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Good friend Tim Potter (Sustainable transportation manager for Michigan State University Bikes) dropped by this weekend, and of course he wanted to check out some of the bike infrastructure since it had been at least four years since he and I had ridden around town.

Here is my really bad picture of Tim…

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and from his much better picture, you can see that we are checking out the Bloor bike lane. (all photos with me in it are by Tim, except where noted)

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Next stop, dropping by the bike team to see what is going on. Here Tim poses by Eta Prime.

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Bruce and Calvin were working on the plug for Arbiter.

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I’m posing beside this year’s WHPSC poster.

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Tim was riding the Brompton that day.

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Overall, it was nice to ride around with someone who was appreciative of the improvements in bike infrastructure in the downtown area.

Here we are back at home, with matching N+1 shirts. Get yours here. (photo  M Koga)

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His daughter designed this shirt, which is available on Amazon.

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Note that the shirt means different things to different people:

  • from the viewpoint of a Michigander, if you are cycling on the road, more often than not drivers will yell at you to “get on the sidewalk”.
  • from my viewpoint in Toronto, is says that we shouldn’t be cycling on the sidewalk.

And then it was time for beer, this particular example from Henderson’s Brewing.

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The next day, Tim checks out Hoopdriver Bicycles (unfortunately closed on a Sunday morning).

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Since there was snow in the forecast, and I just happened to have an excellent bike mechanic as a guest….

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Tim is impressed that the Haul a Day can stand on end.

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Tim shows me his patented method of mounting tires.

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To cap the day off, I had a chance to tag along with Tim to meet Chris Phelan, Executive director of the Ride of Silence. (Photo H Potter).

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I was honoured to fill him in on some of the things that have been happening in Toronto, particularly with regards to the collaborations with organizations like Friends and Families for Safe Streets, and the united push for VRU legislation.

 

 

N-1 folding bikes

After my recent acquisition of a Brompton, I started to think that perhaps I had too many folding bikes. Here are three of them, not counting the Dahon that I have stashed in Vancouver.

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So the obvious thing was to put the Tikit up for sale (and I will still do that), but in the meantime there was some chatter on FB about someone with their apartment eliminating indoor bike parking, and so needing a folding bike……and ideally one with disc brakes.  Suddenly I had an opportunity to give my PBW a good home.

Here it is, packed up and ready to be hauled downtown. A few extra parts, like the fenders, a wheel with a spare Alfine 8 spd hub, and a 24h 406 rim to match.

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Amusingly, on the way in, I catch the tail end of the Santa Claus parade. Santa actually saw me, and said “now THAT’s a bike!”.

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On a separate trip I also took in the suitcase that I used with it, bearing stickers from some of the adventures that I had with the PBW. The Illini sticker was from a trip where I was riding in past some corn fields in Hawkins IN Urbana IL, and four kids rode by on their BMX’s and said “cool bike!”.

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I’ve had some good rides with the PBW. It was custom made for me about sixteen years ago by Hugh in Chico California. He no longer builds, and is now a recumbent dealer. The long term plan was to rebuild it with the Alfine hub, but now both the bike and the rebuild project has been passed onto the new proud owner: Victor ex-Aerovelo, ex-HPVDT and all around good guy (and mad scientist).

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I’m glad I found a good home for the bike.

Tonight was the first public consultation on a proposed reconstruction of the Scarlett Rd / Dundas St W intersection which involves substantial reconstruction of the railway bridge. The main point is to expand the roadway to four lanes, two in each direction. This will also allow southbound traffic to turn either east or west on Dundas St W.

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The city’s information page on the project is here.

The community meeting was packed. Ward 11 Councillor Nunziata started things off by outlining some of the history of the project, which was 20 years in the making. She noted that it is funded, and that it will happen over the next three years. Ward 13 Councillor Sarah Doucette was also at the meeting.

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Construction will start in the summer of 2018, and the project should be done in 2020.

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Various issues were raised by citizens at the meeting, including concerns about increased traffic going into the Humber River valley neighbourhood as a way to bypass Jane during rush hour.  One common refrain from staff was that the design was only at 30%, and details will be adjusted taking into account community input. There were about three questions about bike lanes (the first one from Janet Joy), but more significantly, there didn’t seem to be any grumblings about bike lanes from anyone in the room.

I was there to hear what they had to say about bike infrastructure, since some of the prior information indicated that there would be bike lanes under the bridge, as well as bike lanes on nearby sections of Dundas and St. Chair. Here is a diagram showing the bike network connections in the area of the project.

