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Archive for the ‘Bicycling life’ Category

Today was my first group ride with TBN since the beginning of the pandemic. The official starting point was downtown, but there was a pickup point at Queensway and Windermere. Here is the first group to arrive at the pickup point. That’s ride leader Danny on the right.

A few minutes later, most of the rest of the group arrives. We are all still getting used to chatting face to face. Note that we are all at least the required 2m apart.

and we’re off, headed to Oakville today.

Along Atwater.

Threading through a road closure just off of Mississauga Rd.

We’ve arrived at the lunch stop. A lot of cyclists had the same idea.

I elected not to stop, and to ride on. The route went to the mouth of Sixteen Mile Creek before doubling back along Lakeshore. Thanks to the anonymous person who took this photo for me on the pier.

On the way back, all of the Lakeshore Parks were crowded but it was nice to see so many families out enjoying themselves.

It was great to see familiar faces, along with meeting many new TBN members for the first time. However, it’s going to take some time for me to get used to being in a group of people again.

This evening, Lucy and I decided to join ManDem CC for another one of their Sunday night rides. Unfortunately, the city has decided that for the rest of July, the Lakeshore West closure for ActiveTO will be truncated at British Columbia Dr, meaning that it is closed basically only the length of the CNE grounds.

Lucy does not approve.

Waiting for the crowd to gather at the starting point, the Bentway.

Chris tells us that we will leave in five minutes.

Off we go.

Turning left on Lakeshore.

At a certain point, the ride broke up into several groups that were taking different routes. The one that I followed decided to continue on Lakeshore for a while which was not ideal from a safety standpoint.

Then we transitioned to Queens Quay which was very crowded.

Lucy and I started falling behind, partially because the drivetrain on the Haul a Day has issues and I can only use the lowest three gears. Here we are trailing some riders on Bayview.

Hey, we made it to the Evergreen Brickworks!

Loads of people arriving.

A great way to spend a Sunday riding with two very different groups of cyclists.

The Toronto Bicycling Network has recreational rides at all levels. Today was a Tourist ride, which is the second fastest type, with a moving average speed of 24-32 kph. For the duration of the pandemic, you must register in advance for any of the rides. TBN also has a route library which is a good resource for Toronto area cyclists.

ManDem CC has no formal structure. They announce their weekend rides on Instagram. Follow them if you want to be in the loop.

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Someone on the Cycling in Toronto FB group posted a group ride with the above title, and Star Wars geek that I am, I had to show up. On the way down to the start, I see that the triangular island on the northwest corner of Ellis and Lakeshore is crowded as usual, although the blocked slip lane provides a bit of extra space.

Here is the group at Windermere and Lakeshore. Ride leader Mark stands in front of the white Civic.

and off we go.

Here we are at the turnaround point after nominally 15 km. The magic hour lighting was perfect. Thanks to the anonymous passerby who took this photo. Also note my Star Wars themed T shirt.

Another photo with Francis who was a bit delayed as he took a wrong turn at the park entrance.

Leaving the park.

Along Cherry St.

The setting sun.

Thanks to Mark for organizing the ride. For the record, my recorded distance was 1.21 picoparsecs.

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With Lakeshore West once again open as part of ActiveTO, it was the perfect opportunity to take Lucy out on the Buddyrider for more than just a short test ride.

Cruising along Lakeshore.

Lucy notices the banner from the Biking Lawyer.

One new feature was “an escape lane” that allowed eastbound cars to go beyond Jameson through another route via the CNE grounds. As a result, they put in all of these extra barriers. Makes one think that it would be easy to put barriers all along Lakeshore West so that they could dedicate one traffic lanes to bikes every day (at least during the summer)

At any rate, I assume that it was pressure from the public that forced the city to reopen Lakeshore West as part of ActiveTO. The schedule for July has it open this weekend, closed next weekend due to work on the Gardiner, partially open from Jameson eastwards for the next two weekends, and the fully open again on July 31-August 1. Hopefully they will open it also in August.

I will note that it was surprisingly uncrowded at midday today (Saturday). Perhaps it is part of the city emptying out for the long weekend for those who can afford to go out of town.

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On several of our family rides down to the lake on the tandem, we’ve often thought that it would be nice to have Lucy along. The issue is that the usual way that I carry Lucy is with the cargo bike.

In principle we could put a basket on the back or the front of the tandem, but Lucy hates being in the back, and I didn’t see any obvious choices among the front baskets that were available that could take a 17 lb dog.

That’s when I rediscovered the Buddy Rider. It looked heavy and expensive, but seeing that it was a Canadian company made it an attractive enough buy for me.

This thing is not light.

However, it looks very well made, and it includes these bolts precoated with threadlock.

Lucy wonders what’s going on during a test fitting.

