Biking in Toronto
I've been thinking a lot about Xavier Morgan, the five-year-old who died while cycling the Martin Goodman Trail last week. When I was a kid, I cycled the Martin Goodman Trail, and I still do so today. In fact, I literally biked it today as I wanted to visit the spot where Xavier Morgan veered off the trail into eastbound traffic on Lake Shore Boulevard.
I've ridden this exact stretch with my older two children countless times, and never once was I concerned for their safety. After all, there are no cars on the Martin Goodman Trail. Your biggest concern is they'll be hit by other cyclists or ride into pedestrians. I never once considered the possibility they could end up on Lake Shore while riding west.
Here's a couple of photos I took today. Between the trail and boulevard there is only a foot or so of brick and concrete. There is absolutely no barrier, nothing to slow down or stop a child should they veer off course.
And tragically, that's exactly what happened Wednesday. While cycling downhill, a child lost control and ended up on Lake Shore where it was too late for an eastbound driver to stop. In hindsight, such an accident seems inevitable.
A physical barrier is needed lest this happen again. The Martin Goodman Trail is incredibly popular with cyclists of all ages but far too close to the busy road on this particular downhill stretch.
I'm just sorry a child had to die to make this so damn obvious.
There's a new app for cyclists in Toronto, and it's called Biko. I installed the Biko App on my Android phone last week and have been using it to record my rides.
The key benefit of Biko is the digital reward points you collect for each kilometre you ride. These points are called "Bikos" and they can be exchanged for goods and services. New businesses are joining all the time and after a few rides I already qualified for ten free cold brews from Jimmy's Coffee, a free six pack of beer from Amsterdam Brewing or $40 off a tune up at Urbane Cyclist.
In addition to collecting Bikos, which is a whole lot of fun, the app measures your average speed, carbon emissions saved, and calories burned while recommending safe paths to ride. It couldn't be easier to use.
This valuable data on urban biking behaviour is shared with city planners looking to increase bike lanes and facilitate safe cycling. This cyclist thinks that's awesome.
For those interested in getting the Biko app, you can visit your phone’s app store or visit Bikoapp.com.
Here's my current home screen after my first four rides.
Here's my current list of my rides.
Details of each ride are easily accessible.
And redeeming your Bikos is fun and easy.
For the third calendar year in a row, I set a personal best for kilometres cycled. I finished 2016 with 8857.43 KM cycled.
Here's how I got to 8857.43. Due to travel, I lost a week in February, a couple of weeks in August, and another week in December.
My wife recently started a children's clothing company called Mint + Chip. She does lots of custom orders, and sells various kids stuff that she makes at home. I'm no expert, but I'm told it's well made quality clothing and she enjoys hammering away on the various sewing machines.
She sells her goods via her Facebook page, and if someone lives within a reasonable distance from our home, it's free delivery. It's free delivery because I'm the unpaid bike courier.
Every day at lunch I'm told what package needs to be delivered to what address, and I plan my route accordingly. I love it. On days when there are no deliveries, I'm actually disappointed.
No pressure, but if you'd like to ensure I have more free deliveries to make, spread the word about Mint + Chip.
I just finished a 32.31 KM bike ride bringing my May 2016 total to 1014.16 KM. This is the first calendar month of my life in which I cycled more than 1000 KM.
Here's how I did it.
The Star has an article today about the worst streets for locking up your bike. Not surprisingly, downtown is where most of the thefts occur.
Toronto is the bike theft capital of the world with more than 18,000 bikes reported stolen between Jan. 1, 2010 and June 30, 2015. As a cyclist, I'm rather sensitive to this, and as careful as possible.
For the vast majority of my rides, I don't lock up my bike at all. And when I do bike to a destination, as I did today, I'm careful to choose a highly visible area and use multiple locks, including my trusty Kryptonite.
No lock is unbreakable, but I like to think thieves with smaller tools will bypass my locks for an easier score. So far, so good.
I haven't had a bike stolen since I was 14 and it was lifted from the family garage. Have you had a bike stolen in this city? If so, what kind of lock did you use and where did you leave it?
Well, they're not locking their bikes to bikes, but locking posts in the shape of a bicycle. This may exist elsewhere, but I've only ever seen it in Germany.
In Denmark, people are so trustworthy, bikes are often only locked to themselves, if they're locked at all. I walked past many a fine bicycle that was only locked to itself so you couldn't ride it, but could easily be picked up and carried.
On the streets of Toronto, those bikes wouldn't last five minutes.
On days like this, I bike east on the Martin Goodman Trail. That cycling trail is actually maintained by the city during the winter, so they plough and salt.
And they really, really salt. I get why they dump so much salt down, as their primary concern is safety, but it's like biking on gravel. I can't tell you how many tubes I've busted from riding on salt.
Today, when I was cycling at lunch, one lane of the trail was ploughed and salted and the other was not. I decided to bike in the unploughed lane. This, it turns out, was a bad decision.
I crashed, creating quite the visual distraction for backed-up motorists on the Gardiner Expressway. Once I realized I hadn't broken any bones, I got up, put the chain back on my bike, and started cycling so the motorists knew I was okay. I was fine, but my bike was not.
With a disabled bike, it was time to start walking west towards home. It was sunny along the waterfront, and for the next 45 minutes, I saw things in a completely different light.
Here's a pic I snapped shortly after falling. It all looked so damn pretty.
Then, there were the low rise apartment complexes along Lake Shore. I had biked by them hundreds of times, but I had never really realized how cool the signage looked. One day, these old signs from a previous era, will be gone.
I often tell motorists that they're missing most of the city by not cycling instead. It turns out, you'll see even more if you go for a walk.
This is it. It's the last month-over-month cycling comparison I'm going to post. I surpassed my 2015 goal of 5000 KM way back in September, but I felt like I should see this through until the end of the year.
December was awesome for cycling. Most days felt more like October with unseasonably warm climes. I only had to skip one day because of the weather, and that was Tuesday.
December 2015: 692.03 KM
December 2014: 511.13 KM
As mentioned, I finished 2015 at 7551.79 KM. We now return to our regular programming.
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