Conscientious Consumerism and Bixi

July 29, 2010

Something beyond cycling that is near and dear to my heart is the idea of conscientious consumerism. In fact, my cycling habits come directly out of this philosophy. For me, I decided that I didn’t want a large portion of the income I work so hard for to go towards carbon emissions, dirty oil extraction, and in the end to unknowable parties who have largely been at war with the places I call home. I also am willing and able to live in a way, and in an environment that allows me to maintain a car-free lifestyle.

I don’t want to overstate the facts, I use auto share programs and travel by plane 5-10 times a year…and these things don’t totally fit into the plan, but Im working on it. The idea at the core though remains, the strongest vote you may have is the one in your pocket. Regardless of how you approach finances, i think the key is to develop a construct for spending that you feel delivers value. Whatever that thing is, whether you like cheap things, cat things, local things, green things, or any category of thing you will be happier with your money things when you spend on items you cherish and value. If they fit into your personal cause you get bonus points.

For me these “things” that I love are local food, car pools, bikes, public transit, places where people can be themselves, and companies that do their best to work within a mission that challenges them to be better. Always.

That’s why BIXI, which launched tonight in Toronto with the beginning of a membership drive, fits right in. The project demands support from the government (loan guarantee, infrastructure), corporations (need to secure 1.8M in sponsorship commitment for first 3 years) and, most importantly people (1000 annual memberships need to be signed up by November 30). With these things in mind, it wasn’t the need for another bike that had me buying a BIXI membership this evening at the Gladstone Hotel but the call to the voting booth. Rarely can you vote so strongly with your dollar as .1% of the collective force that will make BIXI real in Toronto. And regardless how you feel about the semantics of the program, it will help drive cycling forward in Toronto by increasing numbers of those that can and do cycle through the city.

Imagine telling your friend what a great cycling city this is over lunch at the St Lawrence Market. You met there, you on bike and the friend on foot as always. They bring up the usual worries: too dangerous, I don’t feel comfortable in the city, i don’t have a bike…and you do something that changes their life. $5 in the BIXI station for a day pass and a convincing plea to “try cycling here just one time…”

A year later that friend bikes everyday, is in he best shape of their life, gets to work with less stress and keeps $400 worth of car payments and insurance in the bank.

And the savings cycle goes on….


Healing Up – Big Cycling Week in TO

July 24, 2010

It was a week of very little adventure for me, personally. I left the house only once, on Thursday, to head over to Service Ontario for my new healh card and then sort out some next steps for care. My scrapes and cuts have healed up very well (thanks to all those who sent good tidings) but I’m left with what I’ve diagnosed as a broken left heel and probably some ligament damage in my right knee. Those are adding up to very little time spent on my feet…and moving very slowly when those times come up. I’ll be heading back to hospital on Tuesday to get stitches out and, hopefully, professional diagnosis on my lingering issues.

It was a much more interesting week in Toronto for cycling as the Jarvis bike lanes move towards completion (thanks @autom8 for the picture). lane markers on bike lanes? i'm certainly st... on Twitpic

BIXI Toronto got its own Facebook fan page and a launch party is coming up on July 28th. The party will be the first opportunity to sign up for an annual membership and actively help getting BIXI launches in Toronto next May. 1000 memberships must be sold to guarantee the system’s implementation so stand and be counted! Not often can $100 (annual membership is estimated to be $95) directly impact a city’s evolution.

Just for kicks…here’s an especially poignant bonus photo of the Jarvis Bike Lanes (well done @HiMYSYeD on this one).  Hit the link for the full sign view.

Unexpected positive unintended consequence of Trial Bike Lane... on Twitpic

No Rides this Week 😦

Total KM Ridden: 827.02

Total $ Saved: $290

Curent Savings: $125– 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)z

Savings Cycle Service Interruption – More Photos Coming

July 17, 2010

This week turned out to be a challenging one and probably the last riding I’ll be able to do for a bit, hopefully getting back on the savings cycle before winter sets in. Everything started innocently enough with a Monday morning meeting at the Centre for Social Innovation and then completing the day jaunting about downtown. Tuesday included a great morning ride but a fairly disheartening ride home.

