A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘biking

[URBAN NOTE] “Cyclist killed in Toronto accident lived for the outdoors”

The Toronto Star‘s Marco Chown was one author of several profiling the life of Toronto cyclist Adam Excell, killed in a road accident on the 13th of June.

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.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 18, 2015 at 10:47 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO examines the nature of Toronto’s abundant consumption of electricity.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study of the atmosphere of Wasp 80b.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Russian rocket manufacturer Energomash may go out of business as a result not of sanctions but of threatened sanctions.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money does not approve of Kenya’s plan to deport Somali refugees.
  • Mark MacKinnon shares an old 2003 article of his from Iraq.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the new Vulcan rocket.
  • pollotenchegg maps, by province, the proportion of Ukrainians claiming Russian as their mother language.
  • Registan argues that NATO and Russia might be misinterpreting
  • Spacing Toronto shares a screed on cyclists.
  • Towleroad notes that Chile now has same-sex civil unions.
  • Transit Toronto notes that the TTC has hired an external corporation to manage the problematic Spadina subway extension.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues that libertarians do exist as a distinguishable political demographic.
  • Window on Eurasia examines turmoil in Karelia and terrorism in Dagestan.

[URBAN NOTE] “BIKE THINK TANK: Ridership numbers continue to grow”

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.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 3, 2015 at 11:27 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Claus Vistesen’s Alpha Sources considers the arguments for thinking stock markets will continue on their current course.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the discovery of eight potentially Earth-like worlds by Kepler, as does The Dragon’s Gaze.
  • Crooked Timber considers the future of social democracy in a world where the middle classes do badly.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at a redesigned American anti-missile interceptor.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that same-sex marriage in Vietnam is no longer banned, but it is also not yet recognized.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reacts to reviews of bad restaurants favoured by the ultra-rich.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla provides updates on Japan’s Akatsuki Venus probe and China’s Chang’e Moon probe.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the immediate impact of political turmoil last year in Crimea on the peninsula’s demographics.
  • Mark Simpson suggests that straight men want attention from gay men as validation.
  • Spacing Toronto reviews The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling.
  • Torontoist looks at a Taiwanese condo tower that featured on-tower gardening.
  • Towleroad and Joe. My. God. both note that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami has told its employees it might fire them if they comment favourable about same-sex marriage.
  • Why I Love Toronto really likes downtown restaurant 7 West.
  • Window on Eurasia notes turmoil in the Russian intelligence community and a higher density of mosques than churches in the North Caucasus.

[LINK] “From lake to lake and back again: rail trails of southwestern Ontario”

Sean Marshall’s Spacing Toronto post describing, with abundant photos, a weekend biking trip in southwestern Ontario beyond Hamilton, makes me interested and envious. I need to get back to doing this sort of thing.

In mid-July, I completed another overnight cycling trip. On a bright and warm Friday, I biked from Hamilton to Port Dover via Caledonia. On an overcast and rather soggy Saturday, I rode back to Hamilton, via a longer route through Simcoe and Brantford. Along the way, I cycled on some of Ontario’s best rail trails, and one of the first bicycle-friendly paved shoulders on a provincial highway. From Hamilton to Port Dover via Caledonia (a 76-kilometre ride) just under half the ride was on off-road trails, while the longer return trip via Brantford was almost entirely competed following rail trails.

Unlike Quebec, which has a comprehensive province-wide cycling program, including the 5000-kilometre Route Verte network, Ontario’s bike routes are organized and maintained entirely by local municipalities and conservation authorities. Networks are only found in a few select regions. In Hamilton/Kitchener/Port Dover, Caledon/Erin, and in the Peterborough/Kawartha region, there are lengthy, connected rail trails which are all suitable for cycling. Niagara Region has a 140-kilometre-long Circle Route beside the Welland Canal and the Niagara River. But elsewhere in Ontario, designated cycling routes are almost non-existent; the few off-road trails that exist do not connect with others. Few highways and county roads have paved shoulders for cyclists’ use. Quebec has understood the opportunities that bicycle tourism provides.

