back in Waterford

This weekend, we’ll be having fun with the Michigan HPVA at their annual rally. This afternoon, the team was busy building new stands to carry streamliners.


All loaded up and ready to roll. Other bikes will be travelling with two other cars.


A word of advice: if you go grocery shopping with four hungry students, you have a tendency to get too much.


Setting up camp as dusk falls.


Looking forward to a couple of days of fun racing.


Dropbike @ U of T

This past Friday, clusters of orange bikes suddenly appeared on campus at several locations along St. George St. It turns out that there is a new bike share company in town called Dropbike. This appears to be similar to schemes popularized in China, where you are able to drop a bike off anywhere, which has caused some problems for the public realm. Here the website says the the territory available to drop bike users is confined to the U of T St. George campus for the moment.


Here’s some bikes outside Sid Smith.


and some more beside Engineering. I wonder if they bothered to get any kind of permit to clutter up our sidewalks.


I do have some bias towards orange bikes with black trim that also have a flagpole as you can see from this pic.


Nevertheless, let’s take a closer look at the bikes themselves.  The overall stance of the bike is similar to a “bixi” bike, although the horizontal distance between handlebar and seat is somewhat less. It is much lighter, but it does not give the impression of being very heavy duty. The frame mounted front basket is a plus and is much bigger than the one on the Toronto bike share bikes; bring your own bungie.


Both bikes feature 24″ wheels.


Front caliper, rear drum brake.


Solar powered headlights and taillights. I’d be curious to see if these actually work. I noted that about a quarter of the bikes did not have the headlight.


Some basic security features, such as the lack of quick release, and proprietary fasteners on the handlebar stem, etc. I did note that you cannot pull the seat post out of the frame, but trying to do so does a nice job of almost jamming the seat in the highest position. No sign of grease anywhere on the bike.


Here is the wheel lock. You scan the QR code while inside the app, and you get the combination, and away you go.


The website is not very informative, and you only get more information by downloading their app. $45 deposit, and first ten rides free, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. Note that the End user agreement says that you might get charged $200-$300 for a stolen bike, and that surge pricing might apply, even though the website and the FAQ fail to mention this.

Here I am, all logged in, and I see there are 18 bikes in this vicinity.


Actually, from where I was standing, I could only see 17, but close enough.


This ride is free, and it is telling me that these are the spots where I can drop the bike off.


There don’t seem to be any spots off campus, although if you look on the bike locator screen, there are already a few farther afield, such as one in Yorkville, and a couple near 89 Chestnut, and this one that I walked by earlier in the day on McCaul.


This screen gives you the combination (which I remembered to blank out of the photo)


I wasn’t brave enough to venture off campus as I didn’t want to be charged for dropping the bike off out of territory. I took a quick ride to Physics. The bike is single speed, and quicker than a Bixi.

Once you are finished with the ride, you press the “end” icon, and you get this:


and the bike location seems to be keyed to the nearest orange dot, rather than reflecting the actual location of the bike (which is near the blue arrow). Note that you are not given any guidance as to whether you are near a designated drop off zone. As I mentioned previously, I was still on campus, so I don’t know if there is a warning if you try to drop off out of territory. I did note a button to report misplaced bikes.


I would urge the developers to have the instruction to lock the bike and scramble the combination on a separate screen before the one that asks you to take a photo of the bike. I also didn’t see anyway for the next user to access said photo.

There didn’t seem to be any electronics on the bikes themselves, so I’m assuming that everything depends on the GPS service on the phone. I also didn’t see any provision for changing the combination, so in principle, anyone with the combination could just walk away with a bike. In this case I’m assuming that the last user gets charged for the cost of the bike?  It is also possible that staff might come around and periodically mechanically reset the combinations, but this is sheer speculation on my part.

At any rate, this is an interesting experiment, and we’ll see how it does. They are undercutting Toronto Bike Share by quite a bit on price, in a business where no bike share company that I’m aware of makes money in the first place.

Update (June 26): Star Article.

Update: Picture in wired



Ward13 audit ride 2017

Today was our annual ride with Councillor Sarah Doucette to review progress on bike infrastructure. Since the weather was iffy, we decided to keep it short and to review the three intersections between Lakeshore Dr and Colborne Lodge, Ellis, and Windemere. These are the three intersections that were the focus of an infrastructure proposal that we sent to the city in 2014. The short summary is that nothing has really changed on this section of the lakefront since last year’s ride although there have been improvements elsewhere in the ward such as the sharrows on Ellis Ave. Today, Ward13 bikes was represented by Janet Joy, myself (Jun) and Jared. We were also joined by Jennifer from the City’s Cycling unit.

