Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bikes Rule, Cars Drool!

Critical Mass is a monthly bicycle ride to celebrate cycling and to assert cyclists' right to the road. The event is typically held on the last Friday of every month in cities around the world where bicyclists and, less frequently, unicyclists, skateboarders, inline skaters, roller skaters and other self-propelled commuters take to the streets en masse.

September 28th, 2007 was the inaugural North Toronto Critical Mass, starting from York University at the fringes of car-centric York Region. Eight enthusiastic cyclists took to the streets before eventually meeting up with the Toronto Critical Mass at Bloor and Spadina. With bells chiming, they circled the York U bus loop, earning cheers from line-ups of bus riders. They proceeded south, taking a lane on busy Keele St. “I’ve never felt this empowered on Keele Street before,” said one Environmental Studies student. “Ya! Ya! Hurray! Alleluia!” chanted a nine year old boy as we passed. We turned onto Bloor Street and began picking up more riders, grins from ear to ear on the faces of all the pedestrians.

We arrived downtown to see hundreds of cyclists with bikes of all kinds congregating for the Toronto ride. There were homemade bikes with long handles, tandems and unicycles, and decorations and costumes. The atmosphere was electric. A trumpet summoned, and the ride began. What a site to behold! There was safety in numbers. We were many, but also one. There were a few honks from annoyed motorists, but most understood that we’d be through in a few minutes, and they were powerless against the mass anyway.

Once one experiences the interdependence that the bicycle gives us, the increased adrenaline and full use of the senses it calls for, and the overwhelming feeling of moving beyond the speed of walking or running on your own power, it is very hard to go back to a car.

This Critical Mass was a celebration of the human spirit. It was a voice against the sprawl, pollution, global warming, injuries, and destruction of cities that the automobile breeds. And it was a fight for a network of bike lanes that will take you anywhere in the city. And that is something worth fighting for.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Complete Streets

The City is an unfriendly place for those who choose to manoeuvre its streets with a bike or two feet. Take a look at these examples which show that when our priorities are right, a street can be transformed into a vibrant place for people.

Toronto has a new vibrant streets program to enhance its streets.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Green in the News

Study awards Victoria urban transit kudos
Victoria has the greenest urban transportation practices in Canada, followed closely by Vancouver, Ottawa-Gatineau and Winnipeg. But none of the 27 cities surveyed received an "A" on their report card, says a study to be released today. And while the top cities only received Bs, five others got Fs. "It's amazing how many shades of green there are in this country," said Toronto international trade lawyer Barry Appleton, whose private Appleton Charitable Foundation funded the study conducted in co-operation with the University of British Columbia's business school., September 21, 2007
Ideas for a greener region are out there
When it comes to action on climate change, Canadian cities should be the leaders. Sadly, this is not the case in Niagara. According to the Pembina Institute, the region ranks 27th out of 27 Ontario municipalities - dead last - in environmental sustainability. It's shocking considering that Niagara has been talking about smart growth - a planning policy intended to foster more environmentally friendly communities - since at least 2001. But, the Pembina report notes, there has been a lot of talk and little action. The glaring shortfall is Niagara's continued reliance on the car.
St. Catharines Standard, P. A12, September 20, 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Toronto's Car-Free Day - Sept 20, 2007

Check out this website ( for information. It's a low profile event compared to the action taking place in other parts of the world. And too bad Car-Free Day is almost completely ignored in the 905 area of the GTA.

Car Free Day is a vital tool in the larger day-to-day, year-to-year process of reducing car dependence in cities. If this year-round process were a religion, Car Free Day would be it's annual holiday - a time for celebration, reflection on the year that has past and planning for the year ahead. Benefits of these events include:
- Changing the way people think about transportation
- Spotlighting related programs across the city, building participation and support
- Creating positive public events which draw civic participation, media attention, tourism
- Advancing existing city goals (Official plan, Transit ridership growth strategy, Bike plan, etc.)
- Taking a leadership role in a growing international program

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ghost Bike - RIP Bianca 4/20/06

This memorial bike at Keele St & Finch Ave serves as a daily reminder of the risks cyclists face as they compete with cars and trucks on the roads.

Check out There are over 50 routes listed that connect with York University. Here's one of mine...

A new cycling advocacy group at York University

In the 2006-2007 school year, a small project started at York U called "Bike to York," which gained a bit of momentum before the end of spring exams. A group of volunteers gave free tune-ups on one sunny late March day, and fixed upwards of 35 bikes, and drew in dozens more. We also tabled at an environmental fair on campus; and sent 4 delegates to a City of Toronto budget meeting to make a deputation on behalf of the interests of bicycle transportation.

