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Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

One week ago, Valdemar and Fatima Avila were killed by a driver who rear ended their car while it was stopped at a red light on Parkside at Spring Rd. Today was the first of two vigils organized by people in the neighbourhood who have been concerned about the lack of safely along Parkside for many years due to high speed traffic.

Here is the crowd at Parkside and Spring.

A memorial was already on site.

One of the organizers announcing what is going to happen.

Local councillor Gord Perks talking to the media. His office sent along “slow down” signs, but as we all know, these do nothing as drivers will just speed past them.

Right at 4:40 pm, one week from the crash, people move into the intersection to block traffic for several light cycles.

I found it interesting that those of us cyclists used to blocking traffic in protest were fine, but others were somewhat reluctant to move into the intersection.

It didn’t take much time for traffic in both directions to be backed up. Thankfully, there was no honking. I imagine that everyone who commutes along this route was fully aware of last weeks tragedy.

The Whitlas, Alan Gasser et al sang a protest song. I don’t want them to have many more gigs like this.

A photo with politicians and some of the event organizers. Why is MP Arif Virani smiling?

Something has to be done to slow traffic on Parkside and also Keele between Dundas W and Bloor which is the feeder into Parkside. Rob Z’s blog outlines some ideas. In addition, this blog by High Park Engineer outlines some of the ridiculousness along this stretch, including several bus stops on the west side that force people to cross Parkside in the absence of any crosswalks.

Other solutions and suggestions have been brought forward to Gord Perks’ office. One was a request for speed enforcement cameras. However under provincial legislation, these can only be place in community safety zones (i.e. near schools), and apparently the Montessori school at Howard Park didn’t qualify. This is an example of how more than one level of government needs to be engaged in order to make anything like Vision Zero a reality.

I had a brief chat with former MP Peggy Nash who had participated in several audit rides of bike infrastructure with the old Ward 13 group. She reminded me that her husband was injured while riding a bike on Parkside.

Deepest condolences to family and friends of the Avilas.

There will be another protest next Tuesday (October 26), with a march down Parkside from Bloor to Spring Rd starting at 4 pm. The Safe Parkside group on Facebook will have the details.

Sadly, on the very day of the vigil, two pedestrians were killed by drivers in separate incidents, one of them a hit and run.

Update and correction:

From MPP Bhutila Karpoche’s office (She was present at the vigil):

Parkside Drive, from Bloor St. W. to Lake Shore Blvd W., was designated as a Community Safety Zone by the City of Toronto on December 17, 1998 (By-law No. 894-1998), under the powers granted to all Ontario municipalities by §214.1(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, 1990

On December 1, 2019, amendments to Part XIV.1 of the Highway Traffic Act, 1990 to allow automated speed enforcement technology in all community safety zones where the prescribed rate of speed is less than 80 kilometres per hour—no matter whether in proximity to a school or not—were proclaimed by the Province of Ontario. 

This means that there are no provincially mandated barriers for the City of Toronto to complete the following actions:

  • Place an automated speed enforcement system on Parkside Drive
  • Reduce the rate of speed from 50km/h to 40km/h
  • Installation of a contiguous west sidewalk
  • Installation of protected northbound and southbound bicycle lanes
  • Adding pedestrian crossovers at Geoffrey Street and The Queensway to service southbound TTC stops

All of these decisions are up to City and their Council to make. We are continuing our dialogue with the City to ensure that they understand the provincial legislation and can use it to the fullest extent.

Also Rob Z’s summary of the event.

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Ignacio Viana was an 81-old cyclist who went missing on Sept 17, 2021, after going out for his usual 50 km bike ride. The family was desperate to find him, establishing a Facebook page when there wasn’t immediate attention paid in the media. Unfortunately, his body was found on Sept 23 by another cyclist on Lower Base Line Rd in Milton. Today, ARC installed a ghost bike in his memory.

The ride started at the Oakville GO station. Here Joey is talking to members of the family. We also had a brief chat with the person who came across the body. She said that it was helpful that the media mentioned that he was wearing a bright orange jersey.

Geoffrey talking to the CBC.

The usual suspects were joined by Sarah, a cyclist from the area who had been in touch with the family.

Here we go.

Riding up Sixth line, just north of the underpass under the QEW.

Geoffrey took this much better picture which I am stealing from Facebook.

image source

Riding north, we see the steady march of more and more development. McMansions spaced very close together, and not a tree in sight.

Arriving at the intersection of Sixth Line and Lower Base Line.

We decide to install the ghost bike close to the actual crash site, a little east of the intersection.

You can see from where Joey is standing that the ditch by the side of the road is surprisingly deep.

Ignacio’s niece Nancy inscribing the sign.

Calling for a minute of silence in Ignacio’s memory.

