Category Archives: winter riders

New Kickstand!

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My very elegant, Copenhagen Dual-leg kickstand by Velo Orange, purchased from HoopDriver has been installed.

What makes this kickstand so special is that when it is retracted, the two legs fold together to one side which makes it very compact when not in use.

I really love it!

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Here I am in my winter riding uniform! This is what I usually wear when the temperatures are between 5°C to -8°C-ish. When it’s colder, I switch up my coat to a longer parka.

• a wool coat with quilted lining
• jeans with leggings underneath
• shoes with socks doubled-up
• leather gloves
• helmet with winter lining (that has ear flaps)

I usually warm up quite quickly after I start riding, so under my coat I’m usually wearing a cardigan and a short-sleeved shirt. If I were walking leisurely, these layers would not be enough. I would definitely be wearing a wool sweater to keep warm!

Do you have a ‘uniform’ for riding in colder weather?

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no bike lanes on harbord

We’re in the middle of the cold snap in Toronto and it looks like it will continue through this weekend. Luckily, there’s been many winter riding tips from bloggers around North America. Here’s a quick roundup of posts that I thought were really comprehensive and had some unique tips:

The ladies from my Winter Riders interview series from last year share some tips on winter riding as well:


Lastly, an action item:
the Ontario Ministry of Transportation is collecting ideas/comments for their Cycling Strategy. Click here to send in your thoughts. The deadline is January 29, 2013 so you only have a few days left! Go forth and make your opinions heard!

Stay warm out there this weekend!

Winter Rider – Amanda!

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This is our last Winter Rider interview!

The photos were taken on a typically warm 2011/2012 winter day at Kensington Market, one of Amanda’s most favourite places in Toronto.

Amanda holds the record for the most number of Cupcake Ride and Sweet Rides attended! I still remember meeting her the first time at the 7th Cupcake Ride back in 2010 at For the Love of Cake and drooling over her cool bike.

Since then we’ve ridden together on countless rides and partied it up at Dandyhorse issue release parties!

So without further ado, here’s Amanda and her million dollar smile!

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Why do you love Kensington Market so much?
I love that Kensington has a small town feel right in the middle of the downtown core. Every time I ride or walk through there I bump into someone I know. You can find everything you need from a killer cup of coffee to fresh produce to a handmade tshirt. I’ve traveled to other cities and never seen anything quite like it. It’s unique but still manages to not be pretentious. I guess that’s because everyone there recognizes that they have something special and are dedicated to preserving it. I know some locals get tired of seeing the hipster and tourist parade roll through there on the weekends but can you really blame them? It’s awesome. I would want to see it too.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I studied Radio & Television at Ryerson. Now I work in magazine circulation which, simply put, is subscriber and newsstand sales at Quarto Communications publishers of Canadian Home Workshop, Cottage Life, explore and Outdoor Canada. Previous to that, I worked at Duke’s Cycle for seven years. Big fan of travel, music, reading novels, watching geeky tv shows, playing floor hockey, drinking too much wine and, of course, riding bikes to go eat cupcakes.

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I think I remember you telling me how you starting riding regularly back in University. Did you ride throughout the winters back then too?
Actually, started commuting year round in university so think I’m in my 5th or 6th year of winter commuting. I’ve always had a bike for recreation. I worked at Duke’s from the age of 14 until 22 and my sister’s before me. Don’t really remember a time in my life where I didn’t hang out there. I pretty much grew up on the red bar stools by the counter at the old shop. Bought my first high end road bike when I was 16 and was into custom builds by 18. Years in bike retail have turned me into a bike snob.

Which is probably why you take your bike in to get fixed up at Duke’s! Do you have any tips you can share from your experience of winter riding?
Winter riding is all about attitude. I’m a firm believer in The Velominati Rule #9. If you’re out riding in bad weather you’re badass. Own it. Approach winter riding with fear or frustration and that’s all you’ll get out of it. If it’s cold think how good it will feel to show up to work on your bike to the awe of your coworkers. If it’s snowy embrace the fun of riding your own personal slip and slide.

