Bike Like Mike

There is no better time of year than now to ride your bike to work (or to the gym, or to the grocery store, or just for fun)! Fresh crisp air and cool morning temperatures help to ensure you won’t end up a sweaty mess on arrival. Biking regularly can help you get in shape, feel better, improve your health, and it’s just plain fun! Check out this TED Talk about the awesome ways that biking can change you.


I’ve been meaning to write a blog on biking ever since the large expansion of Toronto’s Bike Share system this summer. I’ve been a Bike Share member for about 5 years, going back to the days when it was known as Bixi Bike. Every time there is an expansion to the system, it opens up the city a little bit more. Expansions have added bikes directly outside the front door of UHN offices at Lucliff Place as well as a short walk from Toronto Rehab’s Bickle Centre at Queen Street and Close Ave. With stations also in front of TGH, TRI-UC, TWH, and PMH, UHNers all over the city have great access to the system. As part of the recent expansion, stations have been added in the west end along the lake shore trails and in the east end, expanding further into Scarborough towards the Beaches and along the Danforth subway line.

I use these bikes all the time (44 rides in September) to get around faster and cheaper than any other transit infrastructure. There is nothing more satisfying than flying by a bunch of road raging single occupant vehicles and getting to your destination faster than you could have if you drove, took the TTC, or walked. In August, I was returning from Europe and traveled home from Pearson using the train to Union and Toronto Bike Share – total travel time from the plane touching down to my couch with a cold beverage was 1 hour and 8 minutes, including waiting for that guy blocking everyone from getting off the plane while he rearranges his bag in the overhead compartment for 15 minutes! Total cost: $9 for train. Bike share membership is only $90 per year, so if you are using it in place of TTC or cabs even semi-frequently, it pays back fast. With a membership, bike trips under 30 minutes are free.

With more and more safe biking infrastructure cropping up in the city, even “normal” people are starting to see biking as a good option. Our fearless leader, Ed, has also recently jumped into the fray, although I don’t support references to the most annoying song Queen ever made!

Another benefit of biking in the cooler temperatures of fall is that we will start to see less and less of this unfortunate sight:

Empty Bike Share

Bike Share station suffering from “summer syndrome”

Although the bikes are clunky and the stations might be empty the odd time, I love the convenience of never having to worry about any of the following:

  • my bike getting stolen
  • purchasing an expensive lock and carrying it around
  • carrying around other items that are commonly stolen, such as bike seat, lights, wheels, etc.
  • storing a bike in my small apartment
  • greasing chains and other maintenance

If you are thinking of becoming a first time Bike Share member, you should know that your Presto Card will get you 40% off your first year! That means a whole year of biking would be only $54 or less than half of a one month Metropass. You can’t afford not to try it! Check out this webinar for all you need to know about Presto.

With the end of Smart Commute Month coming up on October 6th I would like to challenge you to continue your smart commute beyond this month. Continue to reduce your reliance on single occupant vehicles and improve your health, fitness, and sanity! From my experience, the growing Toronto Bike Share system is a convenient and affordable alternative. I hope you give it a try and join me out there in a bike lane near you.

In respect of farmers….

Susan and Elbonne, a patient at Bickle, enjoy the corn roast for Urban Ag Day

Hi everyone, guest blogger Amanda here! I’m a Registered Dietitian and Interprofessional Educator at TRI’s Bickle Centre, and I’ve had the pleasure of coordinating our “GROW: Garden Rehab. On Wheels” project this year.  While munching on some locally grown corn at Friday’s Urban Agriculture Day event, I took some time to reflect on the season that we’ve had… and all I can think of is that golden saying, “if you ate today, thank a farmer.” We are professional therapists, clinicians and hospital support staff, but when it comes to gardening and urban farming, we are amateurs.  Our corn is stunted, our peppers never grew, and I will be looking up green tomato recipes tonight because I don’t think ours will ever get rosy red.  Farming really is a science.

So, despite not getting a ‘bumper crop’…. would we do it again?

In a heart beat.

This garden is so much more than just vegetables to us.

It is a connection to food. It is fun to see octogenarian patients comment, “I never knew that’s how that grew!” and staff comment, “I never thought to mix fresh herbs into my salad, this is delicious!”

It is also a connection to each other.

We surveyed the patients in our weekly gardening group halfway through the series of sessions. When asked what they liked the most about the group, it was not “my weekly salad!” as we might have guessed. Most responses included the theme of “I like being with the others in the group, and gardening is a great thing to talk about.”  This theme was consistent with staff as well.  As one staff member put it, our garden is like a community hub.  Teamwork and collaboration happen when you stop to pick some beans with your colleague on your way into work, and laughter happens when you realize the squirrels have re-planted your neat rows into a hap-hazard zig-zag pattern.

IMG_0305[1]Of course, we’ve learned so much from our personal and shared experiences, and seen growth in our skills and abilities. We saw magic happen with respect to growth and colour when we added compost—with worm poop- to our planters halfway through the season.  We have nicknamed our most experienced staff garden group member the “fairy godmother of the garden,” and she has taught us that the more beans we keep picking, the more that will grow.  And, we have brought our new found skills home with us.  Many staff garden group members have commented that this project has inspired them to start a garden at home—Registered Dietitian Lisa Behnke notes that her balcony-grown kale is doing amazing!

So, while we may still need a professional farmer to make up the bulk of our diets at the Bickle Centre, you can bet that we’ll still be back at it, GROWing next summer!

Bike Month Bonanza

Bike Month Bonanza

By now, we hope you’ve dusted off your wheels to get the most of Toronto’s prime cycling season. Yes, some hardcore folks know no seasonal limitations for their cycling love. For others, a Continue reading

UHN Light Switch Plate Design Contest

Updated (Apr 20):

See and vote on contest finalists here

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Crunching to Your Health!

Image credit: Greenfuse Photography / Laura Berman

Image credit: Greenfuse Photography / Laura Berman

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It takes a (global and resilient) village

Though an atlas clearly shows lines between countries, provinces and states, no one told the wind, water and wildlife that they’re supposed to stay on their side. Case in point, the strange creature we found hiding in our garage that looked like a rat but was the size of a cat. It turned out to be a possum (or opossum, if you wanna get technical).

image credit: Linda Bergman-Althouse; story link: Toronto Star

image credit: Linda Bergman-Althouse; story link: Toronto Star

Those creatures, North America’s only marsupial, originally came from Continue reading

So who won? (the Interhospital Challenge, that is)

As we stare down Black Friday (now a thing in Canada too), lots of people are gearing up for some serious sales. Those serious sales can turn into serious spending, consumption and a whole lotta waste. What a perfect time to talk about our Waste Reduction Week Interhospital Challenge :).

The King/Queen of all Reusable Mugs! The Silver Stein of Sustainability! The Interhospital Winners trophy.

The Royal Highness of Reusable Mugs! The Silver Stein of Sustainability! The Interhospital Winner’s trophy!

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