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John Offutt was a recently retired school teacher who was also an avid cyclist. He died when he was right hooked by a cement truck in Mimico, at the intersection of Royal York and Judson. Today, a ghost bike was installed in his memory.

Just before setting off from near Bloor and Lansdowne.

The bike lanes are starting to be installed on Bloor between Dundas and Indian Rd.

At the foot of Ellis Ave.

Crossing the Humber. Note the newly paved path on the east side of the river seen in the background.

Approaching the crash site, just north of the GO train tracks on Royal York.

There was already a memorial here.

Realizing that we didn’t have a long enough chain to go around this pole.

Putting it around these cables. We will come back with a longer chain to move the bike to the pole.

Displaying the banner.

Another cement truck passes by.

It is bitterly ironic that the neighbourhood had been wanting the cement plant to move for years, and that the city bought the land last fall and gave the company one year to move.

Rob Z also posted his thoughts about the inadequacy of bike infrastructure along Royal York.

Tenzing rode with us. He was taking video for a documentary about ghost bikes in Toronto.

There are some articles about the deceased:

Deepest condolences to his family and friends. The sign on the bike is temporary and will be replaced.

ARC regrets that they did not organize a group ride in view of COVID restrictions. We encourage people to visit the bike in his memory.

Winter beater vs bike share

Word was that it would snow a fair bit yesterday, so I got the winter beater out of storage before the snow descended. I’m going to try Muc Off chain lube this year.

One of the things that I’m concerned about is corrosion of the brake fittings on the bike. Granted I’m not diligent about keeping the bike clean during the winter, but the salt from four or five winters has really done a number on some of the fittings.

There was a bike share station recently installed just down the street, and so I’m seriously considering using bike share this year, and saving the winter beater for when I really need studded tires. Here is a photo of some of the brake linkages on a bike share bike. They seem to be in pretty good shape by comparison.

One more thing that I have to fix on the Garneau is the wiring to the front dynamo. In the meantime, I’ve installed a new Planet Bike headlight. Review of this unit to follow soon……

Here is proof that it did snow on Sunday,

although by this morning, the roads were clear, and I imagine all the snow will be gone by midweek.

Keeping knees and legs warm

It’s the time of year when you have to start thinking about keeping your knees and legs warm. For many years, my go to piece of gear down to about 10°C has been my wool Swobo knickers, but they are over twenty years old now, and so I started casting about for something with a little better chamois. I landed on a very nice pair of cargo bib shorts from 7mesh which are really great, but this still left the issue of keeping my legs warm in colder weather. I saw that most riders go to tights, but I my first instinct was to try out knee warmers. In typical overkill, I bought two pairs, one in lycra from la passione cycling, and a wool pair from defeet.

The lycra ones have silicone bands on top and bottom to prevent them from slipping down.

In the interest of science, I took them out for a comparison test on a 100 km ride up to Caledon back in October. I had one of each keeping my knees warm.

lycra on the left, wool on the right

Long story short, both of them kept slipping down, and I had to reposition them every 20 km or so. This annoyed me enough that I gave up at some point, and just slipped them down around my ankles for the balance of the ride. By that time, the day had warmed up enough that I didn’t really need them.

So I must say that knee warmers didn’t really work out for me.

When searching for a new pair of knickers, I came upon the black bibs website, and the prices looked very reasonable, so I ordered a pair of full length leg warmers. I tested them today. Here is the position at the start of the ride.

Here they are at the end, about 45 km. At most, they have slipped down about 3 cm.

So for me, this looks like a solution for the balance of my road bike riding season.

I also got a pair of bib knickers from the same website, and they are decent. The chamois isn’t quite as nice as the one of the 7mesh bib shorts, but the they were about a third the price.

7 mesh to the left, black bibs to the right

Bottom line: the gear from the black bibs website is very reasonably priced and looks pretty decent. I cannot recommend knee warmers; the full leg warmers work much better.

Bike lane upgrade on Harbord

Yesterday I was surprised and pleased to see that the Harbord bike lanes were getting some concrete barriers as an upgrade. These are the same types of barriers recently installed on Scarlett Rd, although not decorated.

This morning, I saw a crew installing some more, right in front of Central Tech.

I didn’t know that each piece weighs 759 kg. Also there are rebar hooks and loops to tie them together.

