Archives for posts with tag: biking

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Vancouver City Council recently voted to remove the elevated highway-like viaducts that have been cutting off its Chinatown and Strathcona neighbourhoods with the rest of downtown Vancouver and False Creek.

Of course, this is a fantastic development for Vancouver, continuing a long history of progressive, people-oriented urban planning.

The removal of these viaducts will improve the surrounding area, making it safer and less hostile to pedestrians. And no, it won’t mean downtown Vancouver will not be inundated with cars. People who chose to drive downtown will find other options, and (hopefully), the money gained from unlocked development opportunities will go directly to transit funding.

As you may know, I visited Vancouver and the Lower Mainland this past summer. I had the opportunity to explore the spaces under — and over — the viaducts.

I was pleased to discover there was a bi-directional bike lane running the length of Vancouver’s viaducts. Approaching the viaducts from Main Street, the elevated roadway and its bike lane quickly climbs uphill, becoming suspended above the city. The feeling of biking the viaduct lanes was thrilling – high above the streets, the viaducts runs over many intersections, curving around the often-renamed Rogers Arena, and depositing cyclists to Yaletown at the base of Vancouver’s downtown core.

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I’ve explored car-style, human scale infrastructure on this blog before, where I described the thrilling experience of biking Halifax’s similar highway-to-nowhere Cogswell interchange, and Montreal’s Rosemont Flyover. Car-style infrastructure at a human scale, I wrote, offers a change in the rhythm of a city and a truly unique urban experience. That is, if it doesn’t define the urban form, and if adequate space for pedestrians is provided.

So, like many urbanists, I celebrate the taking down of Vancouver’s viaducts – ugly barriers that favour cars over humans, preventing vital urban life from thriving.

But I also lament their loss. We praise the Denmark’s cycling highways while we take down our own in Canada.

Imagine what the debate would be like in Toronto if there was a bike lane on the Gardiner Expressway!

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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.

// Two strong aural memories

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i. Morning on a mid-spring Sunday in Toronto. The city is relatively empty and a street car makes its way north on Bathurst. The distinct hum of the street car’s motion is set against a back drop of almost silence — but of course there are other sounds. The rustling of trees’ leaves, collectively heaving in one direction & then the other, a rattling and whooshing of the city’s canopy as a single entity. The faint city sounds of car doors closing and people shuffling are sharp above the rustling trees but blurred beneath the street car’s hum.

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ii. Biking in Amsterdam, also mid-Spring, though the day of the week doesn’t matter as much. The jangling of my keys as they bang against my bike’s frame, hanging out of the back wheel’s lock. I cycle over a loose brick on the road, and hear its clack as my weight pushes it up. It clangs back down. A tram’s hesitant bell clucks soon after; it whirs by.

I read a lot of online blogs and magazines about cities. This post is part of a new series of quote-shares from my internet travels: 

 ▶▶ URBAN GEOGRAPHER QUOTE-SHARE  ◁◁

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I feel most viscerally as an activist when I’m biking in Toronto. While cycling along Toronto’s hostile major streets, I make it my duty to take up space, making my presence defiantly known to cars.

In Toronto, an advocacy group for walking is meeting for the first time this week.

Along the lines of these thoughts, Chris Turner explores how in North America, walking has become a form of activism. Here’s an excerpt from his article on the Mother Nature Network:

“In North America – that there are now vast swaths of our built environment (the zones around airports, for example) where simply walking feels like a fundamental transgression on the landscape.”