting started. Robin Richardson was our MC.

She reminded us that Yonge4All is a community group that brings together many different groups with the common interest in making Yonge St a safer, complete street for everyone.

Our first speaker was Councillor Brad Bradford. He reflected on the positive effect of the Danforth bike lanes on his ward. He also emphasized that broad consultation and working with all sides is the way to get these types of projects done. He has been impressed with the work that had gone into this initiative.

Next, urbanist Ken Greenberg says that Yonge St is emblematic of our city. He described the unfortunate transformation of the city by the automobile over many decades, and was glad to see this trend slowly reversing. He has been involved with both Reimagining Yonge and YongeTOmorrow, and described the midtown pilot as an important missing piece.

Councillor Amber Morley was happy to see this initiative, and hopes that similar things will be happening in her ward of Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Such a sea change from former Councillor Mark Grimes.

Toronto Centre Councillor Chris Moise is also supportive, and reminds us that the Bayview bike lanes are also being considered today.

Stephen Job represents a group of property developers. He said that reducing parking requirements enables the creation of more housing, and that people will only consider such developments if they see that cycling and transit are real and safe alternatives to the car.

Finally, Councillor Diane Saxe led us in a rousing round of questions and answers where the crowd response was always “Bike Lanes!” She was presented with that green binder, which symbolized the more than 8000 signatures on the petition.

Finally, a group picture of some of the leaders of Yonge4All.

In the interest of balanced reporting, I will note that there was also a smaller crowd of anti bike lane people off to the side.

Thanks to all the people that are staying for the day to give deputations (over 80 people have registered to speak). I’ll report back with updates when they are available.

You can follow some of what is happening in this twitter thread.

Update: Emotions run high during Yonge Street bike lane debate (Toronto Star)

Yonge 4 All is a community based group that has been campaigning to make the bike lanes on Yonge Street permanent. To be specific, the bike lanes that have been installed as a pilot project between Bloor St and Davisville are under consideration to become permanent. The Infrastructure and Environment Committee will be considering them on Monday as agenda item IE 1.4. If you click on the item, you will see that:

The General Manager, Transportation Services recommends that:  

1. City Council approve the ActiveTO Yonge Street Cycling Network Expansion project installed in 2021 currently in place as permanent and in doing so, authorize the necessary by-law amendments to retain the following locations as a permanent installation:

a. Yonge Street: 150 metres north of Davisville Avenue to 100 metres south of Bloor Street (cycle tracks, Ward 11 and 12).

2. City Council approve the ActiveTO Bayview Cycling Network Expansion project installed in 2021 currently in place as permanent and in doing so, authorize the necessary by-law amendments to retain the following locations as a permanent installation:

a. Bayview Avenue: River Street to Front Street East (multi-use trail, Ward 13)

3. City Council amend cycling, traffic and parking regulations required in Chapter 886, Chapter 903, Chapter 910 and Chapter 950, as generally described in Attachment 2-Technical Amendments for By-law accuracy.

There are also links to the background study that shows that cycling traffic has increased significantly during the period of the pilot, and impact on motor traffic has been minimal.


There has also been quite a bit of coverage about the bike lanes:

If you wish to send a message to either the mayor and IEC about this issue, the committee will be accepting submissions until 5 pm on this Friday.

You can email IEC directly at: iec@toronto.ca, and use the subject line “My comments for 2023.IE1.4 on January 30, 2023 Infrastructure and Environment Committee”

Or you can use this handy link to write a letter to the Mayor and the members of the IEC.

Yonge 4 All will also be holding an event at Nathan Phillips Square on this Monday January 30 at 9 AM to symbolically present the mayor with a petition supporting the bike lanes, with over 8000 signatures.

If you want to read more about the long road to getting the Yonge bike lanes made permanent, Rob has an excellent summary on his blog.

Also bear in mind that in the longer term, there are also separate projects under consideration to put bike lanes between Finch and Sheppard [Transform Yonge], and restricting motor traffic on Yonge between College and Queen [YongeTOmorrow] (although the current proposal on the latter item only includes bike lanes as far south as Gerrard).

Update: as of this evening I see that 1021 emails or letters have been recorded on this item by the city clerk.

The day after the storm

I wasn’t going to post a snow clearance report but I saw something that was good news so here goes.