Here is a picture of the installation this evening, which appears to be complete.

Of course, when I posted the first picture to facebook yesterday, lots of people commented that they wished that more barriers would be put in other places, such as in front of the Krispy Kreme just east of Bathurst. For those of us who ride the Harbord bike lanes pretty much every day, we know that this is one of the worst spots in terms of people parking in the bike lane.

Alas, this is not possible since the concrete barriers can only be installed where this is a buffer zone of a certain width, and not a simple line of paint as shown above. Unfortunately at this spot, any extra road width available for a buffer on the south side is taken up by both a left turn lane, as well as a bus stop on the other side.

I can only hope that the city decides to install concrete barriers underneath the bridges on the Bloor bike lane, as they have done recently along Lansdowne and Runnymede. The original design calls for just low curbs with bollards, which I don’t think are as protective.

Moose

Back in October, Mason Zeinali, a U of T student, devised a route that deservedly won a Strava art contest run by his bike club. It was written up in Canadian Cyclist Magazine. I rode a slight variation of his route this morning.

One of the cleverest features of the route is that the back of the moose is captured by Davenport Ave. The antlers take you north of St. Clair, and all four feet are firmly planted on Queen St.

As soon as I saw the article, I wanted to try it, but the maps that were posted were relatively low resolution. Fortunately, avid cyclist Joric posted his version of the route on facebook. From that point, I retraced his route on ridewithgps, and I was off to the races.

If you want to ride my version of the route, it is here. It starts at King’s College Circle on the U of T campus. Of course you can start anywhere along the 43 km loop. I actually chose to start at Lansdowne and Wallace.

Just a few notes:

  • You have to be willing to ride the wrong way down some one way streets.
  • My least favourite parts of the ride were the sections along St. Clair W. It’s never a joy to ride there at any time as there is only one traffic lane plus parking in either direction, and there are only certain points at which you can cross the streetcar right of way. I ended up walking my bike along the north side sidewalk twice, just to avoid having to go back and forth across the streetcar tracks.
  • I don’t have a paid subscription to either strava or ridewithgps, and so there were probably better ways for me to have mapped the route. When I downloaded it only my Garmin, it gave lots of false turns, often thought I was off the route, and then it would suggest various ways to get back onto the route. I ended up just ignoring most of the audible cues and just followed the route on the map display.
  • I would think that it would have been easier to navigate directly with ridewithgps, but I find that the app is a real battery hog. I don’t have a phone mount either; I prefer to use my Garmin.
  • Traffic was not bad today, but one thing that was striking was the lack of traffic on Yonge St. It was much less busy than either Bay or Church for some reason.

With days getting shorter, I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of hits on my review of the Proviz Reflect360 CRS Jacket. Since it’s been just about a year since I got the jacket, I thought it would be good to post a brief update.

Overall, one of the things that I’ve noticed about the jacket was that it picked up stains rather easily. To be fair, this was probably because it was a really bright colour.

Here’s a picture after washing.

What is a bit disturbing is that the reflective yellow seems to be a coating on an underlying white fabric.

The white exposed areas look like an open weave fabric that wouldn’t be either wind or waterproof. Not surprisingly, the worn spots are not reflective either.

Here’s a picture of the entire jacket with flash

You can see that the jacket is still quite reflective. However you can see a lot of cracks in the reflective coating. Given that this jacket is only a year old, and has had much less wear than my old Proviz Reflect360+ Jacket, I’m not terribly impressed. I’ll have to keep a close on further wear.

I’d say if you are going to buy a Proviz Jacket, you might be better off with the Reflect 360+ versions. In either case, if all over reflectivity is important to you, Proviz is still a good option.

Weston and Mount Dennis are neighbourhoods in northwest Toronto that have not had any improvements in cycling infrastructure as part of ActiveTO. This is particularly ironic since Weston styles itself as “the home of the bicycle” referring to the fact that CCM had a large bicycle factory in the neighbourhood. Weston’s history with CCM was written up in Dandyhorse Magazine.

A petition has been circulated by a community group in Ward 5 that calls for bike lanes along Weston Rd, extending further south on Keele, all the way to Bloor St. Parkdale High Park Bikes wrote to Councillors Nunziata and Perks in support of this initiative.