It says repeatedly in the instructions and on this sticker that the support is not to be used with a carbon seat post. I suppose that’s for liability reasons, but I also can’t image anyone wanted to bolt something that weights over 2 kg to a bike with a carbon seat post.

One thing I did not fully appreciate is that the seat effectively raised the top tube height above the level of the saddle. This makes getting on the tandem a bit of a chore. Also you can’t come forward off of the saddle at a stop so I had to lower the seat a bit so that I could get both feet on the ground. On a regular bike this would be less of a problem since you could swing your leg over the back of the bike. The instructions do say that you should mount the seat as high and as far forward as possible to minimize interference with peddling the bike.

Thankfully when the seat is dismounted, the remaining piece of the mount is very unobtrusive.

Maiden voyage. Lucy doesn’t look very impressed but I can see that this is going to be fun. I didn’t sense any handling problems, and Lucy is well under the stated 25 lb limit for the seat.

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So we have reached the point where half of all Canadians have had at least one shot of a COVID vaccine. This is good news, but it is just one more step in a long battle with the pandemic. Leading up to this point, there were a couple of ridiculous news articles that said we were “out vaccinating” the US, but this is far from the truth.

What was being pointed out was that the rate of vaccinations per capita for Canada recently passed that of the US, as shown in this chart.

However, if you look at the cumulative number of shots over time, you see that we are far behind the US in reality.

A quick look at the data from the New York Times shows that although only 49% of Americans have had one shot, 38% have had both shots. This would indicate that those who want the vaccine have ready access to both shots, unlike the current situation in Canada.

It is still too early to judge the effect of vaccine hesitancy in the US versus Canada, although polls have shown that about 50% of Republicans don’t want the shot. This was also borne out when Republicans in the House wanted to ditch the masks in the chamber and Speaker Pelosi said no since only 75% of the total had been vaccinated. (Every member of the House has had access to vaccines since January). It is too bad that the pandemic response has been such a political issue in the US, and one hopes that Canadians will be more reasonable.

Despite the vaccine hesitancy in the US, ironically their march towards herd immunity is helped by the fact that about 10% of the population has already had COVID, versus less than 4% in Canada.

At any rate, here’s hoping that the recently announced reopening plans in Ontario do not drive the numbers back up, and that we can return to some degree of normalcy by a year from now. Looking forward to the point this summer when small group organized group bike rides will be allowed. Looks like the middle of June is the earliest possible date for groups of up to 10. At least this time, the plan has some clear metrics that indicate when further reopenings can occur.

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As part of a city program to encourage outdoor activity while remaining socially distanced, the city relaunched ActiveTO. However, the original proposal did not include Lakeshore West. The reason was that there was going to be construction at the intersection of Roncesvalles and Queen/King, and there were some concerns about closing the eastbound lanes of Lakeshore. However, after a huge volume of citizen input at a city council meeting, the city announced that it would open Lakeshore West on select weekends after all. This was the first such weekend.

Here is a picture of traffic moving smoothly through the construction site at Roncesvalles and Queen. No apparent traffic jam.

Lots of bikes headed down to the lake on Ellis Ave this morning.

People riding by the Xavier Morgan ghost bike. This coming Monday (Victoria Day) will be the four year anniversary of his death. The fence along this sloped section of Lakeshore was installed as a result of his death.

I don’t think there is any doubt that this closure is highly popular. Note that you can see the eastbound Gardiner jammed with traffic off to the right, but this is because there was an accident just a little east of this point.

This doggo was keeping a very close eye on what I was going.

Nice to see so many people, including families with small children, out enjoying a bike ride along the lake.

There are plans to add a closure of the Allen Expressway starting on June 6 as part of ActiveTO. I’ll definitely have to check that out, as the Allen is the northernmost section of what was supposed to become the Spadina Expressway.

Apparently Black Creek is also under consideration. It is great to see the city considering road closures spread out over more of the city.

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Yesterday I did an early morning run to our favourite local patisserie, Patisserie 27 on Jane at Annette.

Today I biked out to revisit my favourite local piece of public art on Dupont at Dundas. I remember back in 2017 watching it being painted in stages, and getting a chance to hear from the two indigenous artists who collaborated on it.

I did notice a new tag that had unfortunately been added to one end of the mural.

Here are some shots of what it originally looked like while it was being painted.


In summary:

April 16: Shopping at Sandown Market (personal business); photographing High Park (non-store errand)

April 17: moose at Harbord and St. George (public art); deliveries for #FoodshareTO (helping hand, you carried what?); picking up glasses (personal care)

April 18: Ride to Clairville Reservoir (self care)

April 19: Ghost bike survey (history lesson)

April 21: Snow & Sakura (wild card); donating blood (helping hand)

April 22: Patisserie 27 (personal business)

April 23: Indigenous mural (public art)

Total distance logged: 183 km.

