Westward Ho! Bloor bike lane extension meeting

Tonight was Westward Ho!, a community meeting organized for the Bloordale neighbourhood to educate people about the issues surrounding a possible westward extension of the Bloor bike lane as far as High Park. It was organized by frequent Dandyhorse contributors Albert Koehl of Bells on Bloor and Rob Zaichkowski from Cycle Toronto. The meeting was held at Bloor Collegiate Institute, just a bit west of the Bloor and Dufferin intersection.

Story and photos by Jun Nogami

Albert kicked things off with a short historical presentation of bike lanes on Bloor.

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The perfect commuter: Clare Barry and her everyday bike

This article was originally published in dandyhorse issue 3.

The perfect commuter

Clare Barry ~ One of the joys of my day is commuting to and from work on my bike. I can carry all I need and navigate very easily as the brakes, lever to shift gears and bell are all positioned correctly. The frame is lightweight so it maneuvers easily, while handling rough spots and rail tracks well due to the wider rims and tires. One rear pannier holds my workbag and in the other I carry a change of clothes, lunch and the occasional baguette.

Story and photo by Marco Sobrevinas

Mike Barry was my first mentor in cycling. His ideas and style have influenced my cycling preferences. A bike he built graced the cover of the second issue of dandyhorse, where he was featured prominently. Toward the end of the article, he talks about the ideal bicycle for commuting: “The bike you ride should be functional and efficient, but shouldn’t be fancy.” With this in mind Barry built his wife the perfect commuter bike — Clare Barry is posing with her custom Mariposa in this photo, which she’s been riding in downtown Toronto since 1986. Want one like Barry built? Here’s what you need to know:

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The bike budget that pays for everything except bike lanes

The Bike Budget Explainer*

We'd like to call this an *Explainer, but we can't, because, well, it's kind of inexplicable

by Albert Koehl 

Does Picasso paint Toronto’s bike lanes? You might think so when comparing the $11 million in capital spending on cycling last year with the 8.5 km of bike lanes that were actually created. Following the money offers a better, even if less satisfying, explanation. The bottom line is that only 11.5 percent of last year’s spending (plus some amount for painting the lines) from the cycling infrastructure budget went to what most people would expect from such a budget – new bike lanes.

In the spring of 2016, community advocates fought hard to secure $16 million in annual funding for cycling infrastructure. At the time, there was hope this higher funding could accelerate the Bike Plan’s ten-year timeframe for the 335-km of anticipated new bike lanes (including sidewalk level paths).

So how did we get so few bike lanes from the $16 million capital budget for cycling – of which $11 million was actually spent?

The question isn’t simply academic. Toronto’s bike infrastructure falls far short of cities like Montreal, where 90 km of new lanes were installed over the last three years alone. In fact, forty years after our first bike lane, there are bike lanes on a mere two percent of Toronto roads -- and we’re still a long way from having a coherent bike network. The lack of progress is disturbing for a year when there were five cycling fatalities – a toll not exceeded since 1998.

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Toronto Bike Show 2019

Words and pictures by Jun Nogami

Today was the first day of the annual spring Toronto Bike Show. A lot of the trends that were apparent last year are continuing. There is a lot of activity in the e-bike area, and the technology is incrementally improving.

The Amego booth had their usual broad range of e-bikes.

These Riese and Müller cargo bikes caught my eye.

This one has a rear facing child seat for a larger kid.

Speaking of cargo bikes, Bob Bell from Wike was proud that their Salamander convertible bike won a gold award at Eurobike 2018. They are starting to sell into Europe as well.

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Heels on Wheels with opera star Wallis Giunta

This article first appeared in 2011.

Heels on Wheels with Wallis Giunta
Occupation: Opera Singer
Age: 25

Photos by Molly (nee Crealock) Miska

Interview by Tammy Thorne

Tell us how cycling and singing intersect in your life?

Cycling and singing are my two favourite things; so naturally, they have a big affect on each other. I’ve used my bike as my main mode of transportation since I was 12, and I arrive at almost every performance on two wheels. When I’m cycling, I feel clear-headed and at peace, which helps me get into the right zone for performing. It also warms up my body, and opens my lungs.

Do you ever sing while cycling?

I really love to sing while I’m riding. I figure if I can sing a difficult piece while I’m biking, it should be no problem under normal breathing conditions! Also, cycling is such a rhythmic and enjoyable process that I can’t seem to hold back. When I’m happy, I sing, and when I bike, I’m happy.

What are you working on now?