Whether called "Bike to York," or "The Bicycle Friendly Campus Project," or under any other name, this year there are plans to establish a cycling advocacy group at York U, register it as an official student club, and as an OPIRG "Working Group". Some ideas of projects or actions to undertake include but are not exclusive to:

- - Free bike tune-ups

- - Bicycle repair workshops (geared to teaching you the skills to fix your own bike)

- - Group rides, participation in Critical Mass

- - Group commutes or "Bike Buddies," tackling traffic in numbers

- - Establishment of a website for information on biking routes to York, info on anything relevant to biking

- - A physical "Bike Hub" or "Bike Kitchen;" a permanent indoor space as part bike repair workshop, part info center

- - Establishment of a bike-share program, or some kind of public bike fleet

If you are in any way interested in participating in any events, volunteering your time and skills whether as a bicycle mechanic, website designer, etc.; if you have any ideas of long projects or short actions that you want to see happen; please contact us at <> We are trying to book a room for a meeting on Wednesday September 19th to form a "steering committee" of sorts, to mold out a plan, figure out who can do what, how we can make this campus bicycle friendly.

Even you are not a student and/or do not bike to York, but are interested in sustainable transportation, feel free to join our efforts.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

TTC Fare Hike

It's sad that the TTC has been forced to raise fares once again to deal with budget shortfalls. Is transit an essential service? I think so. Without the TTC, the streets would be gridlocked, the air polluted, and we wouldn't be able to move goods and services through the City.
What's wrong with cars? Aside from the pollution and global warming it causes, the thousands killed or injured each year, and the stressed, aggressive behaviour it breeds, cars have systematically destroyed our villages, towns, cities, and countrysides. Cars have led to the creation of endless roads, flyovers, shopping malls, gas stations, fast food joints, and parking lots, all where nature was before. Fuel-efficient or non-polluting cars would not have done any better. -
"The automobile has not merely taken over the street, it has dissolved the living tissue of the city. Its appetite for space is absolutely insatiable; moving and parked, it devours urban land, leaving the buildings as mere islands of habitable space in a sea of dangerous and ugly traffic" - James Marston Fitch

"and yet the relationship between urban dynamism and transit is more fundamental than ever in an age of global warming. Cities that can't move citizens from A to B quickly and efficiently are on the slow road to nowhere.

Though we all know this, the political will to deal with it head-on doesn't exist. We persist in the attitude that public transit is for those who can't afford to drive, the rest of us needn't worry.

The truth is that we can't afford NOT to drive."
-Christopher Hume, Toronto Star

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Could seawater fuel your car?

The Associated Press

A cancer researcher in Erie, Pa., has stumbled on a technique that could turn salt water into fuel, a novel invention that is being touted by one chemist as the "most remarkable" water science discovery in a century.

John Kanzius happened upon the discovery accidentally when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. He discovered that as long as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies, it would burn.

The discovery has scientists excited by the prospect of using salt water, the most abundant resource on earth, as a fuel.

Rustum Roy, a Penn State University chemist, has held demonstrations at his State College lab to confirm his own observations. The radio frequencies act to weaken the bonds between the elements that make up salt water, releasing the hydrogen, Roy said. Once ignited, the hydrogen will burn as long as it is exposed to the frequencies, he said.

The discovery is "the most remarkable in water science in 100 years," Roy said.
"This is the most abundant element in the world. It is everywhere," Roy said. "Seeing it burn gives me the chills."

Roy will meet this week with officials from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Defence to try to obtain research funding.

The scientists want to find out whether the energy output from the burning hydrogen — which reached a heat of more than 1,650 C — would be enough to power a car or other heavy machinery.

"We will get our ideas together and check this out and see where it leads," Roy said. "The potential is huge."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Attention All Pedestrians, Cyclists, Bladers and Transit Users: South Kingsway on TPC Agenda

Responding to a letter from the Toronto Urban Renewal Network (TURN), the Toronto Pedestrian Committee (TPC) will be considering a motion to re-open the South Kingsway/Queensway Environmental Assessment (EA) on Wednesday, September 12th at 3:00pm. At issue is the opportunity for the City to use almost $1 million to make progressive pedestrian, cycling and transit access improvements that meet the City's Official Plan, Pedestrian Charter and Bike Plan or simply re-construct the 1950s style interchange virtually "as is".