The issues with poor car pool infrastructure continue on Don Mills Rd. Just n of Sheppard, a silver sedan rode right on my wheel before, determining the coast being clear, zipped close enough to me that I was blasted 6 inches right by the passing jet stream. The driver than stopped at the next light, which has to be no less than 1200 m down, and I yelled through the closed windows that they were in a car pool lane. The driver motioned that they were intending to turn at the next light, again more than 1200 m down the road. The incident caused by the lack of right turn lane markers along the entire road…and bit too much of a rush home on the part of the driver.

Amazingly, only one light further down, I pulled in front of a line of cars that were turning right and came to the light just in front of a TTC bus. The driver took immediate exception to this yelling, “what do you think you’re doing?”

I, still agitated from the silver sedan, yelled back “the sign says bus and bike lane and this is the safest place for me to be. You’re turning right there” as i pointed the 300m to his next stop and a young woman waiting for her ride.

At this point he actually inched the bus up about 4 feet so as to be right behind me and continued, “get out of the way!”

“you’re being paid to get around safely in that thing and I hope you’ll do so”

As the light turned, I shot easily in front of the bus, my companion deciding to move to the right and let the bus pass, putting her in the path of traffic about to turn right as the bus moved on. As I passed the next bus stop, young woman still waiting, the bus flew around me, 3 feet or less to my right and pulled to the following stop another 500 meters down.

From there I just rode casually past the bus and continued on, soon enough I was far enough ahead of the TTC vehicle that it was nowhere in sight as I turned off of Don Mills onto Overlea. My infrastructure struggles would continue on Thursday after a day of carpooling to and from the office in between.

I worked from home to start the day and then headed to lunch at The Spoke on King W. My next meeting was at B Espresso on Queen between Church and Jarvis. I headed down King, past Bay and then something must have happened that caused me to miss my usual route, turning down Yonge, or any one of the other preferred routes I would usually take from King to Queen. In the end, I was on Jarvis where bike lanes would be installed starting the next day. The new lanes promise to turn Jarvis from one of the worst cycling streets downtown to one of the best and may make the street a front runner to form the initial eastern boundary of Toronto’s new BIXI system starting in May 2011. At any rate, I crossed Queen and Jarvis at 1:50 or so pm.

Laid up/Messed up

The problem is, I cant remember anything after crossing Bay and King and when I came to at St Michael’s Hospital around 2:55 I could only think about staying very still as my head started to catch up with my senses. It turns out that I was struck by a car going around 40kph. At this point, I don’t know anything beyond that with certainty but an officer at the hospital told my wife it didn’t appear anyone was at fault…an accident. I really am not a risk taking cyclist, especially on the city bike that I ride downtown, and judging the from my many scrapes, bruises, stitches, holes, road rashes, and swelling I’ve come to a bit of a hazy story that I will get more clarity on when I heal.

The best I can figure it, I crossed Queen heading north on a yellowing light, keeping to the right and watching the crosswalk as the red hand turned solid. At that point I must have checked for my left turn, seen nothing, and begun my turn onto Queen heading west. Apparently I failed to see a gray car continuing through the orange light. The rest of the information I received indirectly from the police via Erin pieced together with the map of my wounds that I’m currently living with and my having seen many episodes of CSI.

It seems that I either came to be perpendicular with the car or that I was caught at about 45 degrees by the corner of the car. In either case, the 6 stitches in my front left shoulder suggest that I struck the bottom, jagged parts of the windshield near the wipers. My head continued into the windshield, leaving bruising all along the left side as well as cuts on the left side of my forehead, eyebrow, and nose. I cant tell, but i may have lost a small patch of hair. The police told Erin that the windshield shattered and collapsed, but did not break. My sincerest apologies to the person that hit me for leaving that memory with them.

