Monthly Archives: July 2013

Too Bad for BIXI – TTC Turns Down Partnership

English: BIXI (a portmanteau word of bicycle a...For those readers who are not familiar with BIXI, it is a bicycle sharing system. Bixi mixes bicycling and taxis to offer environmentally conscious and fitness-friendly citizens the option to cycle instead of drive. Bixi was born in Montreal and began expanding across Canada and around the world.

A complete Bixi station houses bikes and operates with a pay station and bike locks. Bikers use Bixi keys, obtained through a long-term subscription, to access the bicycles. The stations are supposed to be powered by solar panels and can be reconfigured and moved in less than an hour. The rates are extremely reasonable. A subscriber usually enjoys free rides, as the first 45 minutes are included. From there, up to an hour and a half will be covered by $3. Pretty much this is a system that is environmentally and user-friendly with a splash of technological innovation. Sounds great right? Well, not so much to the TTC.

In May, the TTC chair, Karen Stintz, publicly declared the possibility of matching up with Toronto’s Bixi bike-sharing program. However, this idealistic announcement has met a resounding “no way” from other TTC staff. Two major reasons were given for TTC’s dismissal of the marriage. First, the TTC was too nervous about taking on Bixi’s $3.9 million debt. Second, TTC staff feel as though the Bixi program does not align itself with the corporate mission of the TTC. To say the least, Toronto bikers are giving the TTC more than just a raised eyebrow.

I must address the second statement first. How can the TTC say that transporting people safely, quickly and affordably is not part of their mandate? Does a non-motorized vehicle no longer count as Toronto transportation? I am more than slightly confused regarding how this argument can be justified.

The cost argument I can kind of begin to understand; however, the TTC has constantly faced an operational loss for the past decade. Perhaps trying something new is exactly what Toronto needs instead of something that the TTC needs to turn away. So far, the biking community agrees. Many have publicized their outrage on social media and across biking forums. While not everyone supported the TTC takeover, they most certainly do not want to say goodbye to Bixi.

So how can Toronto save this innovative practice that has found so much success in other parts of the world? Use the service. Use it frequently and make sure friends tag along. Instead of complaining about the TTC, celebrate Bixi and ensure that Torontonians understand what the loss of this system will mean for the city. Let’s bring Bixi back to life Toronto. Don’t miss out on fast and affordable transportation that could clear our streets of our world famous traffic jams.

Biking Tips for Toronto Beginners

Biking Tips for Toronto Beginners

Biking Tips for Toronto BeginnersBeginning any exercise can be intimidating; especially when machinery is involved. However, biking is a great sport for any Toronto city slicker to ease into. When beginning your biking journey, keep in mind that some obstacles may be tougher than others. However, no biking skill is impossible to master. If you keep with it you’ll be exploring the entirety of Toronto without the hassle of subways or streetcars before you know it.

Cycling is a great way to burn calories and it is a ton of fun to do by yourself or with friends. It requires very little planning or preparation. However, I will always recommend optimum hydration before you begin your first stint.

Remember, “it’s like riding a bike”? Well, I will admit that sometimes cycling isn’t as easy as that old saying portrays. This is especially true for beginners who have abandoned their wheels for an extended period of time. At first, you may experience a bit of a wabbly feeling. I know – not the most technical term, but once you get started you will know what I mean. The thin tires and lightweight feel of innovative street bikes can test a beginner’s balance. Don’t be shy! Once you get going you’ll feel as sturdy as a rock in motion.

Interval Training is a great way to move from amateur biker to Tour De France competitor. Try descending intervals; start with 2 minutes hard followed by 2 easy minutes. Then, go down to 1 minute of each until you reach a 15 second sprint. Follow this session up with 5 minutes of easy, enjoyable biking and then rev your engines up again.

Don’t Let Yourself Suffer from Biking Boredom. Try out new paths all over Toronto. I have discussed some of the best biking paths in previous blogs. However, just to refresh your memory, I would recommend taking a short trip to the Toronto Islands or exploring the Martin Goodman Trail. You can check out the best biking paths in Toronto at this website

Challenge yourself to create a biking checklist with all of the Toronto paths mentioned in that article. Check off each one as your build up your biking stamina and grow your appreciation for Toronto’s outdoor atmosphere.

Challenge yourself with a Steep Climb. Don’t collapse trying to conquer the CN Tower or anything, but try to find an intimidating hill and pedal by pedal overcome your hesitation. Do not try to sprint up your first mountain. Take it easy and appreciate the burn as you bike up Toronto’s hills. It is better to maintain a sustainable intensity than to burn out and toss your bike.

Last, but certainly not least; enjoy yourself! Put on some sunscreen and fall in love with Toronto’s outdoors. Cheers, and be sure to have a pedal for me!

“Bike to the Bombers” Big Hit with Cyclists - John Diogenous

“Bike to the Bombers” Big Hit with Cyclists

While reading the paper today I found an exciting story about sports fans in Winnipeg. I wanted to share this news with Toronto because I am hopeful this is what the future of our sports fans looks like. While the Argonauts blasted the Bombers in a blowout victory, it was the Bombers’ fans who truly won the greatest victory before and after the game. 

One June 12, the new Investors Group Field was absolutely flooded with….bicycles? That’s right; over 1,200 fans rode their bicycles to the Bombers’ home opener against the Toronto Argonauts. A Winnipeg cycling enthusiast, Anders Swanson, was more than pleasantly surprised to count 1,222 bicycles chained up to anything that could hold a bike lock. As the cyclists poured into the stadium the positive impact of this cycling phenomenon quickly became apparent.

The Bomber’s fan-friendly new stadium offers visitors a complimentary bike valet to encourage fans to leave their cars at home. This idea took off in response to the terrible traffic jams that occurred before and after games. The Bombers had been battling with fan complaints and struggled with a resolution. However, even the Blue Bombers spokesperson, Darren Cameron, could not believe the sea of bikes pouring into the stadium on June 12. Cameron admitted that the old stadium used to only see about 60-70 cyclists. He was thrilled to see people taking advantage of the bike valet service and truly enjoying the outdoors prior to an incredible game.

Cameron hopes that even more fans will convert to cyclists before the season is out. Thousands of fans still stuck in their cars complained about hour-long traffic jams and idling. Therefore, Anders Swanson created a video message to encourage fans to look at traveling to the game a little differently. Swanson video taped the biking bananza at the Investors Group Field and put the footage on Youtube. Already the clip has generated hundreds of visits and “likes” indicating that biking to the Blue Bombers may become a widespread phenomenon.

I am hopeful that Torontonians will adopt the same style of travel the next time they attend a Toronto Argonauts game. Imagine still enjoying your favour Toronto team, but with less traffic and environmental damage? Not to mention getting some much needed exercise before and after a few Toronto Argonauts’ hotdogs. What do you think Toronto, can we beat the Bombers’ biking record? Let’s put on our thinking helmets and discover a way to turn Toronto into a bike-friendly city.