Delivering a Message

Delivering a Message

By Tammy Thorne (from summer 2008, issue 1 of dandyhorse)

Photo Alex vs. Alex

This delightful telegram below was addressed and delivered to me personally at a bicycle gathering by a bumbling French postman named Martin de la Rue. Listed on the telegram was the intersection where we were at, and the message “URGENT: DELIVER WITHOUT DELAY.” The message read: "The Bicycle is as good company as most husbands. When it gets old a woman can dispose of it And get a new one without shocking the entire community."

The postman, dressed in 1940s period costume, is the creation of local bicycle advocate, photographer and artist, Martin Reis.

dandyhorse had the opportunity to interview the French postman during his second year of duty in Canada.

DH: Monsieur de la Rue, why do you deliver by bicycle?

MR: Bon… parce-que c’est plus pratique, evidament mieux pour la santé.

DH: En anglais, s’il vous plait?

MR: With a sniff, he continued, “It is stupid to take the car and it stinks.”

DH: Canada Post usually delivers by truck. Why is your way better?

MR: “They deliver everything by giant truck.” He laughs. “My work would never be done. It would take weeks by truck! Don’t tell me it takes weeks for you to get your mail? I know when I am delivering sometimes I am finding a big truck in the way in the lane for the bicycles. This is no good for anyone.”

“I think bicycles are the best way.”

And, then with a smile and a nod, he is off on another delivery…

My telegram (above, with a quote from Ann Strong), it turned out, was just one of many “messages of hope” delivered by de la Rue. Based on the cycling postman in Jacques Tati’s 1949 film Jour de fête, Reis says his postal carrier was also inspired by friend and fellow artist Corwyn Lund, who delivered postcards on a red bike as part of a performance art piece at Harbourfront. “It made me realize the potential to combine fun and art,” says Reis. “I like that private-public bridge that performance art, in an unexpected situation, creates.”

It was during last year’s Nuit Blanche, and its non-corporate sister event Nuit Noire, that Martin de la Rue really came to life. “I found 35 artists I wanted to make deliveries to and handed out some generic extras. There is no prior announcement that the postman is coming. That is part of it,” says Reis. Reis also delivered a telegram to the new restaurant Tati on Harbord Street, named in honour of the French film star. “He got it!” said Reis, recalling the owner’s reception.

Reis’ French postman has also been known to attend Critical Mass in Toronto. “I try to send a positive message to celebrate the bicycle. This is a good place to do it.”

“It is about achieving that joie de vivre,” he says. “The postman is not overtly political, but what he does, instead, is provide an anachronism. He is a man out of place. The postman is stuck in the past, yet he is efficient and straightforward. He is the antidote to the fast Blackberry society where everything disappears in air. The Postman communicates with you directly, which pleasantly surprises you.”

More of Martin Reis’ work can be seen at (and throughout dandyhorse magazine). Martin de la Rue rides a Peugeot.

This article originally appeared in issue 1 of dandyhorse in the summer of 2008.

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Toronto Bike to Work Day and Die In 2018

Words and pictures by Jun Nogami

Today, May 28, 2018, was the annual group commute to City Hall that kicks off Bike Month in Toronto. Cyclists started at various locations across the city, converged on Yonge and Bloor, and then rode down en mass to Nathan Phillips Square. Here are the cyclists gathering at the High Park starting point.

This was MJ Pollak's last group commute. MJ has been active with the Ward 14 advocacy group for many years, as well as being the prime force behind the Polka Ride every bike month. She is moving out of town. We'll miss you, MJ!

And here we go, a group about 60 strong headed east on Bloor.

We approach Keele St.

Coming up on Landsdowne Avenue, it looks like we are cycling straight into the sun.

At Lansdowne Avenue. At this instant, one of the police officers helpfully pointed out that I was standing in a live traffic lane.

Continuing down Bloor, and then merging into the bike lanes past Shaw St.

At Chirstie Pits, we are joined by folks from the Toronto Bicycle Music Festival. They have a full slate of sunset series rides scheduled starting in July, as well as their main event on Sunday September 9.

Now at Bathurst and Bloor. At this point, we have overflowed the bike lane and have taken over all eastbound lanes.

Our old friend Martin Reis, photographer and long time bike advocate.