From there it seems I slid off of the hood and across the lane, skidding off of the back of my left shoulder and flipping onto the outside of my left arm and knee. I kept flipping and received a blow to my inside right knee where the medics debated putting 2 stitches, opting not to when a then more serious trauma came to the ER. The bottom of my right elbow got some great road rash at that point as well. I’m extremely grateful, if this scenario proves anywhere near correct, that I was unconscious for an hour so that my wounds were cleaned already when I came to…that is certainly not an experience I would want to remember. It seems I blacked out at the impact given the 5-10 minutes I can’t remember leading up to it, but Ill have to determine later whether I was kept unconscious by artificial means by the ambulance which I assume picked me up, or from the trauma itself.

I owe the tremendous hospital staff a post to themselves, but my care was a great experience…given the circumstances.

The glaring thing about all of my challenges cycling this week is that they seem to be fixable. In the case of the first silver sedan, the answer (I feel) is a better carpool lane including 24
Hr designation and clearly marked right turn areas. For the TTC vehicle, education is key…and a better focus on picking up the passenger he left roadside would be good too. In the case of my accident, If i end up being correct in my assumptions about what happened it is almost certain that a bike lane would have allowed the collision to be averted. It would have been a wider area for me to turn through, giving precious extra seconds to identify the car coming through the yellow light. The good news is that those lanes on Jarvis are going in. There is much more work to be done though as even these bike lanes are being challenged. Despite a plan that wont impact traffic flow and treats street users as equals for being people, rather than for being cars, mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi swore that he would take the Jarvis lanes if elected.

Who does this help? It obviously doesn’t help me but does it help the woman (from the vague police record I have at this point) driving the car that hit me? I’m fairly certain she could do without the image of me bouncing off of her car when you closes her eyes. If not that, then the broken windshield has to be an inconvenience. Does it help the general system to have cyclists in the hospital consistently as the result of accidents? No matter what protection cyclists use, they will continue to lose -sometimes badly- when colliding with cars. Its just common sense that one is much much bigger, stronger, and faster. And why wouldn’t a city want to encourage cycling? It increases the potential for population density and allows for more green so ace with the reduction of parking space needs. It keeps people much healthier, is a proven stress relief, and encourages a more human-scale interaction with the urban landscape as well as basic things like weather which combine to add a more people-centric sense of a city. Additionally, the money you save by foregoing the car – which is an option that many don’t consider realistic given our infrastructure and their own thoughts on safety – can assist in social mobility and increase spending available for local goods and services, rather than oil that we either import or gruesomely extract from tar sands.
Long story short, fighting bike lanes especially when they don’t even impact auto traffic flows in a meaningful way, seems inane if not insane.

As for me, I’m feeling far better after almost 48 hours than i should. I’m not much to look at, and am in a lot of pain, but I can only feel joyful at my good fortune to be here writing this. So long as my ring knee heals up, I will be back in the saddle sooner or later…I need to check out the new bike lanes on Jarvis.

This Week’s Rides

Monday Around Town – 17.65km, $12 saved

Tuesday to Work – 44.01km, $6 saved

Thursday Ride n Wreck – 6.17km, can’t really put a price on surviving this one.

Total KM Ridden: 827.02
Total $ Saved: $290

Curent Savings: $125– 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)

Wheeling the Dog

July 10, 2010

One of the greatest benefits of riding a cruiser downtown is that it”s much more stable frame allows me to easily run Banjo, my 70 lb Austrailian Shepherd.  While it’s been way too hot the last week for him to be out mid-day, a 15 minute morning and slight longer evening run next to the bike puts him in a calm state all day long!

Gratuitous Banjo Picture

Between runs with Banjo, this week has been one of my biggest in terms of total distance of the summer.  Riding 3 days in a row to the office at Finch and the DVP put most of the mileage in, but free events and summer fun around downtown kept me in the saddle as well!  Last night I was able to see The Heavy and then Kid Koala for free at the Sirius Stage as part of the Breaks and Beats fest at the Harbourfront.  I’m not sure how more people don’t show up for these things here, but the 1200-1500 that were around got two fantastic shows…and much more to come over the next week.  Having been totally disappointed for not knowing The Roots were playing a couple of weeks ago at Nathan Phillips Square, I’ve recommitted to tapping into the local scene.  These events seem to be only so-so at getting the word out, but a little digging yields some great events throughout the summer.

