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  • In The Globe and Mail, Marcus Gee looks at how the new high-rise CityPlace district, on the waterfront, is becoming a neighbourhood.

  • Steve Munro celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Spadina streetcar, here and here.

  • Justin Ling at Vice reports on the new disappearances of queer men in Toronto that have left the community on edge.

  • At the Toronto Star, Ben Spurr notes that the bike route at Bathurst and Adelaide, overcrowded, is going to be improved.

  • Aeryn Pfaff describes at Torontoist the historic and continuing important of Hanlan's beach for the queer community of Toronto.

  • Tenzin Nawang Tekan describes the importance of the mono for Tibetans and Tibetan-Canadians, starting in Parkdale.

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  • Liisa Ladouceur's NOW Toronto review of the Rage and Rapture tour's stop in Toronto get it entire. Brilliant concert.

  • Emma Teitel in the Toronto Star is quite right to note that residents of the Beach complaining about unsightly commerce are so missing the point.

  • Global News reports that mosquitos which test positive for West Nile virus have been found on the flooded Toronto Islands.

  • The Toronto Islands will reopen Monday, on the first of the month, the City of Toronto announced.

  • Canada Post promises that its drivers will stop blocking bike lanes with their vehicles.

  • Metro Toronto describes how ESL learners in west-end Toronto are learning English via their concerns with affordable housing.

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  • NOW Toronto's Tammy Thorne looks at the reasons given for the lack of bike lanes on the Entertainment District's John Street.

  • The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr reports on the success of bike lanes on Bloor Street.

  • The Star carries Liam Lacey's Canadian Press article on Gregory Becarich, maker of ghost bike memorials in Toronto.

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Torontoist's Emily Macrae looks at how the Finnish city of Oulu keeps its citizens biking during winter. As always, planning is key.

With fewer than seven hours of sunlight a day at this time of year, Oulu is an unlikely leader in winter cycling. Timo Perälä discovered that his hometown’s approach was unique while doing research into winter maintenance of cycling routes for his thesis more than 15 years ago.

Since that time, Oulu has gained an international reputation for its efforts to facilitate active transportation in the winter. Today, 27 per cent of the population are active cyclists all year long, while Perälä has become the founder and president of the Winter Cycling Federation.

So what’s the secret to ensuring that people choose to bike regardless of the weather?

First, Oulu has an enviable cycling network that extends 613 kilometers to connect a population of 200,000. For comparison, Toronto has 579.4 kilometers of on-street cycling infrastructure for a population more than 10 times as large.

Oulu’s bike lanes are the result of decades of municipal leadership. The city’s first cycling plan was developed in 1969. In an email, Perälä explains: “It was understood early that walking and cycling [have] to be treated as equal modes of transportation.”
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Torontoist's Taylor Moyle described a remarkable problem, Bikes and Belonging, combining cycling with photography for newcomers. How did I miss this? Spacing had more on the project in November.

Musician Beck made an impact with two turntables and a microphone, but here in Toronto a small group of bike lovers have helped make an impact in the lives of new Canadians using two wheels and a camera phone.
About 40 people gathered at city hall on Monday to look at photos taken by people who are new to Canada and new to biking in Toronto. The exhibit, titled Bikes and Belonging, is on display in the rotunda until February 3.

The exhibit features photos from people who are new to Canada and a part of CultureLink’s 2016 Bike Host program in partnership with the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT). The participants took pictures while riding bikes given to them by Scarborough Cycles around Toronto.

The program loaned out bicycles to newcomers for the summer. Participants were set up with a mentor cyclist to show them around the city and get them comfortable with riding in Toronto’s crowded streets and beautiful ravines.

The photography aspect of the program was created by Ryerson masters student Yvonne Verlinden, and is part of her urban planning research. She came up with the idea as she was cycling: Verlinden is a proud cyclist who is constantly visiting and photographing new places and she wanted others to share in this experience.
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I'm inclined to agree with Shawn Micallef's argument in the Toronto Star about the NIMBYism in opposition to a Bike Share stand in Cabbagetown.