There is a stark difference in the condition of plowed vs unplowed side streets. Unplowed streets are going to be an ice rink with the hard freeze tonight.

Annette bike lanes looked like they had been plowed at some point, but there was enough residual snow and ice to make taking the lane a better option.

Bloor bike lane was decently plowed, but not salted, as also reported by David Shellnut.

I did notice that there were fewer obstructions in the bike lane, and sure enough I came upon a city crew clearing windrows at intersections. I thanked them profusely. If you look closely at the photo, you will see that the bike lane was temporarily blocked further on. This was to allow another worker to shovel more snow out of the bike lane. He was done and unblocked the lane as I rode by.

Not sure if this a new practice by the city, but the Bloor bike lane was in better shape than usual. I just hope that they lay down some salt before tonight.

yeah, it’s snowing again

Here I am at the beginning of my ride home.

Always easier to make a track in fresh show to the left than to ride in the existing tracks. Once tracks freeze into ruts, that’s a problem.

Looks like line 2 is down again!

Near the end of the ride, snow is stuck everywhere (including the camera lens)

Stay safe out there!

As of today (Monday January 23) the West Toronto Railpath will be closed at Bloor for about a year. Approaching Bloor from the north at Ernest Ave, the ramp associated with the earlier closure is still there.

If you continue south on the platform, you will discover that the second ramp back to the rail path is gone, and you can see the construction starting at Bloor. I wonder how that one bike is going to get back to its owner. At this point, your only option is to go through the station and down the stairs to Bloor.

Your better option is to turn east at Ernest to Symington, and then to cross Bloor at the offset intersection with Sterling. In principle you could also cross Bloor at Perth, but there is no signal there.

Unfortunately, there are no really good options going south from this point. You could ride against traffic on Sterling which is one way northbound, or you could go along the sidewalk to Perth.

This sign shows that the nearest access back to the Railpath is through the Henderson parking lot, at which point you might as well stay on Sterling until Dundas.

Riding north on the Railpath, you will see this sign at Bloor and your only choice is to go down the stairs.

There is a sign at Dundas about the closure, but it is easy to miss.

In summary, unless you are willing to carry your bike up and down stairs, the Railpath is blocked at Bloor, and you will have to consider a detour.

Riding the rest of the way into work this morning along College, I am reminded the sharrows are bullshit.

Late January 2023 update from Councillor Bravo’s office:

“The construction of the stoplight at Bloor and Perth is currently in the design phase. Construction is expected to start by the end of the year and will be coordinated with other works in this area.

Given the closure of the Railpath due to Metrolinx construction, our office has reached out to Staff regarding the possibility of fast-tracking the light or installing a temporary pedestrian crossover at this location.”

North45 Anti-Fog Balaclava

Here’s an example from about a month ago, showing the fogging that can occur when it is cold, and your breath is directed upwards by a covering over your mouth. When is is really cold, the fog can also start freezing to your glasses.

North45 is a company that sells balaclavas that claim to eliminate fogging of either ski goggles or glasses when you otherwise need full facial protection from the cold. I got one of their balaclavas for Xmas, but until yesterday it really wasn’t cold enough to put it to the test.

The model that I got is meant for glasses rather than ski goggles. Here is what it looks like from the side. It is a medium weight merino wool balaclava with an extra band of cloth.

When you bring this band down to the correct position, then it covers the lower half of your face, and the top edge of the band has a bit of wire or metal that gives a good fit around your nose.

This is what it looks like in operation. Bottom line: no fogging of glasses.

It is gets too warm, it is easy to pull the band down to your chin. Also, the fact that it is merino means that if it gets a big soggy from your breath, it will still keep you warm, and in fact the flap stays further from your face than a regular balaclava.

The reason it works is that the band is open at the bottom so that your breath is all directed downwards away from your glasses. I can imagine rigging up something by taking an N45 mask, cutting big vents in the bottom, and combining it with a balaclava to get much the same affect, but it wouldn’t quite provide the same level of protection when it is really cold.

At any rate, it is a high quality item. It is made in China, but buying it supports a small company in the Canadian Rockies. From the postal markings on the package I see that mine passed through both Lake Louise and Canmore AB.

Here’s to hoping that I’ll actually not using it much this winter. At -9°C yesterday and this morning, it was too warm.