That being said, ride within your comfort level. I found the best way for me to get into it was by riding on cold days at first but leaving the bike at home when there was snow. Gradually I became more comfortable and now it’s pretty rare for me to ever think the weather is too bad to ride. This winter has been especially mild so I haven’t missed a single day on the bike.

It has been alarmingly mild this year. So if this was a typical winter, what would you recommend a first time winter rider to prepare herself with?
Mittens, fenders and the right attitude. That’s all you need.

For me, if my fingers get cold I’m instantly miserable. For others it’s their toes. For really cold or wet days I have a pair of Burton snowboard mittens I wear. Secondly, fenders are a must. Mine is custom since my frame wasn’t designed with fenders in mind but you can find even a simple plastic mud flap for $10 at your local bike shop. Get one.

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Why do you love biking so much?
Simply, bicycles are beautiful. You fly. For me, I find they are the perfect place for me to think through things and center myself. Plus, I’ve made more friends through the love of bikes than anything else in my life. More tangibly, I don’t drive so it’s my main method of transportation. It gives me the freedom to come and go as I please without relying on anyone else.

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So recently Kona created a new bike based on one of your bikes. That is so cool! How did that come about? Will it be available in 2012?
The Kona Roundabout. She’s already available so go buy one!

I got an email at work one day from my friend, Matt, that works at Kona. He has seen the evolution of my bike over the years and my tailoring it to be the perfect city ride. They were looking to create a new model for their asphalt line to appeal to girls that wanted something practical yet quick. He decided to use my baby as a muse. They turned it into a step thru and put gears on it but other than that the geometry is fairly similar. The mustache bar lets you sit up and look around but when you want to put some power into it you’ll get there fast.

I struggle to describe how flattering it is seeing a bike you’ve put together from the frame up get put into production. The thought that girls in random cities will be riding “my” bike makes me happy.

Amazing! It’s the ultimate compliment!

So in addition to the Cupcake Rides we also have a connection through Dandyhorse Magazine. Can you tell us a bit about how you got involved with it?
I started working on Dandyhorse with issue #2. From there I actually got my start in circulation so volunteering with them totally paid off. This past summer I handed over the circulation reigns to another volunteer but continue to consult. Recently, I’ve started to help with their social media and have plans to start working with them on some content once again. You can find us on Twitter and on Facebook for daily updates from the Toronto bike scene.

I also write a maintenance column fairly regularly for Canadian Cycling Magazine. It’s fun but also a challenge. I’ve been spoiled for years by having friends that love working on bikes so my knowledge is certainly lacking. It has proven to be a really good learning opportunity for me.

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What would make bike riding in Toronto better?
How much time have you got? Toronto has so much potential. I’m always impressed with the volume of cyclists on the roads. Unfortunately, we’re facing the reality of having a mayor in office that doesn’t understand the need for alternative transport and has gone so far as to declare that people dedicated to sustainable transit options are declaring the ‘war on the car’. This simply isn’t true. If anything, supporting alternate methods of transit actually makes it better for drivers. Getting more people out of their cars will ease gridlock.

So what do we do in the meantime? Get involved. Make sure your councilor knows how you feel. If they support bikes and transit than they’ll appreciate having letters and signed petitions to bring with them to argue their point to council. If they’re not, than they need to know they don’t have the support of their constituents. Building infrastructure is a key ingredient to making this city a better place for cyclists and that comes from the top.

On the day to day, I would like to see a city that understands the need to share the road and show respect for one another. That means understanding the perspective of all people that use the streets from drivers to cyclists to transit users and pedestrians. The ‘me first’ mentality is easy to fall into and I’m certainly not above doing it but it won’t work on the long term. We must think in terms of what is equal considering the unique needs of the individual.

As a cyclist that means understanding that drivers have blind spots. I urge you to not squeeze to the right. Trucks, delivery vans and rigs can’t see you. As a driver, cyclists are legally allowed to take their lane. Forcing them to squeeze to the right puts their safety at risk. Side swiping a cyclist on your commute will probably make you later for work than if you had just given them the room they rightfully deserve and passed them on the left just like you would with any other slower moving vehicle.

