Archives for posts with tag: biketo

I was pleased to participate in the first of Dandyhorse Magazine‘s #dandySANTA Q & A series. Read about my winter biking tips, which bike lanes I want Santa to bring this Christmas, and my work with Charlie’s Freewheels!

#dandySANTA: Daniel Rotsztain of Charlie’s Freewheels

Rotsztain in Moss Park nearby Charlie’s Bike Joint. 

#dandySANTA Q&A: Daniel Rotsztain

Photos and Interview by Jenna Campbell

Daniel Rotsztain is campaign coordinator for Charlie’s Freewheels that just kick-started their “50 Youth on 50 Bikes” fundraiser on Dec. 1. Charlie’s goal is to teach 115 young riders how to build bicycles in 2015. They’re collecting donations from businesses and foundations to fund 65 youths to build bikes, but need the public’s help to fund the other 50.

As a part of our dandy winter cyclist series [more details coming soon], we thought we’d ask Rotsztain what he’d like #dandySANTA to bring him for the holidays.

dandyhorse: If you could get a(nother) bike, what would it be and why?

One of those dreamy upright Dutch bikes – perfect for city cruisers and with big enough wheels to handle the snow that’s coming! I also spent half a year (biking) in Amsterdam. Anything to bring me back there, just a bit…

Q: What bike lane(s) do you hope dandySANTA will bring for 2015? 

Utopian bike lane: running alongside the boulevard in the middle of University Avenue. In Barcelona, they have a bike lane on a similarly scaled street, Passeig de Sant Joan, running all the way to their Triumph Arch.

Realistic: Extending Richmond and Adelaide lanes further east, so that we can get closer to a Minimum Grid.

Q: What bike gear do you hope dandySANTA puts in your stocking this year?

Back paniers that I can remove, so that I can put my bike on the front bus rack. Right now, with my milk crate, most bus drivers don’t allow my bike on the rack.

Q: What else do you hope dandySANTA delivers this year?

I hope that everyone will contribute to Charlie’s Freewheels Indiegogo Campaign! Charlie’s is an amazing organization that I work with that empowers youth in priority neighbourhoods with the knowledge of how to build, maintain and ride bikes around the city. Check out our campaign here.

Q: What is your number one tip for winter cycling?

The best streets to bike on in the winter, in my opinion, are those middle kinds of streets, the ones that aren’t major, or minor. Like Dovercourt. The snow is cleared by a higher volume of traffic, but the street is generally not as busy as the major arteries: Perfect for a winter ride.

At dandyhorse, we will be rolling out several more winter cyclist wish list profiles as we head into the holiday season. As part of these special profiles we will announce dandy giveaways with Soulpepper theatre (Win tickets to see The Conjurer) and Steam Whistle brewery (6 gift packs) on social media starting on Dec. 15. Keep an eye out for #dandySANTA here and on Twitter and Facebook.

Mobility Rings

Check out this map I made for Charlie’s Freewheels to publicize the impact their programming has on empowering youth in Toronto on the occasion of their Indiegogo campaign. It shows, quite simply, that your world it quite small if you walk everywhere, and you can farther, faster by bike. Bikes make the city smaller for everyone – and that makes opportunities for connection and engagement with the rest of the city.


Exciting news, readers!

For the remaining days of 2014, I will be working with Charlie’s Freewheels to publicize their indiegogo campaign to put 50 youth on 50 bikes!

Charlie’s is an amazing organization in Toronto’s downtown east-side. They empower youth in Regent Park and Moss Park, two of Toronto’s priority neighbourhoods, teaching them how to build and maintain their own bikes and how to ride them safely in the city. With lovely instructors and mechanics, an inviting atmosphere and drop-in hours Charlie’s also provides a supportive community, spreading positive messaging about biking in the city. You might have read about them in my Torontoist article from last month.


Our campaign is mostly keeping to social media, but we’re doing our best to get conventional media like Now and the Toronto Star on our case to help us spread the word.

The campaign has been an opportunity to reach out to other bike organizations in the city, including Cycle Toronto and Dandyhorse Magazine, and other communities dedicated to sustainability (e.g. Evergreen), urban planning (e.g. Toronto Centre for Active Transportation), health (e.g. activeTO), youth homelessness (e.g. Covenant House) and youth advocacy in the city.

I’m most excited about the meme-side of our campaign. While going viral is more of an art than a science, making the memes has been hilariously fun, and a good opportunity to collaborate with the Charlie’s community to celebrate the amazing culture of the organization.

Please enjoy this selection of the memes and infographics we’ve already put out, and stay tuned for more!

Sohel_Smile BikeBoyzMen Mobility Rings

I am pleased to announce I have started to write for Torontoist, one of Toronto’s premier news and culture blogs, as a freelancer, where this post originally appeared

Day 2 2 722x550

Today, the average Toronto cyclist is a 35-year-old male who lives in the old City of Toronto and cycles in the West End along established bike lanes. But a non-profit organization is working to diversify the city’s cycling population. Charlie’s Free Wheels teaches young people how to build their own bikes and ride them safely, and they’re pumping out young riders like no one else in the city.

Inspired by and named after Charles Prinsep, who died at 23 after being struck by a car on a cross-continental bike trip, Charlie’s Freewheels wants to encourage young people to explore every nook and cranny of Toronto by bike—and to know, love, and engage with their city. “A bike makes the city seem as if it’s smaller, so everything’s closer to me,” says participant Timothy Calupig.

The organization is based out of Charlie’s Bike Joint at Queen Street East and Sherbourne Street. Flanked by the Sherbourne cycling track, it’s well situated to serve kids from nearby Regent Park and Moss Park—low-income neighbourhoods that could use more cycling support. The not-for-profit bicycle shop out front supports Charlie’s by paying half the rent and regularly donating tools and parts at cost—and all its profits go to the program.

Charlie’s main focus is its free, 10-week Build-A-Bike program. The after-school workshop teaches kids and teens how to build bicycles and offers instruction on basic mechanics and safe riding skills. When students complete the program they get to keep their bike, and they also receive a new lock, a helmet, and access to Charlie’s tools during drop-in hours. After five years, 225 participants have completed the program.

Day 6 4 722x550

Charlie’s has also focused on getting more girls on bikes. Last year, it introduced a girls-only Build-A-Bike program that features strong female role models and mechanics who instruct and inspire their students. One participant, Jessica Julian, had just finished the program; though a bit shy, her admitting that “wrenches make make me feel bad-ass” might say it all.

Along with drop-in hours and group ride-alongs through the city, Charlie’s offers the Mobilized FreeWheelers program, which supports young cyclists speaking up about their transportation needs. The program also gathers locally specific knowledge of cycling and transportation based on the experiences of young people in marginalized communities. Its findings were exhibited at the Urban Space Gallery last February.

Charlie’s next few months will be eventful: The organization will build a pedal-powered parts washer, and prepare for a major fundraising campaign to get even more young people on bikes and promote cycling as a driver for positive social change.

Photos courtesy of Charlie’s Free Wheels.

CORRECTION: November 18, 2014, 6:00 PM This post originally stated that the Bike Store is a for-profit venture; that is not the case, and all its profits go to support Charlie’s Freewheels.