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Note that this map shows a bike lane on Jane between Scarlett and Jane, but no corresponding section along Dundas W.  Also, the maps and figures indicated the bike lanes as “future bike lanes”.  This is because any bike lanes actually installed are subject to approval by PWIC and City Council. It seems that the two local councillors are supportive.

Looking at more details of the maps showed that the bike lanes along Dundas St W fade out long before they can make useful connections to either Humbercrest or Humber Hill Avenue.

 

I was told that this is subject to change, when the roads are redone in the area, perhaps around 2019 or so. I was also told that the nature of the bike connection along St. Clair is still up in the air, and that the worst case scenario along this section would be shadows. The only bike infrastructure that appears to be fully baked into the plan is a short section of protected bike lane under the bridge. There is supposed to be a curb separating the bike lanes from traffic.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this project as there will be opportunities for further public input as the details of the plans firm up. I was also told that Councillor Nunziata has been in contract with a “Cycling Committee” in Ward 11.

At a minimum, we would like to see a bike lane along Dundas St W from Humber Hill Rd to Humbercrest. This would make coming up out of the valley (or from the Humber River Trail), cycling east along Dundas, and the turning south again into Baby Point, much safer than it is now.

I was talking to one of the cycling staff who had biked to the meeting, and it was telling that she said she had to ride on the sidewalk for part of the ride going under the bridge that is at the centre of the project. I myself rode north to the end of Runnymede, and then took back streets to the community centre where the meeting was held, thereby completely bypassing that intersection.

 

Maker and Riders is a company is one of many companies that make clothing for cyclists that is meant to double as street wear, or more accurately, street clothes with features that might make them attractive to cyclists. As I am a prior customer of theirs, I got an email a while back advertising their “4 Season AeroDri Wool Trousers“.  Since they looked like a dressier alternative to my default long pants, Outlier Slim Dungarees (SD), I decided to buy a pair.

You can’t really get an impression of the fit of the pants from a picture, but here they are beside my SD’s. Both are waist size 31.

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Taking the Outlier size chart as a comparison:

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the M&R pants measure 16″ across the top, 11″ at the upper thigh, and have a leg opening of 7.25″.  This doesn’t really capture the difference in fit. The SD’s are roomier in the thigh than indicated, partially due to the gusseted crotch, and also the fact that the material is stretchier than the wool blend. The M&R pants also have about 1″ higher rise. I find the SDs more comfortable, due to the differences in fabric and fit. To be fair, these SD’s have seen at least three years of hard wear.

A comparison of weight shows that the SDs are of heavier material (403g vs 327g). This is borne out by the fact that they are warmer than the M&Rs. I bike with the SDs down to -10°C, and I’d say that the M&Rs are good to about 0°C. The M&K’s also do a surprising good job of blocking wind.

The M&Ks are also much dressier, and turning them inside out, you can see that the pockets are generously sized and their material looks durable.

The rubber fly button is a nice touch.

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I’ve also run them through the wash (hung to dry) and there was no detectable shinkage.

In summary, the M&R Aero Dri Wool pants are well constructed pair of pants with enough stretch that they are comfortable while riding. I can’t speak to the 4 season claim since I have not ridden with them in hot weather, but I’d say that they wouldn’t quite do for a Canadian winter. They have the advantage of being much less expensive than the Outlier product, due to the fact that they are sewn offshore. I’ll keep them in the rotation, and see how they do over the long term. They are more suitable for office wear than my SD’s.

Prior posts on pants linked here

joining the cult of Brompton

Ever since I had the chance to compare my Bike Friday Tikit to a Brompton a couple of summers ago, I’ve been thinking about getting a Brompton. Last Thursday, I finally caved, and look what followed me home from Curbside Cycles.

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2017 model, nickel black edition, 6 speed. I have a very understanding wife.

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And here I am riding it into work for the first time this past Monday.

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My initial impressions reinforce what I experienced before:

  • the frame and stem are nice and stiff.
  • for me, the riding position is adequately stretched out horizontally.
  • I prefer the 2017 shifters to the earlier version. Ultimately, the shifting is not as nice as the Alfine 11 on my Tikit, but since my commute is flat, it seems that having the hub gear in 2nd and using the derailleur as a half step will be fine.
  • the braking is much better than the Tikit, and I don’t really see a need to convert to disc brakes in the future.
  • not in love with the left hand folding pedal, but I suppose I’ll get used to it.
  • going to have to swap out the saddle before longer rides
  • ditto for tweaking the handlebar position. Ideally I’d want a bullhorn set up like I have on my Tikit, but I don’t want it to interfere with the fold.

