Showing posts with label Ontario. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ontario. Show all posts

Friday, September 1, 2017

Things People Say Fridays #17: It's Illegal for Cyclists to Ride in Tunnels!

Hey everybody, I hope your week hasn't been too much of a grind, but if it has, it is now Friday! For those who work on the weekend, I am so sorry. I would take my comments back if I could, but the backspace key is so far away and I'm so tired. Anyway, as the post title suggests, this writing marks the long awaited return of the "Things People Say Fridays" series here on R A N T W I C K. When I say long awaited, I am referring to myself, of course. Nobody "awaits" anything from me; if you do I'm afraid you need to get a life, my friend.

In this installment, I am informed of a law that does not exist, second hand from someone who should have been a traffic authority...

Now, there are undoubtedly some tunnels where it might be very dangerous to ride a bicycle. Dark, narrow,  and/or high-speed tunnels can be some of the scariest places in the world for a cyclist, and I would never recommend riding in them, technically legal or not. In some cases these tunnels may have signage declaring "no bicycles permitted", which indeed makes it illegal to ride there.

On the other hand, there are many tunnels and underpasses that are perfectly well suited to cycling, like the one I rode through. The speed limit is 50km/h. It is illegal to ride on the sidewalk in my city and the sidewalks in that area are busy with pedestrians. The only danger to anyone in that situation would have been if I rode to the right instead of controlling the lane.

This is just a theory, but I think cyclists are so unwelcome in tunnels because their presence may extend the amount of time a driver feels like they are underground; I think there is a natural subconscious desire to be in and out of a tunnel as quickly as possible.

I wish the dissemination of imaginary, often self-serving laws when it comes to cyclists were something new or different, but it ain't. I, like many cyclists, have been informed of such imaginary laws lots of times.

Using the logic that things we find inconvenient or annoying can be re-stated as laws is really going to be really liberating I think! I'll bet you've got some suggestions for new laws... lay 'em on me in the comments section, and have a super weekend!

Yer Pal,

PS - For a summary of cycling and laws governing it in Ontario, follow this link: 

PPS - In an effort to cover my ass on this one I looked pretty hard for any legislation governing cyclists and tunnels in Ontario and found nothing at all. If you know of some stupid law that will prove me wrong, please point me to it and I will happily eat crow in a follow-up post.

PPS - If it is indeed illegal to ride through a tunnel where you live but not where I do, tell me about that too!

Friday, September 13, 2013

D & R & Life's Rich Pageant

Here in London Ontario there are two abbreviations or euphemisms for intersections that I know of. The more fun (and delicious) one is "Ham & Eggs", the intersection of Hamilton Road and Egerton Street. This intersection, more than any other I can think of in this fair city, is a PERFECT candidate for a roundabout if the City could get enough space. It is a signalized nightmare where 3 fairly major streets converge:
If you live in a city, it's a good bet that you've got something similar. I felt obligated to mention Ham & Eggs because of its awesome name, but Ham & Eggs didn't inspire this post. D&R did.
Dundas and Richmond streets intersect in what most Londoners would consider the heart of Downtown. Some people avoid D&R if they can. Others love it, at least in part for the variety of characters you'll find there. I am one of these. When I see odd stuff and people, I'm reminded of the REM album title "Life's Rich Pageant". REM didn't coin the phrase, but they did introduce it to me. I enjoy the pageant. Very much. Like yesterday...

Wishing you weekend bongos and real chipmunks, I remain,

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Am I Crazy?

I have long professed my predilection for being a solo rider, an intentional loner, if you will. I'm not really into a bike club or lbs social scene... I value the solitude offered by the bicycle very highly: it is my zen time, not to be impinged upon by the ramblings (or space taking uppings) of others. I find it calming even when riding in full downtown street mode.
Here in London Ontario a local cycling advocacy group has gotten some press and God help me, I've asked to be involved. Here's the email I sent:
I am year-round bicycle commuter here in London who up until now has had no involvement in cycling advocacy. Your recent media attention has peaked my interest in your group and made me think about joining in the discussion.
I would like to know more about your group, and may be in a position to forward the cause (in a small way) online.
Patrick "Rantwick" Cormier