Now riding down Yonge St....

and into Nathan Phillips Square.

The breakfast line was extraordinarily long this year. It was hard to tell if this was due to slower serving, or to the large turnout this morning.

Liz Sutherland from Cycle Toronto was the emcee for the formal part of the program. As per usual, Mayor John Tory proclaimed the opening of Bike Month in Toronto.

However, in recognition of the unacceptably large number of pedestrians and cyclists that are killed each year in Toronto, a small number of cyclists staged a small "die in" as the mayor spoke to the crowd.

It was somewhat ironic that the die in was largely ignored by the crowd, just as pedestrian and cyclist deaths seemed to have been accepted by the majority of city residents as collateral damage and part of the cost of living in a big city. Cycle Toronto did mention the issue of cycling safety, and both the Mayor and the Director of Transportation for the City mentioned their commitment to Vision Zero.

However, given the voting record of the current City Council, any mention of Vision Zero amounts to window dressing. When City Council has had the opportunity to make genuine changes to make the streets safer for all users, for instance by supporting the Reimagine Yonge project or by making it easier to reduce speed limits on a ward by ward basis, the majority (and the mayor) have consistently sided with the convenience of motorists. This is frustrating for cyclists, and is probably doubly frustrating for city staff who work diligently on these proposals, only to be overruled by the political leadership.

Thanks to the few cyclists who were brave enough to lie down with us in solidarity this morning.



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Is Toronto a smart city? MBA students say it could be smarter when it comes to bike lanes












Image by Dave Murray for dandyhorse from issue 6.

How MBA students turn the bike lane issue on its head

By Gideon Forman

As Toronto strives to build a network of separated bike lanes throughout the city, some local business owners continue to raise objections.

Some claim the lanes — which can require parking spots to be removed — make it less convenient for drivers to access restaurants and stores, resulting in lost sales. Others complain the lanes impede delivery trucks, making it more difficult for merchants to receive supplies. Still others suggest the new road configuration exacerbates congestion.

The claims aren't always true. City of Toronto data suggest the Bloor lane, for example, has not harmed sales, but the perception remains among some owners that bike lanes threaten their establishments.

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Heels on Wheels with Ivy Knight

Heels on Wheels with Ivy Knight

Photo by Molly Crealock, interview by Tammy Thorne.

~ This interview was originally published in issue 7, the food issue, summer 2011. ~

UPDATE: Ivy Knight is featuring in The Heat Documentary which is debuting now at Hot Docs 2018.

What do you like most about Toronto?

Our library system. I can place a hold on the latest best-sellers and the library calls me when it comes in. I pick them up and have a month to read them, for free. How awesome is that? I currently have a book on gluten-free baking – that one’s a real page-turner, let me tell you.

What do you love about summer in the city?

Impromptu day drinking on patios – especially at Churchill, the Drake and Cafe Diplomatico. You’ll notice all those patios have something in common: they all serve Bud Light. I am a very devoted fan of the stuff.

Where is your favourite place to ride?

I’m a Victorian tenderfoot taking the air – paved paths through parks suit me just fine.

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Will Ontarians vote with their bikes?


Will Ontarians vote with their bikes?

New polling data shows support for cycling infrastructure investments

As Share the Road rolled up it's annual Ontario Bike Summit on April 18 this year, it released results of a new poll conducted by Nanos Research.

The report shows upwards of four in ten Ontarians – enough to elect a majority government – are likely to vote for provincial candidates if they make public commitments to fund cycling infrastructure.

Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario NDP and urban transit critic, says the poll results are not to be ignored. "Ontarians will definitely vote with their bikes! The NDP introduced Ontario's first Cycling Strategy over two decades ago, and New Democrats remain fully committed to cycling as a convenient, healthy and sustainable mobility option," says the MPP for Hamilton Centre, a city where urban cycling is fast growing as a form of transportation.

"We will update the Cycling Strategy to set clear targets for increasing the percentage of trips by bike, backed up with funding for active transportation infrastructure that is safe and accessible for people of all ages and abilities. We will work to ensure all municipalities have active transportation plans by 2021. And we will pass a Vulnerable Road Users' law to improve road safety and reduce the number of cycling and pedestrian fatalities to zero."

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