A sustainable transportation critique of the song “Red Barchetta” by Rush

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As a progressive person in the United States, I look to our neighbor to the north as a model for what the U.S. might be like with more sensible laws, including transportation policy. So it’s always disappointing and/or reassuring when I read about backwards-thinking Canadian conservatives.

The most colorful recent example is Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who has consistently put himself on the wrong side of history when it comes to transportation issues. Soon after taking office in December 2010 Ford declared Toronto’s Transit City transit plan “dead” and immediately began fighting the construction of the Crosstown LRT light rail line. Fortunately the project is moving forward now and is slated for completion by 2020.

Ford also established himself as an outspoken opponent of urban cycling. “What I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks,” he said as a councilor in 2010. “Sooner or later you’re going to get bitten… Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks, not for people on bikes. My heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.” A few months earlier he had said, “It’s no secret, okay. The cyclists are a pain in the a– to the motorists.”

Continue reading A sustainable transportation critique of the song “Red Barchetta” by Rush

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Bike sharing in Toronto: a preview for Chicago’s program

On a recent visit to Toronto, I decided to try Bixi bike sharing as a way of exploring the city, getting a taste of the Toronto cycling experience and trying bike sharing, in anticipation of Chicago’s planned launch of a similar system.

Each day, my ride was waiting outside my door.

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York station, at York and Queens Quay West.

When I entered my code on the dock keypad, the yellow light flashed, then the green light was accompanied by a bike bell sound.

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Members insert their key fob. Lights indicate the bike’s unlocking/locking status. 

The Bixi bike is a sturdy utilitarian model, comparable to a Dutch city bike. Its heavy steel frame and fat tires absorb a good amount of vibration and shock. Its front basket has a built-in bungee cord to keep things in place.  A hub dynamo powers LED blinky headlights on the front of the basket and tail lights on the rear stays.  They worked quite reliably when the bikes were moving, but I found myself wishing that the tail lights were a little brighter.  I supplemented mine with an additional red blinky that I brought from home. Continue reading Bike sharing in Toronto: a preview for Chicago’s program

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