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Yeah, it’s cold

Yesterday and today, we’ve been having a bit of a cold snap, with the overnight temperatures reaching about -20°C. It was cold enough that I bought out my really cold riding gear for the first time this winter.

It was about -16°C when I rode into work, and I found that I got overheated a bit. On the way back home, there was a bitter headwind so I was glad that I was dressed the way I was.

This time, I guess the seal around my nose for my North45 balaclava was not quite perfect, so there was a bit of fogging and icing on my glasses by the end of a 45 minute trip. Still much better than a standard balaclava./

For the record, my clothing was:

  • Winter pants by Makers and Riders, although this pair by Eddie Bauer is decent. (anything fleece lined and relatively wind proof will do.)
  • wool undershirt
  • wool shirt
  • Winter jacket. Mine is by Arcteryx, but I can’t recommend it as I’ve had to send it back to get the front zipper repaired, a process that took months.
  • Woolie Boolie socks
  • Boots (I use flat pedals)
  • North45 balaclava.
  • earflaps on helmet.
  • Pogies, and medium weight gloves.

On Thursday evening, I attended a winter biking workshop given by Cycle Toronto.

Our two presenters were Rick and Dave.

Here Rick is talking about the importance of regular cleaning of your bike, along with re lubing after the clean. I do the same thing roughly weekly, rinsing the salt off of the drivetrain with a garden sprayer, filled with hot water.

If you look closely, you will note the homemade mudflap on the front fender that keeps your drive train cleaner. A front mudflap also keeps your feet drier in the rain.

They had a lot of good advice. They promised a bunch of links after their talk, and when those are distributed, I will add them to this blog post.

Some of the talk was about not purchasing a lot of expensive gear for winter riding. In that spirit, I did some experimenting with a home-brew solution to fogging glasses. Here I cut part of the bottom off of an N95 mask so that breath would escape out the bottom.

Here it is combined with a balaclava. (a reminder that my favourite is this wool one from TST)

Here is a picture riding with this combination, and there is no fogging of the glasses.


BTW, CycleTO has finally announced this year’s version of the “Coldest Day of the Year Ride”. It will be Sunday February 12 at 11:30, when the forecast is for a balmy 0°C. The ride starts at Sumch-Shuter Parkette, and it looks like it will go west on Shuter, north on Sherbourne, and then east across the viaduct and along Danforth to East Lynn Park.

Hoping that the temporary ramps on Danforth will be OK, as there has been a repeated problem with one of them having the edge of the metal ramp being bent up by snow plows.


At any rate, hats off to all those who were out biking yesterday or this morning. Know that you were probably biking on the real coldest day of the year.

Also note that the International Winter Bike to Work Day is this Friday. Somewhat confusingly, there is also something planned for Saturday according to this website.


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There is a tradition for a group of cyclists to ride out to the lighthouse on the Leslie St spit on New Year’s Day. The weather forecast was a balmy 3°C so I decided to give it a go. The meeting place was the corner of Queen and Logan. Our leader was Alex.

He asked how many people were here for the first time. About half raised their hands. A pretty good sized crowd. Here we go, Alex in the lead.

Turning east on Eastern.

Dave asking if I shot his good side.

Pause at the park entrance. A couple more people were waiting there.

Here we go. About half of the cyclists were fenderless roadies.

I liked seeing the wide range of different bikes that showed up.

This could be an ad for Tern.

Dodge those puddles!

Up towards the lighthouse.

It soon became apparent that there would be too many people for a photo on this side of the lighthouse. It was decided to backtrack to the flat area just north of the lighthouse.

Matthew decides to take the direct way down on his titanium cargo bike.

Gathering for the group shot.

Know your biking Brians.

Alex lines up the shot.

The group shot.

A number of people were taking video, so I’ll link to them as they are posted.

A nice way to start out the New Year! Thanks to Alex for organizing.

Great to see many of the usual suspects while not on a ghost bike ride.

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Another year gone by, another 8000 km or so. A record distance over the year, just a bit beyond what I did the past two years, despite the fact that I did fewer long rides. Cyclemeter says I’m a bit over 8500 km, whereas veloviewer gives a slightly smaller total.

