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Archive for the ‘scene by bike’ Category

Over the past week, the local media has started to stir up anticipation for the bloom of sakura in High Park. The blooms are much later than usual. Those that braved traffic over the weekend were probably underwhelmed as the trees were perhaps between 10-25% in bloom. However, a few days of warm weather can do wonders. This morning, I did a little scouting on the way into work and I say that the blooms still looked to be only about 50%.

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Today was the day that we decided to try to get our annual family photo with the sakura. This evening, we biked into the park as per usual. It was very crowded for a weekday.

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Traffic jam. Also loads of pedestrians which I guess is progress of a sort.

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The nominal family picture.

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Turning the camera 180°, this is what the scene looked like. Crazy for a Tuesday.

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Lucy says “Can we go home now, Dad?”

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Leaving the park. In and out in about 15 minutes. Biking is best as usual.

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I’ll have to go back when it’s a bit more peaceful. Tomorrow should be good, but there is rain in the forecast for Thursday and Saturday.

If you want to see a fuller, less crowded display, check out the south west side of Robarts Library.

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This is Jane’s walk weekend (to celebrate the birthday of patron saint Jane Jacobs) where volunteers lead tours all around the city to point out various things of historical interest. My Facebook feed flagged a Jane’s walk on bikes that advertised an 18km loop in the heart of the city that was almost completely on off road trails, and some of them were unfamiliar to me, so it was a golden opportunity to explore more of downtown by bike.

The ride started at Ben Nobleman Park, which was highly appropriate since it was located at the southern terminus of the Allen Expressway: the stub that was supposed to continue downtown as the Spadina Expressway. Jane Jacobs led the fight to quash the expressway. Here we gather in the shadow of the many cranes that are building a station for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

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Just before we started, a community group called the Ben Nobleman Community Orchard was wrapping up a fundraiser, and one of them was able to tell us a little more about the history of this spot. The very long picnic table was made from reclaimed wood that had been part of a dock in the harbour. It also more or less marked the line where the province under Premier Bill Davis had a narrow strip of provincial land leased to the city  for 99 years as part of a strategy to ensure that an expressway would not extend further south than Eglinton Ave.

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Our ride leader, Burns from the Cycle Toronto Midtown group, shows us the newspaper account of the cancellation of the Spadina Expressway.

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Then it was a short ride up to the starting point of our ride: the western end of the Beltline Trail at Allen Expressway. (I do realize that the belt line extends further west). The sign had a lot of interesting information. The Beltline trail marks the path of the northern part of a railway loop that ran for a scant 28 months before it went bankrupt. The northern section of the rail line continued to be used for freight as far east as Mt. Pleasant, but then in 1990 it was converted over to a rail trail.

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Here where the Beltline crosses Bathurst, there are no road markings. After a lot of lobbying, the city has agreed to put in a small refugee island and some signage at this crossing. This is due to go in sometime this year.

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A brief stop under the bridge where Eglinton crosses the Beltline. Burns tells us that we have Eglinton above us, and below we have a buried storm sewer that was Yellow Creek, as well as the Eglinton Crosstown.

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The first of several obstacles that mother nature provided us from yesterday’s wind storm.

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Here is the crossing at Avenue Rd, which was the most improved of all the major crossing. Heavy lobbying by the Cycle TO Midtown group was crucial in making this happen.

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They are less pleased with what the city did at Oriole Parkway, with this island in the middle, and no road markings.

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What a beautiful day to be riding the Beltline.

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Across Yonge lies Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. Here you can see another downed tree.

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At Mt. Pleasant Ave, we enter the cemetery and head towards Moore Park Ravine.

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Moore Park Ravine.

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Another downed tree.

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We stop briefly near the spot where there was the Moore Park train station.

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Riding down the hill, we end up at the bottom of where the City is making a new switchback trail to connect the Beltline to Chorley Park. This trail had significant opposition from local residents.

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Now onto towards the Brickworks.

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Now climbing back up the Park Drive Reservation trail.

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A very unfriendly crossing of Mt. Pleasant to get to David Balfour Park.

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Up another ravine that I’ve never seen before.

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After about a km or so on city streets, we are back on the west side of Yonge St. We pause briefly at Poplar Plains where we are told that the bike lane there was the first in the city it was installed in 1979. Note the newspaper article visible in the binder.

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“Bike Lanes have drivers up in arms”. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

At this point, I had to cut off from the group who were headed back up Nordheimer and Cedarvale to the starting point.

Thanks to Burns from Cycle TO Midtown for leading the ride and teaching us things, as well as to Ken, also from the Midtown group, for providing supplemental information.

If you are so inclined, this ride is running again on Sunday, and it has also been offered several years so you might be able to join next year.

 

 

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The blooming of the sakura around town looks to be much later than usual due to the spells of lingering cold that we’ve had this spring. The earliest harbinger of blooming that I know of is a small stand of trees on Shanly St. that get a lot of reflected sun from the building immediately behind them. Last year they went straight to leaf, but this year looks a bit more promising. Here’s a photo from yesterday.

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The other trees that bloom early are on the southwest side of Robarts Library. They looked like this on Monday:

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This morning, some of the trees at Robarts were close to full bloom.

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It is amazing what a few days of warm weather can do. They should be pretty nice this weekend, and all of next week if the weather is decent.

Unfortunately, the path bordered by sakura is partially blocked off due to construction.

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High Park is not quite so far along, and I would say that they will start to bloom during the upcoming week. Here is a picture of one of the trees by the soccer field, taken this morning (Friday).

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Here are a couple of shots of the trees closest to the Grenadier Restaurant, on the path leading down to the pond.

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Porta potties and extra garbage cans have all been laid out. Mother’s Day weekend will be madness. Just the usual reminder to come by bike or transit if at all possible.

 

 

 

 

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One of the landmarks on my commute in to work every day has been Honest Ed’s, a Toronto institution that has been in the process of being demolished. Back in December, I started taking a series of pictures, mostly from Bloor and Markham, where I would pull over briefly, just off the bike lane.

Here is the first picture from December 3, 2017, where most of the building south of the Bloor St. Facade was already gone.

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Dec 8

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Dec 12

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Dec 27

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January 4

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Jan 13

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Jan 30

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January 30, from Bloor and Bathurst

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February 5

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At this point, I had to go out of town for a few days, and I didn’t manage to get the last pictures of the corner, but you can see an Instagram video here:

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Feb 9: just as last bits of the corner entrance are demolished.

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Feb12: From this panorama, you can see that all that’s left of the ground floor is a little section off Bathurst.

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Feb 15

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Feb 27. Even some of the hoarding along Bathurst has come down, and now you can see across to some of the properties on Markham St. that have yet to come down.

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Feb 28: Oh yes, there is a small block of stores on Bathurst that refused to sell, and so they have been left alone.

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There is also a second block of stores at the corner just south of here. According to this rendering, these buildings area part of the final design.

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(image source)

 

 

 

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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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Video

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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