Oddly, since switching to riding the Brompton, most of my rides have been faster than average:

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Of course an important part of having a Brompton is to shop for accessories. Since I didn’t immediately want to invest in one of their fancy bags, I was riding to work with my trusty Tom Bihn bag.

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Fun fact: this bag, circa 2004, has a hidden message on the care tag inside, for which the company got into a bit of trouble.

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Just for completeness, I will point out that their current bags have the following tag:

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The bottom line says “Made in USA” in Chinese. The other side has the company motto.

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At any rate, back to Brompton luggage. Most of their bags are designed to be mounted on a carrier block in front of the head tube, and this has the benefit that the bag does not turn with the handlebars. This is like the front basket on my Haul a Day. The bags have a rigid integral frame that quick releases on and off the bike.

Ideally I wanted a bag sewn in North America. Curbside carries the YNOT bag which was ideal since it is made locally, so that seemed to be the top choice. However, a search of the internet also turned up a very sweet bag by Swift Industries. Regrettably, they informed me that it was no longer in production.

With a little more research, I realized that the Brompton bag frame had virtually the same dimensions as my Tom Bihn ID Bag, notably a width of 40 cm, the critical dimension. Thus I was off again to Curbside to check to see if one of the frames would fit by bag.

A quick aside to admire mechanic Eli’s Brompton.

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Back home with the frame laid out on the bag.

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Using a good old sliver Sharpie to mark the necessary cuts

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Now with the frame inserted.

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Of course a real Brompton bag inserts the frame from underneath and there are special straps to hold it in place. However, the fit of the frame to my bag is quite tight and I don’t anticipate any issues. The frame also as a but of a protruding shelf that holds the bag from underneath.

Here is the bag on the bike. The design of the bag is such that the shoulder strap can tuck under the front flap.

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There you go, a bag that hasn’t seen much recent use now repurposed for bike commuting. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Regrettably I see that this particular model, the ID bag, is no longer made. However, the Cadet has about the same nominal width, and the back flap construction is such that it might fit a Brompton frame as it is. If anyone is willing to try it out, let me know if it works.

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Just trying to get as many rides in before the salt descends and I have to put away the Brompton for the winter.

Update:

I found this video

Update #2:

The front bag makes the handling of the Brompton fractionally more stable. I am pleased. Also according to use Killeri on the Tom Bihn forums:

“A T-bag frame does not fit in the back pocket of Cadet. Otherwise the concept feels sound, so a smaller frame probably works fine.”

 

 

Candlelight Walk and Vigil

The third Sunday of November is the World Day for Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. To mark this occasion, Friends and Families for Safe Streets organized a candlelight walk and vigil.

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Kevin from Cycle Toronto passes out LED candles for those who didn’t have one.

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And we’re off.

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Down Simcoe St. towards the lakefront.

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It was quite a blustery evening, and so there were regroups to relight candles.

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We walked along the lakefront until the Music Garden.

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Kasia Briegmann-Samson of FFSS introduced the World Day of Remembrance, and noted how is has been a global event, although it was only recently that it was marked in Toronto. She said that the theme for this year was to take action, and noted some progress towards vulnerable road user legislation.  She also said that because of increased awareness of the large number of deaths by traffic that media have substituted the work “collision” for “accident” in most of their coverage. Still there is much more to do.

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Jess Spieker spoke next. As a survivor of road violence, she talked about how she was hit by a car and severely injured. She told us about the injustice of having the driver walk away with about a $300 fine. She has also has had ongoing struggles getting adequate coverage for medical expenses and therapy from her insurance company, as opposed to the driver who no doubt had her car fixed within a few weeks at most.

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Kasia then read out the names of some recent road victims. This was followed by brief statements from Gary Sim’s daughter and Erica Stark’s mother. There was a minute of silence.

The vigil was brought to a close by a ringing of bells and stamping of feet in solidarity with the friends and family of road victims.

Thanks to everyone who walked with us tonight.

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Starting on the ASME bike

The bike team has been busy trying to nail down the design of their ASME trike (Arbiter), and at the same time, they have been doing some materials testing.

Here is a preliminary rendering.

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Getting some carbon panels ready for materials testing.

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Measuring high speed rolling resistance.

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Bruce clowning around with the rear fork for Arbiter.

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The setup for impact testing.

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Inspecting a panel.

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Some nice suspension components from ICE.

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A rendering with paint job.

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