Toronto Bike History Ride

This past Thursday (Aug 23), the Ward 28 group of Cycle Toronto organized a bike history ride, starting at St. James Park, going to the site of the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club, and then back to St. James Park for a special screening of the movie “Breaking Away”. As a special treat, the event was also attended by the Barry family, of Mariposa Bicycle fame.

Here is Albert talking about the history of Jarvis St, and how it related to cycling in Toronto.

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Cynthia Waye in front of the Royal Canadian Curling (formerly Cycling) Club that dates to 1891.

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Mike Barry, founder of Mariposa Bicycles in front of his former store Bicyclesport on King St. Arthur Klimowicz, Ward 28, is on the megaphone (he was one of the organizers).


A quote from Cynthia Waye, Collections Curator: “What a pleasure to meet new faces and old at the Royals.  I cannot tell you how exciting it was for me to see 30 cyclists biking down the alley to the club as ‘our boys’ did over a hundred years ago to attend gatherings at the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club. Still makes me smile.”

For those that are interested about the history of cycling in Toronto, there is a special exhibit “Bike City: How industry, advocacy and infrastructure shaped Toronto’s cycling culture” until November 17 at the Market Gallery in St. Lawrence Market.

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Life-saving solutions for Toronto streets already exist – and it’s time to implement them


article in the Globe and Mail by Albert Koehl and Nancy Smith Lea

Reaction to the city’s announcement of additional funds made available this week to implement Vision  Zero.


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Bells on Danforth

This past Saturday was the annual Bells on Danforth ride, the sister ride to Bells on Bloor. It was also a day to remind ourselves about the joy of cycling, after a brutal week when four cyclists died in the GTA.


Bells on Bloor organized a small ride to the ride starting from Bloor and Spadina.


Albert pulling a bike trailer with signage.


Across the viaduct.


A brief detour south as a portion of the Danforth was closed off at Broadview for a street fair.



The ride starts at Withrow Park.  Here is a panorama of the hundreds of cyclists gathered for the ride.


Tom is our emcee today.


Liz from CycleTO and Janet Joy from the Reading Line.


First speaker was Peter Tabuns, newly reelected MPP. He read out the acknowledgment of lands, and then apologized for not being free to ride with us.


Next: Janet Joy Wilson talked about the upcoming book ride on August 26 that is themed around the Prince Edward Viaduct. She was raffling off a signed copy of “In the Skin of a Lion”.


As Bells on Danforth is a non partisan community organization, they did not allow anyone who is running for office to speak. However, Mary-Margaret McMahon is not in that category as she will be stepping down in the fall due to a self imposed two term limit. She talked about how she will continue to press for better bike infrastructure, partially through her efforts on PWIC.


Janet Davis announced just this week that she is also not running this fall. With the loss of her and Mary-Margaret, we have lost two strong proponents of cycling, and the two champions of the Woodbine bike lanes. She said that she and MM will continue to press for a corridor study to be started before the election as part of a continuing push for bike lanes on the Danforth. She reminded us that not only should we be talking our local councillors; we should also be putting pressure on the mayor’s office.


Liz Sutherland announced CycleTO’s new campaign: #BuildTheGrid, which is an update of the “minimum grid” campaign.


Just before the ride, the draw for the book was done.


Regrettably I did not get the name of our happy winner.


Mark from CycleTO.


One thing that was noticeable to me was the large number of families with kids, many more that I have ever seen on the Bells on Bloor rides. Here is the most elaborate kid bike set up I saw today.


Now time to line up on Logan.


Our leaders head off with the banner.


Here we go.





Lots of kids.



Our own Albert Koehl.


I was impressed that Danielle’s friend could ride slowly enough in full aero tuck position.



Jess Spieker from Friends and Families for Safe Streets.


Warren “pool noodle” Huska.


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Approaching Woodbine.




Turning north on Danforth Rd.




Arriving at the Oakridge CRC.


Janet Joy with Sarah Climenhaga who is running for Mayor. She is fully engaged on active transportation issues.


Scarborough Cycles and the Ward 32 group.


Some fellow Bells on Bloor members.


One last reminder about the new campaign. I forgot to ask CycleTO to smile.


Here is my brief video of the front half of the rider pack.

Another video:

and here is some drone footage of the start.

Overall, a perfect day for a bike ride, with lots of families present. Starting and finishing at Community Centres was a smart idea. Thanks to all the organizers for a wonderful event.

