Showing posts from June, 2006

Cycling Trends & How Cars Kill

Friday was pretty much perfect!
No disturbances Thursday night, got out of the house in good time and had a long gorgeous ride with the sun rising above me. And I’m digging my route home – leaving UOIT and heading down to the Whitby Go Station, riding it to Danforth, and riding home from there.
In case you’re wondering, I don’t ride to the Oshawa Station because there’s basically no safe way for a cyclist to get close to it.

I just found something pretty cool on the web. In 2005 Pucher and Buehler from Rutgers did a report called
Cycling Trends and Policies in Canadian Cities.
Oshawa, surprise surprise, was the lowest city in its category (by population), with only 0.5% of people travelling by bike. Victoria was the highest at 4.8%. Saskatoon was at 2.5%, Ottawa was pretty good at 1.9%, and Toronto was at 0.8%.

There's something these bare stats really don't reflect though. There IS a cycling culture in Toronto, by which I mean you see other cyclists on the streets there, and …

Toronto attacks my sleep & a HUGE Peak Oil Event

Here's why I didn't ride on Thursday morning:
In order to do this ride I have to get up fairly darn early (I don't want to really say HOW early because it's kind of sad). So getting up early obviously requires a good night's sleep.
Wednesday night around 11:30 The City of Toronto decided to park a chipper in front of my apartment, and then start chainsawing one of the trees in front of the building. So I listened to them chainsaw tree branches and then run them through the chipper for a while, and then fell asleep again.
Around 2:00am our family of raccoons came back. They knocked one of Annalise's gardening pots off our wooden shelving unit on the patio, and I had to go get my water bottle and do a little raccoon hunting through the screen. Anna, if you're reading this out in B.C., well, they got the carrots honeybunch.
And THEN around 4:00 maybe I hear gunshots and police sirens!!
From the Toronto Star:

A man who opened fire on police and paramedics ear…

I Get MISTY - Wednesday's ride

So there was no wind this morning, a big change from the constant headwind I had on Monday. And somewhere around the Midland to Pitfield turn there was a big hazy orange sun in the sky, and I thought "Yesss... this is going to be one of those mornings I'd hoped this ride was going to give me." I.E. a long easy pedal through a gorgeously dawning day.
Well that ended on Sheppard. On Sheppard (which, God bless it, has a long bike lane during the stretch I'm on it) I disappeared into a thick soupy mist from which I wouldn't emerge for another hour and a bit when I reached work. It was so bad I stopped, put my sunglasses away in my bag, and made do with my bad eyesight in the mist. I dreaded Highway 7 more and more as I got close to it, but as it turned out I didn't have any big problems with dump trucks running me over because they didn't see me. I did a bit of "disgression is the better part of valour" riding though by doing some sidewalk/shoulde…

Monday's Ride and the10cm of Life

Okay! So today I biked to Oshawa, and then at the end of the day I biked down to the Whitby Go Station, took the train to Danforth, and biked home from there. Basically a two hour adventure, which is the fastest I've made it home so far.
Thinking I would call this segment "All Winds Are Headwinds" I'll complain about how the wind was hammering out of the northeast this morning (so I was grinding my way right into it for 2 1/2 hours). However I did make it up my big climb of the ride, which I have to say is a little bit worse than the Scarborough Bluffs climb that most of us downtown cyclists do for hill training. I don't know why I didn't make it last Wednesday, maybe the carb loading last night really helped.
And then I thought I'd call this post "My Life is a 10cm wide strip of Highway 7." I don't know if other cyclists experience this, but as transports were blowing by me this morning, I noticed that first a gust of wind would push me…

Easter Island - Why Civilizations Fail

Annalise and I recently read A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright. It's one of the books from the Massey Lectures series, and basically Wright explores the past to try and come up with an answer to the question of where this civilization of ours is heading. My favourite quote from the book is when he says that mankind must bring the civilization "experiment" under rational control, and not screw it up. "If we fail - if we blow up or degrade the biosphere so it can no longer sustain us - nature will merely shrug and conclude that letting apes run the laboratory was fun for a while, but in the end a bad idea." (pg. 31).

Later on Wright talks about Easter Island. Tiny and remote, it was originally a paradise with flora and fauna aplenty. The islanders started building the idols in honour of their ancestors, but building and moving the idols required using large amounts of timber. So the years passed, the islanders built bigger and bigger idols using up thei…

How Much Riding I'm Doing

Quick Note!
I think I've created a bit of misunderstanding - from the emails and comments I've received it appears that people think I've already leapt into commuting both ways every day.
Fat chance! : )
In fact, after one week of work in Oshawa, the only cycling back and forth I've done at all was on Wednesday, when I did the round-trip ride which almost killed me. I don't have my own office (and therefore a safe place to lock my bike overnight) for another two weeks, so I can't do my ride there, train back, etc. thing until I get my office.
So for the next two weeks I'll probably work in a round trip ride a few times, but otherwise the great commute won't really start until the office becomes available.



