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Lucy and I decided to check out the sakura in High Park this afternoon, by cargobike of course.

They are probably about a week shy of full bloom.

The city just announced that the park will be open during the bloom, unlike last year, but in the sort of compromise that will satisfy no one, they will fence off the largest groups of trees.

They should have just closed it down again, given that the number of COVID cases is above seven times higher than last spring.

If you are desperate to see the sakura up close, there are plenty of small displays around the city, such as this group by Robarts Library that I photographed on Monday. They should be in full bloom this weekend.

As per usual, the trees nearest the white concrete bloom first due to the reflected sunlight.

If you must see them up close, stay safe!

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A little over a week ago, I took some photos of the single track near the lighthouse in Tommy Thompson Park. I rode by today to see what the city had done. It was heartbreaking.

Everything has been bulldozed flat leaving a desolate moonscape, and somewhat of a road that will turn into a mud pit when it rains.

For some reason I was most upset by what happened towards the south end. There used to be a nice ridge of gravel that had a narrow path that had been worn smooth by footfall and cycle tracks. For some reason, they decided to rip up the ridge, leaving ugly mounds of gravel.

It’s almost as if what was left behind was deliberately made as unattractive as possible. Certainly there was no attempt to restore things to any kind of “natural state”.

The other thing I noticed was two new very ugly mirrors placed at two intersections.

It would be nice if the city put these where they were needed, for example at the intersection of Brock and Florence.

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It was announced recently that the city is going to remove the built single track that is a little east of the lighthouse, starting Monday March 29. The stated reason is that there are some “hazardous structures” that could pose a danger to the public. Since it is going to rain on both Friday and Sunday, and the spit is a madhouse on Saturdays, I look a little time off this afternoon for one last ride.

Here is where you take the unassumed road that is the alternate route to the lighthouse.

Just before the road meets up with the main paved road, you go off to the left at this point.

Turn right at the shore, and here you go.

Lots of lovely little paths to choose from.

This feature is out of commission.

This is the south end of the trails. Beyond this point, there is a straight path along a gravel ridge.

Nice detail here.

Every jump has a detour around it.

Three kids were hanging out in this hut.

None of the people that I talked to were aware of the fact that these trails were scheduled for demolition on Monday. In fact, an older woman who had hiked in was so upset that it sounded like she was ready to lie down in front of the bulldozers next week. She said that the fellow that put this together had been working on it for over ten years, and that it was one of her favourite spots in the park.

Did I mention that it was a lovely day?

Thanks to the unnamed artisan who put all this together. Rest assured that your handiwork provided much joy to others over the years.

Update: coverage about the removal on Blog TO

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One of the pleasures of riding with the Bike Brigade is the opportunity for me to learn about community partners. Today was a glorious day for riding, and I took advantage of it to help stock a community fridge on Adelaide near Niagara. On the way to the pickup point, I see this binner with a large load on Dupont.

At the pickup point, I meet Chad, a fellow Bike Brigade Haul a Day pilot. He was already loaded up.

While I was loading up, fellow Bike Brigader Shahnaz pulled up on her trike.

She took this picture of me at about the same time.

image source

I have arrived at the community fridge.

Before:

After:

Lot’s of good food that will hopefully go to people that need it. Some gloves and masks as well.

The community fridge program is a wonderful initiative. You can find out more about it here.

Their instagram feed is below.

https://www.instagram.com/cf___to/?hl=en

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Given that it was fairly cold over the last week or two, I decided to see how thick the ice was on Grenadier Pond. In the past, I’ve skated from this spot just off the bottom of Ellis Ave.

This turned out not to be ideal. In fact there was a spot where my foot went through the ice and I got a soaker. Second time in the last few months when my feet got wet. However, once I got clear of the bull rushes, it was clear that the pond was well frozen. I can’t really explain why the ice was so thin nearer the shore.

The ice was relatively smooth and largely clear of snow which made for good riding. I was on my trusty Garneau winter bike which has not had much use thus far this season. Studded tires, of course.

Given my earlier misadventure, I was reluctant to ride too far from shore, but I did chat with a fellow that said it was perfectly safe to walk across. I didn’t see too many skate tracks.