In a Jan, 23 letter to City Councillor Pam McConnell, the Cabbagetown Heritage Conservation District Committee expressed disappointment that a Bike Share station was installed last summer within the Cabbagetown North Heritage Conservation District (HCD) without “any regard for the truly unique character” the area presents and asked it be removed.

An HCD protects an entire neighbourhood, not just a historic building. Bike Share, Toronto’s municipal bike lending program, installed a station with 14 bikes in the northwest corner of Riverdale Park, near the Winchester and Sumach Sts. intersection. The committee says the bikes interfere with the “character, rhythm and overall setting” of Cabbagetown and mentioned three listed heritage properties nearby, including the Toronto Necropolis chapel, that the bikes compromised.

Back in November, the Cabbagetown Residents Association conducted an online survey after two residents launched the first historic petards at the bikes, with complaints that stated, in part, “the park should not be dumping grounds for the latest trend from city hall.” Of the 739 who responded to the survey, 721 were in favour of the current location, with only 16 wanting the bike station removed, and two people choosing somewhere else entirely. Undaunted by the survey results, the heritage committee, made up of Cabbagetown residents, launched another volley.

Should the committee be successful in removing the Bike Share station from the park, can we expect them to then work on removing the on-street parking found throughout historic Cabbagetown? While the Bike Share station took up just one small pocket, the entire park and necropolis are surrounded by Hondas, Volkswagens and Volvos, many of them closer to the heritage properties than the bike share is.
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  • blogTO notes the continued rise in rental prices for apartments.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at a time in the Earth's history when there was a lot of atmospheric oxygen but not much life.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting there is an authentic lack of gas giant planets beyond 10 AU.

  • Itching for Eestimaa notes the British politicians who favoured the recognition of the Soviet annexation of the Baltics, and notes that those imperialist times of old are back.

  • The Map Room Blog notes that Trump voters tend to prefer Duck Dynasty and Clinton voters preferred Family Guy.

  • Marginal Revolution notes California's ban on funding travel to jurisdictions which discriminate against people on grounds of sexual orientation or gender.

  • Peter Watts describes a trip on hallucinogens.

  • The NYRB Daily shares Masha Gessen's concerns about the threat of moral authority.

  • Spacing links to some article about improving bike infrastructure.

  • Window on Eurasia warns of a new consolidation of Russian federal units.

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The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr reports on a new cycling battle that, frankly, sounds like it might be politically bad to take on.

A coalition of cycling, pedestrian, and accessibility advocates is gearing up to fight a proposal that they claim could mean the death of safe bike infrastructure in the city.

The proposal, which will be debated at this week’s city council meeting, would make it legal for drivers with accessible parking permits to temporarily stop in physically separated bike lanes if they’re loading or unloading someone with mobility challenges.

Ahead of a press conference at city hall on Monday, a coalition that includes Walk Toronto, Cycle Toronto, and Stop Gap, issued a release that declared that if council approved the bylaw change it would spell “the end of protected bike lanes in Toronto.”

Burns Wattie, a member of the coalition, warned that the proposal would create “an extremely dangerous situation” for road users of all types. Wattie, a cyclist who often drives his wheelchair-using son in an accessible vehicle, said that allowing drivers to stop in protected bike lanes would force cyclists into traffic, and encourage wheelchair users into a space frequented by riders.
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  • Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith tells the story of how he and his husband got the latest ornament for their tree.

  • blogTO looks at Toronto Instagram star Aimee Hernandez.

  • Language Hat parses the language of Wallace Stegner's fiction.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the worrying spread of smears and lies.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at a musical highway in New Mexico.

  • Torontoist describes biking in Toronto in the 1970s.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy takes issue with the new Gilmore Girls.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russia would not accept Ukraine's Finlandization and reports on dissent among Russia's Muslims with the idea of a new state-imposed hierarchy.

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Torontoist's Cayley James shares her summary of six key points from a recent report on cycling in Toronto. There is definitely a lot of potential for it to increase.

Ryerson University recently released a report that is the first of its kind in Canada. Cycling Behaviour and Potential in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [PDF] is a nearly 100-page document that analyzes current cycling patterns, with an eye towards how Metrolinx and the municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) can increase cycling.

