Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gabe Klein à Montreal

If you are in Montreal this Friday, Gabe Klein will be giving a conference at the Grande Bibliothèque as part of the Féria du Vélo.


A presentation by Gabe Klein
Chicago Transportation Commissioner
Urban mobility: novel approach by the Windy City

Gabe Klein is considered a rock star of urban transportation in the United States. As Transportation Director in Washington between 2008 and 2010, he developed an innovative user-oriented approach, based on 2.0 technologies. He also put Washington on the map of bicycle-friendly cities by building D.C.’s first separated bike lanes and creating the country’s first and largest bike sharing system.

Since May 2011, he has been working with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as Transportation Commissioner, to make Chicago the most progressive city for public mobility and transit, particualry by creating a world-class cycling network. In his lecture, Gabe Klein will share his vision of transportation and the city of tomorrow.

Friday, June 1, 10:30 a.m.
Grande Bibliothèque Auditorium
475, boulevard de Maisonneuve Est, Montréal
Free admission

UPDATE (09/06/2012): Here you can find his presentation.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Bike Show

Last week, May 22nd, Jack Thurston dedicated his show to Copenhagen and Cycle Chic.
You can listen to the show here.

Copenhagen, City of cyclists

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nice videos: Les légumes nous parlent

 Not bicycle related for once.

Little video by directors Stéphane Groleau and Mary Marcotte.
This video was produced as part of a campaign to promote meatless Mondays. If omnivorous would give up eating meat as little as once a week, this already would have a major impact on the environment.

As I don't eat much meat anymore, but still enjoy it when I do, I must admit not being too sensitive to this argument. The video however is a major piece of art so here it is.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring media review

You know it's back-on-your-bike season when the media start going on cycling as a trend and how-to's, blah blah blah, just like every spring.

A sample:

- The Montreal Gazette
"The way to go", April 19th

- The Ottawa Citizen
"Five tips to get you wheeling" April 25th

- The Globe and Mail
"How to get urban dwellers cycling: make it normal", April 25th

- Openfile
"OpenRoad: 'War' between cyclists and motorists overstated, but casualties are real", May 1st

- La Presse
"Points d'inaptitude: deux cyclistes contestent la loi", February 23rd
"Les pistes cyclables du Plateau seront déneigées l'an prochain", February 24th (This one is CRA-ZY and won't happen)
"BIXI victime de vandalisme... poétique", April 30th
"Le vol de vélo est devenu un crime banal", April 3rd
"New York: les premiers Bixi arriveront fin juillet", May 7th

And there's more.
By the end of May, with bike month round the corner, there shall be more meat in the articles, with plenty of controversies and polemics.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Summer program

This coming summer won't see me in any intense cycling activity. I won't have the time at all this year.
However, after a 3-4 years absence, I'll pedal the Tour de l'Ile on June 3rd as well as un Tour la nuit on June 1st.

I guess that's my way of paying dues to the cycling community. The cyclists count is kind of important as the media make a huge deal of how big those events are. That becomes useful leverage for Vélo Québec to represent the cycling community in all relevant instances.
Whatever. It does not cost me much, so I can make the effort. Plus downtown gets closed down... For real (as opposed to the shitty 2008 New York Five Borough Tour of my ass where we had to put our feet down every three God damn blocks!).

But the real deal is that my sister is increasingly getting interested in cycling as an activity, but also as occasional transport. So I am "studying her case", hearing her comments, her reasoning, what convinces her, what deters her etc.
It is very interesting. All I can say for far is while road security and the availability of infrastructure are crucial, the "kick" to really get "into cycling" comes from somewhere else. She is very sensitive to the whole cycling as a cool factor. Those Lacoste and Armani ads, those Chihuahua in the front baskets etc. are having more impact than infrastructure, which she kind of takes for granted.So the Tour will be an occasion to teach her some basics cycling skills and abilities, i.e. the difference between wobbling around and going in a straight line, know your enemies 101, what can you do with a rear view mirror beside touching up your lipstick etc.

In any case, here is the program.

- Un Tour la nuit, 22 km, evening ride, starts at around 7 pm.

- Le Tour de l'Ile, 50 km, full day ride.

New this year: there will be a Défi within the Tour de l'Ile. Défis (translation: challenges), are really randonnées wherein one chooses to do 75 km, 100 km or 150 km (rounded). No competition, no winners, no losers.

- The first one is always one week before the Tour de l'Ile, i.e. last Sunday of May. Called the Metropolitan Challenge, it will start from Beloeil this year.
- There are two additional challenges later in the summer, a Laurentian (Ste Agathe) one and an Eastern Township (Sutton) one.