A short video to give you a bit of an impression of what it was like.

If you want to check it out, it turns out that this spot off the MUP on the south side of the pond is a much better entry point.

Ride at your own risk, obviously.

and yes, I miss the Ice Cycle races.

Also note this. “Man issues warning to others after falling through ice”

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Sometime before dawn on Dec 31, someone erected a monolith by water’s edge at Humber Bay Park. Sadly, it didn’t take long for it to be vandalized. It was then reportedly cleaned off, but then slapped with white supremacy posters. The city took it down this morning before I had a chance to see it.

Then I heard that there was a second one at the foot of Windermere, so it was time to hop on the bike to check it out. It turned out to be on the breakwater.

Several people waded across to take a closer look. I decided to brave it myself.

The workmanship on this one is not very good. The aliens must be outsourcing their monolith fabrication.

Naturally I was lazy so I biked out to the monolith on the breakwater. This was one of the rare occasions where I elected to keep both hands on the handlebars, so no pictures while riding.

While I was out there, I thought I’d go to the other end of the breakwater to take a shot of the Humber Bay bridge from an unusual angle.

BTW, my feet stayed warm while soaking wet because of my wool socks.

A bit of fun to bring in the New Year.

Update: now quoted in the Star: “Toronto removes the shiny Space Odyssey ‘monolith’, but another mysteriously arises on Lake Ontario breakwall

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Guess who I met on the subway this morning: Santa!

I followed him out at Finch West, and he started heading east along the Finch Hydro corridor. These roadies were delighted to see him.

In actuality, this was a ride organized by the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition, and so Santa’s helpers gathered at Hendon Park in preparation for a long ride down Yonge St to the lake.

In particular we wanted to draw attention to the forthcoming vote at City Council for Reimagining Yonge as well as promises made in City Council for bike lanes along sections of Yonge St. The ideal would be to have bike lanes down the entire length of Yonge St between Steeles Ave and the lakefront.

Here we go. Here are some of Santa’s helpers.

Rudolph is leading the way.

Line 1 was closed between St. Clair and Finch, so shuttle buses were running. However, they gave us a wide berth. Here we are approaching the 401 crossing. Thanks TTC!

Santa realizes that his reindeer aren’t actually helping him up the hill at Hogg’s Hollow.

The Biking Vet claims that this is his only suit.

Greg from the Bike Brigade, as well as Mark and Michael from Ward14 bikes were helping with marshalling on the ride.

Lots of people waving and calling out to Santa. Also, drivers were quite respectful as no one wants to hit Santa just before Christmas.

A bit of a break just south of the belt line, where we have picked up a few more reindeer.

Onwards south of Bloor

We have reached the lakefront.

A short cruise along the Martin Goodman Trail.

Reindeer have been known to ride folding bikes.

A group picture at the end.

Thanks to Janet Joy for organizing, Albert for being our Santa, and all those who rode along and helped.

Happy Holidays to all.

and a much shorter, snappy video from the fun duo at Bromptoning.

and another from Dave of CycleChicTO

Update Dec 17: I guess City Council listens to Santa after all:

We know which councillors are going to get a lump of Koehl in their stockings.

Globe and Mail: “Toronto moves ahead with plan to open up a stretch of uptown Yonge Street

Toronto Star: “Bike lanes approved for Yonge Street in rebuild of North York Centre

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The latest cyclist fatality was a catalyst for a group ride to remember the many GTA cyclists who have been killed just this year. A large crowd gathered at Bloor and Spadina.

Joey makes some announcements before he introduces a few speakers.

First up: MPP Jessica Bell who has tabled vulnerable road user legislation.

Next, fellow NDPer Marit Stiles, the MPP from Davenport.

Finally, Patrick Brown of Bike Law Canada who has been involved in too many cases where a driver who has killed someone gets off essentially scot free due to inadequate criminal penalties in the current legal system.

Geoffrey and Chloe get ready to lead us off.

Bikes as far as you can see around the curve.

Thanks to the Bike Brigade who was keeping us safe as we rounded Queen’s Park.

Riding into Parliament.

Jess Spieker from Friends and Families for Safe Streets talked about all those who have died, as well as those who have had devastating injuries as a result of being hit by drivers.