Here we are at Windermere and Lakeshore.


This intersection has the most complete infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists across Lakeshore, which is ironic since you could argue that Windermere is the poorest route for cyclists (at least north of the Queensway). The pedestrian/bike crossing is on the west side of the intersection.


The cyclist crossing is well marked with separate bicycle lights. However, the marking of the bike crossing is inconsistent. Jennifer told us that this was because the westbound lanes of Lakeshore were redone recently, and they conformed to the new standard, which is white paint markings on pavement. The other sections have the bike crossing indicated by red coloured pavement, which is the old standard. There is often some confusion about where the cyclists as opposed to the pedestrians should cross. We suggested that adding bi directional bike symbols in several places on the red pavement would help.

Here we are riding to Ellis.


The crossing at Ellis is in serious need for improvement. There is a crossing on just the west side, and bikes are pedestrians are not separated. However, the single biggest hazard is the fact that the crossing ends in a small triangular island on the northwest corner defined by a right turn lane for cars southbound on Ellis turning west on Lakeshore. It is very small, and it only accommodates a small number of people.


Southbound cyclists are given some guidance by signage and signals but pedestrians and bikes are not separated.


Things are much more confusing for northbound cyclists since they are expected to cross on the same side of the intersection.  Here’s a good picture of the confusion at this crossing.


(photo Janet Joy Wilson)

This intersection will be fixed in two stages. Firstly, there will be a northbound cyclists’ crossing installed on the east side of the intersection, similar to the one at Colborne Lodge. This, in addition to a bike lane on Ellis under the Gardiner are now promised to us as early as November 2017.  A more comprehensive fix of the intersection will not happen for a couple of years, but at that time the right turn lane will finally be taken out, and improvements to the west side of the intersection will happen at the same time.  Unfortunately, we cannot have a pedestrian crossing on the east side since that would conflict with the fact that there are two left turn lanes from Ellis onto Lakeshore. (one could ask why there have to be two left turn lanes in for all three streets in this short section of Lakeshore, and in fact, in an earlier master plan for this section of the lakeshore, Colborne Lodge under the Gardiner was supposed to be closed off to car traffic)

Here we are at Colborne Lodge.


Here there is a crossing on the east side of the intersection for cyclists. However, the timing of the light is ridiculously short.


We’ve been asked the city to retime this light for more than two years. We submitted this request today once again. It would also be useful to have sharrows to clearly indicate the bike crossing. Finally, we would like to eliminate the right turn on red for cars turning from westbound lakeshore to Colborne lodge, as this is a hazard for bikes crossing on this side of the intersection.

Here we are risking our lives using that very same crossing 😉


and about to take a left turn on the Queensway, on our way home at the conclusion of our ride.


Thanks very much to Sarah Doucette for riding with us, and for continuing to press for improvements here, and throughout our ward. Thanks also to Jennifer for taking notes on what she witness for herself today, to be passed on to the City.



Yonge Loves Bikes 2017

Cycle Toronto organized a “Yonge Loves Bikes” ride on a gloriously sunny Saturday. The ride started at Heath and Yonge, just a little north of St. Clair so that we could all look forward to riding down the big hill. This is in contrast to last year, when we had to bike up the hill.


It’s always interesting to see some of the fine machines that show up. This is TBN member Roy’s Air Friday, to which he has added e-assist.


He also locked out the flexing of the Ti beam with this bracket.


Sam with one of his bikes. He says he has been trimming down the size of his fleet.


It turns out that this big orange Bullitt with a trailer belongs to Cycle Toronto.


The combination of horizontal dropouts, disc brakes, hub gear and tight fender line is going to make repairing a flat on the rear a real pleasure. (I hope I didn’t jinx things by pointing this out). Note the Shimano e-assist and and electronic shifting.


Sam et al tell us how the ride is going to be organized.


We line up behind some police bikes.


And off we go, turning south on Yonge.




Regroup after the steepest part of the hill.


Is that “V” for victory, or a peace sign?


At Davenport.




Approaching Bloor St.



South of Bloor now.


Here comes that Imperial Star Destroyer the Cycle Toronto portable mothership.


Sorry this one is blurry.


Yonge/Dundas. At this point, the police escort peeled off.


At Shuter.


Turning at the foot of Yonge St.


Along the MG trail.


Turning into the southernmost part of Sherbourne Commons.


Group picture, without the lake in the background.


Thanks to Cycle Toronto for organizing, and all the rides who rode with us.


Once again this year, there will not be a Bells on Bloor ride as that volunteer group is focusing on the Bloor bike lane pilot campaign. There will be a Bells on Danforth ride on June 24, but regrettably, I’ll be out of town that day.

and of course today there were other rides going on, such as the Ride to Conquer Cancer, and the world naked bike ride, which just happened to go by my office while I was composing this blog entry.