January:

I took advantage of a cold snap to ride the clear ice on Grenadier Pond in the course of testing out some pants. I could hear the ice sing.

Local bike advocate Janet Joy Wilson took a new job in the Big Apple, so she invited a few of us along for a group ride to mark the occasion.

Late January was unusually cold, and so I ventured out to Toronto Island to ride on the ice in the canals, with a bit of crunchy snow on top.

February:

Lots of local protests in support of the freedom convoy in Ottawa disrupted traffic in the downtown area on weekends. Didn’t affect biking so much.

March:

TCBC organized a ride to show support for extending the Bloor bike lanes all the way into Mississauga. The group was small because the ride had been postponed due to weather at the last minute, but some cyclists showed up anyway. So we went ahead and rode out from Runnymede and were met with a group coming the other direction at the bridge over Etobicoke Creek.

The official ride on March 20 happened with a much larger group including Midori and I on the tandem.

April:

I made a quick trip out to Portland for a wedding, and also checked out two cargo bike shops that I missed during my last visit, one of which was Splendid Cycles.

Cycle Toronto organized a ride to celebrate the success of the bike lanes on Shaw St. We were joined by long time supporter Councillor Mike Layton.

May:

Bike for Mike 2002 had rainy weather, but nevertheless I had a good time, and it was for a good cause.

May the fourth was the perfect day for a Star Wars themed ride.

I explored a bit of the Uxbridge to Lindsay rail trail. Didn’t make it as far as Neverland.

The Ride of Silence was back in person for the first time in three years but I was not able to attend.

The first ghost bike ride of the year was for Joshua Okoeguale, a 16 year old who was killed in Oshawa.

The annual bike month group commute was back this year.

HPVDT had a chance to test their tandem bike at a wind tunnel at Western University.

June:

The annual fund raising bike ride on the Gardiner and DVP was rebranded the Ride for Brain Health. I was doing ride support with TBN as per usual, but I also met up with colleagues from my department at the beginning.

A quick trip to Hamilton to see a promotion of the Keddy Access Trail.

July:

I had a streak of continuous days of bike riding that stretched back to Boxing Day 2020, but somehow I forgot to ride on July 1, so my streak ended at 517 days.

A quick trip to Woodstock NY to go to a concert by Nexus percussion. Got in some riding by the Ashokan Reservoir. Got to see the stage where 4′ 33″ was premiered.

Got a Switch e-bike conversion. Initial impressions were positive.

A ghost bike ride in Hamilton for Brian Woods, who was killed riding to his work at Limeridge Mall.

Doing a little exploring by bike of an unimproved section of the Etobicoke Creek Trail.

Another Burlington to Niagara ride with TBN.

Mike Layton decides not to run for re-election. The cycling community in Toronto has lost one of its strongest advocates.

August:

A number of years ago, I was on an organized ride from Seattle to Vancouver, but due to a flat tire and other issues, I ended up completing the ride but leaving a gap of about 100 km. I went back this year to fill in that gap. It was punishingly hot, but there was ice cream at the end.

Some nice gravel riding on the left coast.

A ride to promote safety on Parkside Drive, and to protest police ticketing of cyclists in High Park.

A TBN ride to Lake Simcoe.

September:

Testing our tandem speedbike at Downsview.

The World Human Powered Speed Challenge was back this year after two years of cancellations. Unfortunately our tandem crashed and we did not set any records.

Cycle Toronto organized fund raising rides in different areas of the city. I rode with the Scarborough group.

October:

A night time march down Yonge St to promote road safety.

A gravel ride between Belwood and Luther Marsh.

A ride with TBN during peak fall colours.

Third ghost bike ride of the year, this time near Streetsville.

Pre Halloween ride with the Neon Riders.

Hallowe’en Bike Parade.

November:

Checking out another section of the G2G trail.

The annual ride to remember Road Traffic Victims. It was cold and windy.

A TBN ride from Hamilton to home.

Dammit, we couldn’t get through one year without a ghost bike installed in Toronto. RIP Kartik Saini.

December:

Another ride down Yonge St with Santa.

A pair of pogies arrived from a small company in Ukraine, naturally in the colours of Ukrainian Flag.


I’ll also note in passing that an updated map of all ghost bike locations in the GTA has been posted. Thanks to Ingrid Buday for her work on this.