My main beef with suburbia involves how nauseating it is to bike through it. But here’s the urban planning / peak oil take on suburbia.
First though, you really have to see The End of Suburbia. It’s a documentary you can find at places like Queen Video, and it shows up at the rep. theatres like Bloor Cinema.

A long, long time ago you have a village located where a river empties into a lake, surrounded by farmland. The population of the village is roughly limited by how much food can be produced in the area.
The village grows into a city, and becomes industrialized. The city starts getting rough and gritty and dirty, and those who can move further and further away from the city center. After WWI, this movement from the city center is enabled by the suddenly plentiful supplies of cheap oil. The U.S. incidentally was the world’s biggest oil producing nation up until roughly 1972, when they reached their “peak oil” limit, and production has fallen off since then (making it necess…

First Ride to AND from Oshawa

I guess I should have known I was in trouble when I had to start leaving stuff behind (digital camera, soap) because I couldn't fit everything I needed into my backpack. Until my office becomes available, I'll have to be carrying everything I need on my back every day - including shoes, change of clothes, lunch etc. And the difference between my non-backpack practice rides, and Wednesday's backpack laden commute was huge. I did the commute to Oshawa both ways on Wednesday, and it was t.e.r.r.i.b.l.e. I left at 5:30a.m. and got there at about 8:05, so at least I got to work on time. However, I was beaten by the biggest hill on my ride and had to commit that heartbreaking sin of cyclists - unclipping and walking up the slope.
I wasn't too bad at work during the day, which I think means that the one-way trip will be bearable, but my ride home was just death. You know those long rides when absolutely nothing is enjoyable? The road is too bumpy, you've got…

Sussing out UOIT

Things I learned on Monday:
The Durham College gym is amazingly cheap. A one year membership (for staff) is only $66.00, though towel service is an extra $25.00. I'm slighty annoyed though because they don't let you rent lockers! I'd been planning to leave an entire week's worth of clothes in the locker at the gym so that I wouldn't have to carry a change of clothes each day.
I took the Go Train / Oshawa bus to work in the morning, and altogether it took me about 1 hr 45 minutes. On the way back though (different buses going south through Oshawa) it took me a full 2hrs 15 minutes... so my public transit option is actually barely faster than the cycling option.

By the way, I just remembered a story I read in the May "Moneysense" magazine. This teacher on Vancouver Island used to ride his bike 55km (usually through the rain) each way to school - sometimes dragging his laundry behind him on a trailer so that he could use the school's laundry machines.…

Cycling Quotes

Cycling Quotes:
There are lots of good cycling quotations, although the most famous one, "A woman needs a man, like a fish needs a bicycle" (Gloria Steinhem - although she attributes the quote to an Australian woman named Irina Dunn) actually has nothing to do with cycling.

Here are some of my favourites:

"Human progress should have stopped with the bicycle."~ Elizabeth West

"I lose the sense of balance, to the point Gaston Plaud and the mechanic had to support me for more than 200 meters before I could start again. Finding my way, I had to climb the thread of my own existence to know who I was, and what I was doing on the bicycle. Then I saw the 'Peugeot' on my jersey and I remembered that I was a cyclist. But in what race were we? I didn't have any idea, until I noticed the Tour's yellow plate screwed on the bumper of the Peugeot team car. Not being sure of anything, I am inquiring from Gaston Plaud who answered, 'Yes, we are in the Tour, don…

Peak Oil and Why Bikes Will Save the Earth

Want to know why we'll ALL be riding bikes soon? Why the GTA and every other urban center on earth HAS to create a biking infrastructure and legitimize cycling as a method of travel?
It's called "Peak Oil."
Peak Oil is the point at which humans have extracted half of the oil which exists in the earth. This first half, the half that we've used up, is all the easily accessible oil - picture the gushers in Texas where you have oil towers billowing oil up into the sky. This half was easy to get, cheap to get, and this half made us VERY THIRSTY for oil..., leading to the development of SUV's and suburbs.
The remaining half of the world's oil is stuff like the Alberta Tar Sands. This oil is DIFFICULT and EXPENSIVE to get. Also, drilling and refining this kind of oil is environmentally damaging - think of ocean oil rigs trying to extract oil from the deepest most inaccessible parts of the ocean and having Exxon Valdez style accidents. Picture what is happening in A…

The Route, The Bikes, The Reason

The purpose of this blog is to document the joy and horrors of cycling from downtown Toronto to north Oshawa to get to and from work.
On June 19, 2006 I begin a 14 month contract with Durham College in Oshawa. I live in downtown Toronto and have no desire to move to Oshawa for this job. For reasons I will outline in subsequent posts, I refuse - at this stage of my life - to own a car, and while public transit is a worthy thing, I wish to avoid using public transit to get to Oshawa. This leaves me dependent on my own two legs and my bicycle to get to the workplace.
For various reasons, this suits me fine. I'm environmentally aware, which leads me to believe that walking represents one end of an environmentally aware (and moral) scale, and driving a car represents the other. I'm cheap, which makes me happy to cut down on public transit expenses; I'm stubborn, which makes me want to prove that cyclists DO belong on the roads; and I'm health conscious, which inspires me to u…