This isn't like me at all. If they get back to me, I'll have to, like, meet some new people! What have I done? Plus, in pasting my email, I have noticed a grammatical error! "I am year-round bicycle commuter"? They're bound to hate me from the start!
Seriously though, this is different from participating in group rides and stuff like that... unless they're into CM and shit, which I have no interest in. I think it likely that if they get back to me, they won't force me to ride with others.
As much as I want to just ride my bike, I'm feeling like I want to add my voice (and opinions) to the discussions of what London needs to promote cycling. I have read some stuff that makes this group seem like typical bike lane proponents; that isn't bad so long as it's not all about the paint. Even if it is, maybe I can add a voice that helps reduce poorly planned paint! I love bike lanes, really, when they make sense and are safely designed.
Caring about stuff sucks. I mean, when you start caring about stuff, it makes you start doing stuff. This is bad news for a person who is lazy by nature. Damn. Am I crazy?

Yer Doomed to Do More Stuff Pal,

PS - Under my new rules, "uppings" (see first para) is a real word.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Better Cyclists? Am I Crazy?

Or are there more cyclists out there doing it "right"? I don't really care to get into a debate about what "right" is... in this case I mean 1) riding on the street rather than the sidewalk 2) riding predictably and 3) using hand signals.

I still see lots of sidewalk riders, salmon, and other reckless riders, but I also see what seems to be a real increase in "good" cycling. Does it seem that way where you live too?

While cycling instruction is available if you look hard enough, I seriously doubt that most of these cyclists I enjoy spotting so much ever had any. I'm betting that many of them are like me, people who were pretty good to begin with but who in the course of googling stuff because they were getting more serious about commuting learned a whole lot more.

The Internet can be a really great thing, especially with very helpful and informative sites like Commute Orlando among many others. For all of you who take the time to instruct, online or in person, thank you very much. I'm all for "butts on bikes" advocacy in some ways, but what you do reduces the number of "buttheads on bikes", which is good for everybody, two-wheeled or four, period.

Hey, if you stumble across this post and have good information to share on where people can go for in-person training, especially in Canada, let me know and I'll add it to my sidebar. I confess I haven't looked very hard, but I'll bet there are some good resources here in Ontario and Canada that I should be promoting in my own small way. Who knows, maybe I'll show up for a little schoolin' myself. I would like to learn that emergency "snap turn" thing people sometimes refer to...

Yer Pal,

Friday, August 12, 2011

London Ontario's Mountain Equipment Co-op: Location and Jobs

While perusing my web stats, I noticed that quite a few people who landed on my recent post about MEC were looking for the store's planned location. It is in "Wellington Commons", which means, in localese, "near the PetSmart and Pizza Hut down on Wellington near Exeter". Being a slightly Obsessive and Curious sort, that much info wasn't cutting it for me. So I called up MEC and they were kind enough to give me the exact location, which information I transformed into the handy map below:

Since I am a member of the mec co-op, I also received an email from them about hiring people for the store:

MEC is looking for a Store Manager, Team Leaders, and Front-line Staff for our new London location. Know some excellent people for these roles?

As a member and part owner of MEC, you have a say in how the business operates. If you know someone (why not you?) that would love to surround themselves with good people and great outdoor gear, encourage them to apply today.

The way I see it, if you live in London Ontario and are reading this blog, you are "excellent people". If you, in addition, would love to surround yourself with good people (and who except anthrophobes wouldn't?) and great outdoor gear (and who except hylophobes wouldn't?) I am hereby encouraging you to apply today by providing this link to MEC's current job opportunities. When I followed the link myself (being the Curious type mentioned above), I was greeted with this:

New Bike? Wah? Needless to say, this image interested me beyond easing my mind about where the missing half of the woman from my email's face had gone. It turns out that MEC offers its Full and Part-Time employees (sorry, no joy casual workers) "Interest-free computer, bike, or boat loans". My mental image of new employees being issued new bikes was dashed. Still pretty cool though, if you ask me.