The Tour de l'Ile will feature a challenge as well, an event within the event:
"This Challenge, inspired by the Express, is the accelerated Tour de l’Île, the exhilarating pleasure of pedalling through Montréal at high speed. To register, you must be able to ride comfortably with a pack and maintain an average speed of 30 km/h for 1½ hours. Don’t delay. Registration ends May 28. Non-timed challenge. Early departure. Box lunch included at the finish site"

Hubby has been preparing now since February.

 Yet, I am still very skeptical of his peloton abilities. Max distance has been 85 km before collapsing of exhaustion. And reaching 30 km/h is one thing. Maintaining it over 1h30 is something else... Well, we'll see.
I'll try to document this. As well as a few of the nicest rides in town: climbing up the Mont Royal and the Boucherville Islands.

But for sure, I'll miss out on a lot until early July. Already I missed out on the students' Tour de l'ile en rouge, a bike tour organised in support of the strike where everyone wore red (yep, we are a pretty left-wing bunch so students are on strike protesting school fee hikes that will double tuition in 5 years: the movement is entering its 12th week).



Well, you get it. The worst is I cycled past the last packs of them on my way on. But I had neither camera nor time. This will be, in essence, my summer!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Important: Bicycle theft study

I received today the email below.
If you are a Montréal cyclist please contribute to the improvement of our cycling experience by answering the survey. If you're not but you know someone who is, please forward it to them.
It is important that the cycling community gets as vocal as possible and gets its positions and opinions heard.


Bonjour les cyclistes de Montréal ! Hello Montréal cyclists! 

(English version follows)
Le groupe de recherche multidisciplinaire en transport de McGill (TRAM) mène présentement une enquête visant à comprendre le vol de vélo à Montréal afin de formuler des recommandations sur les moyens de diminuer les incidents de vol. Ce sondage prendra entre dix et quinze minutes. Dans notre dernier sondage, près de 50 % des participants ont indiqué qu'ils avaient déjà été victimes d'au moins un vol de vélo.
Cliquez ici pour participer au sondage:
Ce sondage a pour but de comprendre et, par la suite, de prévenir dans la mesure du possible le vol de vélo à l'aide de vos recommandations. La population ciblée pour ce sondage comprend tous les cyclistes âgés d'au moins 18 ans à Montréal. Les résultats seront présentés à la Ville de Montréal, la Société de Transport de Montréal (STM) et Vélo Québec, et seront publiés au mois de septembre 2012 sur le site du groupe de recherche:
Nous sommes très reconnaissants de votre participation et de votre contribution à cette enquête!

The inter-disciplinary research group, Transportation Research at McGill (TRAM) is currently undertaking a survey aimed at understanding bicycle theft in Montreal to develop recommendations on how to decrease instances of theft. This survey should take approximately 10 to 15 minutes of your time. In our last survey approximately 50% of respondents indicated they had already had at least one bicycle stolen.
Click here to participate in the survey:
Our current survey aims to comprehend, and consequently also prevent, bicycle theft as much as possible through your recommendations. The target population for this survey includes all cyclists in Montreal who are 18 years or older. The findings of the survey may be presented to the City of Montréal, Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), Société de Transport de Montréal (STM), and Vélo Québec, and will also be published in September 2012 at:
With a bit of your time you can help us understand your concerns about bicycle theft, and assist in making recommendations to prevent bicycle theft from happening in the future!

Thank you!

SVP, faites circuler ce sondage dans vos réseaux / Please distribute widely through your networks

Dea van Lierop, M.A.
MUP Candidate (2013)
School of Urban Planning
McGill University

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bikes and bags (suite)

Then one day, I somehow clicked on one of these random links which took me to the Po Campo website. Honestly, and I don't receive any money from them, it is the best thing that has even happened in my "cycling career" (whatever that means).
Those bags are just awesome. Take a look at those pictures from last summer.

Crazy no? Stylish, fresh, summery, roomy etc. You name it!
Yet not perfect...
When you add the 3rd bottle of wine coming back from the store, the bag gets all tipsy...

Sadly collapsing on one side....

Well, you get it, right.
This is NOT a grocery bag. It is a lady's hand bag. So packing it too much with the wrong stuff does NOT work. Especially if said bag does not sit directly on the rack but on an uneven pair of locks, LOL!!!
But it also means that the whole yoga mat thing won't fly either. This is NOT a gym/yoga/whatever bag: it is a hand bag!
Just my opinion of course, but based on quite some experience....

This Po Campo Logan Tote is the old model. It has been totally redesigned (not sure what was wrong with the previous design). The new one seems shorter at the base (which is good as this one is longer than my rack) which makes it possible to attach it to the rack at the front and at the back. It also looks taller and roomier. The base looks floppy instead of sturdy so the bottom of the bag droops. It's "vegan", whatever that means (couldn't care less about that one!).
 The new collection is totally diaper oriented which is cool. As an new auntie, there may be one gift or two in the pipe...

Since last summer, I have bought two additional bags:

1. The Loop Pannier, i.e. the professional/computer bag (that can  NOT hold any of my computers) that I use the most. Folks, this is the ultimate bike bag.

2. And, ahem, a second Logan Tote, brown just like the Loop Pannier above, so I have one for the summer and one for the winter. No comment.

Compare this:

Versus this!

 And it is not just a fine urban companion,

It does handle quite well in a country setting!

They are very sturdy. I have already thrown the yellow Logan in the washing machine more than once and it fared pretty well. The pictures above are post-wash.

UPDATE: Went to Dumoulin Bicyclettes today. By the way (and I am not getting paid here either), they are the best urban cycle shop or rather boutique in Montreal!! They have everything from foldies, to cargo Babboes, to Levi's commuter pants, to Batavus/Linus/Gazelle/Opus, to a complete selection of Brooks saddles, grips, bags, tools etc., to... well, yeah... Po Campo bags!! Starting this Spring they are stocking this brand with the latest collection. And they managed it so it is cheaper for me to buy directly from them rather than ordering on the Po Campo website. Good for all of us.
So I could not resist and bought yet another one, this time for my sister, as a gift.

Check it out! It is exactly as I described above.

Lovely! I hope she likes it.

Anyhow, these bags have solved (almost) all of my carrying problems.
"Almost" because there are issues only a basket can solve. Soon, when I find some free time (I am desperately busy these days!!) I shall write about the freaking Nantucket basket that died on me in less than a year!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bikes and bags

Oh boy! This is a VERY old post, something I wrote some time last summer and forgot at the bottom of the pile. Well here it is...


Finding a way to elegantly carry our stuff around is every urban's cyclist worst nightmare.
Once past the initial fumbling with the bicycle's setup and options, one soon realises that some sort of device is needed to carry our loads. Regular lady's purses are fine when small, but past a certain size, they flap around or keep sliding to the front, threatening your balance on top of being plain annoying.

Yet, a quick look at what bike shops feature will have fast convinced anyone that such accessories are really for dorks (and yes, these are all mine!):

- Ugly panniers (Voyager)

Hideous trunk bags (Louis Garneau)

Ok, honestly, they're not that bad, proof is, I purchased them. Just not appropriate for urban cycling. Once you're off the bike, they do not have any elegant contraption allowing you to carry them around that is not uncomfortable or awkward.

Fast forward a few years and I come across this one (Axiom):

Its base is sturdy, made of some sort of rubber, and it does have a strap so you can carry it on your shoulder. However, it's kind of heavy, it attaches with a hooking system that's pretty basic, it will hang sadly at your bike's side and will flap once you pick up speed or hit a curve. Perfect for going to the market, doing the groceries and running errands.
Nicer, but still not "it".

Finally, on day,  in a fit of rebellion over the lack of choice, I decided to embark on a Graal quest for an appropriate bicycle bag.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Caravane, la grande pédalée

An infallible sign that cycling is becoming mainstream in a community is when you see minority demographics (i.e. racial, age, gender or other), getting involved, being empowered and taking ownership of the cycling habit.

Instead of contributing to discrimination, racial divisions, top-down attitudes, social exclusion and racism as seems to be the case in places such as Portland, it looks like cycling is bringing all sorts of demographics to mingle in Montreal streets. Older Asian men, black women riding with children, penniless students as well as well-off business people, more and more of the folks are joining in.

A while ago, I came across an organisation dedicated to contributing to this trend: Caravane.
"Caravane’s mission is to promote cycling, not only as a viable, economical and environmentally friendly mode of transportation, but also as a tool for developing rich social and cultural networks."
There can be many obstacles to joining the bicycle culture, especially for new immigrants. At the heart of their activities is the effort to overcome these obstacles by:

  • Providing information to newcomers about the ease and security of cycling in the city
  • Helping newcomers learn to ride safely
  • Dispelling the fears that newcomers often have about cycling in the city – namely, fears about safety, operation, and connotations about social status
  • Offering a more affordable mode of transportation
  • Fostering cultural understanding and exchanges by using the bicycle as a tool to make connections with people
  • Integrating the city’s neighbourhoods
  • Bridging the isolation of newcomers to the city
  • Providing newcomers with ways to create networks
More on the organisation here.