For some year end coverage of some of the upgrades to bike infra and associated public consultations for future projects, visit Rob Z’s blog.

Also see this year end summary from David Shellnut, the Biking Lawyer.


Wishing you all a safe year for 2023, with plenty of tailwinds!

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Today was the third annual ride down Yonge St with Santa, organized by the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition to promote cycling infrastructure along Yonge St.

We are gathered at North York Centre. Here Rudolph is interviewing Santa for the media.

The gang’s all here so we can get ready to go.

I’ll note that Santa has a new ride this year, courtesy of Happy Fiets. His trailer has a trick set up that detects when you are slowing down, and then applies the brakes on the trailer so that you are not overrun.

Off we go.

Just after the most dangerous part of the entire ride: the 401 underpass.

Rudolph leads the way up from Hogg’s Hollow.

Santa is all smiles going up the hill this year.

Up the other incline from Lawrence.

We pause at Davisville where another group is waiting at the northern end of the Yonge cycle track.

Good to see Joe and Kay.

Also we are joined by Frosty the Snowman.

Starting up again from Davisville.

Here’s another one of those bus stop platforms. I was looking for a ramp, but of course in this case, they are not necessary since there is an adjacent cycle track.

Passing by the Kartik Saini ghost bike.

Another pause at the Summerhill LCBO.

Some refreshments and hot chocolate are on offer.

Alison from CycleTO is on message.

Dave of NRBI, and Arianne.

Frosty is revealed to be one of the Richardsons.

We turn west on Bloor. Here Santa is greeting the shoppers along this stretch.

We’ve turned south at the ROM.

Santa takes the lane.

Getting ready to cross at Armoury.

Headed to City Hall past the courthouse.

Here we are at Nathan Phillips Square.

Councillor Diane Saxe reminds us that there are votes coming up in the spring having to do with the bike lanes on Yonge.

Quite the cast of characters.

Santa and Rudolph.

Finally, Santa with all his reindeer.

Thanks once again to Albert and TCBC for organizing today’s ride, to Happy Fiets for providing rides for Santa, Rudolph and Frosty, to the marshalls who helped keep everyone safe, to Councillor Saxe who rode with us.

Thanks also to everyone who showed up, especially due to the overlap with the World Cup final. Have a Happy Holiday, and here’s hoping for a safe 2023 for everyone.

And as always, Bromptoning has a wonderful video of the whole ride.

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There was an article in the Star, one of a series along the general theme that the city is falling apart, about a guy named Tim who took it upon himself to move some of the concrete barriers along protected bike lanes that had been moved out of alignment by cars.

He put out a call for another round of fixing tonight. I decided to help out. Here are Tim and Brian at our meet up location at Yonge and Richmond.

We started east on Adelaide from Yonge. It was less than a block before we saw the first curb out of place.

Tim had brought two pry bars this time, along with a brick to serve as a fulcrum. After about a minute, the first curb had been moved.

After several similar repairs, we turned back at Parliament and came back along Richmond.

Here we are near Peter St.

Before and after pictures.

Here’s a video showing the process.

Here’s the last curb of the day, between Portland and Bathurst. Tim said he moved this the last time, and it has already been knocked out of place again.

All done.

I’ll also note that these large curbs are being placed in some areas where the buffer between the bike lane and the roadway is only about twice the width of the curb. This makes me wonder why the city is not going to use these curbs on Bloor underneath the railway underpasses where there is much more available width. Current plans are for the small curbs with bollards, which are not nearly as protective.

A blurry group photo to cap off the evening.

Thanks to Tim for organizing, and Brian for helping out. Tim and Brian did most of the work as I was spending most of my time taking photos. Sorry about that guys!

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Winter tires

After my ride today, I dropped by Hoopdriver Bicycles to pick up a pair of gravel bike tires that were on sale.

Martin always has nice things to look at in his shop. Here, he is assembling a Moulton model that I had never seen before. This model isn’t even on their website. It looks like an evolved F frame, but with the front suspension of one of their spaceframe models.

Speaking of tires, if you are interested in Continental Winter Tires (they are not studded but work very well), then Martin has them on special in both the 700C and 26″ sizes. Details on his website. He sells them in pairs. He also just sent me a note saying that if you mention my blog, then he will provide an additional discount on these tires.

