Yesterday was the second annual ride organized by The Reading Line where the themes of books and bikes were combined. Last year we rode and read along the Green Line. This time, “Books on Bloor”, the secondary objective of the ride was to raise awareness of the need for better bike infrastructure along Bloor, in particular to be able to tie the Six Points redevelopment at Kipling / Dundas / Bloor to the rest of the city.
Unfortunately, the weather forecast leading up to Saturday looked like this:
Mother Nature couldn’t pick another day for it to rain?
Nevertheless, the day of the ride dawned sunny and hot, and a group of us rode out from Bloor West Village to the official start of the ride on Bloor near Kipling.
We were greeted by a larger crowd in front of 22 Division.
Janet Joy takes one of her trademark selfies.
Our first speaker was local MP Bernard Trottier, who talked about the six points development and how it will improve the streetscape in this whole area. He also noted that there are some serious safety issues along Lakeshore Blvd in the ward, and that he was making sure that the local counsellor was keeping an eye on them.
Next up, School Trustee Pamela Gough, who was a driving force behind the TDSB Active Transportation Charter. I had met her earlier on the memorial ride for Jim Carr, and it was good to see her again.
Peggy Nash talked about her private members bill for a national cycling strategy. She bikes everywhere, and in fact rode with us out to Kipling from Bloor West.
Cheri diNovo had submitted a bill for a one meter passing rule years ago, and this year, it was finally added to a larger piece of legislation by the province and is now law!
Several of them mentioned the importance of citizen engagement with all levels of government, and Jared Kolb followed up with some information about the lobbying priorities of Cycle Toronto.
Then it was time to turn it over to the authors.
Doug Saunders talked about his book Arrival City, and read us part of an unpublished chapter about two butchers on Bloor, and the difference in immigrant experience of the Italian and Portuguese communities.
Ken Greenberg read from Walking Home, and how the city has taken advantage of features such as an abandoned railway and turned it to something wonderful like the Beltline Trail.
He and his wife looked very stylish on their tandem bike.
Next destination: High Park.
Getting ready to leave.
Our fearless leaders Amanda and Janet Joy.
Heading east on Bloor near Islington. Note that the woman in orange, who was with us at the start, feels safer riding on the sidewalk, even though we were riding in a large group with police escort.
Riding down the Kingsway.
Better pedestrian infrastructure would also benefit wildlife!
Up the hill and into Bloor West Village.
By the time we reached High Park and settled down, the crowd had grown substantially to at least 75 people.
Sarah Doucette talked about bike infrastructure in Ward 13. Note that she wore her Glo Gloves for the occasion.
Amanda does the author introductions.
Yvonne Bambrick read from the Urban Cyclists’ Survival Guide.
Christine Fischer Guy started by asking us if we knew where Moose Factory was, before reading from the Umbrella Mender.
Peggy and Sarah.
Cargobikes and folders rule.
The near beer bike was also with us last year. They now have a complete line of wine, beer, and even liquor that is meant for blending into non alchoholic cocktails. Greater Goods Natural Products sell a wide range of natural cleaning and healthcare products. Their bike stuck with us to the end of the ride.
Next destination: Christie Pits.
Vincent Lam read a section from near the end of the Headmaster’s Wager, telling us that it would only be a spoiler if we were unaware that the North Vietnamese had won the war.
Since he is an emergency room physician in addition to being a novelist, he was asked if he ever sleeps.
Here we were also joined by a group of young riders from Charlie’s Freewheels. Charlie’s is a non profit that lets kids build up their own bikes from used donations, and they learn skills in addition to being able to keep their bikes at the end of the program.
Laurie Featherstone was hauling the portable bookstore all day.
Unfortunately, as we rode towards our next stop at Bloor and Spadina, the dark clouds that had been threatening from the north finally started letting loose.
By the time we got to Matt Cohen Park, it was a full on deluge.
The rain let up a little bit, so it looked like we could have a reading after all.
Gary Barwin, who came in from Hamilton, told us that he was planning to read a nice introspective piece about marriage, but given the weather (and the fact that he was soaked through standing underneath some trees in a lightning storm while waiting for us to arrive), he switched to a poem that said, among a flood of other words, that he hated nature.
Next, onto Varsity Stadium, where Natale Ghent read from her latest novel, Dark Company.
With the rain, the crowd had dwindled to the die hards, with a large number of authors among us.
Finally, there was a stop under some shelter just in front of St. Andrews United Church. Christine Pountney read a haunting passage from Sweet Jesus.
Then Alissa York read from her novel Fauna, a passage where a teenaged runaway is with her companion Billy, a big Labrador with a bit of something mean mixed in.
At this point, it was raining pretty hard and continously, so it was decided that the kids’ book readings would happen at the same place, and it was a bit of a wait to get this all arranged.
Unfortunately, with the weather, there were no kids present. However, the authors were all very good sports about reading to a crowd that was perhaps young at heart.
Matt James illustrated the Pirate’s Bed.
After his reading, he thanked us for being such an attentive audience.
Julie Kraulis told us a little about armadillos before reading us the adventures of Arlo, the nine banded armadillo.
Finally, Frank Viva told us about how his book Outstanding in the Rain was “reverse engineered” from some well known examples of oronyms that were tied together, and how the book took very clever advantage of die cuts in its construction.
He took a good deal of ribbing from the title of the book and how it was appropriate for the occasion.
Then it was finally time to wrap it up. Thanks to the dynamic duo of Amanda Lewis and Janet Joy Wilson for putting together another unique event.
I know that they were quite disappointed by the low turnout, which was totally due to the weather. Nevertheless, I’m sure that all of the perhaps 150 people or so that joined us for at least a portion of the ride thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Thanks especially to all the authors, as well as the volunteers (esp. Laurie, who probably ended up hauling home about 90% of the weight of books that she started with), and all those who braved the weather and came out to ride and to listen with us.
Robertson McClure was darting around all day, and he case up with this great video of the ride.
I love the GoPro footage.
Janet Joy’s photos are on Facebook.
Update: my video / photo montage
Also coverage on the Dandyhorse Blog.