Nancy making a statement to the CBC. She said that everyone called her uncle superman as he was phenomenally active, having a morning routine of walking the dog and then going for a 50K bike ride.

Decorating the bike. This is the first time I can recall that friends and family had the foresight to bring plastic flowers.

Mission accomplished.

Deepest condolences to Ignacio’s family and friends. He was obviously well loved and respected. He was also a sterling member of the cycling community.

A go fund me page has been established to help the family defray funeral expenses.

Updates:

Joey’s pictures

CBC print coverage

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The Growling Beaver is a gravel ride in the Collingwood area that raises funds for Parkinson Canada. I rode in the inaugural event back in 2015, and although it was a very tough 100K, I really enjoyed myself. Now that I have a gravel bike, I thought it was high time that I rode once again.

Given that the forecast for today was rain about a week ago, we really lucked out on the weather. I heard several people remark that this was the best weather ever. The start and end was at Side Launch Brewing.

Six years ago, gravel bikes weren’t really a thing, and so there were a lot of people riding cross bikes. This time, it looked to be 90% gravel bikes.

Evan Siddall, one of the founders of the event, talks to us just before the 100K riders are sent off. The mascot is a new thing as well.

We were sent off in groups of 10 so as not to crowd the Georgian Bay trail that was the first 30K of the ride. Here goes the first group, nominally the fast people.

I joined one of the last groups to ride. Nevertheless, it was plenty fast for me. Thanks to all those who towed me along for the first 30K into a headwind.

First checkpoint at Meaford, just before the first big climb of the day.

These volunteers were putting supportive messages on bananas. There were more volunteers than back in 2015, and they were very well organized.

I took the opportunity to ask Evan for a selfie, and he remembered my name although I was just one rider six years ago. This absolutely blew my mind.

First climb mostly done. In retrospect, it was easy since it was on asphalt.

What a gorgeous day!

Near the start of the first major downhill on Old Mill Rd. In 2015, fresh gravel had been laid down three days before the event, and I had to take it really slow. Much better this year. This is at the 40K mark.

Lots of picture taking at this spot where the downhill switches from gravel to pavement and you get a spectacular view of the Beaver Valley.

Kimberley lunch stop. It was nice to have volunteers ringing cowbells to greet you. Lots of good food choices as well.

Just after this stop: my nemesis: Side Road 7B.

What it looks like on my Garmin.

Defeated once again. Although I was faster than in 2015, I still had to walk the middle section. What I’m finding is that with slick tires, I just can’t get enough traction on anything steeper than about 15% on gravel. At least I was not alone in walking my bike.

On the road to Duncan. Much better, and a tailwind as well.

The last checkpoint at Kolapore Corner.

Probably the best display of fall colours I saw all day.

I will note that the downhill gravel section starting around 90K in the Rob Roy management area was the scariest part of the ride in that the gravel was not packed down in parts, and I didn’t know what was ahead around the next corner. I had ride my brakes in this section. After that, the last 15K is paved, and much of it is downhill.

All done.

This time I managed to have moving average of 21.8 kph, and a total elapsed time of about 5 1/2 hours, which was much better than last time. The weather and the better road conditions had a lot to do with it, although the better bike certainly didn’t hurt. I felt a lot fresher after the ride than last time.

A hazy IPA really hit the spot.

Also some really good tacos from Mamacita Tacoria.

Evan makes a few announcements, thanking all of the volunteers. In addition he thanks the sponsors for their support. With this support, every dollar raised goes directly to the charity, which is terrific.

Just as I was about to leave, I meet Carol and Patrick from the Toronto Brompton Owners group. They weren’t on Bromptons today. Sorry Patrick, I only got a picture of Carol in line for tacos.

A great day of riding. If you ever want to be challenged by a 108K gravel ride while raising funds for a good cause, I highly recommend the Growling Beaver. It is very well run, and from the number of repeat riders that I met, many people share my opinion. I’ll certainly be back some day to take another try at Side Road 7B. If you are interested, the 100K route is here.

Finally, thanks to all those who pledged their support towards my fundraising goal.

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A busy bike Sunday

Starting bright and early with another ghost bike installation for the cyclist who died on Eglinton near Leslie on Sept 11. From the limited amount of public information available, he lost control of his bike near a construction zone and suffered fatal injuries after he fell. A driver was not involved. Here we are on Bloor at Dufferin.

There was not much clearance for Geoffrey on the bike lanes with bollards, particularly when maneuvering around CafeTO installations. He said he felt like Luke doing the trench run on the Death Star.

Up Bayview.

On Eglinton, figuring out where to put the bike.

Yes, that is the Eglinton LRT train in the background.

