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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Toronto Bike Corrals Approved

Toronto City Council has approved parking by-law changes to make three bike corrals a seasonally permanent feature between April 1 and November 30 each year.

A bike corral is essentially a parking lot for bicycles and takes up a location usually used for parking cars on the street. They are placed in areas with high bicycle traffic and bicycle parking congestion wherein the demand for more bicycle parking has become severe.

The Augusta Street bike corral was re-installed in its pilot location on May 1st this year, just north of Nassau Street. This on-street bike corral provides space to park 24 bicycles where only three cars were able to park previously.

Another bike corral will also be re-installed in the parking lay-by at 205 Spadina Avenue.

A third corral is planned for 86 Nassau, just east of Bellevue. This Nassau bike parking corral will replace two car parking spaces with 16 bike parking spaces.

Bike Corrals are increasingly popular in cities across North America, including Vancouver, New York. Washington D.C, Portland Oregon and Long Beach. It is seen as a seasonal solution to the problem of limited sidewalk capacity for parked bicycles.

In related news...

A new bicycle station is coming to the Victoria Park Subway Station. The opening event is this Thursday, 10 AM on May 31st, 2012.

The secure, indoor bicycle parking facility has 52 secure bicycle parking spaces available on two-tier racks. It is the second bike station in Canada – the first is located at Toronto's Union Station. More bicycle stations are also planned for Pape station and Finch West station.

To use the Victoria Park parking facility register at the Union Station Bicycle Station, Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 12 noon, or by appointment at East York Civic Centre. There is a one-time lifetime registration fee of $26.91, which gives you a permanent membership to all Toronto Bicycle Stations plus monthly fees. The one-day fee to pay and park is $2.15. All prices include the HST.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bike Shops in Scarborough

If you live in Scarborough it can be trickier to find a skilled bicycle mechanic. There are places (lowly auto mechanics) which offer repairs, but while they may have some of the tools and know how to change a tire, they're not really suited to fine tuning derailleurs or bicycle brakes or any of your more complex repair needs.

The following is a list of Bike Shops in Scarborough which does have mechanics who are able to fix your bicycle properly. Sadly the list is short. Many people in Scarborough prefer to drive.

D'Ornellas Bike Shop Ltd
1894 Lawrence Avenue East, Scarborough, ON M1R 2Y5, Canada
416-752-3838
dornellas.com

Cycle World Superstore
4545 Sheppard Avenue East, Scarborough, ON M1S 1V3, Canada
416-291-8858
cycleworldsuperstore.com

See? Very short list. Therefore I am including this 1 from Thornhill too.

Big John's Bike Shop
10 Harlech Crt, Thornhill, ON L3T 6L5, Canada
905-707-7766

In theory you could also trade in your broken bicycle at Play It Again Sports and trade it for store credit towards a fixed bicycle.

Play It Again Sports
5863 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2M 3T9, Canada
416-222-5713
playitagainsportsnorthyork.com

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bicycle Mechanic Schools in Ontario

QUESTION
I'm writing to solicit your opinion of Mechanic School/Course options in Southern Ontario. I understand the Winterborne course in Guelph is very comprehensive, but do you suggest anything available in Toronto proper? The TDSB offers one but I'm not sure of it's quality.

Any advice and opinions are greatly appreciated.

Regards,
Jean-Pierre


ANSWER

Yes, the Toronto District School Board does offer some basic training, but that is exactly what it is: Basic.

[Right: Smokey Dymny teaching a student in the BAM program in 2009.]

The BAM program at the Learning Enrichment Foundation in Toronto is offering classes again (but their teacher is different now and I don't know if the new teacher is any good). Call 416-760-2551 for BAM's starting dates and fees.

The old teacher of the BAM program is Smokey Dymny and he now teaches at the Quadra Bike School in British Columbia. He is arguably one of the best teachers in North America and the folks at LEF were morons to let him go. Email smokeydymny@rogers.com to learn more about his program.

Upcoming Quadra Bike School start dates are:
September 17th to October 26th, 2012
November 5 to December 14th, 2012

Winterbourne in Guelph is your best bet if you are looking to stay inside Ontario. Their programs are good and almost as good as the Quadra Bike School program or the Barnett Bicycle Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

If you want to stay inside Toronto then I recommend you seek out the new teacher of the BAM program at LEF and poke him with questions.

OR alternatively you could try getting your foot in through the door via a bike shop and see if they're willing to train you. ie. The Gears Bike Shop is always hiring mechanics and you might consider contacting kevin@gearsbikeshop.com to see if they would be willing to take untrained newbs as apprentices.

NOTE: Unless you are planning to open your own bike shop expect to get paid peanuts. Bicycle mechanics don't really get paid much.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Skateboarders in the Bicycle Lane

With the recent death of skateboarder Ralph Bissonnette, 28, I would like to briefly touch on the topic of skateboarders on the roads and in bicycle lanes.

Bissonnette was deliberately struck by a cab driver, Adib Ibrahim, 43, who appeared in court yesterday.

Video footage shows Bissonnette traveling in the curb lane, close to the passing lane, gesturing at the cab driver to go, but according to witnesses the taxi suddenly veered into Bissonnette’s lane and even mounted the curb of the sidewalk. Witnesses say the taxi struck Bissonnette then drive over his lower body.

Bissonnette died shortly after around 6 PM. The incident happened near King and George Streets, just east of Jarvis St.

According to police Ibrahim "lost his cool" and decided to punish the skateboarder by hitting him. Second-degree murder charges are laid where homicides are intentional but spur-of-the-moment and unplanned. A conviction carries a life sentence with possible parole after 10 years.

Police are looking for additional witnesses. Witnesses should call Detective Sergeant Terry Browne at 416-808-7403.



I personally don't have a problem with skateboarders using bicycle lanes and the right side of lanes the same way cyclists do. Same goes with rollerblading. The police however say it is strictly illegal and punishable.

The problem is that legally skateboards and rollerblades belong on the sidewalk, but if you've ever used either on a busy sidewalk you know its safer to use the road instead. Pedestrians can change directions at any moment without warning, people can come out of doors in a hurry and accidents can and will happen. Its the same reason why bicycling on the sidewalk is illegal (unless you're riding a children's bicycle or coasting) because there is a danger of hitting pedestrians.

Evidently the laws need to be updated and more bicycle lanes added. Bicycle lanes really should redubbed "alternative transportation lanes" or alt lanes.

What I do have a serious concern about is old people on mobility scooters who seem to have lost their marbles and are riding their mobility scooters in busy traffic. That to me is a public menace and an accident waiting to happen. (Its as if they are senile and don't know they're not in a car...)

In the footage below you will see an elderly Toronto man cross multiple lanes of traffic in his mobility scooter and then go the opposite way into oncoming traffic on the far side of the street. That is a public menace! (No cyclist or skateboarder would ever do anything that stupid.)

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Looking for a bicycle mechanic school in Canada? The Quadra Island Bike School in British Columbia is a Canadian bicycle mechanic school that trains professional bicycle mechanics against the backdrop of the beautiful Quadra Island.