Then a list of the 15 cyclists in the GTA who have died this year was read out, followed by a minute of silence.

Dec 2                         Alex Amaro                   (23)          Dufferin and Sylvan

Nov 20                      John Offutt                               (59)          Royal York and Judson

Sept 24                     Inus Goussard                          (37)          Dundas St W and Denison

Sept 4                       Giuseppe (Joe) Pellerito      (53)          Finch and 400

Sept 1                       Nicholas Ramdeyall               (16)          Dixie and Blundell

August 6                  Ahmed Kamal                                            Dixie and N Service Rd

August 5                  Pasquale Alonzi                      (84)          Bolton

July 24                      Daniel Bertini                           (54)          King Township, Keele St and Cavell Ave

July 9                         Robert Bragg                            (55)          Hurontario and Dundas

July 7                         Geoffrey Mitchell                   (53)          Whitby, Baldwin and Canary St.

June 23                     Helen Xiang                              (52)          Oakville, QEW and 3rd line

June 15                     Safet Tairovski                         (54)          Unionville

May 5                       male cyclist                                 (57)          Clarington

May 2                        Colin Fisher                               (32)          Brampton, Bovaird Dr

Jan 21 2020            Eric King                                     (48)          Brampton

Fifteen tragedies. Eleven ghost bikes placed by ARC. Something needs to change. The City of Toronto needs to get serious about Vision Zero. The province needs Vulnerable Road User Legislation. The federal government needs to set national safety standards such as side guards on trucks.

Thanks to everyone who rode with us or stood with us at Queen’s Park to remember the fallen. Thanks to our speakers, to ARC and to the Bike Brigade for marshalling.

Brian Tao’s very comprehensive video:

CTV News: Memorial bike ride honours cyclists killed in 2020, including 23-year-old woman last week

CBC news coverage starts at about 10:30 of the nightly news report on Dec 9.

B.F. Singer’s Video:

NOW Toronto coverage. Note that this article states the fact that the memorial ride was in honour of just one cyclist, whereas the ride was to remember all 15.

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It snowed quite a bit overnight.

However, it was a bit above freezing this morning, and so by midday when I was biking in to work most of the snow had melted off the roads.

Bloor bike lanes were totally clear.

Technically there was snow on the ground, so I guess this is the first snowy commute of the year, but not really. The first snowy commute last year was November 11.

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Moose

Back in October, Mason Zeinali, a U of T student, devised a route that deservedly won a Strava art contest run by his bike club. It was written up in Canadian Cyclist Magazine. I rode a slight variation of his route this morning.

One of the cleverest features of the route is that the back of the moose is captured by Davenport Ave. The antlers take you north of St. Clair, and all four feet are firmly planted on Queen St.

As soon as I saw the article, I wanted to try it, but the maps that were posted were relatively low resolution. Fortunately, avid cyclist Joric posted his version of the route on facebook. From that point, I retraced his route on ridewithgps, and I was off to the races.

If you want to ride my version of the route, it is here. It starts at King’s College Circle on the U of T campus. Of course you can start anywhere along the 43 km loop. I actually chose to start at Lansdowne and Wallace.

Just a few notes:

  • You have to be willing to ride the wrong way down some one way streets.
  • My least favourite parts of the ride were the sections along St. Clair W. It’s never a joy to ride there at any time as there is only one traffic lane plus parking in either direction, and there are only certain points at which you can cross the streetcar right of way. I ended up walking my bike along the north side sidewalk twice, just to avoid having to go back and forth across the streetcar tracks.
  • I don’t have a paid subscription to either strava or ridewithgps, and so there were probably better ways for me to have mapped the route. When I downloaded it only my Garmin, it gave lots of false turns, often thought I was off the route, and then it would suggest various ways to get back onto the route. I ended up just ignoring most of the audible cues and just followed the route on the map display.
  • I would think that it would have been easier to navigate directly with ridewithgps, but I find that the app is a real battery hog. I don’t have a phone mount either; I prefer to use my Garmin.
  • Traffic was not bad today, but one thing that was striking was the lack of traffic on Yonge St. It was much less busy than either Bay or Church for some reason.

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