Today there was a walk to honor and support former students of Residential Schools. The starting point was Parliament and Dundas, and it was to end at Nathan Phillips square. I had never seen so many orange shirts in one place.

The view from Dundas, shortly before we are to start.

Here we go.

Hey I know those people.

Orange shirt and helmet today.

A pause at Yonge and Dundas. Interesting how rhythmic clapping in a large crowd inevitably speeds up with time.

Headed down Bay.

At Nathan Phillips Square. The scent of burning sweetgrass is in the air.

Heartening to see such a massive turnout.

With the steady drip drip of the discovery of more bodies, it is a time for me to learn more about this aspect of our country’s past, and to pause and reflect on how I can do better.

Covered bridges ride

I wanted to try out this route that was posted in the Ontario gravel and adventure riders FB group that started and ended in Guelph but extended as far west as the Montrose covered bridge. I actually did an abridged version of the ride since the bridge at Winterbourne was reported to have been blocked. My chosen starting point was a Tim Hortons at the corner of York and Victoria Rd. Just south of this intersection is the entrance to a multi use path that went along the river.

After 2.5 km, you reach the first of the two covered bridges on this ride.

I like the wooden pegged construction.

The MUP continues through Royal City Park.

There’s a short bit along HWY 7 as you cross HWY 6, but at least there’s a bike lane.

Turning onto Woolwich Guelph Township road. Finally gravel.

Drive in church service. I found it interesting that many people were staying in their buggies, but parked them in front of the preacher.

My second visit to the Montrose Covered Bridge this month.

If you are riding the G2G trail headed west out of Guelph, the first bridge that is out is at the Grand River. Just east of this point, you have to descend these stairs off of Katherine St to access the trail.

The last visit was with friends, and it was a chore to get our tandem down the same set of stairs. Much much easier with a single bike.

Headed back to Guelph.

Nice well packed gravel. It was also great to get some shelter from the wind today.

A note about the distance markers. The one to the left is different than the one to the right by 7 km. It turns out that the left hand sign shows the greater distance to a theoretical starting point for the G2G trail, whereas the other sign counts down the distance to the existing trailhead somewhat west of town.

At the trailhead, looking back west.

Facing the other way, you see that the G2G trail does not go further. However, there is a hiking trail through the Marden tract.

Some very pleasant riding through woods. A narrow tire road bike might have some issues with this part of the ride.

The trail ended at a gate, and beyond that I took the left fork and then followed the red blazes along the trail. It was not clear if this bit was private property as it looked like I was skirting the end of a farmer’s field. After a short ride you make a sharp turn to the right onto what looks like a fire road that follows a power line running southeast.

The road was rough, but there was a nice display of wild flowers. This was one of the highlights of the day.

At the end of this section you turn left on Woodlawn which is quite busy. Once you pass the Speed River, watch for this trail entrance off to the left.

Another nice trail, although this part was more crowded because of its proximity to the city.

Crossing Victoria Rd N, the trail is now signed as a mountain bike trail.

The route stays on the main trail, and eventually you reach a reservoir, and you turn right.

Part of the trail that rises to lake level. At this point you are about 6 km from the finish.

A fun ride with a good variety of terrain. Thanks to Ed who posted the original route.

Buddy Rider review

On several of our family rides down to the lake on the tandem, we’ve often thought that it would be nice to have Lucy along. The issue is that the usual way that I carry Lucy is with the cargo bike.

In principle we could put a basket on the back or the front of the tandem, but Lucy hates being in the back, and I didn’t see any obvious choices among the front baskets that were available that could take a 17 lb dog.

That’s when I rediscovered the Buddy Rider. It looked heavy and expensive, but seeing that it was a Canadian company made it an attractive enough buy for me.

This thing is not light.

However, it looks very well made, and it includes these bolts precoated with threadlock.

Lucy wonders what’s going on during a test fitting.

It says repeatedly in the instructions and on this sticker that the support is not to be used with a carbon seat post. I suppose that’s for liability reasons, but I also can’t image anyone wanted to bolt something that weights over 2 kg to a bike with a carbon seat post.

