Biking to the Toronto Film Festival

John Diogenous 

Downtown Toronto

Downtown Toronto (Photo credit: J. Good)

Although my blog often focuses on nature and the joys of spending time in it, I have a particular affinity for Toronto’s lively culture. One of the best, brightest and boldest features of our city is the Toronto International Film Festival – and it’s happening right now! This film festival features old stars, up and comers and has come to be renowned with the likes of Cannes. Toronto is blessed to host such an incredible festival and I would advise all of my blog readers to take advantage of this event before it’s too late!

People from all over the world are flooding into our city to see the incredible works of today’s most cutting edge directors. While TIFF is great for our economy and city culture, it does present some hazards in the way of increasing traffic and decreasing the already abysmal lack of parking.

However, these obstructions to travel should not prevent you from enjoying the festival’s screenings and events. Therefore, I would like to suggest that Torontonians consider biking as an option to find their way to TIFF. While biking may not seem like an explicitly fashionable choice of travel, it is eco-friendly, affordable and fast. Therefore, regardless if you wear a brand name helmet or not, you will still enjoy the many benefits that biking has to offer. For years, bloggers, adventurers and environmentalists have bragged the benefits of biking and attempted to incorporate it into the TIFF culture. With more and more people biking in Toronto than ever before, I believe this is the year to show Toronto that our culture needs a shift towards two wheels.

Despite the disappointing turn of events I discussed in my previous blog, Bixi is still up and running for TIFF. Therefore, as long as you have a valid credit card you will easily be able to access the joys of motor-free transportation. This is especially convenient for all of our out-of-city visitors as it negates the hassle of travelling with bicycle equipment. Visit the Bixi website to find a bike station near you: https://toronto.bixi.com. If you have never used Bixi before visit my previous blog to discover the benefits of bike-sharing in our busy city.

If you are a native Torontonian biking to TIFF would be a great way to spend date night. Get out your bike and your helmet and gear up for a night full of outdoor an

Toronto Skyline

Toronto Skyline (Photo credit: Bobolink)

d cultural adventure. As the majority of the events are at nighttime, please take extra caution while biking and be sure to turn on your lights and wear bright clothing.

You can enjoy your bike night worry free by locking it up at a convenient location. Check out the TIFF map to discover the most convenient bike routes and bike racks: http://tiff.net/contact/mapanddirections. Be sure to bring your own lock, as they are not provided.

Advertisements

Toronto Bikers Beware: Surviving Toronto’s Most Dangerous Streets

English: Bicycle sharrows (shared-lane marking...

English: Bicycle sharrows (shared-lane markings) on Harbord Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Sharrows are placed in a travel lane to remind all road users that a bicyclist may use the full lane. They differ from bike lanes as there is no separate lane set aside for cyclists. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After my blog post about dooring, I continued to explore other safety issues surrounding cycling in Toronto. Unfortunately, I encountered a lot of negative social media posts that contained complaints about the city’s inhabitable cycling nature. Beginner cyclists, and even those with years of experience, are hesitant to bike Toronto because of poor traffic conditions.

People reported that, “Toronto is so hostile to cyclists” and “It’s just pure luck that I survive the commute.” Other scorned cyclists condemned the conditions stating, “Most streets with bike lanes are pretty horrendous” or my personal favourite, “[biking in Toronto] is just suicidal.” Therefore, I wanted to briefly review some of Toronto’s trickier streets, as well as some suggestions regarding how to handle them.

Beware of Bloor

It appears drivers are not used to sharing the road with cyclists here. Due to Bloor’s high-density traffic, it appears as though many drivers believe that cyclists should not be allowed there at all. However, we are and they should learn to share.

Unfortunately on Bloor, we are both sharing the lanes with a whole other space-hogging presence – a mass of parked cars. The parked cars on Bloor make it nearly impossible to dodge doors. Therefore, cyclists are attempting to avoid parked, and fast moving vehicles making it nearly impossible to enjoy a peaceful ride.