Geoffrey said this was the ideal kind of ghost bike; it had an aluminum frame to keep the weight down for hauling long distances. Here you can see the crack in the frame that turned it into garbage. Also the first ghost bike I can remember with disc brake wheels.

Geoffrey took this picture of me installing the sign.

Here you can see the roadway where the crash occurred. Presumably the cyclist lost control while speeding down the hill. I will note that this is a nasty part of Eglinton with construction narrowing the road to a single lane.

As always, sincere condolences to family and friends of the deceased. Also much thanks to Geoffrey for building the bike, and Joey for being our ride leader.

Next up, something more positive: a ride to Tommy Thompson with ManDemCC, this time in collaboration with CycleTO. Chris is now on the board of CycleTO, and he reminds us that the organization does a lot of good work, and that this ride is part of their Big Bike Ride Fundraiser.

Chris in motion. He immediately dubbed our ride the “ManDem tandem”.

Regroup at the park entrance.

To the lighthouse!

Crossing the bridge

At the lighthouse.

photo by Joanie

That sky looks good in wide angle.

Chris and company were striking a pose while being shot from the back by a real photographer.

Yet another fun ride with Mandem CC, and I was happy to have my wife share in the experience.

Thanks all, ride safe, and get out there while the weather is still good.

Update: Hey Chris, thanks for posting this video and picture.

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A celebration of the life of Wayne Scott was organized today. This being about Wayne, of course there had to be a bike ride. Here is Kitty thanking us and telling us how much Wayne would have appreciated today.

Albert lets us know the route, and the stops that have some significance with respect to Wayne’s bike advocacy.

Here we go.

Regroup at the park entrance where we are joined by Hamish, Doug and Derek.

Along Bloor

Bloor and Spadina.

Arriving at the Darcy Allan Sheppard ghost bike which was just recently refurbished by Geoffrey Bercarich.

Joe is telling us about Wayne’s years long push to get justice for Darcy Allan Sheppard. Here he is pointing to the Park Plaza, which is where Michael Bryant drove his car immediately after the fatal impact.

He reads a statement from Darcy Allan’s father who attended many of the annual memorials.

Joe also told us that Wayne lived by three rules: he would never fly, he would never drive a car, and he would never marry. He broke that third promise towards the end of his life because that was what Kitty, his long time partner, would want.

I thought that Wayne would appreciate the irony in his trike being parked right in front of a Peleton shop.

People gathered around the ghost bike.

Next stop: City Hall.

Leah tells us about how Wayne took up the cause of October 9 (10-9 being the radio sign for “please repeat”) as Bike Messenger Appreciation Day a year after it was first promoted in Toronto by Sarah and Joe. He brought in sponsorship, and pushed the city to recognize the day as well. Leah is holding a copy of one of the proclamations.

Nick worked with Wayne for nine years at a bike messenger company, and told us a few funny stories of that time. He said that when Wayne started pushing for “food as fuel” legislation, most of his fellow messengers were incredulous.

Finally, Patrick told us about some of the multidimensional bicycle advocacy that Wayne did at City Hall over many years on everything from better bike infrastructure to vulnerable road user legislation. Wayne was known for giving very compelling deputations that were often off script. Here Pat is talking about how Wayne would make councillors uncomfortable by asking why something couldn’t be done.

Time to leave.

Final stop: in behind the federal court house where Albert talked about persistence. It took Wayne over 16 years to win the food as fuel federal tax deduction.

Along Richmond.

Through Trinity Bellwoods.

A brief stop at a bench to remember another bike courier.

Riding up Shaw St.

The rain descends while we are riding back on Bloor.

I made some poor clothing choices. Shorts and T shirt were not cutting it.

Shortly after this point, I elected not to continue with the group back to the picnic area at High Park. The riders in front of me, mostly ex-bike messengers, were made of sterner stuff. Sorry Wayne, I let you down today.

It was nice to see many of the usual suspects in person for the first time in a while.

I will also note that most of the ride today was on bike infrastructure that was only put in over the past five years, and that much of it was the result of continuous advocacy on the part of people like Wayne. It was an honour to have known him and even more of a pleasure to have worked along his side on various bike related causes over the years.

Update: Nick Kovats B&W photos:

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Nikita Victoria Belykh, just ten years old, was struck by a driver on Sept 1 while riding her bike in Thornhill. She died in hospital the next day. Today was the ghost bike ride in her memory, one week after she was struck.

photo provided by the family.

Joey is talking with the father before we get started.

The riders get ready to set off from Finch station.

Along Centre St.

Crossing HWY 7.

Stopped at Dufferin and Centennial Parkway.

The ghost bike riders approach the crash site where family and friends are gathered.

There was already a sizeable memorial in place.

Installing the ghost bike.

A minute of silence.

