Posts Tagged ‘biking’
Spacing Toronto’s Dylan Reid writes about the idea of food bikes in Toronto.
This spring, I was fortunate to be able to spend a few days in Paris. The city is in the midst of trying to reclaim the banks of the Seine river as public space (rather than abandoned industrial or vehicle traffic space). On one low-lying outcropping the city had built a simple park with chairs (awesome chairs — see photo below) — and in that park was a food bike, selling fantastic sandwiches.
My thought, of course, was, could we have food bikes in Toronto? Apart from the wow factor, the concept has several advantages. They are temporary, emissions-free, and mobile. Bikes can reach places vehicles would have a hard time with: the Paris park was only accessible by a ramp, more easily maneouvered by a bike than a vehicle. The park was a bit out of the way, but a food bike has lower overhead than a truck or a full food stand, so doesn’t have to sell as much to make money. And a food bike is temporary, so it doesn’t even have to open at times when no-one will be around, or can go to different locations depending on demand. It doesn’t need to run a motor, so its emissions are far lower than a food truck, and lower too than a food stand that has to be brought in and out by motor vehicle.
Adam Excell’s grey Chevy sat unused most days. Even in the blowing snow or pelting rain, the outdoor enthusiast would suit up and walk or bike so he could steal a few extra moments under the sky.
When Halifax was hit with a record blizzard last winter, he pulled on his yellow hooded jacket, strapped on a pair of goggles and snowboarded down historic Citadel Hill.
“He lived for that kind of thing,” said lifelong friend Kevin Reid. “The world was his playground, with limitless new sights to see and adventures to have … You could just see the happiness radiating from him.”
The 26-year-old was on his bike Saturday night, heading home from his latest camping trip in Pennsylvania, when he was struck and killed in a hit-and-run at the intersection of Avenue Rd. and Davenport Rd.
Despite being an adventurer, Excell was not a risk taker, say those who knew him best. He was wearing a helmet and had lights on at the time of the accident.
Spacing shares a report arguing that biking is really taking off in Toronto, especially in some downtown neighbourhoods. (Some are close to mine, even.)
Although we don’t know exactly who has started to bike in the last few years, we do know just how much things have changed. And they have changed a great deal: Our first hint came when the Toronto Cycling survey released in 2011 by the city’s Transportation Department showed that 29 percent of Torontonians were utilitarian cyclists. Next, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation and Share the Road released their 2013 survey results, showing that 5.7 percent of Torontonians cycle regularly. Most recently, in September of 2013, Cycle Toronto, working with the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank, measured the number of cars and cyclists using College St. at Spadina during afternoon rush hour. What we found was extraordinary: approximately equal numbers of cars and bikes used College at this time on the two study days – though the bikes used only a fraction of the road space, of course. That’s a 74 percent cycling increase on this street in just three years.
Finally, an analysis of the National Household Survey data from 2011 shows astonishing figures for cycling mode share in some census tracts – nearly 20 percent in Seaton Village near Christie Pits and in Dufferin Grove, with other areas of the west end following closely. These figures are for work and school trips only, so the total share of cycling trips might be even higher.
So now we know for certain – Torontonians are getting on their bikes in unprecedented numbers. These increases seem even more significant considering the poor curbside conditions, general lack of separated lanes, meager painted bike routes, and shortage of bike parking, especially back in 2011 and 2012 when most of these data were collected. Way to go, Torontonians – we know that the more of us who cycle, the safer it gets, and so we expect collision rates to be declining and emissions and commercial vacancies to be going down, while fitness, disposable income and business revenues increase.