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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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Today was Cycle Toronto’s annual Coldest Day of the Year Ride. Unlike some years’ past, today it was genuinely cold at about -8°C, although it was not too windy. The ride was planned partially along the Danforth to show support for bike lanes on Danforth.

A small group of us rode in from High Park as a feeder to the main group.

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Before we got going, I had to take a picture of John’s fancy Michelin snow tires.

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And we’re off.

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We picked up a few more riders at Bloor and Spadina before riding through downtown.

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Across the viaduct. You can see that they remove the bollards during the winter for snow clearance, which is too bad.

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As we pulled up to Danforth and Logan, I was impressed by the size of the gathered crowd. Here Jared makes a few announcements at the beginning.

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On the other hand, Honey does not look impressed.

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Councillors Fletcher and McMahon show their support for bike lanes on Danforth. Mary Margaret admitted that she doesn’t ride in the winter, but she wore an appropriate toque.

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Staging the large number of riders at the start.

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Pause at Broadview.

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Across the Viaduct.

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Paused at Sherbourne.

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Down Sherbourne.

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We are riding safely under the speed limit.

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Stuart and Mark.

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Along Richmond.

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In the above picture, just to the left of the woman in red, you can see someone with a massive pair of orange pogies. I got a better shot of them at the start. They are by Dogwood Designs.

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Kids were along for the ride as well.

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Smile!

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This fellow from Whitby was part of a group from Durham County who came in to ride with us and to show their support.

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Along King, being careful of the streetcar tracks.

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At our destination: Betty’s.

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Thanks to Cycle Toronto for organizing the ride, and to everyone else for riding along.

Update: CBC coverage

Rob Z’s photos on Flickr

Coverage in Dandyhorse Magazine by Rob Z.

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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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City TV just did a short piece on clearing snow from bike lanes.

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For my portion, I was interviewed for about 10 minutes on all manner of subjects related to winter biking, including what to wear (just regular winter clothes are enough), what bike equipment to have (fenders are good, and lights. They took close ups of my studded tires, but I tried to make the point that 90% of the winter, roads are clear of snow and ice.) etc. I didn’t really grok to the fact that they were focusing on what the city could do better. When they asked that question, I talked about the need for more infra, and to make a connected bike network.

At least they included my plug for the Bloor bike lanes. Oh, and I had the foresight to remove my helmet mirror so that I only looked 90% Fred.

Update: I posted some pictures of good and bad bike lane snow clearance at Dandyhorse.

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Good friend Tim Potter (Sustainable transportation manager for Michigan State University Bikes) dropped by this weekend, and of course he wanted to check out some of the bike infrastructure since it had been at least four years since he and I had ridden around town.

Here is my really bad picture of Tim…

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and from his much better picture, you can see that we are checking out the Bloor bike lane. (all photos with me in it are by Tim, except where noted)

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Next stop, dropping by the bike team to see what is going on. Here Tim poses by Eta Prime.

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Bruce and Calvin were working on the plug for Arbiter.

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I’m posing beside this year’s WHPSC poster.

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Tim was riding the Brompton that day.

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Overall, it was nice to ride around with someone who was appreciative of the improvements in bike infrastructure in the downtown area.

Here we are back at home, with matching N+1 shirts. Get yours here. (photo  M Koga)

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His daughter designed this shirt, which is available on Amazon.

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Note that the shirt means different things to different people:

  • from the viewpoint of a Michigander, if you are cycling on the road, more often than not drivers will yell at you to “get on the sidewalk”.
  • from my viewpoint in Toronto, is says that we shouldn’t be cycling on the sidewalk.

And then it was time for beer, this particular example from Henderson’s Brewing.

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The next day, Tim checks out Hoopdriver Bicycles (unfortunately closed on a Sunday morning).

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Since there was snow in the forecast, and I just happened to have an excellent bike mechanic as a guest….

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Tim is impressed that the Haul a Day can stand on end.

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Tim shows me his patented method of mounting tires.

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To cap the day off, I had a chance to tag along with Tim to meet Chris Phelan, Executive director of the Ride of Silence. (Photo H Potter).

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I was honoured to fill him in on some of the things that have been happening in Toronto, particularly with regards to the collaborations with organizations like Friends and Families for Safe Streets, and the united push for VRU legislation.

 

 

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