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.

Updates:

 

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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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A Bike For Every Occasion

Photo from What can you carry on your cargo bike?

A Bike For Every Occasion

A bike has many uses and can be used for almost any situation. As our readers will know, a bike can be used for many different occasions. For example, you can use your bike as a means of transportation to get to work. You can add a basket to the front of your bike or saddlebags on the back to hold your groceries. You could head to your local coffee shop on your bike or even rent one while on vacation.  Some people own and use their bikes as a means of physical activity. While bikes are beneficial for people’s health and wellbeing, the reasons to own a bike go further than that. A bike is an eco-friendly alternative to driving or even using public transportation. Whether or not the bike is often used, it is one of those items that almost everyone should own.

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