The hope is that with the continued success of the Bells on Danforth event, we can keep up the pressure to get bike lanes on the Danforth, to accompany the bike lanes on Woodbine.

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Toronto cycling advocates worry bike-lane progress has stalled on Bloor St.

Story in the Toronto Star.

Quote from Albert Koehl:

“Koehl said there had been hope the success of the Bloor project would lead to similar projects in other areas, including an extension of the Bloor lane farther east on Danforth Ave. But cycling advocates have been told by city staff there is no follow-up action planned for this route, and any new updates will be announced after the upcoming Oct. 2018 municipal elections, he said.”

Let’s keep the pressure on for bike lanes on Danforth.

The Bells on Danforth ride is June 16. Save the date!


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Toronto is still waiting for its Year of the Bicycle


(photo taken during the May 28 bike to work day group commute; if only Bloor could always be like this)

article by Albert Koehl in the Toronto Star.

“In the meantime, each new bike lane has been endlessly studied and debated, and then often rejected. The 140 km of bike lanes built since 1975 only slightly exceeds the number of funerals for cyclists killed on our roads since then.”

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Our One Chance to Fix Yonge Street

article on Torontoist by Albert Koehl


Note that City Council will vote on the Reimagining Yonge proposal today and tomorrow. What was proposed by PWIC was a watered down version that maintains six lanes of through traffic between Sheppard and Finch, and diverts bike lanes to a side street. This version also costs more.

Star: City planners urge mayor to support north Yonge St. bike lanes

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Five ways to make our roads safer in 2016


(picture from the 2017 Toronto Ride of Silence)

Article in the Toronto Star by Albert Koehl and Michael Black from two years ago just came up on my Facebook feed.

“Last year, 64 people died on Toronto roads — the worst death toll in a decade. We can do better.”

Let’s do better in 2018. Continue the push for lower speed limits, better infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, and vulnerable road user legislation.


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Albert takes us all to dinner

Last night, Albert invited all of the people who has worked with either Take the Tooker or Bells on Bloor to dinner at a restaurant (Real Thai) that was, of course, on the Bloor bike lane. He thanked us all for our work over the years. Angela Bischoff was also there, and she gave us a little background on Take the Tooker, and the beginnings of the Bells on Bloor bike parade (seen below). Hamish Wilson, you were missed.

Regrettably, this is the only picture that I can provide of the event.

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Still more work to be done, but for the time being, a moment to savour.

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Albert’s letter to the Toronto Star

Bloor bike lanes just a start

Albert’s letter to the Toronto Star, in response to the following article:

Despite Bloor bike lanes, Toronto lags on cycling infrastructure, critics say (Nov 12)

Cycling finally getting recognized as legitimate transportation: The Fixer (Nov 15)

and here’s a reminder of some of the work it took to get here:

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Bloor bike lanes approved by City Council

Yesterday was a good day for bicycle advocacy in Toronto.  City council voted 36-6 in favour of the staff recommendation that the Bloor bike lanes become permanent. The blow by blow of the meeting (at least the afternoon portion) is here.

Toronto Star:  Toronto council votes to make the Bloor St. bike lanes permanent

CBC news: The Bloor bike lanes are here to stay.

National Post: Chris Selley: Approval of permanent Bloor bike lanes brings us a step closer to getting along

Globe and Mail: City council votes 36-6 to make Bloor Street bicycle lanes permanent

Dandyhorse Magazine: Bloor gets a bike lane. (Albert said he started composing this article during the City Council meeting)

A few take aways from the meeting:

  • some immediate improvements will take place during the next year, likely including green paint on some portions of the existing trail
  • the final configuration of the permanent installation will not be clear for a while, but in any case they will have to wait for corridor capital improvements in 2019.
  • several councillors pointed out that there was much more close study of this bike lane pilot than either the Gardiner rebuild or the Scarborough subway.
  • it is clear that more than several councillors from the east end are very comfortable with pushing for bike lanes on Danforth. If this is to happen any time soon, it will be between Coxwell and Victoria Park.
  • Mayor John Tory’s support was key in making the yes vote as lopsided as it was.
  • There was a moment of hilarity when on the final vote, Gord Perks voted NO in error. Here is the proof:

He was allowed a revote so that the final tally was 36-6 in favour.

Hamish and Albert look happy immediately after passage.

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Riding home afterwards. I wondered if my fellow cyclists were aware of what just happened earlier in the evening.

Here, the bike lane ends at Shaw, showing that we have more work to do to get to the vision of an east-west bike lane spanning the city.

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