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Archive for the ‘scene by bike’ Category

Round about the middle of January, I started recording my rides in parallel on Cyclemeter and Strava. The reason was that Strava seemed to have a pretty active ecosystem, and I was particularly interested in the features offered by Veloviewer. Veloviewer offers many of the features of Strava Premium, but at minimal cost. For example, it can plot fun infographics like this:

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It can also provide a personal heat map.  Here you can easily see that my riding is dominated by my regular commute from High Park to downtown.

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In addition, there is a subculture of  veloviewer riders that collect tiles, which are squares about a mile on a side, that are a measure of how much area you have covered with your riding. It is a clever incentive to vary your riding so that you explore different areas around your home. It certainly works for me. This past weekend, I took advantage of a little more leisure time than usual to add to my tile collection. On Saturday I rode with Scarborough Cycles, and collected about six tiles in the east end of the city. They are shaded on the map below.

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You can see that there are gaps in the pattern of my riding, so today I decided to take a really long detour on my way into work to fill in some of the gaps.

First up: adding a little riding on the southwest corner. Here you can see that the Humber Bay Bridge is now clear of ice, unlike last weekend.

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Heading east on the MGT, I check out the ghost bike for Xavier Morgan.

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Next up: checking out Trillium Park and the William Davis trail on the east side of the Ontario Place lands. One nice surprise is that the gate to the rest of Ontario Place is open, letting me get this picture of a really scenic smoking area.

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On the way back to the MGT, you can see the city from a new vantage point.

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Here’s a good shot of the fixed choke point on the MGT. It took several years and the cooperation of all three levels of government to get a small triangular area of pavement installed so that the sidewalk is separated from the multi use trail.

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The waterfront proper had a series of art installations called Icebreakers. The easternmost installation was a giant percussion instrument.

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The second was this giant gummy bear. It was covered in a lot of pink pile fabric.

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The third one, Winter Fanfare, actually looked better in person than in photos.

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A driftwood sign with the inevitable hashtag.

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This piece was called Black Bamboo.

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The final piece is a cabin made of tree roots. What was sad was the traces of clothing indicating that this was used as a makeshift homeless shelter.

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Now working my way further east, I see these crazy balconies on the side of this condo; they look like diving boards.

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Now that’s a pothole (Unwin Ave)

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After my little ride, I see that I’ve filled in seven more tiles

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and Veloviewer also tracks how many tiles I collected this weekend.

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It’s a fun incentive to ride more, and to explore the city at the same time.

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Scarborough Cycles is a community based program that is promoting cycling in the east end of the city. They have been running programs for three years now, including safe cycling workshops, group rides, and DIY drop in bike repair. They are currently based at Accesspoint Danforth, on Danforth just east of Victoria Park. They advertised a winter group ride, and I thought that I’d join in.

Here is our group at the start of the ride. Program manager Marvin is in blue, together with three of their youth volunteers, and Linda, who came over from midtown to join in as well.

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Here we go down Victoria Park. The pavement is in pretty bad shape, but I’ve seen potholes all over the city after this particularly cold winter.

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Downhill towards the lake.

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On the Martin Goodman Trail, just west of Balmy Beach.

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Working our way around one of the many remaining patches of black ice.

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As we approached Woodbine Beach, we took the opportunity to check out the Winter Stations. Some of them were not finished yet, as the official opening is not until this Monday. We liked this Pussy Hat. The extensions made for nicely padded seating.

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The next one had some pivoting cones on stilts. I was a bit disappointed that they weren’t designed to make noise; the cones were just hollow.

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Here’s a closeup of one of their program bikes: a nicely kitted out Simcoe city bike.

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Could have used a fat bike today.

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The next exhibit was still under construction.

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Regrettably, we didn’t have time to check the two or three remaining stations. We decided to head back up the hill, taking advantage of the Woodbine bike lane. Here we are riding through the infill neighbourhood that used to be the site of the Woodbine race track.

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Marvin in the lead.

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Here we are on Dixon Rd, which is the short east-west connector to the Woodbine bike lanes. They end one block north of Queen St.

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Some green paint has been laid down near some of the intersections. Here the green paint is “protecting” us from the cars to our left that are wanting to turn right.

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Then a quick ride east along the Danforth back to home base.

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Marvin got this shot of me riding sweep.

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The community hub has many services, including a walk in medical clinic, education workshops, settlement services, and youth activities. Here are just a few shots of the interior of the building, which is a converted warehouse.  The green roof has some gardens for produce, herbs, etc.

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This shot looking down at the first floor shows the movable walls that are used to reconfigure rooms to accommodate events of different sizes. The place was buzzing, with a Bengali language activity in one area, and a seed swap in another.