Nunziata’s office replied as follows:

Our office did receive a copy of the petition you reference below and recently had a conference call with some of the creators of the petition.

During the call we discussed the feasibility of cycling lanes on Weston Road north of Junction Road. This section has previously been investigated by cycling staff and unfortunately it has been ruled out for future cycling infrastructure due to the below reasons:

  • The issues are related to the speed/volume as well as road width and Right of Way
  • Due to the speed and volume  – we need to build separated cycling infrastructure on Weston Rd.
  • We can’t afford to remove lanes of traffic due to the volume of traffic on the road and the way that this road is used as a feeder to Black Creek / Hwy 400.
  • There isn’t enough Right of Way room north of Birdstone to build anything in the boulevard – the building frontages are right at the sidewalk.
  • We do have the centre painted median – but there are driveways on both sides that use the median as a turning lane.
  • Councillor Nunziata is very supportive of improvements to both cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in Ward 5. As you may be aware, our former Ward 11, Pedestrian Safety and Cycling Committee (PSCC) submitted the attached report to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee two years ago which was reported back on by Transportation Services. Although cycling is not an option in along Weston Road, we continue to advocate for cycling infrastructure in other areas of our ward.

You can access the PSCC report here. The report called for a feasibility study for bike lanes on Weston, and one surmises that the above list of bullet points was the result.

Last weekend, some of the usual suspects were spotted in the vicinity of the Weston GO station.

Donna as the turtle.

Arthur, and our high wheeler rider Darren of Bedford Unicycles. I’ve blogged about Darren on two other occasions.

Darren being very patient while doing multiple passes in front of the mural.

photo Janet Joy Wilson

Ring leader Albert showing off his new Nihola.

photo Janet Joy Wilson

This video was the result of our efforts that morning.

Thanks to Albert and Janet Joy from the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition for organizing the creation of the video, and all the other volunteers involved.

Here is Rob’s account of the morning, along with his ride back via the new bike lanes at Six Points.

I was happy to see the concrete barriers installed on Scarlett Rd. The barriers on the southbound direction are done. I presume that the ones on the other side are coming soon.

Some of the barriers have been painted, as part of the StreetART program.

It is a bit of a shame that the city has seen fit to add reflective stripes to the barriers, although I can understand the need for safety.

Also happy to see similar barriers under the rail bridge on Runnymede Rd.

One hopes that the city will also use similar barriers under the bridges on the Bloor bike lanes. The original design called for bollards on curbs, but these look much better as a barrier.

November 11 update: just three days after this post, the city is finishing up installing the barriers in the northbound direction.

Glorious weather today, so I had to get out to do perhaps my last long ride for the year. Most probably the last long ride in shorts.

Over the past week or so I’ve been starting to watch Schitt’s Creek. I thought it would be fun to ride up to Goodwood where they filmed a lot of the exterior shots. In keeping with this theme, I started in Unionville at the fictional Blouse Barn.

A small detour to pay my respects at the ghost bike for Safet Tairoski.

The city has changed the road markings at this spot so that there is now a bike lane.

Compare this to what it looked like back in June.

Making infrastructure safer after someone dies is a bit late, but don’t get me started.

After a bit of riding and some getting lost, here we are at a familiar looking intersection.

What they don’t show is Annina’s Bakery on the northwest corner. I wanted to try their butter tarts, but the COVID constrained line up was too long.

They have bike racks for their customers.

Riding by Roland Schitt’s house on the way out of town.

A slight detour through Stouffville to see Ted’s Veternary Clinic.

One of these days, I’ll also ride out to the motel, but it is actually on the other side of Toronto near Orangeville.

Paying my respects at the ghost bike for Colin Patrick Sztronga, on Elgin Mills, just east of Kennedy. Nice to see that this memorial has also been kept up.

This is a link to the 69 km route that I planned. With the detours, and also getting lost, I logged about 80 km. Tomorrow also looks like good weather. I hope everyone gets a chance to get out there and ride. There were certainly a ton of cyclists out today.

First snow on ground 2020

Of course, after I posted yesterday about hoping for continued good weather, it snowed overnight.

By morning, it was already gone from the roads and sidewalks, and fortunately the roads had not been salted. Should be much warmer the rest of the week. Last year, first snow on ground was November 7.