Be confident. You can do this.

For all the wanna-be cyclists out there, watch this video by Grist and follow their 7 simple steps:

1. Plan Route
2. Suit Up
3. Check Your Brakes
4. Mind The Door Zone
5. Claim The Lane
6. Careful With Turns
7. Don’t Run Over Pedestrians

But most importantly, BE CONFIDENT.

ENJOY!

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Why I think some biking parents are out of their minds

Something that has always bothered me are the number of parents who use bike trailers on busy downtown streets.

Is it just me or is this completely insane? While I’m sure those parents are good cyclists, I truly believe they’re putting their children at great risk.

With an average of 1,500 cyclist-vehicle collisions per year in Toronto, it’s fine to put yourself at this risk but why make your children so vulnerable? I really don’t think I even need to explain why I think it is so dangerous to use a child trailer on main streets.

Where do I think bike trailers belong?

  • biking in a park on a bike path
  • biking on country roads

Such as a scene like this – they look like good parents!

But please, if you are one of those parents that I believe are out of their minds, I want to hear from you! Let me know what I’m missing.

Also feel free to participate in the poll!

3 Confessions of a Cyclist

Sometimes I am a bad cyclist. I do things I shouldn’t. It just seems so easy to break the rules.

Here are my three confessions:

  • I go the wrong way up the one way street where I live
  • On quiet streets I blow through stop signs
  • I don’t stop for streetcars for the entire time the door is open

I know I shouldn’t do them. But sometimes I think – my bike isn’t a car so why should it follow the exact same rules as a car?

For example, on my ride to work I go through Trinity Bellwoods. And I have to turn into the park via the sidewalk. Should I be get off my bike when I go on the sidewalk then get back on my bike once I’m on the path?

I would be a fan of bike licensing. But I just can’t imagine what the process is for something like this.  

According to the City Of Toronto’s Bicycle Licensing History, here are three major reasons licensing has been rejected:

* The difficulty in keeping a database complete and current
* The difficulty in licensing children, given that they ride bikes too
* Licensing in and of itself does not change the behaviour of cyclists who are disobeying traffic laws.

What are your thoughts on bike licensing? And am I a bad cyclist?

 

The Mysterious Cases Of Bike Stealing

@SineadBrown’s sign to her bike thief

So I was doing my usual perusing through Twitter this morning, when I came across this retweeted post from @MetroMorning.

@SineadBrown I just did this and then realized that I might be a crazy person. Toronto Bike Thieves, you have made me this way: pic.twitter.com/Zyz2GJPopn  

I love this sign – both agree and disagree with it – but it really says a lot about the serious problem of bike stealing and how desperate some people feel after their bike is taken from them.

I’m not going to get into my own psychological analysis of why people steal bikes. To me their issues run a lot deeper than simply look at a Help Wanted Ad and get a job. However, stealing bikes is a serious issue we face in Toronto. Toronto police report that over 3,000 bikes were stolen in 2011.

But I want @SineadBrown to know that, maybe if she’s really lucky, the thief may return her bike because it happened to me.

The Story Of A Nice Bike Thief

I used to live on a main Toronto street on top of a store. I always locked my bike up right in front of my place (not Grandpa’s, my other one *see below). One day I locked it up by the front wheel only (never, ever do this). So someone came and unhinged the wheel and took the rest of my bike.

When I saw the lasting remains of my bike, I was devastated. This was my mode of transportation; it’s how I got everywhere, and it was my freedom! I remember being so upset I told everyone who walked by about my stolen bike and how pissed off I was. Some people cared, others just walked quickly pass me. Just like @SineadBrown, I felt like a crazy person. I’m pretty sure a single tear rolled down my cheek that day.

Later that day, I was supposed to meet up with a friend for dinner. I was mad because it meant I had to leave my house 30 minutes earlier than usual to take the horrendous TTC to College St. But lo and behold, when I left my house, my bike had returned! There, sitting on the post like it never left me, was my bike reunited with its wheel. I was thrilled (again I think a single tear rolled down my cheek).

I figured the person who stole my bike must have seen how much it upset me. And so the thief took the time to sit and think about what he/she had done. I was so happy I yelled thank you in hopes the thief would hear me.

I don’t know what drives people to steal bikes. But to help stop it – lock up your bike and lock it up properly.

Here’s some good tips from Kryptonite Lock website:

  1. Always lock your bike, especially at home. This includes your garage, patio, yard, college residence hall, apartment building, when carrying on a car rack, etc.
  2. Lock your bike in a well-lit area where there are other bikes.
  3. Do not lock your bike in the same location all the time.
  4. Make sure your bike cannot be lifted over the object it is locked to.
  5. Create a snug fit with wheels and frame so that there is little space in the u-portion of the u-lock for a thief’s tools.
  6. Do not lock your bike to itself – front wheel or rear wheel to frame.
  7. Always position your u-lock with keyway facing down..
  8. If you’re only locking one wheel, it is recommended that you capture the rear wheel as part of your lock-up. Replacement cost for the rear wheel can be up to double the cost of the front wheel.
My returned bicycle!