Also, consider that cycling is based on momentum. Waiting for a moment to let them pass even if you have the legal right of way is a simple kind gesture that really won’t add a lot of time to your commute. Finally, respect my goddamn bike lane. It may be small but it’s a lane. Forcing cyclists to swerve into traffic to get around you while you idle is dangerous and inconsiderate. Watch for bikes when pulling in and out of a parking spot and last but not least when you’re making a right hand turn at an intersection where there is a bike lane you treat it like a left hand turn. Signal your intent, wait until the bike lane is clear then turn. You are crossing a line of traffic. You don’t pull into the bike lane, stop, signal, then turn. That’s cutting us off.

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Thank you for the sound advice and thoughtful ideas, Amanda!!

And thank you, especially, for agreeing to be interviewed!

To keep up with Amanda’s adventures on and off her bike, please follow her on Twitter.


And that wraps up our Winter Rider interview series! A big thank you to the lovely ladies who ride through all four seasons and kindly agreed to be interviewed!

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Thank you for reading!

I’d love to hear what you thought about these interviews. Would you like to see more?

Winter Rider – Kathleen!

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I first met Kathleen when she was instructing the Wenches with Wrenches class I took 3 years ago. Since then Kathleen has come out to numerous Cupcake Rides and Sweet Rides. She is really active in the bike community, helping run Wenches with Wrenches and being a board member for the Community Bicycle Network.

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Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
When I moved to Toronto four years ago, I got involved in the bike community right away. Now I work at a worker co-op bike shop (Urbane Cyclist) and mainly volunteer with Wenches with Wrenches and the Community Bicycle Network. When I’m not riding or working on my bikes I like to do yoga, read, and try new vegan recipes.

And can you tell us little about your super cute, new winter ride? I love the colour of the frame, by the way. It matches the Cupcake Ride logo!
Thanks! It’s a Pake C’mute frame which is designed for sport touring or city riding. I built it up as a learning experience about drum brakes and internal hubs, using a Sturmey Archer 8 speed drum brake rear hub. It’s my first “new” bike ever. My plan is to use it as a winter bike, then convert it into a touring bike with drop bars when the weather gets better.

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How many winters have you ridden through so far?
I moved here in January 2008 so this will be my fifth winter of riding in Toronto. Before living here I was in Victoria BC where I think I had to ride in the snow only once. Some winters have been really snowy, cold, and just difficult to ride in. So far this year it’s been pretty nice. A few Saturdays ago it was 7 degrees and I rode 30k along the Lakeshore!

Any tips you can share from your experience of winter riding?
Wind proof and water proof layers mean a lot more than bundling up with thermals. I get really warm after a few minutes of riding as long as I have those outer layers on. Also, bundling up too much can restrict your movement and make it harder to shoulder check or even mount your bike!

Keep your bike clean as much as possible. Lube the chain after a heavy snow fall or rain. Keep an eye out for rust or seizing parts; if you put off maintenance you’ll have to replace lots of parts in the spring.

I had to replace my whole chain from my winter riding last year – so I that tip is something I can totally get behind! Is there anything that helps you get through winter riding?
My balaclava! It fits under my helmet, doesn’t get too bulky around my neck, and keeps my hair out of my face. Also, fenders. Can’t say that enough. Fenders, fenders, fenders.

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What are some of your other reasons for riding a bike (regardless of season)?
I don’t have a drivers license, and the TTC is too expensive, slow and restricting. I love cycling to where I want to go because I can stop for a side trip or change my plans spontaneously. It’s also a good way to keep some exercise in my daily routine. The speed of a bicycle is the perfect speed for getting somewhere efficiently while still enjoying the scenery along the way.

Agreed! It’s perfect for transportation in the city. So, what originally got you into biking?
I moved to Victoria BC in 2004 and started biking everywhere. It’s such a bike-friendly city. I learned to build my own bike from used parts at Recyclista’s bike shop and just kept going from there!

Did your love of bike riding get you involved with Community Bike Network on Queen St.? If I recall correctly, you volunteer on their board, right? Is that how you got involved with Wenches with Wrenches?
I’ve been on the board of CBN for four years. Before I joined I was a volunteer there and I believe that’s what got me involved with Wenches with Wrenches. It was more my love of fixing my own bike for cheap and learning new skills that got me involved there.