I guess he’s betting that it’s not going to snow much this season.

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Today is World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. The Toronto event has moved around to highlight deficiencies in road traffic design in different neighbourhoods. This year’s event was in Scarborough, starting at Victoria Park subway station.

While riding there, I encountered these fine gentlemen on their hipster fixed gears.

Crossing the viaduct.

The Danforth bike lane was mostly in good shape, with the protected sections having been plowed, and the usual unplowed sections around bus stops.

However, things went south east of Dawes where the cycle tracks were a rough frozen mess, and we took the road the rest of the way to Vic Park. Thanks to Michael and David for slowing enough so that I could keep up.

Here we start to gather at Vic Park, and posters of victims were being handed out.

We remember Brian Woods.

We remember Joshua Okoeguale.

Our fearless leader Jess Spieker gets us organized, and tells us what this event is about. There are apparently 60 such gatherings today across North America so we are in good company.

She introduced MPP Doly Begum who has reintroduced the “Moving Ontario Safely Act” AKA vulnerable road user legislation. MPP Begum tells us about how her father was hit by a speeding driver and thus suffered life altering injuries.

She says that she is only asking for justice on behalf of the family and friends of all victims of road violence.

Now we head south towards Danforth.

At Victoria Park and Danforth, Jess asks the crowd how many collisions have occurred at this intersection over the past eight years. Various numbers are shouted out, but we are all shocked to hear that the real number was more than 1400.

She also points out that this is the boundary between two wards, with some bike infra (i.e. the bike lanes on Danforth) west of here, and absolutely nothing to the east (Crawford’s ward).

A little further east we pause across the street from Access Point where Marvin Macaraig runs Scarborough Cycles. He reiterates that it is frustrating that the only bike infra in the area is cut off east of Victoria Park, just a few blocks away.

A much better picture of the same stop courtesy of CycleTO, where you can actually Marvin just behind Jess (and me behind him taking the above picture).

Another pause where Jess tells us about some more collisions, and also points out a refugee island in the middle of the road that does nothing to slow cars, and is not connected to either side by a crosswalk.

Another stop, some more statistics about collisions at this intersection, and it is pointed out that these bollards are place to protect only property, not people.

Another stop. Why are there no crosswalks wherever there are TTC stops?

We remember Alex Amaro.

Kevin Rupasinghe tells us about he heard concerns about road safety while canvassing during his campaign for city council.

Next, the spot where Danforth makes a sweeping turn to the north. This is an especially dangerous intersection for pedestrians.

Finally a longer trek towards Birchmount. Kevin points out that there are no street lights on the south side, and when the sidewalk is not cleared, there are people walking on the roadway on that side in the dark.

Our final intersection at Birchmount. This is where 17 year old Nadia Mozumber was killed last year. The response from the city was a comment that drivers had to be more careful. Nothing about the road design that was only directed towards the flow of high speed traffic.

On the median, a note from the family.

Jess reads out a long list of victims of road violence. I know far too many of these names from ghost bike rides in past years.

Thanks to everyone who joined us on a cold, windy evening. Special thanks to the family members who also attended.

Thanks to Jess for her organization, her scouting of the route, and the gathering of statistics. Thanks also to Kevin and Marvin, and MPP Doly Begum for speaking. Thanks also to Cycle Toronto for their support of Friends and Families for Safe Streets.

Here are a few of the cyclists just starting their rides home. Hope everyone made it home safely.

Update: CTV news coverage (note that the photo is from the 2019 walk in North York)

A correction from Jess: 1450 is the number for the whole 2km stretch we walked (and those 1450 crashes caused 225 injuries and 2 fatalities). For just Vic Park, the intersection had 617 crashes since 2014, causing 61 injuries.

Still, 617 is a very high number for one intersection.

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Hallowe’en Bike Parade

Kay and Heather of the Toronto Brompton Owners group organized a pre Hallowe’en ride today, and costumes were encouraged. The start was at Christie Pits, and the route was a 10 km loop in the area that passed through some of the recent upgrades in bike infrastructure.

Brian Lam arrived with a T Rex costume.

