Biking in Toronto
I attended the Million Pound Game this afternoon at Lamport Stadium, and after a disappointing Wolfpack loss, rode my bike west to enjoy dinner with the fam. On the Waterfront Trail, just west of Norris Crescent, I was set up to fail by the city itself.
I was cruising around 22 km/h in the new separated bike lane between Norris Crescent and First Street when I suddenly crashed to the ground. In my life, which includes approximately 50,000 km of city cycling, I have only ever crashed due to rain, snow, ice, or most recently, a bike-on-bike collision by the Palais Royale. This time, I hit the ground hard, and had no idea what caused the crash.
Luckily, unlike my last crash, no bones were broken. I scraped my leg and tore up my hand, but otherwise survived unscathed. An Uber driver and his customer witnessed my crash, and once they discovered I was okay, were quick to point out I had hit this stump where a sign was once posted. I took a couple of pictures of this stump I hit. I didn't see it, but it sure took me out.
I was so angry, because it's one thing to crash due to mother nature, and another thing to crash because a cyclist veers into you, but this is completely unacceptable. The city cut down a sign and left a six inch stump without so much as a pylon in place to alert cyclists like myself. Its pure luck that I didn't break anything and my bike is relatively okay. I put my chain back on and slowly pedaled home.
I'm contacting 311 and asking them to either remove this stump or put a marker on top so cyclists can see it and avoid it. It's tough enough to cycle in this city, we certainly don't need to be set up for failure.
In 2012, I biked a grand total of 214 KM. They were my first kilometres in about 15 years.
I've managed to bike further every year since, and in 2017 I cleared 10,000 KM in a calendar year for the first time in my life. I love round number milestone targets like that.
Since I'm fairly confident I won't be biking today (it's -32 with the windchill as I type), I finished 2017 with precisely 10,512.68 KM cycled. I'm proud of that figure, but mostly I'm proud to have gone from 214 KM to over 10,000 KM in five years.
Here's the tale of the tape.
A couple of winters ago, I wrote this entry about how I bike Toronto winters. In a nutshell, I layer up, slow the heck down, and alter my routes.
These rules have served me well the last several winters as I've rarely seen a day that wasn't enjoyably bikeable. I only got out for 10 or so KMs yesterday, but it was a fun 10 KM. Today, before I took a crispy 20 KM ride, I shot some video to show what I wear to keep warm.
Consider this my pivot to video.
Toronto artists Julie Ryan and Thelia Sanders-Shelton are set to unveil their latest Waterfront driftwood installation. It's a giant that will soon have a heart. The heart is scheduled to be installed during the grand opening on Tuesday morning.
I spoke with one of the artists today and was told this giant has a name. He's El Corazón, which is "The Heart" in Spanish.
Here's a pic I took earlier today. I'll return to snap a picture of El Corazón with his heart in place.
If you'd like to visit these awesome art installations yourself, here's where you go:
Yesterday, I surpassed 500 KM of biking for August. I currently sit at 508.97 KM for the month.
That's 18 consecutive months of clearing 500 KM. The last time I fell short was February 2016 when I only managed to ride 482.65 KM. I'm blaming mother nature.
Since I started biking again after an inexplicable 15 year break, I've almost pedaled 30,000 KM. In fact, I should reach that milestone later this month. Here are my yearly totals since I got back on the saddle.
Every KM I've ridden has been on a hybrid bike, without clipless pedals and biker shorts. During these 29,493 KM I've only had to bury one bike. If you have any questions about biking Toronto, ask away in the comments.
If you bike, jog or walk the waterfront trail just west of the Humber Bay Arch Bridge, you've likely seen the new Toronto sign that's been erected this week. Local artists Thelia Sanders-Shelton and Julie Ryan built it from driftwood that washed up on a nearby beach.
It's only driftwood, so I suggest you see it while it's still standing. I just love shit like this.
Last week, I rode east on the Waterfront Trail to check out the newly opened Trillium Park and the William G. Davis Trail at Ontario Place.
This was once a private parking lot. I hope that has Joni Mitchell smiling. They tore down a parking lot and built paradise: 7.5 acres of public green space on the waterfront.
If you're wondering where exactly you'll find Trillium Park, it's just west of Inukshuk Park at Ontario Place Blvd. It's great for walking, biking or just chilling out by the water.
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.
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