Category Archives: Cycling

Attention City of Toronto: We Are Still Trying to Cycle!

Bike Lane Snow

Seriously, for a lot of us, cycling is how we get around. That doesn’t change just because it snows. Keep the lanes clear!

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I drove today…

…and every time I touched the gas, it was like stomping on bunnies. I felt with every acceleration (injection, compression, explosion, exhaust, times six cylinders, times an average of 1500 RPM), with every act of breaking (valuable momentum converted to heat in the break pads), every turn (rubber wearing against asphalt, more momentum lost), even when I was idling (fuel burning, exhaust gases escaping, to no achievement of work), that I was killing our world. This giant, one-and-a-half ton box of metal, plastic, and glass, all of it having to move and turn and stop and move and turn and stop again and again, just to transport my 180 lbs. from one place to another.

This was bad enough, but then – like in horror movies, when the protagonist encounters some utterly hideously entity, only to discover that this is but one of an astonishing multitude (think Ripley in Aliens finding herself among all those eggs in the power station) – I looked around me, on Toronto’s busy streets, and saw dozens, hundreds, thousands of cars and trucks and SUVs and vans, all of them engaged in fullbore destruction of our living environment. And then – oh mercy it actually gets worse – I multiplied this by every single day of the year, year after year after year, increasing each year, and my mind leapt out, spread across the globe, sweeping across North and Central and South America, spreading to Europe and Africa and Asia, taking this single human in this one 1600kg vehicle burning 12 litres of gas every hundred kilometres, rounded the world to Africa and New Zealand, and there it was.

The realization that we, as a species, are fucked. The Earth will survive, but we’re going to make living on it really uncomfortable for ourselves and all our living creatures, and most of us will die off. New life will appear, eventually, once we are gone and our influence ended, and life will flourish here once again. But we won’t be around for it.

Really, there’s no other way this can turn out. Because tell me dear reader, are you going to do anything about this? Are you going to continue to consume and pollute as if we are not an exponentially expanding volume confined in a finite space? Are you going to leave your car at home tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, permanently adopt a method of transport that is much less harmful to our planet?

And if the answer is yes, do you actually mean it – can you confidently state that if you return to this post in six months or three years or ten years you will still be using that new, cleaner mode of transport (or something like it), that is to say, you will have committed yourself to permanently abandoning your daily automobile commute? Pretty unlikely yes? Well let’s just fantasize and say yes, you can and will do this – you have the guts and the will and the character and the strength – then what are the chances that thousands, no, millions of people will take the same action, and to commit to it permanently– what are the chances of that? Really, it’s virtually impossible that you will do it, so what are the chances that millions of others will?

What other conclusion can you possible come to?

Thought so.

We’re fucked.

Have a nice day.

Two-wheeled jalopies

Are bikes unreliable? I mean “1930s dustbowl junker full of starving Oakies broken down at the side of the road” unreliable, and compared to the slick, service every 60,000 km cars being made today? I’ve had two flats in the last two months, the first resulting from a complete tire failure and blowout, the second a spontanous leak in an inner tube – which happened in the dark on a paved trail south of Edward’s Gardens and which took over an hour to fix (I broke a tool trying to get the damn tire off).

Recently I had to replace my pannier rack, as one of the welds had broken. Oh, and when I had the tire fixed the second time, the rear wheel also needed to be trued as all the spokes were loose, maintenance which I had performed at the shop in the late spring. And this is a good wheel, a Mavic something or other which replaced the stock wheel when I wore that out after three years. Then there are fender issues, cable problems, brake pads to adjust or replace, tires that need frequent topping up, a chain I grease constantly and have to replace two times per year…the list goes on.

I ride a lot – about 100 km per week – but that’s nothing compared to how far people drive their vehicles each week without incident. Yet it seems I suffer a lot of cycling downtime, which is of special inconvenience because I only have one bike and I use it to commute. Do bikes suck for reliability? Is there going to be a time in 30 years when we look back and smile at what cyclists had to put up with? Or is this simply a byproduct of the simple fact that the weight ratio of rider to vehicle – at least in my case – is 8 to 1. While the ratio for, say, my shameful minivan, is 18 to 1 – vehicle to rider.

Do you think bike manufacturers have gone too far trying to make bicycles light? Or do I need a tougher, heavier bike? I’m curious to know the experience of other riders. Pipe up!

Risking lives is fine, just don’t cheat us out of revenue

I am perpetually enraged at Toronto’s “Green Hornets,” not for ticketing those who park illegally, but for failing to do anything about vehicles stopping in no stopping zones, specifically in bike lanes. Clearly the City of Toronto considers failure to contribute to city revenue a greater offense than endangering the lives of cyclists.