I just started working at the Metropolitan Opera in New York this past September. I’m a member of their Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and I absolutely love it…but I do miss Canada. Fortunately, I have lots to look forward to at home this season. My next performance is at Roy Thompson Hall on New Years Eve! It’s the annual Bravissimo! Gala, and I will be singing opera classics with a quartet of fabulous singers from around the world. Following that, I have a solo recital with Music Toronto at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts on March 1st, with pianist Steven Philcox. Not to spoil too much, but the program is very exciting and very Canadian.

Can you tell us a bit about being a Lindemann Young Artist with the acclaimed Metropolitan Opera?

What we have available in this program is really quite amazing. Our main job is to watch and learn, which is very easy since there is a performance almost every night, and rehearsals all day throughout the building. We have access to the world’s best opera coaches and directors; we get private language instruction in the most common operatic tongues (this season I plan to master Italian and German); we have frequent auditions for opera companies, festivals and conductors; we learn to dance and move - most recently, we had salsa dance classes as it helps to release tension in the body and make a singer more relaxed, with a lower centre of gravity. The list goes on. It is a very similar program to the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, of which I was very fortunate to be a member of for the past two years. The only difference is the volume of singers, conductors, and productions that come through the Met’s massive doors.

Do you ever bike in NYC?

So far, I’ve used my bikes around my neighbourhood and for recreational riding, as the commute would be too long from where I’m living. It’s cool for me though, because in Toronto my bike was my car, and I rarely had time to ride just for fun. Now I go in the park on the weekends and ride just because I want to.

Have you ever worn heels while riding your bike?

I like to arrive at events ready to go, so I often ride in performance gowns, with my heels and jewellery on! The only thing that I can’t do is my hair, because I have to wear my helmet. (Yes, mom I do.) So, the hair waits until I get to the theatre. I actually like wearing heels to bike. There’s a way to hook them on the pedals, and it’s quite stable.

Ms. Giunta demonstrates stability while wearing heels on wheels.

Tell us about your gown.

I am a very lucky girl because my gowns come from David McCaffrey at McCaffrey Haute Couture. We work together to create looks for my performances that reflect how I feel, what he’s into, and what each performance requires. The gowns live at his boutique, on display gallery style, and they send them out to me when I have a performance. It’s totally ideal. I am also the face of David’s label, and we have great fun shooting each collection in beautiful locations. This gown was for a performance for our Governor General, and also happens to be my favourite color.

What is your best cycling accessory?

My most indispensable bike accessory is my wire basket on my back rack. It hooks on the side of the rack so easily, and has a strong handle, so I can carry it around with me – everywhere.

I also love my YNOT pedal straps, because I can use them with heels just as easily as my Blundstones!

Do you cycle in the fall and winter?

I cycle 365 days a year if I can. I have two bikes, and they both do all seasons. I love riding when it’s cold. When you ride in the winter, you stay much warmer, and arrive at your destination toasty. I actually get overheated all the time when I ride in the winter. I have to stop and peel off layers during my ride. Take that, streetcar.

How does wool work it’s way into your fall cycling wardrobe?

First I will say that I don’t have a cycling wardrobe. I wear what I wear, and it all works on my bike. I’m a pretty practical and casual dresser. But, wool has fully infiltrated my wardrobe in general. My dad got me into Icebreaker merino wool clothing, and I have at least one layer of it on each day. I also make use of my collection of wool kilts from my mom’s Highland Dancing days, and my Hudson’s Bay red wool parka from Value Village. And my wool socks that my grandma knits me. So far, I haven’t gotten into cashmere, but you always need something to look forward to, eh?

Wallis hearts wool

Do you ever match your wardrobe with your bicycle?

Not really. If I did, I’d be wearing mud splattered, ripped up black clothing. But I do love how using my bike influences my style. No matter what I’m wearing, riding my bike always brings me down to earth. Being physically responsible for your own transportation is very humbling and liberating. I like my style to reflect how that makes me feel.

What is your favourite city to ride in?

I love riding in Germany. I’ve been in Gutersloh, Neumarkt, and Nürnberg, and all three places I was able to easily get a free bicycle; legally. They all had dedicated lanes, and you never had to worry about cars, or car doors. Cycling is a big part of their culture and is not just welcomed but encouraged. It was luxury.

What is the strangest thing you’ve done with a bicycle?

I’ve dressed my bike up for Halloween. We’ll leave it at that.

Wallis Giunta's YouTube Channel

Ms. Giunta is the 10th Heels on Wheels profile in our dandyhorse series on fashionable pedal people.

You can check out the new Bobbin bike video here.

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