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Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

Bikes vs. Bank$

Today was a ride to protest bank funding of the fossil fuel industry that was organized by the Climate Pledge Collective and Toronto 350.org, noting that RBC, TD and Scotiabank are among the worst dozen banks worldwide that fund the fossil fuel industry. The group gathered at Christie Pits.

We are given our marching orders: we are to split up into smaller groups and each group would write messages in chalk outside one of the bank branches along Bloor between Christie and Yonge.

Off we go.

Our group included Midori, Lucy, Janet Joy and Mark and our assignment was the RBC branch at Euclid.

Here we go.

Lucy sez: Defund Line 3 which is a oil pipeline planned between the Tar Sands and Superior Wisconsin.

This is distinct from Line 5 which is the subject of a fight between Enbridge and the Governor of Michigan.

We are done and are headed along Bloor to a regroup at Huron.

At Huron.

Now we are headed to Bloor and Yonge but with a detour because of construction.

Debbie bringing out the bug guns.

At work in front of RBC.

Thanks to the organizers, and to everyone who rode and chalked with us today!

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Darren Williams was a long time Toronto resident and bike messenger who founded his own courier company, Nomad Express. (perhaps the only indigenous owned courier company in Toronto). He had moved up north several years ago. He was struck by a driver on May 30 and died the next day in hospital. Today a ghost bike was installed in his memory. At the request of the family, the memorial was placed on the south east corner of Ossington and Harbord, very close to where his company was.

This was the first ghost bike ride since the beginning of the pandemic. It was announced mainly to people who knew Darren in order to keep the numbers relatively small.

Nick organized today’s ride and coordinated things with the family.

Joey makes a few announcements. The group had very heavy representation from the bike messenger community.

Down Spadina.

Along Harbord.

Arriving at the memorial site.

There was already a small memorial, and a group of Darren’s family and friends were there to greet us.

Installing the ghost bike.

Installing the sign.

A minute of silence in memory of the deceased.

Adding flowers to the ghost bike.

Alberto presents a sculpture to the family. To recognize Darren’s partial Japanese ancestry, the sculpture has the symbol “Wa”, meaning peaceful harmony, framed by a bike rim.

Deepest condolences to Darren’s family and friends. Thanks to everyone who turned out for the ride in his memory.

His obituary is here.

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Today there was a walk to honor and support former students of Residential Schools. The starting point was Parliament and Dundas, and it was to end at Nathan Phillips square. I had never seen so many orange shirts in one place.

The view from Dundas, shortly before we are to start.

Here we go.

Hey I know those people.

Orange shirt and helmet today.

A pause at Yonge and Dundas. Interesting how rhythmic clapping in a large crowd inevitably speeds up with time.

Headed down Bay.

At Nathan Phillips Square. The scent of burning sweetgrass is in the air.

Heartening to see such a massive turnout.

With the steady drip drip of the discovery of more bodies, it is a time for me to learn more about this aspect of our country’s past, and to pause and reflect on how I can do better.

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A cyclist described as a man in his 60s was hit last Thursday, June 17 at the intersection of Queen St E and Brampton. He died in hospital early the next morning. ARC was not able to find any further information. A ghost bike was installed in his memory this morning.

There was a small memorial of flowers on the southeast corner. You can see that this is a very busy intersection that would be terrifying to ride through. It was unnerving enough to cross it as a pedestrian as there was so much traffic raring to go in both directions as soon as a light turned green, plus slip lanes at all four corners.

The ghost bike was installed on the south west corner, which seemed to be the least developed corner. A hotel is being built on the northeast corner.

In actual fact, this particular ghost bike is the one that was put up in memory of Pasquale Alonzi who passed away last August. The ghost bike was in the town of Caledon, and ARC was informed that it was due to be removed because of a bylaw that said that roadside memorials couldn’t stay up for more than one year. With the kind permission of the family, the ghost bike was removed and reused at this new site, which ironically was just down HWY 50 from the old site.

Just for future reference, it took about 10 seconds to cut through this lock with an angle grinder. It takes about a minute to cut through a kryptonite lock.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.

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An eleven year old boy was struck and killed yesterday while riding his bike near the on ramp from northbound Warden to eastbound 407. After a quick consultation among the usual suspects, a snap decision was made to install a ghost bike in his memory today.

We meet up in Milliken Mills Park, which is close to the crash site.

Heading west on 14th Ave towards Warden.