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You also work at a super nice bike shop. It seems like everything you do is related to bikes!
I do spend a lot of time doing bike-related things. My favourite vacation activity is bike touring. I’ve met a lot of great people by sharing a bike ride.

Where are some places you’ve ridden to on your bike tours? 
I’ve ridden around Lake Superior, the gulf islands in BC, Prince Edward County in Ontario and from Toronto to Halifax on a month long trip in 2008.

Wow, sounds like lots of fun. So my last question, what would make bike riding in Toronto better?
Respect for cyclists! It would be nice to have some separated bike lanes on streets like Jarvis, Bloor/Danforth, and Richmond or Adelaide. The bike boxes that have popped up on Harbord are useful, but there are many other intersections that they should be in too. When it snows, bike lanes should be high priority to be cleared, a lot more cyclists would bike in the winter if they had that assurance.

And cyclists shouldn’t be squeezed into the no mans land between parked cars and streetcar tracks on so many main roads like King and Queen. Making space for cyclists on the road would encourage drivers to be more accommodating of them, and I’m sure lots of people who are scared to ride would be more likely to try it.

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What’s in store for you this winter (bike related or not!)?
I’m taking two night school courses and some other work-related workshops. The night school courses are some journalism courses because I’d like to write about cycling issues in Toronto.

My worker co-op is planning a co-op exchange that might take me to Winnipeg for a week. And bike pirates is hosting some women and trans only workshops that I’ll be volunteering at, starting in February on Sundays after regular shop hours.

Thanks for chatting Kathleen! Good luck with your courses!

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Keep up with Kathleen via Twitter: @radaction

Quick Sneak Peek

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I’m so excited to share this photo. It’s a quick sneak peek of the upcoming Winter Rider’s interview which will be published next week!!


500 Kindnesses

I’ve started listening to the Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor (it’s all about his research around happiness and how it affects success in life) and a study that he talks about in the book reminded me of Todd’s project, 500 Kindnesses.

Todd, a past participant of one of our Sweet Rides last year, has been doing a super long distance charity bike ride, collecting pledges for Toronto People With AIDS Foundation for the past 2 years. This year, however, he is going to do a long distance bike ride with his son on a tandem bike! Very cool, right? And instead of collecting monetary pledges, he wants to collect 500 acts of kindnesses to fuel his ride to New York City.

I definitely want to pledge something, preferably bike related … I better start brainstorming!


Rush Hour Service

In a similar vein, Denise is looking for participants to help her bring her Rush Hour Service project to fruition.

From 6:00 – 7:00 pm every weekday during the exhibition (not including Victoria Day), a local resident or vendor will offer a service to the commuters of Coxwell Station: performances, complimentary classes, free advice and assistance, etc. The idea is to make the time spent by commuters waiting at Coxwell Station productive and worthwhile, more engaging than simply using one’s smart phone to poke a friend, and allow them to connect with members of their community.

Another kind of random act of kindness! If you’d like to share something with commuters, please contact Denise!

Coldest Day of the Year Ride 2012

Denise!

Yesterday the Toronto Bike Union hosted a Coldest Day of the Year Ride so Denise and I decided to check it out! Bixi even provided bikes for free to people who stored their bikes away for the winter.

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It was pretty warm for January, but standing around in the shade, outside made it feel like the Coldest Day of the Year.

But then the sun came out and after a few words from Andie Garcia (Director of Advocacy & Operations), a Bixi executive (? I didn’t catch her name!) and Councillor Mike Layton we coasted down University to the Royal York for some free hot chocolate!

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hot choco station

Not a bad way to start your week! Thanks Bike Union for organizing this short but fun ride!

Winter Rider – Denise!

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This is probably the warmest winter I’ve encountered in Toronto yet! Despite the lack of snow, we’re still chatting with Cupcake Riders about winter riding.

Denise Ing’s first Cupcake Ride was our last ride of the 2010 season. Since then she’s come out to countless Cupcake and Sweet Rides and she’s the subject for the second interview in our Winter Riders series.

