Blast from the past

I just dug up this picture, taken at the 2009 Family Cycling Tour.

Compare it with this picture, taken this past weekend.

The more things are different, the more they stay the same.

In response to the comments:
the tandem they rode at FCT was much smaller, although with the same wheel size. Back then Keili wasn’t pedaling since her feet couldn’t stay on the pedals at the bottom of the stroke. In the second picture, both the tandem and the girls are bigger, so the total effect is that the wheels look smaller.

Roger du Toit was a prominent architect who left his fingerprints all over our city. He was hit by a car while biking in Rosedale, and he passed away last Monday. Today was the memorial ride.

More people showed up that would be expected from the fact that it was bucketing rain for the hour before the appointed meeting time. There were quite a few people from his firm, and they were passing out T shirts with a picture of Roger.

The ghost bike arrives.

Geoffrey gets things rolling. Joey also cautioned the first ride riders and said that “we don’t want any more accidents today”. Amen to that.

Heading down Bloor.

A brief stop at DTAH to ring bells.

The collision site. Apparently this intersection was approved for a four way stop in February by City Council, but the signs were not in place. There is high speed traffic here with cars coming on and off Mt. Pleasant about 40 m away.

Installation of the ghost bike.

Our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.

Video from today. You’ll note the one SUV driver who insisted on passing everyone by driving in the left hand lane. God forbid that he be delayed by even a minute.


We’ve been blessed with really good weather this weekend. Today, we headed out to the island. Logistical problem of the day: how to get enough bikes to carry three adults and four kids (and one dog) into two small cars with only one roof rack. The solution involved a cargo bike, a tandem, and two folders. This is also the answer to the question: why do you have so many bikes? ;)

This included our entire fleet of Bike Fridays.

At some point, there was some switching around of bikes, and the two daughters had fun figuring out how to ride a tandem for the first time.

I was cargobike pilot and chauffeur.

No trip to the island is complete without dropping by Centreville.
It wasn’t very crowded, but the bike parking was still swamped. There needs to be more bike parking!

On the ferry headed home. Because this is pre high season, they were allowing bikes on the Centre Island ferry.

Another great day with lots of family biking!

Kids and Cargo Bikes

Today was our Kids and Cargo Bikes event, advertised as a meet up for anyone interested in cargobikes, and or wanted to have a short family friendly ride a la Kidical Mass. I made some flags appropriate for the occasion. The Less Car More Go logo was from the Less Car More Go website by Liz Canning, who is putting together a film about the cargobike movement.

The plan was to meet up at Perth Square park between 10-11 and then to have a short ride on the nearby West Toronto Railpath. I wasn’t sure how many people would show up since the facebook RSVP’s were about 16, and the usual yield on such things was less than 50%. I was also somewhat concerned that Bells on Danforth was on the same day (although when I fixed the date for this event, BoD was supposed to be on June 7)

We had a pretty good turn out after all. There were a surprising number of cargo bikes from the neighbourhood as well. At the peak, we had over a dozen cargo bikes, including a pair from Sweet Pete’s, and one from Curbside. We had fun test riding each others bikes. I’m not sure that there were more than a handful of cargo bike non-owners. As someone observed, the gathering was more like preaching to the choir, rather than spreading the word about how great cargobikes are. The parents got to geek out about their bikes (there was a good variety), while the kids hit the playground. We even had a guest appearance from Brian the tile guy.

About 15 minutes before ride time, we recalled the kids by breaking out the freezies. A cold treat is an essential component of a kidical mass ride. In this case, having the treat before the ride worked out great.
Fortunately, I brought enough freezies for all the neighbourhood kids as well.

The folks from Sweet Pete’s had to leave early.

A group picture before the ride.
DSC01566 At this point several bikes had already left.

A fuzzy picture of us leaving the park.

Lots of cargo bikes on the Railpath!

Thanks to Dave from Curbside for showing up and riding with us!

There were also three 100dayin1 events on the railpath, so it was fun to see all the activity in the neighbourhood.

I think I heard a couple of calls to do it again next year. I think we will, and I’ll also think about having one in the east end on a separate day.

note: one kid’s hoodie was left behind in the Babboe box bike from Curbside. Message me to reclaim it.

Update: Vic has some excellent pictures here.

Another Xtracycle

There are always interesting machines parked outside Urbane Cyclist. Today, I saw this very minimalist Xtracycle Free Radical.

A closeup of the clever stoker bar installation.

I like the combination of the kid seat and wine bottle holder.

Inside the shop, I saw the other extreme: a Yuba with suspension fork and Stokemonkey.

I ended up talking to the owner of the stripped down Free Radical. If anyone has a pair of Xtracycle Footsies for sale in town, let me know and I’ll pass word along.

We are going to have some out of town friends drop by this week, and we plan to take them to the island, so I was scouting routes around all the construction around Queen’s Quay. It had been a while since I had been there, and there were plenty of crews working frantically to get things wrapped up before the grand opening on June 19. At any rate, it is possible to thread your way along the lakefront, between the Ex and the Harbour Ferry terminal, with the exception of a short section between Bathurst and Dan Leckie Way, where if you are eastbound, the sidewalk on the south side is blocked, and there is no road passage in this direction. Past this point, you can make your way around various detours where you will be mingling with foot traffic as well. Long story short: between Dan Leckie and York you are still better off taking the detour along Lakeshore.

I did take a few phone pix.

Jack has my back. I hadn’t had a chance to check out the statue of Jack Layton until now.

Just a peek through some construction fencing of the freshly paved bike path.
I can hardly wait.

Books on Bloor

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:

weather 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. 6p4 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.
hp7 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.

Hello Hyedie!

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.
cp1 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.
vs1 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.
f9 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.
f10 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.


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