In the interest of safety he decided to ride with head out.

It was nice to see Kay out and about after her long recovery from a knee injury.

She had a large front bag on her e-Brompton, but she said that the battery takes up a lot of room.

In one of those wonderful Toronto moments, there was also a meet up of costumed non-cyclists, so we needed a group picture.

Heather gets us organized shortly before we take off. I’m riding my X wing again, so no Brompton today.

Kay and Joe laid out today’s route.

Pier had a large speaker on the back of his Brompton, and a playlist that was Hallowe’en themed.

Carol was dressed as a bike lane. I think Patrick (seen below) was a construction zone? (correction: he was a “love cone”)

Brunswick and Bloor.

At Bathurst.

Thanks to Kay and Heather for organizing.

and thanks to everyone for coming out today. Nice to ride with you on a gorgeous day.

Updates:

Kay took this video of my flying away.

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Neon Riders

Tonight was advertised as the last ride of the year for the Neon Riders. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden with them, so I decided to join in. Started at Nathan Phillips Square as per usual.

Leaving the square now.

On Chestnut, waiting to turn onto Dundas.

On Dundas.

Sherbourne.

At Lakeshore.

Zigzagging along the lakeshore.

First stop was a spot where we had a nice view of the CN Tower.

I took my leave at this point since I was tired, and I have an early start tomorrow. As I type this, those with more energy are still out there on the remainder of the ride. I hope they are having a good time. I certainly did, however briefly.

Two short video clips: first at NPS, the second by the lake at the foot of Yonge St.

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The Big Toronto Bike Ride is an annual event to raise funds for Cycle Toronto. This year, there were four routes, with two downtown running last Saturday, and two in more outlying areas today. I chose to ride the Scarborough Loop to see parts of the city that were new to me. The route started and ended at Greenvale Park, close to the Guildwood GO station.

I chose to ride over from Kennedy station, which entailed a stretch along both Eglinton East and Kingston Rd. Riding along Eglinton is deeply unpleasant since it is a 6 lane wide arterial, although traffic was thankfully light today.

Having a lane dedicated to buses, taxis, HOV and bikes on weekdays doesn’t really count as bike infra.

Things get a bit better east of Brimley with the curb lane clearly marked for buses and bikes, although the lane is constantly interrupted by right turn lanes.

Here is the crowd gathered at Greenvale Park. Ironically, GO train service to Guildwood was cancelled this weekend, and this might have accounted for a couple of people being late.

Alison from CycleTO lets us know what is going to happen today. We will be riding as a group with Marshalls to keep us together.

George is our ride leader today. I don’t know if he was the one that scouted the route, but if so, thanks George, it was interesting.

A group picture before we set off. We had people from as far west as South Etobicoke, and as far east as Oshawa.

Ready, set,

go!

Almost immediately we descend on the Highland Creek Trail.

This woman had a pannier full of tunes for the entire ride.

We came upon these volunteers from UoT doing some tree planting.

Alison snapped this picture of me. It had warmed up so I had taken off my wool shirt and switched to today’s official T.

And we arrive at the lake.

Unfortunately, the bridge that crossing the creek as part of the waterfront trail is still closed.

We arrive at the nominal midpoint of the ride, where two volunteers from our sponsor Bike Law Canada had bananas and water at East Point Park.

Although we were climbing back up from the lake, the grade was so gradual, it was not noticeable. I’ll have to remember this the next time I’m biking up Gates Gully.

We took a bit of a detour behind the Guild Inn.

Group picture in the sculpture gardens. Just off to the left of this picture, a couple had just gotten engaged. Can’t imagine anything more romantic than to be descended upon by a bunch of sweaty cyclists just as you’ve gone down on one knee 😉

Taneisha from CycleTO and Adrian Currie, long time activist.

Approaching Guildwood Station.

Normally we would walk our bikes through the station, but today it was entirely empty.

Waiting for the light at Kingston Rd.

And we’re back.

Nice to see Peter Low, who was soliciting signatures to make the Yonge pilot bike lanes permanent.

Unfortunately at this point I had to ride off to another event. I hope that everyone had a great lunch. Thanks to the organizers, and sponsors (especially Bike Law Canada) and to my fellow riders for good company.

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