One thing I did not fully appreciate is that the seat effectively raised the top tube height above the level of the saddle. This makes getting on the tandem a bit of a chore. Also you can’t come forward off of the saddle at a stop so I had to lower the seat a bit so that I could get both feet on the ground. On a regular bike this would be less of a problem since you could swing your leg over the back of the bike. The instructions do say that you should mount the seat as high and as far forward as possible to minimize interference with peddling the bike.

Thankfully when the seat is dismounted, the remaining piece of the mount is very unobtrusive.

Maiden voyage. Lucy doesn’t look very impressed but I can see that this is going to be fun. I didn’t sense any handling problems, and Lucy is well under the stated 25 lb limit for the seat.

A cyclist described as a man in his 60s was hit last Thursday, June 17 at the intersection of Queen St E and Brampton. He died in hospital early the next morning. ARC was not able to find any further information. A ghost bike was installed in his memory this morning.

There was a small memorial of flowers on the southeast corner. You can see that this is a very busy intersection that would be terrifying to ride through. It was unnerving enough to cross it as a pedestrian as there was so much traffic raring to go in both directions as soon as a light turned green, plus slip lanes at all four corners.

The ghost bike was installed on the south west corner, which seemed to be the least developed corner. A hotel is being built on the northeast corner.

In actual fact, this particular ghost bike is the one that was put up in memory of Pasquale Alonzi who passed away last August. The ghost bike was in the town of Caledon, and ARC was informed that it was due to be removed because of a bylaw that said that roadside memorials couldn’t stay up for more than one year. With the kind permission of the family, the ghost bike was removed and reused at this new site, which ironically was just down HWY 50 from the old site.

Just for future reference, it took about 10 seconds to cut through this lock with an angle grinder. It takes about a minute to cut through a kryptonite lock.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.

The city ran a public consultation on June 10 about the plans to bridge the gap in the Humber River Trail north of Lawrence. As an update to my previous post, I have a few notes on what happened at the meeting.

Firstly, just a reminder that the slides that were presented are still available here, and there is still the opportunity to provide written input until June 21.

The overview of the three alternatives:

All but one of the public comments strongly favoured Option 1A, which was the only alignment that did not climb out of the valley and back down.

The only person that spoke against 1A was the superintendent of the Weston Golf and Country Club, which is the golf course on the West Bank where part of the trail would run. He made the following points.

  • Current land use has been over 100 years.
  • Path is within 3m of the green?
  • Analysis of safety only talks about traffic, and doesn’t take into account golf balls striking people.
  • Habitat impact along the bank
  • Serious flooding in that location
  • Vandalism having occurred to the course, even in the presence of existing barrier fencing.

Several questioners asked city staff directly if the golf course would be in the position to block option 1A. The only answer given was that negotiations were underway.

A few notes on option 2a:

  • Starting from south to north, this option has a ramp that brings the trail up to road level south of the tracks.
  • It then has a bidirectional bike lane plus sidewalk
  • North of the tracks it goes back down into the valley where there is a walkway built along the east bank.
  • It was noted that the ground on the east bank is rather unstable.
  • I raised a question about the narrow width of the walkway shown in the diagram, saying that it looked similar in width to the bridge across the Humber under Dundas St W. This would imply that cyclists would have to walk their bikes along this path. They responded that the rendering was generic and perhaps copied from another project, and that the path would have sufficient width.
  • It was noted that the construction costs of 2A was estimated to be higher than that for option 1A.

A few notes of option 3A:

  • This configuration has a bidirectional cycle track adjacent to the sidewalk on the west side of Weston Rd, north of the bridge.
  • Under the bridge is a pinch point, and so there is only enough width to have a multi use trail at this point: i.e. pedestrians and cyclists would mix. This would result in more pictures like this picture taken just north of the bridge:

Despite issues having to do with the golf course, there was strong support for option 1A. Once again, you have the opportunity to provide further feedback to the city before June 21, using this form.

An eleven year old boy was struck and killed yesterday while riding his bike near the on ramp from northbound Warden to eastbound 407. After a quick consultation among the usual suspects, a snap decision was made to install a ghost bike in his memory today.

We meet up in Milliken Mills Park, which is close to the crash site.

Heading west on 14th Ave towards Warden.

You get a sense of how dangerous it is to bike on Warden in the vicinity of the 407.

We are at the crash site. We are met by Peter, a local cyclist.

Keenan assembles the ghost bike.

Locking it up.

