Have No Fear Bixi is Here (to Stay?)

English: Bike sharing system in Toronto

English: Bike sharing system in Toronto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 I had written a blog article a few weeks ago about the Toronto Transit Union’s poor reception of the bike-sharing program, Bixi. The TTC had argued that Bixi does not align with their mandate and therefore, could not be financially supported. Cyclists across this city were disappointed by this dismissal of such an incredible contribution to our city’s cheapest and most eco-friendly transportation. However, there is great news for our green travellers: Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has persuaded three developers in her ward to contribute $1 million to the expansion of Bixi!

Currently, Toronto has 80 Bixi stations largely concentrated in the downtown core. This generous contribution from builders will enable 20 additional stations to be built. Neighbourhoods beyond the city centre will now have the chance to benefit from this community-focused and green-conscious program. What is really interesting is there appears to be a direct trade-off between vehicle and bike rights going on. These developers, in exchange for their Bixi donation, were allowed to build fewer parking spaces than city rules require. So hopefully, the residents in these building will be bike-friendly.

Wong-Tam does not want the growth to stop there. She argues that, if every ward was driven to do this, even Etobicoke could be riding on Bixi bikes in the not-faraway future. While it is not feasible for Ward 27 to fuel the entire program, Wong-Tam explains that expansion is occurring across the entire city. Developers are interested in different wards around Toronto; therefore, it should not be difficult to gain more funds to offset the potential green issues associated with large-scale development.

On the other hand, Mayor Ford has made his stance clear stating that, “the program is a failure and should be allowed to vanish from the Toronto landscape.” Therefore, it will be up to councillors to push for legislation that urges new developers to donate to the sustainability of bike sharing in Toronto. Arguably, he has a point and it is the same one that the TTC put forth. Currently, Bixi is being burdened by almost $4 million of debt. However, I would argue that the more the program is expanded, the more value it will have for all of Toronto.

Commuting to work from outside of the downtown core is a nightmare. Making bikes available to those beyond the city’s central limits will decrease traffic, increase exercise and benefit an even larger population of the city. All I can say is bring on the development if it brings on the Bixi!

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.