One of my other bike rides brought me the Spacing release party, my 3rd in the ten months I’ve been in Toronto.  Always a fun time, the release parties have great music, great people, and you leave with a world class magazine about the Urban Envioronment in Toronto.  They are a really big change agent in the city and always do great work…make sure to check them out.

This Week’s Rides

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday To Work and Back – 122.1 KM, $18 saved

Thursday Around Town – 13.19km, $12 Saved

Friday concert – 7.73km, $6 Saved

Total KM Ridden: 759.19
Total $ Saved: $272

Curent Savings: $107 – 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)

Special Lanes Need Enforcement

July 1, 2010

Don Mills Road is really not a terrible place to ride should you have to commute in or out of the city’s east side. Most of the road is 4 lanes in each direction which are completely separate in many places. The far right lane is reserved for car pools (3 or more), taxis, motorbikes, and bicycles from 7-10am as well as 3-6pm. The same type of carpool lane exists on Overlea…which I use to get to Don Mills.

Riding to work between 7-8am allows me to see first hand that a complete lack of enforcement, or even threat of fine, has rendered these lane designations moot. On Don Mills Road, I saw no less than 50% of the lane users in cars by themselves, often trying to get ahead of traffic at major intersections, swooping around my bicycle and speeding to be first off the line. It is hard for me to resist pulling casually in front of them and proceeding to take the lane going away from the light…and often i do just that to protest-filled honking and the occasional shout. Later in the week, carpooling up the DVP, I saw the exact same scenario as the majority of cars in the full-time HOV lane contained only drivers.

The result is the same as when a car is parked in a bike lane…disruption of traffic that most affects the rightful users of that space. In both cases, cyclists are of course most endangered, being the most exposed users of the road.  Recently there has been alot of talk about motorists, even police!, parking in bike lanes…both this problem and the ones on the DVP, Don Mills Rd, and other special lanes around Toronto require enforcement for these lanes to be used by the reduced carbon-per-person transport they were created for.

The idea of HOV lanes and shared transit/HOV/bike lanes is a great one, but without a promise of a stiff fine and some enforcement, they don’t work. In many places, HOV signs are accompanied by promise of fines of $250+ for using the lane without the required amount of passengers. Local police enforce these fines and ensure that single auto operators are held accountable for staying where they belong…in the painfully slow normal flow of traffic. Don Mills Rd would also be helped by making the car pool lanes permanent, and not just for parts of the day. If three lane of traffic is sufficient at the rush hour times when the right lane’s restrictions are in effect, it should certainly suffice the rest of the day. Taking the guess work out of whether one can or cannot use the kane based on the time of day would better train driver behavior to ignore that lane completely unless carpooling. If the city could help enforce this, Don Mills Rd could become a much more popular route for long commutes…and my commute would be much safer.

June 28 Rides – 9.33 Km

June 29 Rides – 58.73Km 

June 30 Rides – 4.72KM

July 1 Rides – 3.32Km

Total KM Ridden: 616.17
Total $ Saved: $236

Curent Savings: $71 – 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)

G20 Makes for Great Cycling

June 26, 2010

With all of the changes that have hit Toronto in hosting the G20, from fences to secret laws to earthquakes, one unexpected but welcome return has been the reduced traffic and streets blocked to traffic downtown.  Simcoe and other streets, walled off to cars, became boulevards for pedestrians and cyclists (albeit not great for crossing the street as the median fence made that difficult).  Even the increased police and security presence helped with cycling as hundreds of extra bike cops hit the streets in groups ranging from the three to twenty.  One of our friends told a story that seems fit for a cartoon.  A group of about 12 bike police were passing in front of Nathan Phillips Square when the leader turned to his colleagues yelling “ICE CREEEEEEAAAAAMMM!” a sentiment they all echoed back loudly in a near-militant confirmation of the direct order.  One reportedly yelled that ahe wanted to get chocolate wasted (that part isn’t true…but it should be).  The bikes stopped abruptly for a mid day brain freeze.