The bike after decorations. You can see the on ramp in the background. While we were there we saw someone on a mobility scooter cross the onramp. It was hair raising watching this in the midst of approaching high speed traffic.

A picture of all in attendance.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim. Thanks to Keenan for providing the ghost bike.

On the ride back downtown, Joey and I pass the ghost bike for Edouard Le Blanc on the Gatineau Hydro Corridor. We assume he is happy in heaven with how the Habs are doing.

Riding along the Danforth with the CafeTO installations. Note that there are spots where umbrellas intrude on the bike lane right at head height. On the plus side, the chicanes to accommodate the on the road seating seem less abrupt than last year.

A peek at the bike lanes on Bloor between Sherbourne and Avenue which were recently reconfigured to place the bike lane adjacent to the curb.

The section west of Bay has planters now interspersed with curbs which is a definite improvement. What was crazy was the number of people lined up to get into various shops.

Ride safe, everyone!

There was an annular solar eclipse that was partially visible from Toronto at sunrise this morning. I decided to get up early to see if I could get a photo. Here I am headed down to the lake.

On the way, I passed a couple that was also headed to Humber Bay shores to do the same thing. Actually, the wife was going to do one better by swimming during the eclipse.

Set up at lookout point.

This was the view through the camera.

After some discussion with someone who was already there, I decided that since the sun was likely to come up just where the tree was, I decided to move to the point that is visible in the foreground.

Lots of people here.

Got some nice pre sunrise pictures.

However, as soon as the sun actually rose into view, I was not able to get a good photo since I couldn’t get the sun into the exposure range of my camera.

Ironically, the best photo I got was from my iPhone, where you can see the crescent shape of the sun in a lens flare internal reflection.

On the way back I was chatting with a CityTV cameraman, and he kindly lent me a pair of plastic eclipse glasses. This is what a photo looks like with the glasses in front of the lens.

Next time I’ll try to be better prepared. The next big one that will be visible locally will be in 2024.

and as per the comment below, I can hardly complain about a nice early morning bike ride in glorious weather.

Black creek trail

On my last couple of rides that passed through Downsview park, I kept seeing some signage pointing to the Black Creek Trail. This past week I decided to ride up there to specifically check it out. Here is my route, starting from Runnymede and Annette. You can download it here.

The first part of the route is very similar to the ride that I did up to Downsview Park, going up the Humber River trail a little past Lawrence, and then cutting over on Church/Maple Leaf to cross the Black Creek expressway, and then up Jane to cross the 401. Jane is still one of the safer ways to cross the 401 since there isn’t a highway interchange.

Here I am approaching Langhorn Drive where there is signage telling me to turn left to get to the trail.

Trail entrance at the end of the street. There is a downhill section into the valley.

Once you are down in the valley, this section of the “trail” is actually a roadway through parkland.

Here is the crossing at Sheppard.

A little further north, the road ends in a parking lot, and you should take the path off to the left.

This becomes a MUP through groomed parkland.

Then finally you go into the woods and things are more interesting. This section between Sheppard and Finch where you are biking beside the creek was my favourite part of the ride.

Approaching Finch.

Normally you could cross Finch and the trail would continue a little off to the east. However, with the Finch LRT construction I ended up having to ride the sidewalk east to Sentinel, and then back on the other side.

Now you can see the trail that continues to the north.

The left branch of this fork leads to the Finch Hydro Corridor trail. I stayed to the right.

The trail ends at this point, which is a service entrance to Black Creek Pioneer Village.

I decided to ride back south through the York U campus, and down Sentinel to avoid the construction that I had passed on the way up. Just south of Finch, you turn right on Derrydown Road, and there is an entrance to the trail off to the right opposite Conamore Crescent. (note that is is a deviation from the route that I posted in ridewithgps).

Doesn’t look like much.

A steep section of gravel. However, it is very short.

Turn left after the bridge and you are headed south on the trail again.

Back south of Sheppard, make sure you turn left at this parking lot to continue on the trail.

This leads to the climb out of the valley that leads to Langholm Drive.

The other thing I decided to do on the way back was to take a little detour through Giovanni Caboto Park. Here is the unmarked entrance off Exbury Rd.

This was another pleasant surprise: a quiet ravine ride that was downhill all the way.