It is time for Ontario to do the same.

As has become my custom on these longer rides, I used GO Transit’s bike racks on its buses to transport my bicycle and myself to and from Toronto. My trip began at Hamilton’s splendid Art Deco GO station, opened by the Toronto-Hamilton-Buffalo Railway in 1933. Nearby, the Escarpment Rail Trail — part of a former Canadian National line to Caledonia and Port Dover — begins its gentle climb of the Niagara Escarpment, ending at a point near Albion Falls, one of dozens of waterfalls found in the Steel City. A footbridge spans the Lincoln Alexander Parkway (whose construction cut through the old CN railbed) and one must take Stone Church Road (thankfully, with bike lanes) to resume cycling south via the rail trail.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 24, 2014 at 3:59 am

Posted in Assorted

Tagged with , , , , ,

[URBAN NOTE] “Ghost bikes move us all”

NOW Toronto‘s Andrew Reeves wrote favourably about the Toronto manifestation of the “ghost bike”, a memorial to a cyclist killed in an accident at that location. I photographed one here, on St. Clair at Wychwood. There are controversies surrounding the ghost bikes as obstructions to movement and as potentially unsightly, with many people relating to the issue in ways that reflect their alignments on the issue of bikes in Toronto.

A ghost bike on Wychwood Avenue

Ghost bikes are seen by family members as sad tributes to lost loved ones, and by cycling advocates as reminders to bike safe. The fate of the bikes has become an issue for the Public Works Committee since City Hall started receiving inquiries from cyclists and families opposed to their removal last year.

[. . .]

Ghost bikes were introduced in Toronto in the mid-2000s after a 2003 bike crash in St. Louis, Missouri, inspired a witness to install a white-painted bike as a sombre reminder of the safety challenges for cyclists. Toronto’s versions are crafted by Geoffrey Bercarich, a volunteer with Bike Pirates.

“They make people understand that this intersection is dangerous,” he says.

Bercarich would like to see them protected and honoured as permanent landmarks, because “they’re a powerful tool for advocacy,” he says. “That’s why I keep building them.”

Mike Layton also thinks they should remain. The Ward 19 councillor brought forward a motion last October asking staff to study changing existing bylaws to recognize ghost bikes as “art and memorials” rather than rusting eyesores.

“Some families want them taken down because they don’t want to be reminded of a tragic incident,” but others want a reminder that “it’s dangerous out there.” Layton’s hoping to find a solution that addresses everyone’s needs.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 17, 2014 at 8:12 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Poll: Majority of Torontonians Want to See Cyclists Licensed”

Torontoist’s David Hains writes about a poll claiming that a majority of Torontonians would approve of licensing cyclists. This is unworkable, as Hains points out. I suspect it might be a reaction to the regular violation of the rules of the road by cyclists–biking on sidewalks, biking in the wrong direction, et cetera–as it is to general conflicts on the road.

A Leger poll commissioned by insurance provider Kanetix has found that 66.7 per cent of Torontonians approve of the idea of licensing cyclists. The poll results are consistent with a 2012 Forum poll, which pegged the approval rating at 65 per cent.

The idea of licensing cyclists as we do car drivers has been around for over 80 years—in fact, Toronto cyclists were licensed from 1935 to 1957. According to an amendment signed by Mayor Nathan Phillips, the program ended up being discontinued in part because licensing caused “an unconscious contravention of the law at a very tender age” in that the law was so consistently ignored by young people. The same amendment noted that the licensing also created “poor public relations between police officers and children.”

Council has revisited and rejected the idea of licensing cyclists at least five times since 1984. Staff reports produced throughout the years cite concerns about its prohibitively high cost, the practical difficulties of licensing young cyclists, and the possibility that licensing would act as a deterrent for casual cyclists—and point out that cyclists are already subject to the rules of the road.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 8, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Toronto, Urban Note

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