G20 critical mass also brought a different sense as around 500 cyclists got together for the monthly event.  The build up to the ride was a bit tense, with some asking nervously about where the ride was going and whether it would become part of the protests happening near College and Bay and moving from there through the city.  Others were on high alert for those in the group that would certainly try to direct the peloton towards the protest.  As Cyclops entertained the crowd with a few recently improvised, slightly politicized chants a group of around 20 bike police showed up to join and help direct the ride.

During the ride the police were really proactive in blocking cross traffic so that the mass could roll on.  Within the herd, many whistles, drums, and bells rang with the back up on a trumpeter.  National colors were flying from the day’s football matches and the procession seemed to stretch for around 6 blocks as it rolled through town.

Many of those on the sidewalk seemed convinced that the mass was a protest.  One streetcar driver even asked the police escorting the group whether the mass WAS the protest…which was hilarious.  We had the normal dose of frustrated people in traffic but, as usual, most of those that were held up by the ride were smiling to see our bike mob.  A great mass ride all-in-all.

Hopefully someone with a keener sense of direction than I will add this week’s mass to MapMyRide so i can add that in as I can’t seam to stitch the locations together.

Thursday’s Ride to/From Work
Home to STC

Friday’s Rides:
Friday Before Mass

Total KM Ridden: 540.07
Total $ Saved: $200
Curent Savings: $35 – 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)

Toronto Cyclist’s Union Annual General Meeting

June 20, 2010

Thursday, June 17th was a lovely if not too warm day in Toronto that saw me mainly jaunting about downtown. The day’s rides were none too eventful, except for dealing with the major blockages connected with Much Music awards this weekend and the general blocking of the bike lane that occurs on King St. The latter is nicely dealt with by an easy ride up and over the curb as I go between Bay and Yonge.

The evening proved much more interesting as I attended and participated in the elections for 6 new Executive Board Members to serve the Toronto Cyclists Union. The TCU made huge waves in the past year with a constant voice in the media as cycling has rightfully become a hot topic in discussions ranging from quick chats in the streets right up to the mayoral election. The Union’s 2009 Annual Report highlights successes including a Toronto Cyclists Handbook, now available in 17 languages, the approval of bike share launching in 2011, and financials showing a growing membership and appropriately increased investment into TCU operations. All of this in only 2 years of operation is very promising for the TCU, and while it comes up on it’s 1000th member the future is bright for large growth and increasingly large impact on cycling in Toronto.

The election featured 10 qualified and very passionate cyclists who each spoke for about 2 minutes on why and how they are looking to lead the TCU and support its members. All of those who ran seemed very deserving and I hope that each of them will find ways, whether on the board or not, to work for better cycling in Toronto. In the end 62 ballots were cast by those on hand and I was very happy to find myself among the new members elected to the board! The complete list of 2010 board members is below.

After the event we had a bike union brouhaha at the Rivoli where I had some great conversations with other members including Herb from IBikeTO and James who writes Urban Country. It was really nice to put faces with websites with those two and I’m really looking forward to chatting Bikes at more Union events over the year ahead.

New Bike Union Executive Board Members
Bob Brent
Leehe Lev
Peter Lipscombe
Patrick Brown
Simon Strauss
Nick Cluley

Thank you to all who ran for their interest in making cycling better in Toronto!

Thursday’s Rides
Jun 17th Around Town

Total KM Ridden: 484.49
Total $ Saved: $188
Curent Savings: $23 – 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)

Make Your Cycle Heard – Elect a new Cyclist’s Union Board

June 15, 2010

So this post will be a bit different…no cycling or savings to report on.  Instead, I hope that a few of you will take part in the second most important election to hit Toronto this year…that of the new Toronto Cyclist’s Union Board of Directors.  There are few reasons you should partake:

Reason 1:  Because you’re a member of the Toronto Cyclist’s Union*

*If not yet a member, please ask yourself “Do I like riding a bike?”  If yes, join for the mere $25 a year and add your voice to the rest of us that feel the same way in hopes that the city evolves to become even more bikable (bike-likable) in the future!