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Scarborough Cycles has big plans for 2018. Last year they provided about 1300 services, while they were running from May to December. This year they will be running all year round (hence the winter group ride), they have a second bike hub at the Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, and they will be opening a third bike hub. As Marvin pointed out to the audience at this year’s Reading Line, there is only one bike shop in Scarborough, and so these bike hubs provide an accessible and essential service to the community.

Thanks to Marvin for showing me around, and for organizing today’s ride.

 

 

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It being a Sunday, I’d thought I’d take the scenic route to work. Even though it was a grey morning, a fresh coat of snow made everything look clean and bright, at least by TO standards. Here you can see that the city does a good job of maintaining the Martin Goodman Trail. Many runners out, but only three cyclists, who were a lycra clad trio.

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Curiously, the trail maintenance skips the bridge over the Humber River, although I could see that it continued on the other side.

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The new bike stations installed this past summer along the lake are not seeing much use during the winter.

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The dreaded pinch point on the MGT, finally fixed. Now the sidewalk is separated from bike traffic.

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Richmond bike lane, with the planters looking festive.

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The Henry Moore, relocated last summer to the middle of Grange Park.

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As freezing rain descends this afternoon, I think I’ll take my regular route home.

 

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Since it was such a sunny afternoon, I though that I’d head a little ways north to check out the new location of Junction Craft Brewing. They had their grand opening this weekend.

A quick look at Google Maps shows that a nice cluster of craft breweries has sprung up north of St. Clair in the the Stockyards area, with three breweries having opened up in the past year on Symes Rd. At the same time, it looks like the old location for Junction Craft is being taken over by People’s Pint, and High Park Brewery has also announced a forthcoming brewpub in the area.

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Headed up Runnymede, just north of St. Clair, this is a former asian grocery that is going to be the location of High Park Brewery.

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Wanting to avoid biking along St. Clair, I worked my way north to Terry Rd. I was hoping that I didn’t have to bike all the way down the big hill that leads to Alliance Ave, but it but it seem that I ended up at least halfway down by turning onto Terry. Headed east, you can see a wide sidewalk on the north side that appears to be a multiuse trail just by the hydro corridor.

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At the end, you intersect Symes Rd. and you can see the short climb up to the right.

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Junction Craft Brewing is at the top of the hill in a beautifully restored historical building that used to be a trash incinerator. It was opened in 1934 by R.C. Harris.

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Here is the Symes Rd facade, with Art Deco detailing.

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A couple of interior shots.

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A closer look at the bar.

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I think that the street map was a feature at their old location.  You can see the bottle shop to the left.

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First beer of the day. Note the “destructor” coaster. Only a half pint as it was the middle of the afternoon. A very nice amber ale.

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Sadly, the only bike rack in front is a wheel bender.

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Next stop, Shacklands Brewing, which is just next door.

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My host Dave was very friendly, and advised me on the best bike routes to his destination. This was a much smaller place with a homey feel to it.

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Second beer of the afternoon.

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There was another brewery in the same building: Rainhard Brewing, but alas I was running out of time.  Will have to return. You can see some pictures here.

These buildings are all clustered in a former industrial area, sandwiched between the Stockyards Mall and a car storage parking lot. Fortunately, there is a cut though so that you can get to the St.Clair/Symes Rd intersection easily on foot or by bike.

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I’ll have to come up here again in the spring. Perhaps we can organize a group ride / brewery tour.

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Since August, I’ve enjoyed watching the gradual creation of a mural on the northeast side of the Dupont-Dundas intersection. I’ve been taking a few pictures during my commutes, and I’ve also stopped a couple of times to chat with the artists when I see them at work. This past Saturday was the official opening for the mural.  The opening was on the little triangle of grass on the south side of the intersection, with the prosaic name “Dundas – Dupont Traffic Island”

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Here are a couple of pictures during the painting:

August 2: the west most section has an indigenous theme

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August 4

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August 8: the section just before the bridge is nature themed.

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August 10

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August 10: Also there is some graffiti art being added in the underpass section

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August 18: more of the nature theme

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August 19: more work on the indigenous section.

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August 19-25: some work on an abstract bridge between the two sections

 

The ceremony starts with an acknowledgement of the lands.

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This mural was commissioned by Street Art (START) Toronto. It was a collaboration between artists Alexander Bacon and Que Rockford.

Councillor Bailao introduces the two artists present.

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Alexander Bacon (right) explained that he was very excited to work with Que Rockford, Que said that it was his first mural.  The mural is intended to show a balance and progression between indigenous culture and street art. He also brought in three graffiti artists to decorate the underpass section of the mural: Sight, Kwest, and Kane.

