Bike Spotting at the Toronto Reference Library

dandyhorse and the Toronto Public Library have joined forces to promote cycling in Toronto!

We also did this special Bike Spotting session with librarians at the Reference Library and asked them:

What is your favourite book about bikes?

....and, with a tip of the visor to our new safety issue :

What would you do to make Toronto safer for cyclists?

Be sure to join us on Saturday July 13 at the Reference Library to see our dandy display featuring art from our safety issue including the ring-and-post bike from our fashion shoot.

The first 50 visitors will receive a free copy of the Safety Issue, and a reflective vest, compliments of Redpath Sugar. All issues of dandyhorse are now available at the Toronto Public Library.

Great photos below by Yvonne Bambrick. ~ originally published on July 9, 2013 ~

Jane Pyper

City librarian

My favourite book on bikes is Franklin Rides a Bike by Paulette Bourgeois because I’m teaching a five-year-old how to ride her bike right now and Franklin the Turtle is an excellent role model!  We’ve read it and reread it.

I’m a fan of bike lanes – I use the one over the Bloor Street viaduct all the time – I think both drivers and cyclists like them. Also, more people cycling would help to make it safer – there’s safety in numbers.

Bill Vrantsidis

Arts Department Head, Toronto Reference Library

To make it safer they need to repair potholes and bumps along the edge of roads - currently, with such lousy roads it's impossible to bike at the edge of the lane - it forces bikes into the lane itself and there's more competition with cars. The section of Bloor going east between Church and Sherbourne is really bad - as is the section of Broadview north of Danforth going up to O'Connor.

Like in Amsterdam there should be physically separate bike lanes with barriers between the road and the bike lane - so cars and trucks can't park or stop and let folks off in the bike lane - and so that pedestrians don't jaywalk across bike lanes.

Bicyclists should all wear reflective safety vests  or some sort of lighting or reflective gear. Too many bicyclists wear dark colors, especially at night, and cars CANNOT see you. This is coming from someone who both bikes and travels by car.

We should all be a bit kinder and more respectful to each other and have less aggression - both among bicyclists and car drivers. More compassion and understanding.  Less yelling and grandstanding.

John Elmslie

Services Specialist, Arts Department, Toronto Reference Library

A friend came back from Copenhagen with a great idea for bike lanes. Apparently that city has put a lot of thought, planning and construction into making its cyclists safe. They put the bike lanes between the sidewalks and the parked cars, so that the parked cars form a barrier between the cyclists and the traffic. Brilliant.

It took me years of riding to feel safe on the streets of Toronto. I've worked out a safe route for myself to ride from home to work. I ride up Bathurst, which is wide, so I feel safe (except beside big trucks) then use the bike lanes on College. Then I ride up Yonge Street to Bloor. The traffic on Yonge is quiet enough in the morning to allow me to claim a lane for myself. Cars must go around me and they do. If I don't claim the lane, two cars love to shoot by me at high speeds and there just isn't room for the three of us.

To go home, I choose Church Street, which has lots of pedestrians jaywalking, slowing down the traffic. Then across College to Bathurst and home again.

More bike lanes like College that go east/west and north/south would make the city much safer for cyclists.

On weekends I ride all over. I'm a very defensive cyclist. Never in a hurry. Just want to get where I'm going safely and get some exercise.

Heather Rumball

President, Toronto Public Library Foundation

Backcountry Biking in the Canadian Rockies by Doug Lepp and Gerhardt Eastcott

What would improve safety for cyclists? Remembering to respect all the rules of the road: arriving in one piece is more important than being right.

Beatriz Hausner

Senior Services Specialist- User education

For me it’s a film: The Bicycle Thief (1948), by Vittorio De Sica, based on a novel, it seems, by Luigi Bartolini. I simply can’t forget the images of those characters, against the background of postwar Italy. This, years after seeing it in the repertory cinema (Cinema Lumiere). To me, The Bicycle Thief was to the 20th Century what Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables was to the 19th, a “cri de coeur” against injustice, against poverty.