Things are starting up again at the bike shop, after a brief post ASME lull. Here is Calvin with the credit card eraser AKA the drive for Axios


A bunch of team members are getting their certification dives done fairly soon.


and they are also getting various bikes in ship shape for the HPV racing at Waterford in a couple of weeks.


From left to right: Bluenose, Axios, Eta’ top, Vortex, Eta’ bottom, Cyclone, and Tempest. Word is that the team is going to bring four streamliners to Waterford if we can figure out the transportation.

BTW: Thomas wants to go faster at Battle Mountain this year.


Ride for Heart 2017

Today was the annual Ride for Heart, a fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Once again, I volunteered with TBN to provide rider assistance. Since the forecast was for rain for the entire morning at the very least, I decided to go with full on rain gear. Although during my commutes, my rain gear of choice is a rain cape, since I’d be out in the rain for hours and there would be a lot of getting on and off the bike, I wore a rain jacket and pants, and a helmet cover for good measure.


Riding by the memorial for.Xavier Morgan.


There was a bit of confusion since the TBN booth was in a totally different location than was advertised on their website.  Indoors this time, right by the Ricoh Coliseum.


Apparently an email went out but I didn’t; get it. Although I was on the EX grounds a little before 7:30, it was past 8:00 before I got rolling.

Frank and I dealt with our first flat even before the starting line.


Once I’m on the Gardiner, all the aggravation of getting up early and dealing with rain slips away.


Bad picture of a tandem Bikeshare bike.


Because of the late start, we were mainly mixed in with the 25K riders, which accounted for the very large number of kids on the road.


Homemade rain cover on this Yuba.


First stop: just a person low on air. Once you stop and people see you have a floor pump, several of them stop as well. This happened a couple of times.


John and Bob (and water on the lens).

20,000 participants might have disagreed, but given the choice, I’m glad we had sunny weather yesterday rather than today.


A woman went over her bars on this downhill, and we talked her into walking back up the hill to a school bus to take a breather.  Sean is talking to her group on the other side of the roadway.


This gal had a pinch flat, and then punctured her new tube during installation. Fortunately, Sean had a skinny enough tube to fit.


After the turnoff for the 25K rider, rider numbers went way down. At this point, it looked like we would be dealing with 50K stragglers.


Made it to the top.  Mostly downhill from here.


Totally uncrowded DVP.


This trike rider broke the quick link on his chain.


One last hill.


Toronto skyline once again. Every year, there are more condos going up.


At this late stage, I see walkers and runners in the other lanes.


Ran into Frank again just past the exit for the 50k riders. Just like last year, I was taking the opportunity to ride home on the Gardiner.


You don’t get to see this view of the Dowling Ave Bridge every day.


Didn’t get as many clients as last year, and the weather was worse. Nevertheless, a fulfilling morning spent helping fellow riders.

Xavier Morgan was a five year old boy who died while riding his bike on the Martin Goodman Trail a week ago Wednesday. Today was his memorial ride. About 200 cyclists joined us.

DSC04441Several members of the family were present. Brenda Morgan was his great aunt, and Scott was his grandfather.



Scott was passing out these cards in memory of Xavier.


Many bike families were present.


Joey getting the marshalls organized.


Geoffrey making some announcements.


He has made ghost bikes for too many memorial rides.

and here we go.



Down Huron


Harbord, across Spadina.



Down Harbord.



Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon in conference with Walk Toronto and Hamish Wilson.


Passing the Bike Joint.


Regroup at Shaw



South on Shaw.


Watch out for those streetcar tracks.


Through Liberty Village.



Regroup at Strachan.


Riding up the hill on the bridge.


Along Manitoba St. on the EX grounds.


Across the bridge to Ontario Place.


Back down to the Martin Goodman trail.




Arriving near the crash site.



Installing the ghost bike.





Joey calls for a minute of silence.


The family makes a statement.  Brenda Morgan said that the family appreciate that many came together as a result of this tragedy, and that the city acted quickly to put in a safety barrier. Scott Morgan said that the only blessing was the Xavier’s death was instantaneous and that his spirit went straight up to heaven.



The ghost bike.



We then formed a human chain along the barrier in tribute to Xavier.



“There was nothing he loved more than biking.”


The city is now making belated efforts to identify other hazardous spots along the Martin Goodman Trail. It is very sad that it takes a tragedy like this to get action on improvements to instructure for cyclists and pedestrians.

Thanks to everyone who rode today.  Support from the Toronto Police was also appreciated.