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Que explained some of the elements in his section of the mural. It is drawn from his heritage, which is primarily Anishnawbe,

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Going from left to right, it is a creation story, starting with the sun. Immediately to the right of the sun, the seven trees represent the seven teachings of the grandfathers, and the reflection shows the duality between the physical and the spiritual world. To the right, the figure is a gender neutral human, with surrounding figures grouped in fours for the four elements, and the four cardinal directions. Next is a panel showing a wolf family, since Que is of the wolf clan. There is both a male and female wolf, showing the balance between the genders. Finally, there is a mother and child, which shows the creation of people. The thirteen circles on her sleeve are the thirteen moons of the year.

The transition was a collaborative effort between both teams of artists. The nature theme returns just to the east of the bridge, after the graffiti sections.

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Ribbon cutting.

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Councillor Bailao with the two artists.

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I was very glad to learn more about this art that I ride past twice a day. It is different than the mural on the south side.  At the same time, the older mural has not been defaced very much at all. I hope that the new mural will also remain untouched as it is a wonderful addition to our streetscape.

If there are any misrepresentations above, they are my fault as I was not very good at taking notes on my phone while people were talking.

 

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On a brief trip to Hamilton, I had a chance to try out the bike share system, which was run by Social Bicycles.  Hamilton Bike Share has several different rate plans. As a very occasional user, I am on the $4 per hour plan. I started at the Hamilton GO terminal.

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They had recently added some more bikes and stations to the system, and the new bikes in white were an upgrade from the originals, going from three to eight speeds. Naturally I picked out the white one from this rack. I had the Sobi bike sharing app on my phone, but it appeared that I still had to punch in my user number and PIN manually.

Fun fact: there was a period of time when you could pay a fee to have a custom name put on a bike. Another fun fact: you can use their website or phone app to search for a particular bike by name.

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Riding north on James St. S, I pass the former James St. Baptist church which appeared in the Handmaid’s Tale while it was in the process of being demolished. Facadism, anyone?IMG_6101

Downtown Hamilton traffic is a bit more low key than in Toronto 😉

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One of the things I wanted to check out was the bi directional bike lanes along Cannon that were put in as a three year pilot in 2014. Cannon St. is a high speed arterial in the north end of the city, with one way traffic flowing west. One lane was converted over to a bi directional bike lane. One of the best features of this bike lane is that it cuts across a significant part of the city; it is 6.3 km long, which is about the distance from Keele to Church along Bloor St.

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Riding east (against the car traffic direction), there are bike traffic lights at each major intersection.

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There are also chevrons across major intersections.

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The bike lanes themselves are protected by combination of bollards and rubber bumpers.

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Here I am at my destination.

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Why did I come to this particular station?  It was to take this picture.

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Comparing the old and new models, one major difference is that the new basket is a bit smaller, but is made up of plate with small holes, rather than the old design of tubes. As noted in this detailed blog post, this allows smaller items to be carried in the basket.

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A “be seen” headlight is integrated into the front of each basket.

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The bike named “Mika” was looking a little worse for wear since the last time I saw it, which was two years ago, but it still looked functional. You can see the U shaped lock sticking out to the right.

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This pictures show the ends of the “U”

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When you unlock a bike, you stow the “U” in the handy carrier.

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Riding back to the GO station, I note the green boxes that show where bikes are supposed to wait before crossing both lanes of bike traffic as well as Cannon St. The placement of this one seems a bit odd, but all of them are place as far as possible away from car traffic.

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At the end of the trip, the phone app shows the charge. The LCD screen showed it as well, but the display reset before I could take a photo.

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By all accounts, Hamilton Bike Share has been a raging success. Reviewing press on the Cannon St. bike lanes, I see articles both in support, and somewhat more mixed.   They were put in in the first place with significant local support. In addition to significant increases in ridership, some data shows improved car traffic flow. I’ll be watching to see if they are made permanent.

 

 

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One of the highlights of spring in Toronto is the blooming of sakura, most famously in High Park. Signs over the past several weeks indicated that the bloom would be earlier than usual. Sure enough, various media outlets predicted peak bloom for this weekend past, and pointed out that the blossoms might not be as good next weekend because of rain in the forecast before then.

Whatever is the reason (perhaps a pent up demand due to the lack of sakura last year), but the crowds have been crazy this year.

Checking out High Park around 10 am this morning, I saw quite a few people for a Monday morning.
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Carrying on along Bloor, I see that the “Bloor on the Park” BIA has made more legible signs than last year.

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Swinging by Robarts, I see the smaller stand of sakura in fuller bloom than in High Park.

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Lucy wants to go for a bike ride.

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We decided to bike out to High Park after dinner to check out the sakura as a family. Crazy traffic for a Monday.

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It was pretty crowded, and getting too dark for decent pictures. If it was this crowded today, it must have been insane yesterday!

If you’re anywhere near downtown, you’d be better off checking out Robarts near the intersection of Huron and Harbord.. At High Park, the blooms weren’t nearly so full, and a lot of the lower branches of trees had a somewhat bedraggled appearance from people pulling them down to get a better picture.

 

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