Written by Raktim Mitra, Ian Cantello, and Greggory Hanson, three researchers from Ryerson’s School of Urban and Regional Planning, as well as Nancy Smith Lea from the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT), it received funding from Metrolinx, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

There are 14 million trips made on a daily basis in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Anyone can tell you that Toronto has a travel problem. The roads are clogged with cars, there is a dearth of hard-rail transit that Metrolinx is trying to remedy slowly but surely, and those who could be cycling aren’t. For me, a commuter, a cyclist, and someone who can’t drive, a lot of the problems brought up in the report were common knowledge. What was enlightening was the breadth of these problems across the region and the surprising areas that potential is hidden.
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Nikhil Sharma's Torontoist article goes into some local history.

It’s been 18 years since the City of Toronto created the Shifting Gears plan for cycling policy.

While its vision—creating a cycling culture and building infrastructure to allow cyclists and drivers to share the same roads—may finally be coming to life, the challenge of maintaining safety is even greater today than it was back then.

[. . .]

In the 1890s, there was a cycling boom across Canada and the United States. Cyclists began to share the roads with pedestrians, horse-drawn vehicles, and electric streetcars.

Cars were something new at the time.

There were many bike paths on Toronto streets, and there was a growing debate among cyclists about whether they should fight for exclusive paths for themselves or safer roads for drivers and cyclists.

When automobiles began to dominate beginning in the 1920s, cycling was increasingly relegated to a recreational activity. However, deliveries by bike continued to be popular.

The number of cyclists per 1,000 people increased from 220 in 1950 to 350 in 1960 [PDF], and climbed to 480 by 1970.
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The Toronto Star's Alina Bykova reports on an encouraging new poll of Torontonian opinion.

Seven in 10 Torontonians support bike lanes generally and a majority approve of the new lanes on Bloor St. W., according to a new Forum Research poll revealed this week.

The survey showed widespread support for bike lanes from multiple demographics that were surveyed, including people who drive, take public transit, bike and walk to work or school, those in different income and age brackets, and men and women alike.

Downtown Toronto and East York, where most bike lanes are located, had the highest approval rates, at 79 per cent in each region. North York’s approval rating was the lowest of all the regions surveyed, at 61 per cent.

“These lanes have obviously been something of a success, and even the majority of drivers favour them. This bodes well for more bicycle infrastructure if as ambitious a project as this can meet with so little opposition,” said Forum president Lorne Bozinoff.

Fifty-six per cent of those polled approved of the new bike lanes on Bloor between Shaw St. and Avenue Rd., a pilot project installed in August. The approval rating was slightly higher in the case of those surveyed in downtown Toronto, who were 63 per cent in favour of the bike lanes, and in East York, where 72 per cent were supportive.
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  • blogTO notes a bike licensing proposal has been killed.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to a study of the surfaces of magma exoplanets.

  • Language Hat notes untranslatable Maltese phrases.

  • Language Log is taken aback by Donald Trump's juvenile language.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money thinks that Trump's stance on trade might be an advantage.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer does not understand what Ian Bremmer means by saying that the presidential election does not matter to business.

  • Savage Minds shares an indigenous take on anthropology and its charting of indigenous secrets and lives and cultures.

  • Towleroad notes that survivors of the Orlando massacre and others are starting to get compensation from the OneOrlando fund.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russians believed their propaganda today and argues Russian autocracy will always threaten Ukraine.

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Postmedia News' Rene Bruemmer describes what sounds like a frightening situation on the streets of Montréal.

Montreal’s latest ghost bike was installed in early September on a street corner in Rosemont where Justine Charland St-Amour died too young.

The 24-year-old, who had just completed her studies in occupational therapy at the Université de Montréal’s medical school, was an experienced cyclist who grew up in a family where cycling was the main form of transportation. At 2 p.m. on Aug. 22, she was waiting for the light to change on Iberville St., about a kilometre northwest of Olympic Stadium and not far from her apartment, as a dump truck idled beside her. Later, St-Amour’s father-in-law would tell La Presse he considers Iberville St. so dangerous that when he’s on his bike, he avoids it — “like the plague.”