Mike, the father, thanks us for the ghost bike installation, and describes for us how wonderful and well loved Nikita was.

The parents decorate the bike.

A few adjustments.

The banner.

Thanks to everyone who rode with us today in Nikita’s memory. Deepest condolences to her family and friends.

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

This is the sixth ghost bike installed by ARC in 2021. Even more upsetting, this is the fourth ghost bike for a child. The three previous were:

Please no more.

Update: video of the entire ride by Adrian.

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Miguel Joshua (MJ) Escanan, 18 years old, was killed by a cement truck driver last Wednesday on Avenue Rd just north of Bloor. His death attracted a lot of media attention as it was the first cyclist fatality of the year in Toronto.

Tonight was the ride and ghost bike installation in his memory.

The crowd gathers at Bloor and Spadina.

photo: Kay Pea

From this video, it is evident that over 200 cyclists were in attendance.

Riding up Spadina.

photo: Martin Reis
Photo: Martin Reis

Turning from Bernard onto Avenue Rd.

Down Avenue Rd. Safety in numbers for once.

Photo: Martin Reis

Geoffrey and Joey installing the ghost bike.

Photo: Martin Reis
photo: Kay Pea
Photo: Kay Pea
Photo: Kay Pea

Another view of the crowd.

Photo: Martin Reis

The Whitla family sang “We have come too far” by Jane Sapp.

photo: Martin Reis
Photo: Martin Reis

This tragedy renewed calls for more bike infrastructure. It has been pointed out that bike lanes on this stretch of Avenue Rd were suggested as part of ActiveTO, but city council turned back the request. We also remember Adam Excell who was killed at Avenue and Davenport in 2015. Better training is also essential for drivers of these huge trucks. One also recalls John Offutt, killed last year by the driver of another cement truck.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. We will always remember him.

Photo: Martin Reis.

Updates:

This video by Louis-Eric Simard shows the ghost bike installation, the call for a minute of silence, and the song by the Whitla family. You can also see Martin Reis and Nick Kovats taking lot of photos.

A nice annotated video of the ride from B.F. SInger.

Calls for more road safety on Global News.

Pictures by Kay Pea.

Pictures by Nick Kovats.

B&W pictures by Nick Kovats on actual film

Article about MJ’s death in Toronto.com

All cyclist deaths are tragic. Although this was the first such death of the year in Toronto, this is the fifth ghost bike installed in the GTA by ARC in 2021.

Rest In Peace:

What can you do about cyclists dying on our streets?

Stay safe, everyone!

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My evening began with a critical mass ride that started in High Park. There were two very different themes that were being protested. The first was the recent ticketing of cyclists in High Park for exceeding the posted 20 kph speed limit, and for not stopping at stop signs. The second was the very heavy handed eviction of homeless from encampments in several parks. The link between the two themes was the over reliance on police force to solve problems, one relatively minor, and the other a serious and continuing issue of the homeless in the city.

A crowd gathered at the north entrance to High Park. I talked to several cyclists who had been ticketed. One of the speed traps was set up at the bottom of the hill on the west side of the loop, and cyclists were then stopped at the top of the hill. At the same time, cars going at least as fast were apparently not being ticketed.

It was sheer joy to circle the park surrounded by my fellow cyclists.

It was noted that just coasting down the hill it was easy to exceed 30 kph. Not that anyone present did such an outrageous thing.

After two and a half laps, a group split off to ride towards 14 Division. Here we are at the High Park Blvd entrance to the park.

Riding through Roncy.

In front of 14 Division on Dovercourt. Clapping, bell riding, and shouts of “shame”, and then a minute of silence to recognize the police brutality that accompanied the eviction of the homeless.

Thanks to David for organizing the event, and to everyone who rode with us.

I then wanted to check out Bike Party Toronto. The meeting place was Christie Pits. These gentlemen seemed oblivious to all the activity around them: many bikes with fancy decorations and lights, and several people in costume.

Syncing up the soundtrack. Oddly, the first track was the theme song from “the Price is Right”

Here we go.

This fellow had a tricked out Tern GSD with big speakers front and rear.

Circling Christie Pits.

Now on Bloor.

Not only did Natalie have one of the most decorated bikes, but she was also running a bubble machine when she was stopped.

U of T.

It’s getting darker now.

We pause at Trinity Bellwoods, and I take the opportunity to leave at this point.

I will say that the Bike Party was well organized, and it turned out to feel very much like a Critical Mass ride, with people helping to cork intersections, and occasional regroups to keep everyone together. Also since we had music and lights with us, bystanders were really happy to see us, in particular all of the people on the CafeTO patios. We were all out having a great evening out.

If you are interested in joining another Bike Party, check out the Toronto Cruisers page, or the Bike Parties Facebook page.

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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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