Prepare to Cruise Casually on College

Cars aren’t the only force that cyclists have to face in Toronto’s lanes. For those of you that have to bike to work or to important extra-curricular activities – be prepared to set your cruise control well below the speed of common courtesy.

I admit that the bike lanes on College are well kept and I know that this should heighten cyclists’ desires to bike along this popular street; however, its popularity is exactly why it’s become a nightmare. Couples biking beside each other clog up the lanes and force fast-movers to swerve into oncoming traffic. Please cyclists, if you want to enjoy a cruise let people pass safely! Or, make sure you leave extra time to travel down College so you can enjoy your slow moving biking buddies, as opposed to braving traffic to arrive on time.

Look out for streets that cross on/off- ramps to a major highway

It’s nothing short of hair-raising when you’re coolly biking down one of Toronto’s streets and all of a sudden – boom – you’re headed onto a highway. I would highly recommend that bikers who are not overly familiar with Toronto’s on and off-ramps map them out before they take off for a ride. Make sure you know which lanes to avoid or how to properly maneuver to prevent yourself from crossing traffic that is speeding up for the highway.

I love biking in Toronto and I would never want to scare cyclists into leaving their bikes at home. However, Toronto’s streets require that you are constantly aware. Never stop checking your blind spots and do not make sudden turns. Know where you are going and take the safest route to get there. When you have the time, head to some of the best biking spots in our city (I have detailed them in my last blog!). Be safe and have your best bike yet in Toronto, Ontario

“Dooring” Major Danger for Toronto Cyclists

Santa Monica Door Lane / Bike Lane

Santa Monica Door Lane / Bike Lane (Photo credit: Gary Rides Bikes)

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out! It seems that is the snarly approach that vehicles and authorities are taking towards Toronto cyclists’ injurious encounters with car doors. Every Torontonian cyclist understands the danger that our densely populated city presents to our commute.

Discussion regarding the support (or lack thereof) for Toronto’s cyclists erupted after a member of Cycle Toronto, Chavisa Brett, wrote a saddened letter. In this letter she outlined her literal run-in with a car door at the intersection of Carlton and Yonge Street in Toronto. Brett wrote that she was travelling to work when an individual in a parked car, feet ahead of her, flung open his/her door and Chavisa crashed directly into it.

Chavisa goes on to explain that she required 25 x-rays after the crash, as well as 2 weeks away from work. She sympathized with cyclists across Toronto and her emotive depiction elicited responses from several cyclists that had experienced similar fates.

Toronto cyclists refer to this all too common phenomenon as “dooring”. However, in Toronto dooring has no place in civil claims court – or anywhere else for that matter. Toronto officials define collisions in such a way that doorings go entirely unrecorded or unnoticed by public servants. Currently, 1,315 accidents involving bicycles were recorded last year. This is an extremely disturbing number especially when you consider that it does not include a single dooring.

Chicago police have been tracking doorings for three years. Between 250-300 doorings are reported each year and 50% of them require that an ambulance is called to the scene. Toronto and Chicago are directly comparable as they have nearly identical populations. Therefore, in my opinion, their data reveals a widespread problem that requires immediate attention.

In Chicago, a motorist that doors a cyclist can be charged up to $1, 000. In Toronto, the maximum fine for this disregard for cyclists’ safety is a whooping $85. Many cyclists have come forward with complaints to the Toronto police department stating that this fine does not reflect the severe physical damage that many dooring victims must endure.

Toronto police maintain that the definition of a collision includes “motion”. Therefore, cyclists need to recognize that a parked car’s swinging door does not count as motion and therefore, should not be recorded. A spokesperson for Traffic Services went so far as to compare recording doorings with recording the sunny days in a week. While public officials seem unmoved by Toronto’s epidemic, I hope that with more cyclists coming forth with heart wrenching stories that public opinion will be swayed. Let’s seek safety for Toronto’s cyclists. Don’t be shy stand up for your ride!