This span of eight days also counted as days #16-23 of #thirtydaysofbiking, as well as the 106th-113th consecutive days of biking for 2021.

Thanks to MG for organizing this fun event. I’ll keep an eye out on the website for next year’s event, and I hope that we’ll all be out from under COVID-19 by then.

In the meantime, everyone ride safe and continue to have fun.

Update June 8: Hey I got my patch!

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Snow & Sakura

It snowed last night, and given the fact that the forecast said that most of the snow would be melted away by the afternoon, I made it a point to ride out to High Park to get some pictures of the sakura. This is the first time that I can remember that it snowed on cherry blossoms in bloom.

You can see that the entrance to High Park is now blocked to vehicles.

Here are the trees by the soccer fields. No one here but a bored cop.

If you are planning to bike hot laps for the next few weeks, be aware that there are several sets of barriers on what would normally be the fast west side of the loop.

The top of the path leading down to Grenadier Pond.

Snow + Sakura = very pretty.

I also checked out the sakura at Robarts Library. Lots of people taking pictures.

The sun had come out a bit by now, but the snow downtown was heavier and clumpy so the effect with the sakura was not quite as nice.

I put these visits down in the “wild card” category for errandonee 2021.

I also made a side visit to donate blood.

Logging that as “helping hand”. Two more errands to make a dozen.

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The Errandonnee is a fun biking based activity that has been running for a couple of years. Basically you have to do 12 errands over a 12 day period, using the following categories: (from the website)

Categories

Below are the 9 Errandonnee categories in order for you to plan your Errandonnee:

  1. Discovery (See something new while you’re out and about!)
  2. Helping Hand (This can be however you define it – helping a person, helping the environment, you get the idea)
  3. History Lesson
  4. Non-Store Errand
  5. Personal Business
  6. Personal Care
  7. Public Art
  8. You carried WHAT?!
  9. Wild Card (Any trip that does not fall into any of the above categories. Surprise me!)

There are a couple of other rules. You are also encouraged to document your activities on social media, and you can also apply for a prize that will be mailed to you for a fee. There is a facebook page if you want to see what others are doing.

I decided to start yesterday. On day one, I did a loop around Etobicoke, and on the way back I realized that I was close to Sandown Market which is our go to place for Japanese groceries, so I dropped by to pick up a few items. Granted my handlebar bag didn’t fit too much more stuff so I limited what I bought. The proprietor was amused that I had arrived by bike. I put this activity in category #5: personal business.

On the way home, I also decided to drop by High Park and sure enough the cherry blossoms had been fenced off already. I counted this as #4 (non-store errand).

Today I wanted to pack a few more errands in. Here is public art (#7).

This is right across the street from Robarts, and you can see that the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

I also did some deliveries for the Bike Brigade, so I counted that as a combination of #2 (helping hand) and #8 (you carried what?)

Finally I picked up some new glasses which I counted as #6 (personal care).

That makes a total of six errands thus far, over two days and 75 km. Ten days to go.

I’m not allowed to use any of the categories more than twice so I’ll have to do some planning over the next week.

This is a fun way to promote utility cycling. I’d encourage everyone to visit the website to find out all of the details. You can choose any 12 day period until the end of June. A heck of a lot easier than a Randonnée.

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Today was the 100th consecutive day of biking for me this year. I decided to mark the day by doing some deliveries for the bike brigade.

Did I mention that the weather was gorgeous, and it was the first shorts ride of the year as well?

Chatting at the pick up point with our fearless leader, Dave Shellnutt, the biking lawyer.

Deliveries done, I dropped by Urbane Cyclist on the way home to pick up some fancy MKS half clips. I am a big fan of half clips.

The bike brigade texted me to drop by again, and they gave me this flag! Triple logos in this picture.

I also decided to drop by the Alex Amaro ghost bike. Thanks to whoever has been keeping the bike looking beautiful.

I also wanted to check out the Bloor bike lanes between Lansdowne and Dundas West since I had heard that the hydro work under one of the bridges was done. Nice to see this family taking advantage of the bike lane.

I did note that the parents directed their kids onto the sidewalk for the underpasses. This one only has a painted buffer at the moment.

The hydro work under the rail path bridge is done, but apparently Metrolinx has to do a little more work before the bike lane is installed. It is not clear if the city will lay down stripes in the meantime.

Two other brief notes, one happy, one sad.

Last night I was extremely honoured to be named “bike advocate of the year” by the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition. I have to note that many people who are part of this group have done more than I towards bike infrastructure, but they took themselves out of the running by being part of the organization that was giving out the award. You know who you are….

Congratulations to all the award winners. I am doubly honoured to be in such good company.

Second thing: the truck driver that killed Douglas Crosbie was acquitted of all charges today.

Stay safe, and get out there and enjoy the weather.

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