You get a sense of how dangerous it is to bike on Warden in the vicinity of the 407.

We are at the crash site. We are met by Peter, a local cyclist.

Keenan assembles the ghost bike.

Locking it up.

The bike after decorations. You can see the on ramp in the background. While we were there we saw someone on a mobility scooter cross the onramp. It was hair raising watching this in the midst of approaching high speed traffic.

A picture of all in attendance.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim. Thanks to Keenan for providing the ghost bike.


On the ride back downtown, Joey and I pass the ghost bike for Edouard Le Blanc on the Gatineau Hydro Corridor. We assume he is happy in heaven with how the Habs are doing.

Riding along the Danforth with the CafeTO installations. Note that there are spots where umbrellas intrude on the bike lane right at head height. On the plus side, the chicanes to accommodate the on the road seating seem less abrupt than last year.

A peek at the bike lanes on Bloor between Sherbourne and Avenue which were recently reconfigured to place the bike lane adjacent to the curb.

The section west of Bay has planters now interspersed with curbs which is a definite improvement. What was crazy was the number of people lined up to get into various shops.

Ride safe, everyone!

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A section of the Allen expressway between Eglinton and Lawrence was closed today as part of ActiveTO. The occasion was to mark the 50th anniversary of the cancelling of the Spadina Expressway that would have extended further south past Eglinton down the Cedarvale Ravine, and would have also obliterated a large part of the Annex Neighbourhood (where Jane Jacobs lived).

The only entrance to the closure area was just east of the Allen on the south side of Lawrence. Although everything I heard was that this was a one time only event, in case they do it again, if you are approaching from the south, you should bike up Shermount from the belt line and then turn left on the last street before Lawrence. There is a pathway at the end of the street that takes you right to the entrance of the closure. Marlee Ave is not a good alternative since it had much more traffic than usual, probably due to the closure.

Heading south towards Glencairn.

Nice to see Keagan (executive director of CycleTO), Sam and their daughter.

The south end of the closure. People were taking full advantage of the shade provided by the many overpasses.

Racing the subway back north.

Approaching the north end.

CycleTO had a tent set up under the northernmost bridge.

There were also plenty of these “slow down” signs on Shermount, but signs do nothing. Shermount is a straight, wide street, and if the city wanted cars to slow down, they would actually change the configuration with traffic calming measures like features to narrow the roadway. Wait a minute: what about a protected bike lane?

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As many cyclists know there is a gap in the Humber river trail in Weston between roughly north of Lawrence to Cardell Ave. Many cyclists use the sidewalk along Weston Rd, but this can lead to crowding and unsafe conditions, particularly under the railway bridge. I took these photos last week while southbound on Weston. No other cyclists joined me on the roadway behind the bus.

Furthermore, I found descending the stairs at Mallaby Park really unpleasant and crowded.

The city is in the middle of a study to see how to close this gap. There will be a public consultation on June 10 to discuss which of three alternatives are preferred. Please register for this meeting, or submit your feedback to the city before June 21, 2021.

There are three alternatives on the table.

Option 1A provides the safest route for both pedestrians and cyclists, and it is the only one that stays in the river valley. However it involves two bridges and intrudes on a private golf course.

Here is a picture of the West Bank of the Humber by the railway bridge on the golf course lands. Seems like there would be plenty of room for a path, don’t you think?

Option 2A has a cantilevered walkway on the east side of the river up until the railway, and then crosses under the rail bridge and connects further south.

Option 3 seems like a bad joke. It runs along Weston Rd and has some improvements for pedestrians but does very little for cyclists.

The timeline for the study shows that whatever is done isn’t going to happen until well after 2022.


So what is one to do in the meantime?

Here is a route that I learned from the Toronto Bicycling Network. On paper, it goes like this: south of Lawrence, get on Hickory Tree, then Little Ave. Turn left on Weston and then immediately right on King. Left on Rosemount to Queenslea, to Yelland and Oak. Then there is a trick, so it is better to show you pictures.

Leave the Humber Trail just past the tennis courts south of Lawrence.

Cross Lawrence at Little Ave.

Little curves right to meet Weston. You will turn left here at the light but immediately right again on King.

Follow the route as described above to Oak. (King->L on Rosemount->L on Queenslea->Yelland->L on Oak. Here is a map.

Here is the trick: on Oak, you turn right at the light (Knob Hill) before you reach Weston, into the driveway for a shopping centre.