There is a tradition for a group of cyclists to ride out to the lighthouse on the Leslie St spit on New Year’s Day. The weather forecast was a balmy 3°C so I decided to give it a go. The meeting place was the corner of Queen and Logan. Our leader was Alex.

He asked how many people were here for the first time. About half raised their hands. A pretty good sized crowd. Here we go, Alex in the lead.

Turning east on Eastern.

Dave asking if I shot his good side.

Pause at the park entrance. A couple more people were waiting there.

Here we go. About half of the cyclists were fenderless roadies.

I liked seeing the wide range of different bikes that showed up.

This could be an ad for Tern.

Dodge those puddles!

Up towards the lighthouse.

It soon became apparent that there would be too many people for a photo on this side of the lighthouse. It was decided to backtrack to the flat area just north of the lighthouse.

Matthew decides to take the direct way down on his titanium cargo bike.

Gathering for the group shot.

Know your biking Brians.

Alex lines up the shot.

The group shot.

A number of people were taking video, so I’ll link to them as they are posted.

A nice way to start out the New Year! Thanks to Alex for organizing.

Great to see many of the usual suspects while not on a ghost bike ride.

My Year on Bikes 2022

Another year gone by, another 8000 km or so. A record distance over the year, just a bit beyond what I did the past two years, despite the fact that I did fewer long rides. Cyclemeter says I’m a bit over 8500 km, whereas veloviewer gives a slightly smaller total.

January:

I took advantage of a cold snap to ride the clear ice on Grenadier Pond in the course of testing out some pants. I could hear the ice sing.

Local bike advocate Janet Joy Wilson took a new job in the Big Apple, so she invited a few of us along for a group ride to mark the occasion.

Late January was unusually cold, and so I ventured out to Toronto Island to ride on the ice in the canals, with a bit of crunchy snow on top.

February:

Lots of local protests in support of the freedom convoy in Ottawa disrupted traffic in the downtown area on weekends. Didn’t affect biking so much.

March:

TCBC organized a ride to show support for extending the Bloor bike lanes all the way into Mississauga. The group was small because the ride had been postponed due to weather at the last minute, but some cyclists showed up anyway. So we went ahead and rode out from Runnymede and were met with a group coming the other direction at the bridge over Etobicoke Creek.

The official ride on March 20 happened with a much larger group including Midori and I on the tandem.

April:

I made a quick trip out to Portland for a wedding, and also checked out two cargo bike shops that I missed during my last visit, one of which was Splendid Cycles.

Cycle Toronto organized a ride to celebrate the success of the bike lanes on Shaw St. We were joined by long time supporter Councillor Mike Layton.

May:

Bike for Mike 2002 had rainy weather, but nevertheless I had a good time, and it was for a good cause.

May the fourth was the perfect day for a Star Wars themed ride.

I explored a bit of the Uxbridge to Lindsay rail trail. Didn’t make it as far as Neverland.

The Ride of Silence was back in person for the first time in three years but I was not able to attend.

The first ghost bike ride of the year was for Joshua Okoeguale, a 16 year old who was killed in Oshawa.

The annual bike month group commute was back this year.

HPVDT had a chance to test their tandem bike at a wind tunnel at Western University.

June:

The annual fund raising bike ride on the Gardiner and DVP was rebranded the Ride for Brain Health. I was doing ride support with TBN as per usual, but I also met up with colleagues from my department at the beginning.

A quick trip to Hamilton to see a promotion of the Keddy Access Trail.

July:

I had a streak of continuous days of bike riding that stretched back to Boxing Day 2020, but somehow I forgot to ride on July 1, so my streak ended at 517 days.

A quick trip to Woodstock NY to go to a concert by Nexus percussion. Got in some riding by the Ashokan Reservoir. Got to see the stage where 4′ 33″ was premiered.

Got a Switch e-bike conversion. Initial impressions were positive.

A ghost bike ride in Hamilton for Brian Woods, who was killed riding to his work at Limeridge Mall.

Doing a little exploring by bike of an unimproved section of the Etobicoke Creek Trail.

Another Burlington to Niagara ride with TBN.

Mike Layton decides not to run for re-election. The cycling community in Toronto has lost one of its strongest advocates.

August:

A number of years ago, I was on an organized ride from Seattle to Vancouver, but due to a flat tire and other issues, I ended up completing the ride but leaving a gap of about 100 km. I went back this year to fill in that gap. It was punishingly hot, but there was ice cream at the end.

