Random thoughts and observations of an itinerant cyclist

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As a year-round bike commuter at UHN who also travels widely, I am fortunate to be able to sample the local cycling culture in these distant locales.  Recently Lisa Vanlint asked me to contribute to this forum by sharing some of my world-wide cycling experiences.  I am happy to do so.  To wit, I was in Medellin, Colombia last week giving some lectures (Medellin?!  Yes, think drug cartels, Pablo Escobar, cocaine capital of the world…  but those heady 1990s gangster days are mostly behind them:)

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For some context — Medellin (pronounced Me-de-dj-in) is a relative large (GTA-sized) city in the Andes, located in a picturesque valley with steep hills / mountains on both sides.  In terms of public transport, it has a surprisingly nice above-ground Metro that is widely used.  Most lines runs along the valley, but there are a couple of gondola-based “Metro-Cable” lines that head perpendicularly up the slopes into the poorer neighbourhoods on the mountainsides. Very nice!

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In terms of cycling, Medellin is actually reasonably advanced.  It has a bike-share city program and some bike lanes.  The latter are not too extensive, and are often quite challenging to navigate in the car-dominant urban environment (think GTA?!:), but at least there are some!  Further, it is not clear who has the right of way when a bike lane crosses a street — there are not many 4-way stops in Medellin — so by default cars seem to dominate.  And I could not find a city cycling map to know exactly where these lanes are, even though I checked in 3-4 bike shops…  But overall, I was still impressed that people actually bike in this populous South American city!  In fact, some locals say cycling is Colombia’s national sport #2 (though a distant second after football/soccer:)

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Alex and Lisa during Bike to Work Day in the GTA. You can tell by the sunshine and warmth, it’s not a recent photo.

P.S. from the editor … though cycling is our favorite kind of clean air commute, can you answer 3 questions about electric vehicles? Thanks!

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

Biking & Winter?

Are you and your bike fair-weather friends (literally)? For many people in our northern city, as the temperature drops, our bikes get forgotten. It doesn’t have to be this way, especially if you take winter cycling precautions.

image credit: wintercyclingblog.org who incidentally have the best tagline: "What's cold got to do with it?"

image credit: wintercyclingblog.org who incidentally have the best tagline: “What’s cold got to do with it?”

Winter Cycling Workshop (sorry, UHN staff only)

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Let the Games Begin!

Unless you live under a rock, you probably heard the latest news:  Toronto will now accept a whole lot more plastic in the Blue Bin – yay!, Bruce Jenner is absolutely smashing as Caitlyn – also yay!, and the Pan Am games are going to jam Toronto’s already tangled traffic – yay to the games but boo to the traffic.

Image credit: Panam Games

Image credit: Panam Games

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eBikes and Brollys and Prizes, Oh My!

And we have a winner!…well, several of them actually. It seems that clean commuting, i.e. anything but driving by yourself in a smoke-spewing, badly tuned car, is rewarding to even more than your hearts, minds, lungs, and wallets. Lots of UHNers participated in this year’s Clean Air Commute during the week of June 17-23, organized by the lovely people at Pollution Probe. We added around 500 staff to the nearly 16,000 participants from 111 organizations. They crunched the numbers and all together, we avoided emissions from more than 160,000 liters of gas and reduced traffic congestion by removing the equivalent of over 4,000 cars from the road for a week.

And the winners are (drumroll please…)

1. Mountain Bike: Danielle Slump, TWH

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Danielle on her new Mountain Bike

2. BIXI Membership for a year: Chris Chen, TRI-UC (happily standing in front of one of our outdoor bike maintenance clinics) Continue reading

Bike Safety Lunch ‘n Learn – Postponed

Hi All,

Like lots of other things today in the wake of storm Sandy, this session has been postponed 😦 .

So sorry for those looking forward to it. 

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Confession time…at first I was afraid, I was petrified (points if you recognize the song). A few years ago, I thought people who rode their bikes in the city were crazy to pedal without full body armor and a security escort. Now, unless it’s raining heavily or snowing, I hop on my bright red beater bike and make my way to UHN every day, all-year-round. Commuting by bike is not only fantastic for the air you breath, but for your lung capacity to breath it in the first place. For my particular route, it’s also the fastest way to get here. Join me and the Wellness team on Tuesday October 30 for Bike Safety Lunch & Learn. This 1 hour lunch ‘n learn will take you through some of the basics…rules, clothes, gear, and strategy. By the end, you’ll know how to share the road with the big trucks using just the right level of confidence and caution. Now, if this is a little preaching to the choir, please forward this invitation to your UHN friends and colleagues that aren’t quite as sure-footed (sure-pedaled?) as you.

When:  Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Where:  TGH, RFE 2S-401

Time:  12-1pm

Cost: FREE!

eLearning Course Code: uhuhwo016i (please register through elearning, though it’s a live event).

For those  interested in a bike safety course outside UHN, try the City of Toronto CAN-BIKE courses http://www.toronto.ca/cycling/canbike/index.htm

Happy trails!

Revolution #11. Like Your Bike

image credit: Toronto Bike to Work Event May 2011

Frank really loves his BUGs.  And I don’t mean the six-legged googly-eyed kind, but UHN’s Bicycle Users Group…which will help Frank keep his resolution to get fit and bike to work. He found such great (and fun) info on the intranet cycling page AND he even signed up for the monthly newsletter by emailing the nice folks here… UHNCycling@uhn.on.ca.