Safety for cyclists would definitely be improved in Toronto if the roads were actual roads, and not a  wreckage of patched-up holes left by overuse and construction. Of course, bike lanes would be wonderful, but failing that, at the VERY LEAST fix the pavement!!!! It’s scary out there: every morning I debate with myself whether, in fact, it is safe to ride my bicycle to work, whether I’m lucid enough to avoid the traps that lie ahead…

Richard MacCallum, Librarian

Cycling science by Max Glaskin is my favourite.
Year/Format: 2012, Book, 192 p. :  4 copies in TPL

Summary from the Library Catalogue:

Every July hundreds of thousands flock to the Champs-Élysées in Paris—and millions more to their televisions and computers—to witness the dramatic conclusion of the grueling three weeks of the Tour de France. There is no better measure of the worldwide love of the bicycle. But of the 1.2 billion cyclists traversing the world’s roadways and trails, few of us take the time to consider the science behind the sport. The simple process of getting about on two wheels brings us in touch with a wealth of fascinating science, and here journalist Max Glaskin investigates the scientific wonders that keep cyclists in their saddles….

Choice Review by N. Sadanand Central Connecticut State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Usually, coffee-table books are for browsing and display. Here is an exception. This book has enough content to get the attention of readers--from those interested in bicycling as a mode of transportation to those who work out on bicycles to professional racers. Glaskin (science and technology journalist) covers all aspects of cycling, from its history to the science of its operation and the engineering that governs the design of different types of bicycles. The excellent illustrations facilitate understanding of the operation of this least polluting of all mechanical systems of transportation. In six chapters, the author covers an enormous amount of material related to the materials, design, manufacture, and physics of the bicycle. There is nothing that is missing or out of place. The book poses and answers questions that range from the general, such as "What is the environmental impact of cycling?" to the specialized, such as "How does gearing help efficiency?" The highlights of the book are its diagrams and pictures, both of which help greatly in appreciating the workings of the bicycle. There is a good glossary for the lay reader and a serviceable index. Summing Up: Highly recommended.

And what would I suggest to improve safety for cyclists?  Here are a few ideas:
•    Improve the quality of  road pavement (e.g.. Davenport from Yonge to Spadina Ave), especially in bike lanes
•    Fix significant pot holes and other dangerous road anomalies immediately
•    Remove abandoned TTC street car tracks
•    Require residential and condo construction firms to better clean truck wheels and truck bodies before they go back out on to the streets after their tires get covered in concrete and other construction materials
•    Require condo development to paint roads around any traffic obstructions that they build (e.g. disrupted sidewalks with sidewalk protectors, etc.). [ED's note: AND replace bike parking with temporary racks when they remove ring-and-posts, please.]
•    Public reminders in street parking areas to 'watch for cyclists' (e.g. no 'door prize', please)
•    Reconstitute the Toronto Cycling Committee
•    In the meantime, paint single white lines, 18" to 24" from the curb, up and down Yonge, St. Clair, and all major streets as a reminder to car drivers that this is a 'reserve' area for cyclists. You don't even need to call it a bike lane!


dandyhorse issue 10 will be on display at the Reference Library starting on July 13 until September. We'll be giving away magazines and safety vests this Saturday starting at noon.

Get dandy today!

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Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

3 responses to “Bike Spotting at the Toronto Reference Library”

  1. Jim says:

    1. Are patrons able to bring their bikes into the library?

    2. It appears that the libraries are in such a state of disrepair that the librarians now have to wear their helmets and reflective gear inside!

    3. Based on the attractive librarians shown above, I vote for a “Sexy Librarians” calendar as a fundraiser!

  2. Sylvia says:

    The Reference Library shown in the photos is one of seven remaining Carnegie Libraries in use by the Toronto Public Library system. I learned this as a follower of the Toronto Public Library boards on pinterest. If interested, go to and specifically

  3. Jean says:

    Great blog post and great way promote both (functional /destination cycling/work commuting) and library as an information node….and you can use its e-resources from home.

    From a Western Canada librarian and cyclist.
    The ibrary world, just like other professionals world-wide does have its cyclists/cycling fans. There’s even an annual international conference where it’s a combined bike touring ride across several countries where librarian participants visit libraries and have sessions at each site on issues. The bike ride is just another networking thread /excuse. 🙂

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