Well, that's it. Hopefully I can now move on to addressing something else, like my self-diagnosed Porphyrophobia. I know I have this fear, because one time about fifteen years ago Mrs. Rantwick was awakened by me banging around in our bedroom closet, sleep walking. She turned on the light and apparently there I was in the closet with a wire hanger in my hand. When discovered thus, I said "this will help in the battle against Oprah." Pretty weird, I know. True story though, and it obviously means I once suffered from porphyrophobia and probably still do, right? Right.

Diagnosis: Pal.


PS - Don't go down to that planned MEC location and expect to find anything. I've been by and there's no sign of activity at all yet.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cast Away A Canuck! Help London's Chris Ellison Get On CBS' Survivor

Despite the way I often bash TV, I still watch quite a bit of it. I am particularly fond of The Office (US version) and much to my chagrin, Survivor.

I heard a snippet on CBC Radio this morning highlighting the efforts of a London Ontario man to get on Survivor as a contestant / castaway. Thus far there has been an "Americans only" policy in selecting people for the show. Anyway this guy Chris Ellison really wants on and is petitioning CBS and Mark Burnett to try to get there. When I heard him on the radio he seemed a well-spoken, good natured, non-crackpot Canadian and I wanted to do my part to help if I could.

His petition site will no doubt get lots of support from locals and other Canadians, but I am posting this because most of my readers are Americans and my hope is that if the show is catering to American viewing appetites (naturally), votes from people in the US might be extra helpful. So if you have a spare moment, check out the main web site here and if you are so inclined, fill out the online petition here. I mean, can you think of any situation, real, reality-themed, surreal or whatever kind of real you want that wouldn't be improved by adding a Canadian to the mix? I can't.

See? This guy is totally Survivor material.

Good luck, Mr. Ellison! I know you can do it. Eye of the Tiger man, Eye of the Tiger.

Thanks, as always, for reading my blog.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nihilism (King Street) Bridge in London Ontario is Open Again!

Writing about this bridge the other day made me want to go see if it was open yet, and it is! You would have to live here to get it, but that little walking bridge being closed was really quite a pain in the ass for a great many people. Now it is finally back and it is better than ever.

It used to be two narrow wooden walkways that made villains out of cyclists that didn't dismount and walk. I was one of them, although most times I wouldn't even try to pass any pedestrians and ride at walking speed. Here's some video of the old bridge, when it was used to make impromptu music...

Then a cocoon was made for it...

So it could emerge sometime recently as something better. A new, wide bridge with all the charm of the old one and then some...

Still wooden, still stick-music ready and nice and wide. It was worth the wait. To all those who worked on it, from planning to execution, thank you. It is great.

Yer Pal,


Monday, November 15, 2010

Reading the Signs at Nihilism Bridge

This one bridge near my house seems to be a natural focal point for cool happenings and spray painted messages. I have always liked it, even before the random bridge music. Next, I was sent on a philosophical journey that resulted in me calling it "nihilism bridge" these days. Way back then in early summer, the bridge was being re-built. It has been closed all Summer and may be closed still; I haven't been by lately. At the time I took these photos, it was quite literally shrouded in mystery...

In the near environs of the bridge, spray paint was again at work. First, another message asking me to do stuff:

Unlike "try nihilism", I didn't know how to follow this particular instruction. Since it seemed to involve leaving leaving your shirt behind, I chose not to try too hard to figure it out. I turned my attention to the bridge. That shroud was driving me crazy. What were they doing under there? I wanted to take a closer look, but I found two messages discouraging me from doing so.

Studying these two messages taught me something important. Vertical, hand spray-painted warnings are way more scary than horizontal, prefabricated ones. That's because each type of sign suggests a certain kind of author. The store-bought sign stinks of somebody from Head Office who is mostly concerned about liability and such. If they caught you on the work site, it would probably go down something like this:

If that's the worst that would happen, I just might trespass and take a little look around.

The hand done, vertical sign brings forth images of an entirely different sort. I mean, if I had hopped the fence with the author of "keep out" around, I imagine something like this would have been more likely:

With that image in my head, I decided to just carry on home and stop being so nosey. As I left that neighbourhood, I saw the symbol below painted on the sidewalk. The arrow was pointing into the street. If somebody could tell me what it means, I would appreciate it.