Reason 2:  Because you’re interested in the way cycling infrastructure and awareness improves in Toronto.  It is improving, but the Cyclist’s Union is a great way to help that process along and make sure cyclist voices are heard as municipal decisions are made.

And, lastly, Reason 3: Because hanging out at CSI for 2 hours always sounds fun…but this time it’s fun AND Democratic (did I mention the vote is Thursday at 6pm…and while anyone can attend, only members can vote…it’s not too late to sign up!

Why is this all relevant to this blog?  Well, I decided to really put myself out there and run for a position on the Board.  I think the Cyclists Union is doing some amazing things but that we might be getting a bit too caught up in the politics of today rather than focussing on the ever-present joy of pedaling one’s own transport around town.  In that, I’ll bring a voice of openness, acceptance, and encouragement towards all cyclists (this means you low-rider chrome cyclist, and you mountain bike lady, and even you unicycle guy….as long as there is a second unicycle right behind you so that it looks like a bike).  I think that with nearly 1000 members, and cycling being a hot topic in Toronto and the world right now, the Union should try to skirt the politics and focus on getting to 2500 members as soon as possible…and then 5000…and then 10000…

After the masses are in the saddle with us, we can then better partake in the political process.  20-30 cyclists wearing helmets in the city council chambers has helped on some big decisions…but 10000 cyclists crowding queens park can have quite a different impact, we just need not rush to get there.  In other places, joining organizations like the Cyclist’s Union has become part of enrolling for nearly every bike event in the city…and there is reason to do this here too.  We need to do more to publicize the benefits of the Union, and to make sure that everyone on a bike knows that they are already a member in spirit, but that a bit of financial support can go along ways to making their commute easier.

I’ll be reciting a bit of this on Thursday and hope you’ll consider voting in the election and that you will do so after reading a bit about the candidates.  Here’s a bit more information on the election and those running for seats:

Annual General Meeting Schedule:

Parties Nominated for the Board of Directors:

Please check it out…but more importantly, please join the Union and help make Toronto better for bikes!

Back in a new, wider saddle!

June 15, 2010

The past month has been a whirlwind…seems like I just landed at Pearson, coming back from NYC but there has been much to do in the meantime. I did some work (put our first major marketing in place for the project I’ve been leading), some play (spent 4 days in LA and a week relaxing in Hawaii…a week that faded from memory way to quickly upon my return), and just recently started exploring the city again…from a different angle. After my last run in with the street car tracks (at Queen and Patrick) and considering the 4-5 other near-falls I experienced with them, I decided that what I needed was another bike in the stable. I decided a fat-tire cruiser was the way to go –editor’s note…if you like Fat Tire Beer, be sure to check out one of New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat celebrations this summer…one of my favorite summer fests- It also happens to be in Chicago the weekend of the G20…road trip!

There was precedence for my decision on the cruiser. While living in Chicago I purchased an Elektra Amstredam prior to the bike I currently ride (Kona Jake). The Amsterdam was truly a piece of junk. In 1 week, i lost my back wheel in the middle of 3 busy intersections, falling twice and being terrified the 3rd time. I chalked the experience up to a mismatch of riding style and bike. Perhaps…At Curbside Cycle, I found a new Batavus Utility Bike that seems to fix the issue. First things first, the bike has a piece of hardware installed to prevent rear-wheel slippage (my track bike friends will know a bit about this as well.).

The Bright Red BuB

So far, no lost wheels. Additionally, the tires are around 2″ wide…which means I don’t care at all about streetcar tracks any more…i can run over them, on them, along them, beside them…no worries! Lastly, I really love the 3 speed hub, the long-distance cruising that the oversized tires provide, the stability to easily (easily is key) ride to the store, grab groceries, and carry them home on my bike (literally in my arm…), and especially the more-visible, upright riding posture that makes sure I’m seen (the fact that I chose a candy red bike also helps). In short, I am not feeling at all limited now with my cadre of bikes…one for the long and aggressive hauls, one for cruising quickly and smoothly through the downtown core…

I’m just reconnecting my brain to this blog, so this Savings Cycle only includes rides from June 14…I can hardly remember what I did the day before, so there is going to have to be a lost month…

Total KM Ridden: 457.96
Total $ Saved: $182
Curent Savings: $17 – 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)

Monday’s Rides:

To Luna Cafe and Back
To David’s Tea, grocery store, and back

5 Boro Bike Tour

May 11, 2010

This has been a tough week to catch up the blog in…actually, I still owe the SavingsCycle my take on the Complete Streets forum that was a couple of weeks ago now…but with vacation ahead, there should be some more activity to come.