Take the first left into the parking lot.

Immediately turn right into the parking garage.

Turn left in the parking garage just past that speed bump.

Like magic, the garage exits at a light that will take you across Weston to Cardell Ave, where you can rejoin the Humber River Trail.

Southbound, you can reverse these directions.

I’ve found that even in pre-pandemic times, this route feels much safer than going along Weston Rd. YMMV.

In any case, ride safe everyone!

Also, make sure you express your opinion on what the city should do in the long run to close this gap.

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Once again this year, due to the pandemic, we were not able to have an in person event. However, the following notice was put on the ARC Facebook page, and there were many responses.


“Hi everyone. The Ride of Silence is a world wide event where cyclists ride to remember all those fellow cyclists who died while riding. It is always the third Wednesday in May at 7 pm local time.However, it is apparent that once again we will not be able to run the Ride of Silence in person this year. What I would ask is that everyone ride to a ghost bike during the week of May 17, and then to post a photo of the ghost bike or a selfie with the ghost bike to this page. Alternatively, on Wednesday May 19 at 7 pm, if you find yourself on a ride, pause for a moment to remember all the cyclists who have died on the mean streets of the GTA.”


What follows are copies of the posts to that page.

Ingrid B:

I have rode by these bikes for years and am always reminded of how fragile we are. Today I stopped. 

Jonas and Xavier’s lives were taken from them and them from the fabric of many others lives. How do we as people lose respect for another person? How do people forget in the that split moment of time they are putting a father, sister, friend, child, a spirit in danger? How does a person in a car somehow have more rights and protection than one outside of it? 

Cayla C

This is my best friends bike – Alex Amaro. For the #RideofSilence2021 we biked to her bike. It was actually the first time that I hopped on a bike since she passed, in December 2, 2020. It’s frustrating, because the thing that we loved to do together the most I am now the most afraid to do. The thing she loved to do killed her because of how unfair and unsafe the streets of Toronto are. 

When we got here, we actually saw a fellow cyclist take a photo with Alex’s bike as he was on the Ride of Silence as well. Thank you to everyone who took a moment to respect Alex and the other cyclists who died on our streets. 

I miss her every day.

Michael L

My #rideofsilence2021 I visited Alex, Jonas, John, and Xavier. It was an honour meeting Cayla C and her friends tending to Alex’s memorial.

Janet Joy

I visited Xavier’s Way on Sunday so I could weave some yarn around the sadly rusty bicycle leaving the ends hanging so they would blow in the breeze. The colourful kids’ yarn will never keep him warm. 

Today I rode past the ghost bike on Spadina south of Dundas & then the more recent one (Sept 2020) on Dundas at Denison. 

David N

To Colin and Safet, never knew either of you but think of you, your families and loved ones each time I pass by your memorial bikes. These sites are within 6 km of each other, one rural and the other on an urban street. Tragedies that could have been averted and sadly there is often  little justice for those left behind.

Melissa D

Helen Xiang, June 23, 2020 QEW & Third Line, Oakville

Rest In Peace 

Patrick B

My #rideofsilence2021 with Mike Duffy and Jim Davidson. We picked up flowers and visited memorials for Alexandra Amaro (Dufferin and Sylvan); Adam Excell (Davenport and Avenue); and Doug Crosbie (Dundas and Jones). A placement of flowers and a moment of silence was given at each.  Alex was 23. Adam was 26. Doug was 54.  Lives taken far too early.

These were not “accidents”. These were not “one of those things that happen”. These deaths were preventable. We ride in silence this week, but we will not remain silent until meaningful steps are taken to change our laws, our infrastructure, and our car culture.

Julia_M 

Today we did our Ride of Silence to remember all of our fellow cyclists. We visited Xavier’s ghost bike and decorated it with this beautiful flower garland my mom Janet Armstrong made. We also visited Jonas Mitchell’s memorial, which is so beautiful thanks to his loved ones. It was an emotional ride to say the least. Today we are thinking about all of the families that have lost a loved one cycling. 

 Building safer cycling infrastructure in this city is 100% possible and I’m hopeful things will get better so that no more families have to lose a loved one.

Dafydd H

Ron C

these people lived so close to us, they could have been our neighbours.

In the morning, I rode by the ghost bike for John Offutt. Ironically, just as I took the picture, one of the green cement mixers from the company that killed John drove by.

