Wednesday, October 31, 2007

toronto cops mean business

Although this happened very close to my (soon-to-be former) apartment in Toronto, this isn't my story, but my friend Oliver's story.

In the Dundas, Parliament, Queen, River area, you have a nice collection of bike lanes. On the east side of the Don River, Dundas Street has a great bike lane, and on the west side of the river, Gerrard has a bike lane, and so do Shuter and River Streets. Oli was commuting to work along Shuter on the first day of school this past September, when he approached and passed a cop car parked in the Shuter bike lane.

As he moved into the car lane to pass the cop, Oliver muttered "WHY?" through the cop's open window, and then just kept cycling along. Behind him, Oliver hears an engine roar to life, and almost immediately the cop has caught up to Oli, and swerved to a stop in front of him - the car diagonally blocking all of the bike lane and most of the car lane (both on the westbound side of the street).

The cop gets out and starts off with "how you doing?" and then he and Oliver have a brief conversation about why the cop was parked in the bike lane. His story is that he was on-duty keeping an eye on the school crossing just up the road to catch anybody running the crossing.

The discussion quickly turns into "What's your name? / Let's see some I.D.?" What do you need to see I.D. for? "You don't have any I.D.?" Will my old (orange and white with no photo) health card be okay? "You don't have any photo I.D.?" UNTIL Oli finally hands over his driver's license.

The cop disappears into his car to check to see if Oli's record is clean (which it is), but also seems to grab a binder to check for cycling regulations to see if he can nail Oliver for anything. When the cop struts back out of the car again, his first words are "So where's your bell buddy?" and he ends up writing Oliver a ticket for $120.00 for not having a bell on his bike.

While all this happening incidentally, a SECOND squad car has pulled to a stop ahead of the first car, and the second car is parked on an angle taking up part of the eastbound lane and the rest of the westbound lane that the first car hadn't stopped. So you have two cops causing a traffic jam all in the interest of harassing a cyclist.

Moral of the story? Don't question the authority of the toronto cops. They'll find a way to make you pay.

And yes, Reno 911: Miami was completely juvenile, but I still have a soft spot for that kind of thing.

And don't eat red meat.

Friday, October 26, 2007

An Orillia roundup

Before I forget, here's my new theory - your sense of outrage with the world has a direct correlation to how much time you have to read and follow current events. I haven't been following the news as much as I used to, and therefore I don't know what Bush and Cheney etc are doing, so I don't have much opportunity to be outraged. I guess this is a variation on "ignorance is bliss."

Here's a glimpse at the life of a cyclist in Orillia, Ontario - my new hometown. There's a nice biking trail down along Lake Couchiching, which runs parallel to a gravel hiking trail. Otherwise I haven't seen any bike lanes on the city streets at all.

Velocity is my new bike shop. My girlfriend and I went in there our very first day in town when we were apartment hunting and they gave us the scoop about which neighborhoods to avoid etc. I've bought an armadillo from them, and a Pedro's mini-cleaning kit. I'm hoping to do their Tuesday morning rides with them in the summer (on my Cannondale single-speed!)

The day I was walking around town (a plus 20 degree celsius day at the end of October in central Ontario!) I caught these two going by, the rear cyclist hauling a trailer.

These are the only bike parking posts I've seen in town. They're beside the big A&P down near the lake (an A&P is a supermarket). There aren't any on main street, nor are there any near the Lakehead University campus (where I work). I doubt I'll be lucky enough that Orillia works like Toronto - i.e. you call up the city, say "I need a post at X and Y streets, and it gets done." I have so many things to check up on - city bylaws about how much of the lane I'm allowed to take up, bike posts etc. So many things to do in my new town.
The last photo is just a sneaky shot of the lake through some autumn trees. I gotta say, I dig autumn. The hot weather is worrisome, but in general me and the leaves are grooving together pretty well.

And finally, No Impact Man found my blog and linked to me recently, and the day he did, my hits went up to 599, from a usual average of about 110 per day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It just don't get no better than a bear

My girlfriend was forwarded this story, and when she sent it to me I thought it'd be a good blog post.

I guess a photographer visiting Churchill, Manitoba, took some sled dogs out to take some pictures.