When the light changed, St-Amour started forward, and the truck driver, who could not see her in his blind spot, turned right. She died at the scene. Police declared no one was at fault.

Hers was the sixth ghost bicycle, painted all in white, eerie, haunting and sad, that advocates have erected in the last three years in Montreal to commemorate cyclists killed. Five of them died in collisions with a truck. The other, 27-year-old Bernard Carignan, was killed a year ago when he swerved to avoid a car door and was hit by a vehicle on St. Denis St. in Rosemont.

St-Amour’s death came during a particularly bloody week in which four other cyclists were hospitalized after collisions, one of them an 18-year-old who was critically injured after being hit by a van crossing the Berri St. bike path to enter a parking garage.

Montreal prides itself on being one of the most progressive and successful bike cities in North America, with 733 kilometres of bike lanes and counting and a million cyclists. But the rash of serious accidents has raised an unsettling question: Has cycling’s popularity outpaced the infrastructure needed to ride safely?
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Emma Heffernan's Spacing Toronto article looks at how cost can discourage people from biking.

The line of middle aged men, balancing on bright green, step-through bikes, reach out their arms to the right. In turn, they each look over their right shoulder to check their blind spot. They then make the right turn. It is the parking lot of the Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre in Scarborough, and these men have just received the bikes that they will use all summer. Free of charge.

“Let’s stop here!” The group leader is in his mid-20s with hair to his shoulders. He gestures towards the post and ring racks that stand in a straight line on the edge of the parking lot. The men each curl their arm in a square shape, their hands pointing down to the ground, to signal the stop. The group leader gets off his bike and pulls out his lock. “This is the safest way to lock your bike,” he explains, as he loops the lock through the metal frame and the bike wheel. “Always try to use the middle metal pole, because some thieves can cut through the sides.”

The four men pull out their locks, and begin locking their bikes to the posts. “Like this?” One asks. The group leader nods. One does not correctly loop his lock through the frame; he has mistakenly only locked his back wheel. This is a mistake that could cost him his bike in Toronto.

Unfortunately, I am not being dramatic – according to the Toronto Star over 18,000 bikes were reported stolen across the Toronto region between January 1, 2010, and June 30, 2015. Having a bike stolen is upsetting for anyone, regardless of income. However, for low income individuals, the risk of having a bike stolen can mean the difference between justifying the upfront cost of investing in a bike – or not.

The expense associated with buying and maintaining a bike is a barrier to cycling for low-income individuals, according to a 2010 report from Portland that used focus groups with 49 people of color in low-income communities to understand their barriers to cycling. Though the report also notes that safety concerns and a lack of secure bicycle storage also influence whether low income individuals choose to bike, a majority – 60% of respondents – expressed concern about the cost of a bicycle.

The cost of bicycles is not just a barrier to cycling in Portland. A 2016 survey conducted by University of Toronto researchers as part of the Scarborough Cycles project found those in lower incomes brackets were more likely to respond that financial concerns were part of the reason why they would choose not to bicycle, even if the weather was good. Specifically, 10-15% of those with incomes under $60,000 believe that bicycles are too expensive. Similarly, 20-30% of these individuals did not own a working bicycle. Although worry that the bicycle might be stolen was a concern regardless of income, those in lower income brackets were more likely to list this as a barrier to cycling than those in higher income brackets.
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At Torontoist, Alina Bykova writes about this park extension, funded in part by federal money.

After years of local organizing, things are finally getting underway for the West Toronto Railpath extension.

The federal government announced this week that it will fund $11.7 million of the estimated total of $23 million for the extension. The news comes as part of a larger provincial and federal initiative to fund transportation infrastructure in Ontario.

The Railpath extension itself was approved by the City of Toronto back in January 2016, and the construction of Phase Two has already started on the Dufferin Street Bridge, which is being expanded by Metrolinx to make way for extra train tracks and the cycling trail.

“It’s all systems go,” says Jared Kolb, the director of Cycle Toronto. “It’s a really exciting development for the city. This will enable and create a really safe cycling connection. Taking it down to Strachan in terms of connectivity will be crucial.”