The Five Boro Bike Tour was last Sunday, May 2, in NYC. 32000+ cyclists came out for a 43 mile (69,2km) ride through all 5 boros. In a mob this big, a bit of logistical difficulty was to be expected and the start of the ride was slooooowww. Kicking off at 8:30am from Battery – I was substantially further away, hanging out some estimated 12 blocks back. I arrived at the ride around 7:20, after a really nice ride down Broadway using all the nice bike infrastucture Manhattan has to offer. After standing still for about an hour and a half, the pack started to move around 9:15am and I made my way S on Broadway to and through Battery Park, up Trinity towards Church St.

View of the Starting Line...You can see me 12 blocks back 😛

I love big pack rides for the comraderie of it as well as the small amount of riding skill required. Much like in mass traffic, you are relying on both your own balance and coordination, as well as on that of those around you, to ensure minimal collisions (of which there still end up being a few). Everything started off well and the pack moved N through Manhattan with relative easy, stopping at regular intervals with the help of traffic control to allow pedestrians to continue to cut across the city. I can’t imagine exactly how long 32,000+, cycling at comfortable pace, looks like in terms of city blocks but my guess is that the peloton took up a good 45+ blocks of the city at any one time as it moved across. My cousin apparently started the race a few blocks from the back and that was at 32nd street…but I’m sure it stretched much more than that.

Mob Scene

We moved fairly unabated until we hit central park where we ended up standing in the shade on the S end of the park, where 6th enters, for what felt like a good hour again. This put us, I think, around 11:30am? The rumors flew about what the reason for this hold up could be. I heard there was a collision in the front with several injuries, that there was another event in the park holding us up, and even a real humdinger that said an automobile had been damaged in a collision with 3-4 of the cyclists and that they couldn’t bring it back out through the crowd. Ha! At any rate, we started moving again and wouldn’t be slowing down for any really significant lengths of time from that point forward.

Entering Central Park before a long wait.

The good news is that this lined us up perfectly to go through Harlem as 11 o’clock mass let out… meaning the streets were lined with the locals in all of their finery. There were some amazing hats and pinstripes as well as great architecture to take in as we went N before hanging a right at 138th St for a trip over the Madison Avenue Bridge and a brief interlude in the Bronx. We quickly exited the Bronx via the Third Avenue Bridge before trucking down Harlem River Rd and then the FDR south along the east side of Manhattan down to 60th Street where we took on the Queensboro Bridge. The climb onto the bridge crippled a great number of riders although it really wasn’t that much of a hill…I thitnk a great many of them were just playing it up for a better and slower view of the city.  Down through Queens, short interlude i the Bronx, and then through Brooklyn right down to the Staten Island Ferry for the ride back.

really good picture. They made me look athletic.

A couple of interesting things I noticed on the ride are that some New Yorkers have super hardcore kids (43 miles on training wheels?  WHAT?!), New York City is way way cooler than I thought, and I apparently need to start doing some road racing as I am physically unable to ride my bike at a slow pace.  The final thought is that I wish that everyone had an opportunity, in their own town, to ride with this many people.  You feel way stronger as a group this size and can really take in the world around you.  Seeing all of the varieties of bicycles (and uni/tricycles) was also grand…on a leisurely ride like this you can really see it all.  The had a great photography team on hand and managed to get 9 pictures with me in them, which were then placed online.  The only poor part?  Me.  It was $55 to buy those 9 photos and buying individuals was not an option…Oh well, the price you pay for memories.

The Ride:
2010 5 Boro Bike Ride

Total KM Ridden: 423.75
Total $ Saved: $170
Curent Savings: $5 – 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)