Archive for December, 2010

I Dream of 2011…

December 31, 2010

After only 4 months of not posting anything to this blog, I’ve decided it’s time to speak again albeit with a bit of different focus for 2011. While my one remaining, not-destroyed-by-a-car, bike is still saving me tons of money over the TTC, and definitely over having a car, I think there are more important things to proselytize about in the year to come than my personal savings successes from cycling. Rather than spending this last day looking back at the year that was, I want to look ahead…at the year that could be.

January: The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meets for the first time and thanks to hundreds of emails from city voters, the idea of a network of separated bike lanes is tabled for the March meeting.  This prompts thousands of Bike Riding Pinkos to trade in their pink buttons for blue “It Takes Bolls” buttons.  (Referring, of course, to the bollards that would be used initially to pilot bike lanes on Sherbourne). Letters and emails continue to pour in supporting bollard-separated lanes along Sherbourne first…which is up for reconstruction in 2011.

February : The coldest month of the year is the perfect time for the city to embrace cycling as a great way to reduce event-related congestion.  The Toronto Cyclists Union works with a key partner to bring staffed bike valet to all Raptors and Leafs games with the goal of becoming ever-present at major city events by June.  Suddenly, cyclists get to park right by the door at events rather than searching far and wide for an open ring and post.  As a result, the number of people riding to events soars and the Maple Leafs, inspired by their helmet-wearing brethren, go undefeated in February.

March: Mayor Ford joins Toronto Cyclist Union members on a bike tour of Toronto and sees first hand how challenging yet rewarding (and fun) cycling in the city can be.  When he tries to return to City Hall following the ravine-based trail system he promoted during his campaign, he finds himself completely lost somewhere in Riverdale for several days before he comes across several other lost cyclists looking for Evergreen Brickworks.  Ford vows to build a real cycling infrastructure with separated lanes should he ever escape and immediately calls the councillors on the PWIC to make it happen just in time for their March meeting.

April: Toronto Cyclists Union announces that, as a result of the new member benefits it unveiled in January, it has reached 2000 members. When all 2000 show up to use the Bike Valet at the last game of the season, it marks the highest single game attendance of the entire season and prompts the Leafs to plan a 2012 promotion at which the first 2000 fans receive an official Leafs bike helmet.  Inspired, Don Cherry finally collects his pink bike from Curbside Cycle and commits to cycling to every leafs home game in 2012.

May: Construction on Sherbourne begins prompting Spacing Magazine to offer a free button trade-in.  Local stores are overwhelmed as thousands exchange their “It Takes Bolls” buttons for “We Got Bolls” buttons in celebration of the new bike lanes. BIXI finally launches in Toronto, making the need for safe infrastructure all the more important.  In a totally unexpected move, the city closes all streets within the BIXI boundaries for May 30 to promote the kick-off of Bike Month – the group commute.  BIXI memberships immediately soar and Mayor Ford becomes an international media darling…even getting congratulatory calls from Mayor Bloomberg in New York and Copenhagen’s Mayor Mikkelsen.  Gil Penalosa, founder of 8-80 Cities, takes this opportunity to promote an ongoing Ciclovia….

June: Based on the success of the Group Commute and at the behest of Mayor Bloomberg and Mr Penalosa, Mayor Ford announces that Yonge St will be once again closed to automobile traffic.  In a nationally televised ceremony, Ford puts the first bollard in the new separated bike lanes running down the west side of Yonge St from Dundas to Front.  The Eaton Centre and others immediately add street level retail, tourists and locals swarm as the tables and chairs from Yonge/Dundas Square begin to migrate into Yonge itself creating the city’s busiest public space.  Daily usage of Yonge St actually increases and city health officials report that the thousands of Mole People who previously stayed in the Path and Eaton Centre everyday are finding huge health gains from exposure to sunlight.

July: With international tourists flocking to Toronto to experience what is increasingly the world’s most livable city and Yonge St packed with cyclists everyday, Lance Armstrong’s Radioshack team forms an unexpected alliance with Ryder Hesjedal’s Garmin squad as the two tech companies buy out all of the digital screens at Yonge/Dundas for the month to show the Tour de France.  Multiple screens allow for multiple viewpoints from within the Peloton.  Not wanting to miss out, CBC signs a last minute deal with VS. network to show the whole event.  The penultimate mountain stage becomes the most watched event in Canadian history and Hesjedal, against all odds, makes his first podium, finishing 2nd behind Andy and just ahead of Frank Shleck.  Phil Leggett’s voice echoes across Yonge/Dundas square and thousands book flights to Bordeaux after hearing him talk about wine and cheese for hours.

August:  It’s hard to stop a moving train.  Fueled by the successes of BIXI, the Sherbourne bike lanes, and June and July being the two busiest tourist months in Toronto’s history, Mayor Ford declares that the separated bike lane network must be immediately completed.  The network is finished in 1 week at almost no cost.  As an added bonus, Bay St gets separated lanes from Richmond to the lakeshore, immediately increasing visits to the Islands and traffic on the Island ferry.  Businesses scramble to apply for ring and post installations and some even remove car parking in favor of bike corral’s.  Cities the world over start talking about how they can best Torontoize.

September: The Blue Jays, on the cusp of making the playoffs, sell out every game in September helped largely by the cycling community as BIXI and the Toronto Cyclist’s Union buy out 3500 seats (the number of members each organization has) for cyclists.  The entire lower side of the Rogers Centre along Bremner becomes a permanent bike valet area and several Jays players begin to commute to games by bike as well.

October: Surface Parking lots in downtown Toronto beg for BIXI stations to be installed as auto traffic to the city’s core continues to decline with the rise of cycling.  Newly designed streetcars add bike racks to the front and back and plans are made for bike escalators and cyclist-friendly cars (no seats) on the subway.  Mayor Ford is declared Toronto’s greenest mayor ever and honored around the world for his foresight in building a better city.  The cycling changes that have hit downtown begin to stretch to the inner suburbs as bollard-separated bike lanes are added along Sheppard, Eglinton, and Finch.  Rush hour car-pool/bike lanes are made wider to accommodate separated bike lanes and all are made 24 hour across the city.  Not surprisingly, Cyclist and Pedestrian deaths show a 50% reduction over 2010 levels.  Drivers report smoother traffic into and out of the core as cyclists stick mainly to the separated paths rather than riding on every street.

November: The Blue Jays, having just won the world series, throw the first green ticker tape parade using no paper and riding bikes instead of standing atop buses and trucks.  The entire city is invited to ride with them.  The parade ends up being so successful that it lasts for 3 days.  Local pubs report record sales.  Auto traffic is stopped completely from the lakeshore north to the 401 as a million bikes circle the city.

December: I finally wake up from my 11 month nap (which is really only 10 minutes in real time if you’ve seen Inception…) to find, sadly, that none of these things really happened…but a guy can dream!