Bill Saundercook, the local Councillor who declared the EA dead in July, will chair the TPC meeting. The TPC is comprised of citizen appointees and two councillors (see The meeting is open to the public so TURN requests that you attend in person and/or phone TPC members in advance requesting that they support the motion. This could well be the last chance to bring this fast and dangerous car-oriented area into the 21st century by making it much more people-friendly. For further information, contact Marty Collier at


Toronto Pedestrian Committee Meeting

Wednesday, September 12 at 3pm
City Hall, Committee Room 3

Full TPC Agenda for Sept. 12th (South Kingsway is Item #2)

Background on South Kingsway pedestrian improvements

Blog info on progress to date - from Bike Toronto

Friday, September 7, 2007

the Velorution

Check out this link for some bike commuting 101...

Back in the days of childhood, a bicycle was more than a bicycle - it was an instrument of freedom. It was all we needed to get us from point A to point B. Yet somewhere down the metaphorical road of life, we trade that bicycle in for traffic jams and soaring gas prices, thinking we are better off. The time has come to dust off the Schwinn and hit the ground pedaling.

I'm inspired to start chronicling my commute. I bicycle 16km each way through the unfriendly streets of York Region... stay tuned.

Attention Litterbugs

Make sure we don't toss newspapers or coffee cups out our car window. Every piece of litter matters, and should be avoided. Before you go thinking that buttons or gum wrappers will just get picked up by the wind or stuck deep in a bush where it won't bother anyone, take a look at this image of a Laysan albatross. What a shame and poignant reminder to tread lightly on this earth! As it turns out, your little bottle caps can end up in the stomachs of wildlife. Do you part today and make sure your garbage accurately lands in a can.

Cynthia Vanderlip, manager of the State of Hawaii's Kure Atoll Wildlife Sanctuary, cut open the dead body of a fledgling Laysan albatross (nicknamed "Shed Bird") to find more than half a pound of plastic in its stomach. Concentrated on the right are all the items retrieved from inside the bird: Plastic lighters, bottle caps, and other plastics that are carelessly tossed often wind up floating on the ocean surface, where they are occasionally consumed by foraging seabirds and other marine creatures.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Toronto Transit Map

This map contains public transit (bus, subway, street car, train, and LRT) lines for much of the Greater Toronto Area on a map provided by Google. Data for TTC, GO Transit, VIVA, Brampton Transit, Mississauga Transit and Vaughan Transit is included.

The Harder Way... here's a map with the proposed cutbacks

Saturday, September 1, 2007

True Horsepower Transportation

from Citizens for Renewable Energy, Newsletter #47 (sept 2007)

Commuters Offered Unclaimed Bikes

Bikes handed into the police and have remained unclaimed are to be offered to commuters so they can cycle the last leg of their journey to work.

Inverness and Nairn Transport Forum said they hoped the Re-Cycle scheme will help people travelling by train, car or bus to be more active.

Northern Constabulary said the bikes to be used would normally have been sold at auction.

The free scheme will be launched in Inverness on 12 September.

Bicycles will be made available at Rose Street car park.

Commuters will have to book a bike in advance and return it after work. Users will get a code for the cycle's lock.

The project also involves Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (Hitrans).



8th Annual International Conference on Walking and Liveable Communities
October 1st to 4th, 2007
2007 sees Toronto as the host city for the Walk21 Conference.

Walk21 looks forward to visiting Toronto to meet with international member delegates. Involving visionary and influential planners, practitioners, politicians and advocates for sustainable, strong and healthy communities where people can and do choose to walk.

Leading speakers and delegates from around the world and a diversity of sectors including recreation, community development, urban and transport planning, environmental protection, safety, health, education, tourism, design and business areas are converging on Toronto for this landmark event.


The website contains all you need to know about the World Record Walk 2007 and Ontario’s challenge to break the Guinness World Record for the largest number of people walking one kilometer at the same time! The World Record Walk will be held on October 3, 2007, 12:30 PM EST.

The World Record Walk is being organized by Green Communities Canada ( with support from the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion (


How Value Analysis Improves Sustainability

An informative evening session on how Value Analysis can improve project sustainability in different sectors. Presenters will highlight how the VA job plan can be used to focus on sustainability. The VA process use of teamwork & multi-lateral thinking, the ability to generate new ideas and the need to champion new ideas are some of the keys to successfully improving sustainability on real projects.

Meeting Location: Ontario Ministry of Transportation, 301 St. Paul St. (Niagara Room), St. Catharines
Time: 6:00 P.M.
Date: September 25, 2007

Hosted by the Canadian Society of Value Analysis (CSVA)

Sustainability balances social, economy, and environment

Sustainable development is all about ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come. This can be achieved through the three strands of social equity which recognises the needs of everyone, maintenance of stable levels of economic growth and employment, and using natural resources prudently, whilst protecting, and if possible enhancing, the environment. This can be shown diagrammatically as follows:

The Transportation Association of Canada has a similar definition of sustainability that can be found here, along with 12 principles of sustainable transportation planning: