Slowly but surely Metrolinx is becoming a household brand-name as it offers greater visibility for it’s exciting expansions of Ontario’s mass-transit infrastructure. Through new services in it’s operational GO Transit division, which is already very well known to all Commuters here in Southern Ontario, Metrolinx is also making a big push to break away from the commuting pack into much more leisurely and adventurous modes of rail travel as well. Not only can GO Transit enthuse weekend sightseers, but it’s also purposely re-geared itself for the pleasures of cycling as well. Most obviously with the provision of specially equipped trains that can carry our bikes down to spectacular routes and scenery that surround Niagara Falls!
GO Transit now offers an additional trip on Friday evenings to facilitate longer weekend getaways both down to The Falls, as well as offering a quick weekend train trip in the opposite direction back into Toronto from the Niagara Peninsula. From June 24 to September 5th passengers can take their bikes along to tour The Falls and Vineyards of this famous wine-growing area at no extra charge! So let’s consider the new experiences that easy service opens up to even the most casual cycling enthusiast…
Well here we are on the first day of December, on the first day of Rob Ford’s mayoral mandate, and already we’re provided with the first examples of the kinds of media events and posturing that will either draw the first jeers of ridicule for the new regime, or the first signs of suburban solidarity from the 50% of Torontonians who brought Ford to power…Depending on which side of the tracks you’re sitting when the Rob Ford’s gravy-less train to municipal prosperity either rolls past, away from, or right over your neighborhood in it’s headlong rush to dismantle everything that doesn’t sit well with the new administration at City Hall.
If first impressions are anything to base our outlook on, then today’s events should be a telling reminder of what we can look forward to during at least one term of reactionary, pandering, and short-sighted politics here in Toronto, and the backlash driven political desires of it’s dispossessed suburbs.
If you think about it, you couldn’t blame Cyclists for hoping that at least a few intriguing new technological developments might come out of a geek-powered event named the Sustainable Mobility Summit. Thankfully that’s exactly what happened this past week at the 2010 Summit held in Ottawa Ontario, where Google Maps announced that its new Bike Directions service, which had already launched in the United States this past March, is now also coming to eight Canadian cities as well. Conference-goers were the first to learn that Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton Calgary, Winnipeg, Gatineau, and Waterloo, and Vancouver, will all be getting mapped out with Google’s Bike Directions. Furthermore, as the host city for the Summit, Ottawa will have the distinct honour of being the first bike-friendly urban center to boast GoogleMap’s new Bike Directions features here in Canada!
What’s interesting though, isn’t just what this service offers us here in the Present, but what it can evolve into in the very near Future…
Representatives from The Toronto Police and Traffic Services have had to step up public awareness of basic safety issues after 16 pedestrians have been injured in only 2 days. The most regrettable accidents are the ones that could easily have been avoided, and this particular rash of incidents points to many small factors that are entirely within the control of Pedestrians. So once again, we need to look at a problem from the point of view of personal responsibility, before we can start to fine tune the external factors that would help alleviate traffic and safety issues for everyone…
Whether we’re dealing with the results of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, or the U.S. Recovery Plan….Anybody who’s had to use roadways during the hot and dusty Summer of 2010 isn’t about to soon forget the ravaged pavement surfaces and miserable traffic congestion created by all the government sponsored stimulus projects. This is because most of them are are still clogging up our roads in their ongoing efforts to presumably continue stimulating the economy, as well as testing our personal patience with their lengthy reparations.
Ironically, even though these private and public works projects were designed to keep key sectors of the economy well primed with cash, and the economy rolling along, during this time most North-Americans had no idea that the entire Industry almost came to a screeching halt due to a critical shortage in the supply of road and highway paint…A shortage that not only threatened to block the completion of those endless road projects, but which also hinted at some even bigger industrial concerns further up the supply chain. This supply issue tips us off to an even bigger story that goes far beyond the possibility of a cash grab by suppliers and contractors during a public-backed construction boom…and actually points to some fascinating possibilities in the Future.
Anybody who’s been anywhere near a moving electric car has probably been astounded by the stealth of it’s silent approach, but this became a safety concern for some special interest groups, who felt that industry standards were needed for everyone’s greater safety. The question isn’t so much ‘why’, as much as it is ‘how’ this noise will be made, and ‘what’ will it sound like? So, back in 2008, the experts at the Geneva-based United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the body responsible for harmonizing global vehicle regulations, started working on a set of minimum noise standards designed to prevent the uber-quiet Electric Vehicles (EV’s) from becoming a safety risk to Pedestrians – particularly young children and the blind. The results of this initiative are the Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians (VSP) standards, which we can already see (uhm ‘hear’) demonstrated in the new Nissan Leaf.