Out of the snow a polar bear creeps towards the pack, and the photographer starts thinking "Oh crap, all the dogs are goners."

Turns out though, that the polar bear just wanted to play around.

And he came back several times on succeeding days to play with the dogs some more.

So cute - and such a shame we're going to have killed 30 to 50% of the bears by 2050.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Badges, we don't need no stinkin badges!

Wow - oil closed at a record $88.00 a barrel today. If you adjust for inflation etc, oil was still more expensive back in the 70's, but it definitely makes you think about peak oil and how screwed we're going to be when the oil runs out (unless you live in Cuba, which is apparently a post peak-oil economy already).

Ahh peak oil - fewer cars and more bicycles. I realize there will also be potentially catastrophic consequences of peak oil hitting as hard as it could, but being a cyclist I tend to just concentrate on the ribbons of empty highways and how much fun it'll be cycling along them.

On a somewhat similar topic, I took the Eco Footprint quiz today. You can see my results here below. I guess that's what being a near vegan and a cyclist/pedestrian will do for you.

I'm getting used to life in Orillia, and since I only have a 20 minute walk to work I'm actually not biking much here, just walking everywhere. I hope to do a bigger update on life up here in Simcoe County, but it'll have to wait until I get my hands on my girlfriends' digital camera again.

Hope everyone is doing well!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

When tomorrow gets here (where will yesterday be?)

In saying goodbye to Toronto, one thing I thought I could do was a photographic "thanks" to some of the bike shops I've depended on since becoming a commuting cyclist back in about 2001. So I went for a ride on a grey Sunday morning here in Toronto today, and took photos of the main shops that I've used over the years.
The store I've depended on the most over the years is Sweet Pete's at Dufferin and Bloor. In 2000/2001, when I was new to cycling and was riding some sort of Home Hardware mountain bike thing, I kept going to them for repairs until one day the front hub kind of shredded and the guy at the shop, who'd done repair after repair for me, looked at me and said "Man, it's over for this thing." I subsequently bought the Kona Hahanna from them which I rode around town today taking these photos, and it is by far the most useful bike I've ever had, though it looks very different now than it did when I bought it (i.e. it's now a singlespeed with slick city tires). I wish I knew how many kilometres I had on the Hahanna - I think 20 000km is a safe guess, but it's probably more.
I also bought a KHS Flite 200 road bike off these guys, which a year or two later I sold through Craig's List, and a Kona Dew Deluxe, which I eventually gave to my brother.

After moving into the Regent Park area I started using the Danforth Cyclepath a bit. They stock Specialized Armadillos, which I love, but the main reason I need to thank them is for a wheel rebuild they did for me. In the summer of 2006 when I put 4000+ km on my Cannondale, riding back and forth to Oshawa, I went to them after a broken spoke to look at my rear wheel, which had been straight laced. They took it apart and relaced the spokes to cross three times, and I haven't had a broken spoke since, nor has the wheel gone out of true. I wish I knew his name, but to the mechanic at this shop, thanks dude, nice job.

I've only been in the Roncesvalles Set Me Free a couple times in my life, but I owe them a thanks for a flat tire fix they did for me once. I was going up Roncesvalles once in an autumn rain and got a flat a few blocks south of the bike shop. For some reason I wasn't carrying a tube and a pump, which is unlike me, so I walked the bike up to Set Me Free and within moments the guys in the shop had my wheel off the bike, the tire off, a new tube installed, and me on my way. It was really pretty cool - kind of like a Nascar pit stop.

The Parliament Street Cycle Solutions has been my local bike shop for about two years now. They're good guys willing to talk you through some fixes (I got advice and parts for the kona single-speed project from them) and they also carry armadillos.

And I never had much contact with Bikes on Wheels, but I wanted to get a picture of my Kona since I'm taking it up to Orillia tomorrow and it'll never roll through Toronto again, and so I thought I'd stop in Cabbagetown and take this photo. My bike is the one in the centre of the shop, leaning against the store.

And to Gino and the staff up at the North York Cyclepath, who went out of their way to find a 2006 Jamis Nova to sell me at a discount, I'm sorry, but your store was just too far north to be included on my jaunt around town today. Sorry guys, but thanks so much for the Jamis.