My returned bicycle!

To wear a helmet, or not to wear a helmet…

That shouldn’t be the question.

Me and my helmet

An interesting study in mid-May found there was no evidence cycle helmet laws reduce head injuries.

Some key points from the study:

  • For Canadian provinces with helmet laws, admission rates to hospitals dropped 54 per cent for young people between 1994 and 2003, the period during which laws were being brought in.
  • However rates were dropping in provinces without legislation as well — although, at 33 per cent, not quite so steeply.
  • Helmet laws produced little change in adult admission rates, which were low and stable throughout the study period.
  • For every province with legislation, the decline in hospital admissions for head-related cycling injuries actually started years before a law was introduced.

All in all, the author of the study concludes the decrease in head injuries after the passing of the helmet law is mostly due to other changes made around the same time, such as bike lanes and awareness of biker safety. She indicated that the contribution of helmet laws, to the decrease in hospital admissions for bicycle-related injuries, has been minimal.

But the study doesn’t mean helmet laws are worthless: there simply isn’t a correlation between just the helmet law and the decrease in injury. As with most things, the band-aid effect doesn’t work. There are many factors at play here that contribute to a biker’s safety.

Here’s a rundown of helmet laws in Canada:

  • British Columbia – all ages; fine up to $100
  • Alberta – under 18; fine up to $69
  • Saskatchewan – no legislation; except in the town of Yorkton w fine up to $5(?!)
  • Manitoba – ( just as of May 1, 2013) under 18; fine $50
  • Ontario – under 18; fine up to $80
  • Quebec – no legislation; even though as mentioned in a previous blog post, Montreal is North America’s premiere bicycle city…
  • New Brunswick – all ages; fine up to $21
  • Nova Scotia – all ages; fine up to 128.75
  • PEI– all ages; fine up to $100
  • Newfoundland – no legislation
  • Yukon – no  legislation
  • NWT – no legislation
  • Nunavut – no legislation

I think one of the most telling things here, is that Quebec has no enforced legislation and yet Montreal is one of the top biking cities in the world. Which makes sense that the study’s author concludes that bike lanes and awareness of biker safety is key in reducing head injuries.

Bike lanes and awareness of biker safety is something that doesn’t exist in Toronto, and so I urge all Torontonians to wear their helmets.

For my first two years of commuting by bike in the city, I didn’t wear a helmet in the morning because I liked the windblown hair look. I was an idiot. Now I almost always wear my helmet (every once in a while my helmet does end up where my bike isn’t…) and if I’m not wearing it, I feel like an idiot.

So here’s my take, don’t be an idiot. Under 18 or not, your head is pretty important so protect it. And there are so many great and cool helmet selections out there now, you’ll look hip and most importantly, not like an idiot. I have a Bell helmet – and they have a great ‘Artist Series’ I just saw online. Maybe it’s time for a new helmet…

I want to hear you take on helmets.

The Wondrous World of Bike Accessories!

Happy Rainy Sunday,

Today, my plan was to plant my garden, but it’s ANOTHER rainy day so instead I’m online daydreaming about new bike accessories! There’s really a ridiculous amount of cool bike toys. Whenever I go into a bike store, I’m like a kid in a candy shop and typically I want to buy all the useless but prettiest baskets, lights, bells and whistles.

As mentioned in my last post, one imperative thing on my to-do list is to get a new front bike light. For the last three years, I had ‘Frog Lights’.

Knog Frog Bike Lights

Knog Frog Bike Lights

These lights are versatile and easily slip on to any bike (no wrenches or screwdrivers required) but I never felt super safe because they just weren’t quite bright enough. I think the company felt the same way because I can’t find these lights on their online store anymore. Since they are super easy to put on any bike, in any spot, at any time, I will still look into buying another Knog light, preferably one of those strobe lights … Knog Silicone Lights. I’ve been blinded by other cyclists super bright strobe lights, and I would kind of like to do the same. That’s safety.

Here’s some other cool / totally unnecessary / ridiculous bike accessories that are on my ‘please oh please’ wish list:

BIKE UMBRELLA

* Perfect for a day like today … and any day when the TTC is the most unappealing way to get around the city

Bike Umbrella!

iPOD BIKE SPEAKERS 

*you can’t have earphones in when you’re riding, so this iPod speaker is a great alternative. The water resistant speaker attaches to your bike frame, and the remote control mounts to your handlebar!

Bike iPod Speaker

BICYCLE WINE RACK

* totally unnecessary but perfect for a trip to Trinity Bellwoods to fit in and have a picnic with cheese

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6 PACK HOLDER

* any alcohol related accessory seems pretty cool to me! remember to drive responsibly, so share the 6 pack with good friends!

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What’s your favourite but totally unnecessary bike accessory?