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July 2011
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BikeBeat

It’s finally that hot, sticky weather in the southern Ontario area. And to me it’s no better time than to be on my road bike exploring the back roads, raising my heart rate, testing my limits and enjoying the breathtaking views (I think I may even like it more running, and for those of you who know me well, you know how much I love to run). Lots of other people enjoy the same hobby, some use their bike as a commuting vehicle, to shuttle kids around, to enjoy time with friends and family. While out riding this weekend I was thinking of all the great stuff, and some of the not so great stuff, with riding.

Bixi Bikes comes to Toronto

BIXI Toronto launched May 3rd with 1000 bikes in over 80 locations. They can currently only be found within the downtown core (from Bathurst east to Jarvis and Queens Quay north to Bloor) but Bixi is hoping to expand. If you live and/or work in the downtown area Bixi might be for you, especially when it’s only $95/year for a well tuned bike whenever you need it. If you’re only in Toronto visiting BIXI has both day rates ($5/day) and 3-day rates ($12). I was hoping to use BIXI when I go to one of my favourite restaurants this week, Pizza Libretto. But there are no BIXI stations near by and it could be up to an extra $12+ if I don’t return the bike within 90 mins!

Toronto Bike lanes

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford recently announced that he is removing the bike lanes on Jarvis Street. Traffic engineers at the city of Toronto claim that commuters are faced with much longer commuting times and only 600 cyclists are using the Jarvis Street Bike lanes. This may have been more digestible to city cyclists if Ford had offered up some alternative. There is a cycling culture in downtown Toronto and Ford could have proactively offered up another street for bike lanes. Cyclists could instead be offered north routes on one-way Bleecker Street and southbound access on another adjacent route to Jarvis.

For an urban, supposedly active city Toronto’s bike lanes are disconnected, random and usually dangerous to say the least. Biking Toronto has a great website where cyclists can interact and they offer up a map of the existing bike lanes. I try and ride my bike in the city, but it’s usually not on bike lanes (mostly because there aren’t many in the area I live in). Driver behaviours vary day to day; you never know when someone is going to try and cut it close. My suggestions for safe city riding:

  1. Wear a helmet (duh!)
  2. Ride about 0.5 to a full meter from the curb or parked cars. As a cyclist you have the right to be in the right hand lane (as a slower moving vehicle). If you leave yourself some ‘wiggle’ room by the curb you can save yourself from falling over. It also indicates to drivers to move almost over into the left hand lane to get around you.
  3. Do NOT ride on the sidewalk (it’s for pedestrians)
  4. Wear bright colours. The more visible you are, the more likely other cars and cyclists will see you.
  5. Carry ID, a mobile phone and have money for a cab.

The Sidewalks are for Pedestrians

Suggestion #3 is to not ride on the sidewalk. One it is illegal. And two it frightens pedestrians.

One of my favourite ways to stay active and healthy is to run track workouts down at Varsity Stadium with the University of Toronto. For my warm-up and cool-down I usually go and adventure through Queens Park and campus, seeing old buildings I used to attend classes in and getting my legs ready for something blisteringly fast (well fast for old lady legs!). Recently my fear factor has gone up significantly; there are so many cyclists jumping on and off sidewalks or just steadily riding on sidewalks. I am very afraid that one of them is going to plow into me one day. While it wouldn’t be as devastating as being hit by a car, I think the damage could still be quite significant.

Cycling friends please leave the sidewalks to those of walking and running.

With summer here I’m going to try and get in as much time on my bike as possible. I may even start waking up and ridiculously early hours just to get in a long road ride before I go to work. My goal is try and ride my bike to work once my competitive track season is over, but we’ll see given how dangerous it may be.

Enjoy your summer.   Why not enjoy your summer on your bike?

Comments

Comment from Sasha
Time July 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm

http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/07/06/cyclist-charged-with-careless-driving-after-hitting-a-pedestrian/

A cyclist was found at fault on Tuesday for striking a pedestrian.

Yesterday someone posted on my FB and it gave me some ideas for more suggestions while riding through the city:
#6) Respect the rules of the road – i.e. stop at stop signs and stop lights (well yield at least)
#7) Be aware of your surroundings – constantly be looking around you. What might collide with you and what you may potentially hit