Some nice gravel riding on the left coast.

A ride to promote safety on Parkside Drive, and to protest police ticketing of cyclists in High Park.

A TBN ride to Lake Simcoe.

September:

Testing our tandem speedbike at Downsview.

The World Human Powered Speed Challenge was back this year after two years of cancellations. Unfortunately our tandem crashed and we did not set any records.

Cycle Toronto organized fund raising rides in different areas of the city. I rode with the Scarborough group.

October:

A night time march down Yonge St to promote road safety.

A gravel ride between Belwood and Luther Marsh.

A ride with TBN during peak fall colours.

Third ghost bike ride of the year, this time near Streetsville.

Pre Halloween ride with the Neon Riders.

Hallowe’en Bike Parade.

November:

Checking out another section of the G2G trail.

The annual ride to remember Road Traffic Victims. It was cold and windy.

A TBN ride from Hamilton to home.

Dammit, we couldn’t get through one year without a ghost bike installed in Toronto. RIP Kartik Saini.

December:

Another ride down Yonge St with Santa.

A pair of pogies arrived from a small company in Ukraine, naturally in the colours of Ukrainian Flag.


I’ll also note in passing that an updated map of all ghost bike locations in the GTA has been posted. Thanks to Ingrid Buday for her work on this.

For some year end coverage of some of the upgrades to bike infra and associated public consultations for future projects, visit Rob Z’s blog.

Also see this year end summary from David Shellnut, the Biking Lawyer.


Wishing you all a safe year for 2023, with plenty of tailwinds!

7Roads pogies made in Ukraine

7 Roads is a small company in Ukraine that makes a full line of bike packing bags. I heard about them from this review of their pogies. I was intrigued since the pogies were advertised as dual purpose, i.e they would fit MTB type bars as well as drop bars. I was not sure if they were still able to produce bags given the situation in Ukraine so I sent them an email. Elena responded quickly, along with the following note:

“Thank you for supporting Ukrainians! We just spent around 2000 usd on Ecoflow (compact power station), cause we need to keep working, no matter of electricity black outs after russians bombardments. “

Ordering through their website was very smooth, and they can make their bags and pogies in your choice of colour scheme. I ordered a pair of XPac fabric pogies in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. They were shipped in about 10 days after the order. Understandably the shipping was a bit slow, and they arrived yesterday after about three weeks.

Close up of all the stickers that came with the order.

The zipper makes it easier to install than the other pogies that I’ve had.

Comparing them to the Dogwood Designs, I would say that they sweep back about the same amount, but the Dogwood Designs have a lot more volume forward of the opening for the straight bars. This photo is a bit deceiving: the Dogwood designs pogies have a lot more volume.

Here they are installed on my drop bar gravel bike. Note the reflective trim that appears grey in this photo.

It took a bit of fiddling to get them in the right position so that the brifter levers didn’t drag on the lining. Here you can see that they don’t have a baffle closing the space around the wrist. This has the advantage that it makes it easy to get your hands in and out of the pogies. The lining and insulation are pretty close around the hand so I’m not particularly concerned. Of course it was +8°C today, so it wasn’t really a good test of how warm these will be. I’ll update this post when I’ve had a chance to ride these in colder weather.

Given the glorious weather, I took a quick spin out to the Etobicoke Creek Trail. There was ice and snow on the creek, but the trail was clear, having been heavily salted in the past week.

As an update, they have taken the fence down at the south end of the crossing under the QEW. I don’t know if this means that the trail is now official open, but riding across is pretty easy for any bike that isn’t a skinny tired road bike….

although on this particular day there were patches of slippery mud.

Just had to take a picture of the pogies at this particular spot.

Bottom line: I highly recommend these pogies. They are very well made, and I would argue that they look more solid than even the Dogwood Designs pogies that are considerably more expensive. Also the ability to choose your colour scheme is pretty unique at this price point.

I’m a big fan of buying high quality bike gear from small companies that don’t offshore their production, such as Randi Jo Fabrications, Kitsbow Clothing, Arkel, Atwater Atelier, Rockgeist, and Carsick Designs.

I’m very happy to add 7Roads to this list, with the added bonus that I’m supporting a small business in Ukraine that is operating under difficult conditions.