Crossing the 401 on Jane southbound was not as much fun. In retrospect what I would recommend is to use the Black Creek Trail northbound as yet another way to connect to the Finch Hydro Corridor. One can even imagine a short loop that would incorporate the Black Creek Trail, the Finch corridor, and a ride through Downsview Park.

Something like this 23 km loop. Note that it crosses Finch at Sentinel to avoid construction, and that it should be run counterclockwise so that you go down the steep trail off of Derrydown Road.

It is amazing to explore more of these ravines that run all the way through different neighbourhoods.

A section of the Allen expressway between Eglinton and Lawrence was closed today as part of ActiveTO. The occasion was to mark the 50th anniversary of the cancelling of the Spadina Expressway that would have extended further south past Eglinton down the Cedarvale Ravine, and would have also obliterated a large part of the Annex Neighbourhood (where Jane Jacobs lived).

The only entrance to the closure area was just east of the Allen on the south side of Lawrence. Although everything I heard was that this was a one time only event, in case they do it again, if you are approaching from the south, you should bike up Shermount from the belt line and then turn left on the last street before Lawrence. There is a pathway at the end of the street that takes you right to the entrance of the closure. Marlee Ave is not a good alternative since it had much more traffic than usual, probably due to the closure.

Heading south towards Glencairn.

Nice to see Keagan (executive director of CycleTO), Sam and their daughter.

The south end of the closure. People were taking full advantage of the shade provided by the many overpasses.

Racing the subway back north.

Approaching the north end.

CycleTO had a tent set up under the northernmost bridge.

There were also plenty of these “slow down” signs on Shermount, but signs do nothing. Shermount is a straight, wide street, and if the city wanted cars to slow down, they would actually change the configuration with traffic calming measures like features to narrow the roadway. Wait a minute: what about a protected bike lane?

As many cyclists know there is a gap in the Humber river trail in Weston between roughly north of Lawrence to Cardell Ave. Many cyclists use the sidewalk along Weston Rd, but this can lead to crowding and unsafe conditions, particularly under the railway bridge. I took these photos last week while southbound on Weston. No other cyclists joined me on the roadway behind the bus.

Furthermore, I found descending the stairs at Mallaby Park really unpleasant and crowded.

The city is in the middle of a study to see how to close this gap. There will be a public consultation on June 10 to discuss which of three alternatives are preferred. Please register for this meeting, or submit your feedback to the city before June 21, 2021.

There are three alternatives on the table.

Option 1A provides the safest route for both pedestrians and cyclists, and it is the only one that stays in the river valley. However it involves two bridges and intrudes on a private golf course.

Here is a picture of the West Bank of the Humber by the railway bridge on the golf course lands. Seems like there would be plenty of room for a path, don’t you think?

Option 2A has a cantilevered walkway on the east side of the river up until the railway, and then crosses under the rail bridge and connects further south.

Option 3 seems like a bad joke. It runs along Weston Rd and has some improvements for pedestrians but does very little for cyclists.

The timeline for the study shows that whatever is done isn’t going to happen until well after 2022.

So what is one to do in the meantime?

Here is a route that I learned from the Toronto Bicycling Network. On paper, it goes like this: south of Lawrence, get on Hickory Tree, then Little Ave. Turn left on Weston and then immediately right on King. Left on Rosemount to Queenslea, to Yelland and Oak. Then there is a trick, so it is better to show you pictures.

Leave the Humber Trail just past the tennis courts south of Lawrence.

Cross Lawrence at Little Ave.

Little curves right to meet Weston. You will turn left here at the light but immediately right again on King.

Follow the route as described above to Oak. (King->L on Rosemount->L on Queenslea->Yelland->L on Oak. Here is a map.

Here is the trick: on Oak, you turn right at the light (Knob Hill) before you reach Weston, into the driveway for a shopping centre.

Take the first left into the parking lot.

Immediately turn right into the parking garage.

Turn left in the parking garage just past that speed bump.

Like magic, the garage exits at a light that will take you across Weston to Cardell Ave, where you can rejoin the Humber River Trail.

Southbound, you can reverse these directions.

I’ve found that even in pre-pandemic times, this route feels much safer than going along Weston Rd. YMMV.

In any case, ride safe everyone!

Also, make sure you express your opinion on what the city should do in the long run to close this gap.