At 7 pm, Joey and I met at the Peace Garden to read out the names of the cyclists who have died since 2018.

Joey’s video is here.


This list that was read is as follows:

2021

May 4   Rayyan Ali                                         

2020

Dec 2     Alexandra Amaro                       

Nov 20    John Offutt                                 

Sept 24   Inus                            

Sept 4    Giuseppe (Joe) Pellerito               

Sept 1      Nicholas Ramdeyall                   

August 6   Ahmed Kamal                                            

August 5  Pasquale Alonzi                           

July 24  Daniel Bertini           

July 9  Robert Bragg           

July 7   Geoffrey Mitchell            

June 23   Helen Xiang          

June 15  Safet Tairovski                    

May 2     Colin Fisher                       

Jan 21   Eric King  

2019        

Nov   Female cyclist                  

Sept    Elder de Oliveira Bueno            

May      Female cyclist                                            

April  Male cyclist                                                

2018

October   Male cyclist                                                

October    Clint             

June   Colin Patrick Sztronga                            

June  Dalia Chako                                                

June  Aaron Rankine-Wright                           

June   Jonas Mitchell                                           

May    Daunte Thompson-Bruce                     

May   Douglas Crosbie


If you would like to visit a tree planted at the lakefront in memory of cyclists who have died, it is just off the MGT just a little west of the memorial between Colborne Lodge and Ellis.

Thanks to all who rode and posted pictures.

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A five year boy was killed in Mississauga this past Tuesday while crossing a road at the intersection of Hurontario and Evans Dr.

According to a witness (see the CTV video linked above) the Jeep driver was northbound on Huronontario and then crossed into the bus lane, using it as a right turn lane, and turned on red and then struck the child.

As per ARC procedure during the pandemic, the decision was made to quietly install the bike with a minimum number of people present. Geoffrey prepped a bike in record time.

Here are some of the usual suspects at the meeting point.

The ghost bike all loaded up.

We were joined on the ride by Caitrin, who is working on a story about ghost bikes, as well as Everett.

Joey in the lead on his Brompton, along Burnamthorpe.

Arriving at the crash site.

There was already quite a large memorial.

Not wanting to disturb the existing memorial, we decide to install the bike on a post close to the road.

A minute of silence in memory of the boy.

Martin brought five candles to light by the bike.

Deepest condolences to the family.

Riding home along Bloor.

Unfortunately, this ghost bike joins the other three that were installed in Mississauga just last year.

Ride safe everyone!

Update: the boy’s name was Rayyan Ali.

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There was a “Rally on Wheels” held today in support of the faculty and staff at Laurentian University. It was timed to coincide with the fact that about a third of the faculty at Laurentian were due to lose their jobs at noon today under the restructuring plan that was rammed through their faculty senate a few weeks ago.

The call was for for people to either participate on zoom, or to roll around Queen’s Park Crescent by bike or car.

I joined in as one of the representatives for the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA). Here are three of us about to set out from the UTFA offices. Left to right, AW Peet (Physics), me (Engineering) and Terezia Zoric (OISE).

image source

UTFA President Terezia Zoric getting ready to speak on the zoom call in front of Hart House.

This is the recording of her speech.

Waiting to join the procession. In actual fact, the lead car took off way too fast, and so the cars were spread out around the crescent, and the bikes were in a separate bunch.

Momentary stop at Wellesley.

After several laps, the cyclists decided to call it a day and pulled off in front of the parliament buildings. I had a very civil conversation with one of the police who suggested that if we were to do this sort of event, we should do it on Monday-Thursday when at least some MPPs are present, and that if we contact CP24 in advance, they would provide media coverage.

The situation at Laurentian is very sad as it has played a key role in Northern Ontario, being the only university in the province with many programs in English, French and Indigenous studies. The University finds itself in severe financial distress due to combination of a provincial funding model that disadvantages all smaller universities in Ontario, a series of bad decisions on the part of the administration, and most seriously some financial malfeasance that both stole money from all possible sources to cover payroll, as well as concealing the true state of the books until it was entirely too late. They have cut numerous programs, seemingly strictly on the basis of enrolment. Personally I cannot imagine a university maintaining any sort of credibility without a program in either Math or Physics. Not to mention that a Laurentian faculty member won the Nobel Prize a while ago.

At any rate, an interesting and appropriate way to cap off #30daysofbiking.

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