Anyway, that's it for today I guess. Remember, if you want to scare people off with a sign sometime, make the effort to spray-paint it yourself. It works better.

Yer Pal,


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hey There, London!

I've always made much of my readers in Texas. That is for two reasons, the first being that they were among the first to show up and even stick around, and the second being that they do stuff like this:

Now really, how could I not like that bunch?

This post, however, is about recognizing the people right here in London, Ontario, who read this blog. I watch my stats, not obsessively (at least not in the last six months or so), but I do watch 'em, and I'm getting more visitors from right here at home than ever. There is one main thing I would like to say to my local readers: Thank you. I feel a peculiar satisfaction knowing that some people who see my videos and pictures can relate directly with the streets they're seeing.

I have never been part of a cycling group or community except here online. To be frank, I am intimidated by hardcore road cyclists, I'm too old to hang with serious MTB cyclists, and serious commuters are mostly a bunch of loners like me. I guess in my heart of hearts I hope that local everyday commuters are reading and relating to this blog. I wave to cyclists who appear to be kind of like me. I don't know if that's annoying or not. I kind of like it when people on the other side of the road nod or wave, so I do it.

I'm not entirely sure why I'm writing this. I guess it is my clumsy effort at being social with people I might actually meet. If you live and ride in London, that heavyish dude in a blue cycling jacket who gives a low wave is me! I'm considering marking myself or my bike with RANTWICK, because I would really like to stop and talk with people who know me via these pages... what do you all think? Should I? Or is that just kind of lame?

Yours In Shameless Insecurity,

PS - Is "shameless insecurity" even possible, or is it an oxymoron? More worrisome, am I an "Oxy moron" for asking that question?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Clearing Snow in London Ontario: Should They Do The Pathways?

Source: - Chronicle file photo/Ken Stevens

London City Council, as part of its transportation master plan, is looking at whether to maintain pathways in winter, and if so, which ones. As much as I love riding the path in winter, I am undecided on this one. Recent winters have included some very heavy snowfalls, and everybody has an opinion on this stuff. I ride all winter long, and the number of other cyclists I see doing the same is growing. As it stands right now, as soon as the snow stays for a while and people walk on the paths, they become very difficult to ride a bike or even walk on because they develop an icy, dimpled surface that really knocks you around.

When the City is struggling to get snow cleared, however, I know I can ride on the street, and I often choose the street for speed reasons anyway. People who are disabled need the sidewalks cleared in order to get out, and certainly trump my desire to ride on the path.

So, let's assume the City has its priorities right, and clears sidewalks before pathways. It then becomes a question of whether the money spent to clear the paths benefits enough people (whether they cycle or not) to justify the cost. I guess it is worth a study, because I have no idea.

I was home sick last week, and watched a little city Council on TV. It seemed to me that Ward 4 Councillor Stephen Orser thinks winter cycling is stupid, and the City is stupid for even thinking about helping people do it on the paths.

The gist of his comments were "who the hell rides their bike in the winter anyway? We're thinking about spending money on this?" He has chosen to focus solely on the cycling aspect of cleared paths, when there are other benefits for pedestrians and joggers and who knows who else. I have determined that Stephen Orser and I should probably never go out for a few drinks.

He's totally put me in the mood for every winter's letters to the editor suggesting bicycles be banned in winter. I love those. They are like the seasons themselves, in that you can count on them pretty much every year, just as you can count on a bunch of cyclists attacking the author in the comments. I never engage in that way, but I do enjoy reading that stuff. It used to make me angry, but these days it just gives me a chuckle as I suit up and ride on.

Agreeing to disagree is totally acceptable, and I do it a lot.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

London Ontario's Best Bike Shops for the Annoying Customer

Since I have gotten into building up my own bikes over the past couple of years, I have become a rather annoying bike shop customer. I show little to no interest in complete bicycles. I often ask for parts that nobody would normally have on hand, but am reluctant to order them. Since I get bits and pieces from all over the place including eBay and Internet stores, I seldom represent much profit to any one retailer, yet take a lot of the staff's time asking all kinds of obscure questions. I read tons of stuff online and take strange biases and beliefs about what I need into the store with me that I'm sure seem stupid much of the time. Normal people develop a relationship with one or two stores and do almost all their business with them. I show no particular loyalty to any one store, but shop my annoying self around.