Before her, now infamous, violent encounter with a TTC rider last week Denise and I chatted about cold weather riding and her lovely bicycles.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a part-time artist. I used to be full-time, but I became more focused on money than ideas, so I decided to put the money issue to rest by getting a 9 to 5 office job. I like to produce work that cannot be bought, namely installations and experiences.

How many winters have you ridden through so far?

I have ridden on exactly three days in winter: February 28, March 19 and March 20, 2011. I squeaked in with the March 20 ride, because spring arrived at 7:20 pm that day. Those three rides were my contribution to Snow Days, an arts-based research project exploring the creative process in February, one of the coldest months of the year (http://labspacestudio.com/projects/snow-days-progress/). I also rode in the November and December 2010 Toronto Girls’ Cupcake Rides, but technically, it wasn’t winter until December 21.

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You organized a few ‘Snow Day‘ rides last year – does this mean you ride in the snow regularly?

The short answer is ‘no’. Now, here’s the anecdote about one of my few rides in semi-snow. I had decided that I would commute to work by bike on February 28, my Snow Day, in spite of the fact that my bike tires do not have any tread. I was determined but scared into insomnia the night before. As it turned out, biking in slush was not as dangerous I expected.

In fact, it was pretty enjoyable biking past all the people waiting for the streetcar. “Why doesn’t everyone bike to work in the winter?” I wondered. The answer came when I arrived at work and discovered brown water streaked up my back and soaked through to the base layer of my clothes. Luckily, I had carried my work clothes in my bag, but I went commando that day. Fenders and rain pants are essential.

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Well, after that traumatic experience, I’m sure you have some winter riding tips you can share with us!

In addition to full fender and rain pants, I would recommend going hard core on gloves and boots. Your hands and feet are the most vulnerable to the cold. Otherwise, it is a constant battle between being too hot or too cold. When commuting to work, I will dress for weather 5-10C warmer than forecast so that I do not arrive at work in a puddle of sweat. However, I am really enjoying my snowboarding jacket; it is waterproof, warm but not bulky, and it has armpit vents that you can zip open when you start heating up.

What’s your winter riding must have? OR Is there anything that helps you get through winter riding?

Waterproof, winter gloves are number one. Everything else I would recommend (full fenders, rain pants, snowboarding jacket, warm boots) are close seconds, but warm hands are essential for me.

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Speaking of fenders, you’ve recently upgraded your fenders on your daily commuter bike. Can you tell us a bit about your cool single speed?

I have a Trek Soho S, which I love. It feels fast and responsive, though I get passed by other single gear bikes all the time. When I first bought it, the Soho S was a sexy, unencumbered bike, but it has become weighed down with practical accessories like full fenders, a rear rack, and a cup holder. The cup holder is for listening to the radio during my commute. I got the idea from 416 Cycle Style.

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Even with all the additions, I think it still looks pretty slick! You also recently acquired a new geared, road bike. It’s so pretty. Do you love it or do you love it?

My Soho S tends to attract male admirers, or at least, it did before I turned it into a commuter bike. In contrast, my Trek Lexa S makes girls swoon. However, I didn’t purchase it for just superficial reasons. During my search, it was surprisingly hard to find geared road bikes that fit female proportions. Supposed unisex bikes are built for male proportions: a top tube that is a lot longer than the seat tube, wide handlebars with a deep drop, and brake levers for larger hands. In the end, I had to narrow my options to female specific design models, and the Lexa S fit perfectly.

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What are some of your other reasons for riding a bike?

Biking calms me down by giving me a sense of control over my transportation, but it also excites me to zip through traffic. I don’t have to wait on someone else, and I breeze through traffic for the most part. Also, biking saves money, and allows me to exercise regularly without having to take time out in my day to workout.

What would make bike riding in Toronto better?

I think drivers and cyclists can agree on one thing: less potholes. My bike is pretty stiff, so I feel everything. When I don’t have to be constantly vigilant for potholes, I can concentrate on maneuvering through traffic, and avoiding pedestrians who like to jump out and surprise me. A loftier goal would be more respect all around; drivers, cyclist and pedestrians need to treat each other with more consideration and courtesy. For instance, my bike ride is better when cyclists ring their bell as they’re passing on my left.

What’s in store for you this winter and after our warm winter?