Best Bike Paths in Toronto

Biking around the city is a great way to get your fill of fresh air and to appreciate different sights that you may have overlooked due to going about your everyday life. Here are four of the best bike paths in Toronto, all of which present their own brand of adventure. The next time that you get a chance to pedal around the city, bike through these routes and enjoy a whole new experience.

If your brake is in working order, you will have a great time peddling through the downhill path from the Argonaut Rowing Club to the Boulevard Club. The path will start just along the trail past the park and the tennis court and will reach all the way to the bottom, until you pass the busy entrance of Nota Benne. Keep your eyes peeled for park entrances, because this part of the city has a lot of them. Bikers should also watch out for cars and pedestrians because this area can be quite busy during key parts of the day.

Those who are looking for a quieter ride will love the Martin Goodman Trail because it tends to be very quiet. As part of the Waterfront Trail, the Martin Goodman Trail starts from Park Lawn Avenue and reaches to the R.C. Harris Filtration Plant in Victoria Park. There are certain parts that will bring bikers close to traffic, but a bigger part of the trail is composed of wide and peaceful biking gaps. This trail is most popular among bikers during the summer months because the lake makes the temperature in the area drop as much as three to five degrees cooler.

Adult bikers who do not mind a little bit of traffic will enjoy biking around Lakeshore Boulevard. From this area until the Waterfront Trail, bikers can expect to encounter heavy traffic, busy streets, and a constant stream of pedestrians. The next section will present the steady presence of a heavy traffic flow and parked cars. Bikers who want to avoid this part of the route may head north of Lakeshore and west along the housed streets crossing Lakeshore. Simply take the bike lanes in this part of the city and you will find yourself on First Street. Beginner bikers who are still wary of peddling through heavy traffic can get off their bikes and walk their way to the less congested area of the trail. Sidewalks are constantly present on all parts of the trail.

Biking around Toronto can be a very fun and exciting adventure if you take the right routes. The different parts of the city present different challenges to bikers, so familiarize yourself with them before you take your bike for a spin. Beautiful and interesting sites await so put on your helmet and get on your bike.

Players Teach Kids To Stay Healthy

Giving back to the community is of vital importance. In fact, it is essential if the community members are to be able to pull together for the greater good. Individuals who are members of major sports teams have the potential to positively affect the lives of others who are struggling, especially children. By using the influence that naturally comes with playing professional sports, athletes can show children how to live a healthy lifestyle and that they can achieve their goals and dreams, regardless of their current situation.

Children who live in impoverished areas suffer some of the most difficult circumstances that could ever be imagined. Many of these children have a difficult time thinking about how they will get through tomorrow, not to mention anything beyond that. Living a healthier lifestyle is often not something that they even consider. However, sports stars can serve as role models by helping young people to realize that by through living a healthy lifestyle as a means of coping with additional stresses, they can transform their lives and realize their most personal dreams.Children need role models that they can look up to, especially when they are living in difficult circumstances. Without reliable role models, children have a much greater chance of turning to harmful behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse. However, athletes can help them realize that they can use a healthy lifestyle to rise above their current situation, giving them something positive to look forward to. In addition, young adults and small children alike are more likely to succeed when they have an example to look up to. Having a dependable sports star as a role model may help them emulate the behavior that helps them stay fit, as they are able to see how fitness has played an important role in the continued success of athletes in all professional sports. Focusing on fitness also gives young people something to focus on other than the circumstances that surround their lives. Athletes that give back to the community can serve as ideal role models.

People like Kevin Durant or Wes Welker have done a lot to help their respective communities, such as helping impoverished or disadvantaged youths. Through their actions, they have demonstrated how important it is to focus on ways to stay positive and achieve goals. These individuals, as well as many others, help young children realize that they can use health and fitness as a way of coping with life’s challenges. They can also find a way out of poverty through fitness. Perhaps even more importantly, role models in sports help young people realize that there are a number of ways to succeed in life as long as giving up is never considered as an option. Moreover, they show young individuals how to help others once they have achieved their own dreams.

-John Diogenous