The current Railpath is 6.5 kilometres long and was completed in 2009. It runs along the Kitchener GO train line from just north of Dupont Street to Dundas Street West. Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati, the manager of cycling infrastructure at the City of Toronto says that as of May 2013, about 1,000 cyclists and 100 pedestrians use the current trail on a daily basis, and estimates predict that 2,000 people will use the path daily once the extension is finished.

Phase Two will run from Dundas Street West just south of Bloor Street West along the train tracks to Abell Street, which is just east of Dufferin. The extension will also connect western Toronto neighbourhoods to Liberty Village, and hopes are that it will eventually connect to Fort York and the downtown core, although that phase is still being researched.
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blogTO alerted me to some good news last week.

The future of the West Toronto Railpath, which runs next to the Kitchener GO line, looks promising. That's because earlier today, the province announced that it'd be extending it all the way down to King Street.

Currently, the Railpath runs from Dupont to Dundas, but it'll eventually end southeast of the Dufferin Street Bridge. Earlier this year, the city released images of its recommended designs after an extensive Environmental Assessment, but it's unclear what the extension will actually look like or when it's slated to open.

Despite the lack of a timeline, west side residents have been waiting a long time to hear that the Railpath will continue south. This boast from the province will be received as very good news. As CP24 notes, the extension will snake its way through a new park (funded by a condo development) going in just north of Queen and Dufferin.

CP24 had more.

“This future park will be a hub for West Toronto Railpath users, including cyclists. The park will include cycling amenities, seating, terraces oriented towards the west and a lookout,” Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca told reporters at a news conference on Friday. “Through this investment and many others in the GO Transit network, we are giving commuters another reason to leave their cars behind and take transit or use other forms of active transportation.”

It is not immediately clear when the West Toronto Railpath will be extended but once complete Mayor John Tory said the project will be one “that will serve the community and the whole city for years and decades to come.”

Meanwhile, Coun. Anna Bailao said the extension of the railpath is big news for area residents.

“You are going to be able to get on your bike or just walk south of Queen and go all the way to Dupont or get off at different points where we have access,” she told CP24.

I really have to go exploring.
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Torontoist reports on the Bloor bike lanes.

In May, Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of the installation of a Bloor Street bike lanes pilot project, much to the joy of Toronto cyclists. The street is an active artery for more than 3,000 cyclists daily, and the fight for a safer ride from Shaw Street to Avenue Road has been 40 years in the making.

The bike lanes are under construction, and while the flexipost bollards haven’t been installed yet, cyclists can test-ride the newly painted lines. Some commuters, however, are not yet accustomed to sharing the road.

Torontoist‘s Corbin Smith took his bike out for a spin yesterday, and found that—to little surprise—being a cyclist isn’t easy in Toronto, even with new bike lanes.

Smith rode from just west of Shaw past Avenue Road, where the the pilot project begins and ends. He ended his commute around Church Street.

At first, it was smooth sailing: the streets were fairly empty, and he had the lanes to himself on the west end.

Thigns changed.
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  • Dead Things looks at the health issues of a hadrosaur.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes close binary systems may not support planets very well.

  • Joe. My. God. notes Trump's reaction to Obama's statement that he was unfit.

  • The Map Room Blog notes Russia's issues with Google over the non-recognition of Crimea's annexation.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that driverless taxis are coming to Singapore.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer disproves arguments claiming that Pennsylvania is uniquely suited for Trump.

  • Peter Rukavina shares his schedule for the Island Fringe.

  • Spacing Toronto notes the problem of distracted cycling.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at language death in the North Caucasus.

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  • blogTO reports that streetcar tracks are involved in a third of Toronto's bike crashes.

  • Centauri Dreams notes that Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a source of heat.

  • The Crux notes the non-medicinal uses of tobacco.

  • Dangerous Minds looks at the voyeuristic photography of 20th century Czechoslovakian photographer Miroslav Tich.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes that Chinese and Iranian forces have joined Russia in exercises at Kaliningrad.

  • Torontoist looks at the risks of a land expropriation for a Scarborough subway extension.

  • Towleroad notes that Bernie or Bust could particularly hurt immigrants.

  • Window on Eurasia notes anti-Central Asian migrant sentiment in the Russian Far East.


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