I hope to bike in the winter whenever I can. If I am loathe to use my bike due to the cold or salt, my Bixi membership will come in handy for getting a quick and safe ride in whenever the mood strikes me.

I will be participating in Art of the Danforth, which runs from May 20 to June 10. My contribution will be a “Rush Hour Service” for commuters in Coxwell Station. More details to come through my Twitter account, @xiao_pangzi.

Thanks for chatting, Denise!

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Winter Rider – Andrea!

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Andrea McPhee is a Cupcake Ride regular who started riding with us this year. In fact she came out to our Season Opener in chilly, chilly March. Since then she’s come out to a Sweet Ride and many of our summer rides.

Andrea loves riding through Queen’s Park on her commute because she finds that it’s the perfect way to gauge the seasons.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I teach math and physics at a downtown high school. I travel by bike everywhere I can, even in rain. I’m mostly a transportation cyclist, but I’m trying to branch out with more recreation rides like the Meetups and Cupcake Rides.

I’ve been commuting by bike ever since I lived in Ottawa for a work term in university. Which was a long time ago. Up until March of this year, I rode a CCM faux mountain bike that cost me $100 brand-new and weighs a gazillion pounds and hence is called the Tank, but now I have a very pretty Opus Nuovella.

I’m also rather fond of pancakes.

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So this is your first winter with your beautiful, new bike. Before you got this bike how many winters did you ride in Toronto with the Tank?

At least 12 years — ever since I moved downtown. I can’t remember if I biked to grad school in winter when I lived with my parents in Etobicoke, but probably not since my mother was not exactly happy about me biking even during clement weather. The past few years it’s been harder because the Tank started not shifting out of low gear when it got too cold, which was annoying. I’m really hoping for excellent things this year, what with the internal hub and drum brakes on the Opus.

Do you ride in the snow?

Sometimes — it depends on how much snow. I’ve had some cartoon-like incidents where I’ve been literally spinning my wheels trying to climb the tiny snowy hill out of my street. If the roads are fairly dry I will bike, although the snowbanks make the streets narrower and then you are forced to interact with cars more. I’ve been considering getting snow tires, but we’ll see after this winter. I never want to feel that biking is a chore, something I have to do. If I don’t feel up to biking, I take the TTC.

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Any tips you can share from your years of winter riding?

You don’t need to dress your core as warmly as you would if you were walking, but you do need to keep your extremities warm. Cars aren’t expecting people to still be biking, so you have to make sure they see you. Signal clearly and be prepared to stop completely; most streets are narrower because of snow banks and the last thing you want to do is swerve into an oncoming car because of a patch of ice or a snow rut. Stay visible. Now is not the time to by a ninja cyclist.

What’s your winter riding must have?

Warm boots, convertible thermal mitts, scarf for the face and neck, head band to cover the ears under the helmet. I can handle the cold; biking warms up the core, but it’s not fun if my fingers, toes, and ears are in pain from the cold. A hot breakfast in the morning. Lights and reflectors for visibility. This year I’m adding a cup-holder so I can have hot tea on my ride into work.

None of which you haven’t had to bring out yet because of our super mild autumn so far! It’s been perfect cycling weather has it not?

Yes! It’s been gorgeous. I haven’t had to break out my heavy mitts, scarf, winter boots, and winter jacket yet. I’d been getting along with light gloves, scarf, and spring jacket layered over sweaters up to early December, but I’ve finally started wearing my loose-weave winter jacket.

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.. but the flip side is this mild weather is proof that climate change is happening. We had a pretty mild fall and winter last year too! Do you think it’s really happening?

It’s happening. I’ve been thinking for several years that the seasons have been shifting a month. We got “March” weather in April, “October” weather in November, and now we’re getting “November” weather in December,. If you think about it, it’s still technically autumn until December 21/22.

Is this one of the reasons why you ride a bike? To reduce your carbon footprint?

It’s definitely a bonus, but honestly I ride a bike because it’s cheap and efficient. I grew up in Etobicoke and couldn’t wait to get my own car. Then I was a poor student for 11 years and I learned that I’d rather spend car money on tuition, books, and food. Now I’d rather spend car money on clothes, books, theatre tickets, dance classes, travel, cupcakes, etc.