Don't get me wrong; I do buy / order stuff at some local bike shops (LBSs). I also represent the more rare customer who is interested in and buys bike stuff year-round. Overall, though, if I was running a bike shop, I might hide in the back if I saw myself coming in yet again.

Most people have experienced specialty stores that make you feel stupid and annoying and nowhere near well-heeled enough to warrant serious attention. I have certainly felt this in some bike shops. Shopping for guitars or other musical instruments has left the same sort of bad taste in my mouth.

I just don't get it... why do some retail staff need to rub your nose in how much you don't know or can't afford? This post was supposed to be about just giving some praise to the London bike shops I like best, but when I look at my list, I see a pattern: the shops that have treated me best are small enough that the victim of my aforementioned faults is more often than not the owner, or a singularly passionate employee.

The theory I'm currently hatching is that the people working in some of the larger stores have insecurity complexes about working in retail at all, and these complexes manifest themselves in stand-offish, dismissive behaviour. It's a kind of "I may work in a retail store, but man are you stupid" defence mechanism. Please note: I worked in retail as a sales person for many years, longer than friends and family thought I should, after graduating from University. I get how crummy customers can be, but I hope I didn't act like that. I don't think I did, but self-perception is a tricky thing; who knows?

Anyway, this post is about giving some praise to the shops who put up with me best, and they are as follows, in no particular order. Please note that the businesses I mention here don't have any foreknowledge that I'm singing their praises, and therefore certainly haven't paid me anything:

First Cycleworks - 525 First Street - hands-on, really experienced bike people. Better than most for BMX and MTB, as far as I can tell. More Details.

Village Cycle - 344 Ridout St S. - zero attitude, much help and info, and a real love of all cycling. Sept 2017 - sadly another goos shop gone. There are some new ones though. Gonna do a new post.

South London Cycle - 479 MacGregor Ave - repair central, also good for finding Park and other tools. More Details.

All Seasons Sport & Cycle - 790 Dundas East - Note: October 2009 - sadly, this bike shop has gone under.

There are many other bike shops in London. I have been to most, if not all, of them. You may love them, and that's cool, but for me they have not been as good as the picks listed above.
Go buy like a whole complete bicycle or get a full tune-up from one of these places. I'm trying to keep my annoying self away during their Spring rush.


PS - I have not frequented the store enough to put it on my "Best Bike Shops" list, but Outspokin Cycles is at 994 Huron Street near Briarhill and I have heard good things.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bicycle Commuting in London Ontario Canada

When it comes to cycling, I'm pretty antisocial. A great many cyclists enjoy organized rides, training with others and being part of one club or another and even racing sometimes. I think that's great, and who knows? Maybe someday I too will find some like-minded riders and start hanging out, like these guys:

For now though, I focus mainly on commuting quickly and effectively in every season. Despite the popular opinion of my co-workers that I am a hardcore cyclist, I don't ride far or fast enough to consider myself one. I do, however pass bikesnobnyc's definition of a cyclist, since I meet both of his criteria. I am a bicycle commuter, which, unless you happen to work with a bunch of other bike commuters (and what are the odds of that? This is London, not Portland), kind of makes you a loner by definition. That is, unless you are a regular group riding roadie or mountain biker who daily commutes by bike too. If that describes you, you've got my admiration; I have a perhaps misconceived notion that you are a rare bird indeed.

One of the big benefits of falling into a cycling group so varied in its approaches that calling it a group at all might be a mistake is that there is no wrong answer to how one should commute by bike. What works for you is the right answer, whether it's this:

or this:

or this:

I'm always curious about what's working for my fellow commuters; what's ticking them off about riding in London; what and where they ride... if you've stumbled upon this blog and you commute on a bike, especially in London Ontario, your comments are always welcome. Ride Safe everyone.