Also, I can get where I need to go so much more efficiently and quickly than I can by driving, as long as my trip is within 10 km. There’s nothing I like better than zipping past a long line of single-occupant cars and not having to prowl the streets for parking.

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What are some of your other reasons for riding a bike?

I’m a very lazy exerciser; when I was a member of a gym, I went maybe twice a month. Biking everywhere rolls exercise and transportation into one. It’s how I get to eat more cupcakes. Biking gets the endorphins up. I always feel great when I get to work; even after an altercation with an idiot (car, bike, or pedestrian), I calm down much more quickly than I would if I were driving or taking the streetcar. I also like the fact that I’m much more aware of my surroundings; I notice so much more on my bike than I do in a car or even on a streetcar. I can make impromptu stops at stores I’m interested in or stop and take a picture of a sunset or something funny.

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What would make bike riding in Toronto better?

In winter, I wish the city would clear the bike lanes. Last year I was excited that the Harbord lanes were clear, until I came across a snow plow pushing snow off the side walk into the lanes and another truck running over said snow and thereby rendering the lanes unusable for large stretches. I’m still trying to figure out the purpose of that. I also wish the city would break its dependence on salt; I worry about how much salt is getting into the ecosystem, but it’s also not good for the bike. I didn’t mind the Tank developing the abandoned-bike look, but I don’t want to see the Opus corrode. Denise Ing tweeted a request for monthly winter bike-washes a few weeks ago; I think that’s a genius idea.

In general, life would be better if people were courteous to each other and pay attention more. We’re all trying to get where we want to go, and nobody has any more right to the road than anyone else. This applies to cars, bikes, and pedestrians. Specifically, I’d love it if cars would learn that the turn-signal does not actually help them turn and they need to signal their intent well before the turn. And if they would stop crowding the bike lane, especially at bends in the road. I also enter my plea for slow-moving cyclists to please stop passing others at red lights. If I’ve passed you twice and the only reason you’re getting ahead is because you’re jumping the light, stop it. It forces me out into traffic, it’s rude, and it’s dangerous. Also, get some lights. Not those pointless tiny one-LED blinkers that nobody can see until you’re already upon them. MEC sells really bright turtle lights for $4 if small is your thing. For pedestrians, remember Elmer the Safety Elephant and look both ways before crossing the road, even if you don’t hear a car coming. And don’t run out from between parked cars.

We need more bike parking everywhere. There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving someplace downtown and not having a secure place to lock my bike to. And the people who put the ring and posts need to seriously think about placement; there are ring and posts that can only be used by one bike or even no bikes because they’re right up against a wall or too close to a tree or garbage can.

It would be nice to have more dedicated infrastructure, lights that are timed to bike-traffic, and some understanding that traffic-calming measures (4-way stops, 1-way streets) are there to calm car traffic and don’t really apply to bikes. We should learn something I’ve learned as a teacher: “equitable” does not mean “the same.” Bikes deserve equal access to the roads as cars, but we’re not the same as cars and some of the rules that make sense for cars are stupid for bikes. Which doesn’t mean that cyclists can act like idiots: stop blowing through red lights and stop signs!

Phew!

Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, Andrea!

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To keep up with Andrea’s adventures on and off her bike, check out her blog: PhysicsGirl on the Loose.

An apology and an announcement

after the rain fall
Fresh air and a glowing downtown – captured on a bike ride after the rain let up

 

So the Dumpling Ride never came to fruition and a hot chocolate/poutine ride that I created a few routes for wasn’t organized with enough time to promote and get people to come out. And now it’s a few days before Hanukkah and a week before Christmas and everybody’s schedules are pretty hectic.

I’m sorry if you were looking forward to a year end ride!

The upside is that I have a few non-cupcake ride routes that we can go on next year! Perhaps if the weather stays mild we can even have a ride in January!

And an announcement!

Starting this week I’m launching an interview series with Cupcake Riders who ride all year long. We’ll chat with them about why they love riding and what keeps them riding through the winter. They’ll also be imparting some winter riding tips – so check back often to catch their interviews!