Saturday, May 23, 2009

Big Wheels Keep On Turning

In celebration of Toronto's upcoming Bike Month, I'm going to refrain from writing the usual post wherein I nag reckless drivers, write sentimental pap about the joys of biking (ahem), or offer "helpful" tips for cyclists' and the aforementioned reckless drivers' continued co-existence. That's been done about one billion times before, and it's getting to be a snooze.

Instead, I'll call attention to the fact that Toronto has a Bike Month in the first place. How cool is that? The events look wicked: there are breakfasts and group rides, tune-ups and book launches, fundraisers and concerts. It's also family-friendly, which is awesome; it sometimes seems like urban bike culture can be heavy on the road-warrior and lacking in the mom-and-pop side. It's not condescending - it's not a bunch of city nabobs marshalling blocked streets. The month includes events with local businesses and community organizations, so it's being directed by the people who actually, you know, like bikes.

It sometimes feels like city hall pays lip service to the idea of a viable bike community - mounds of horse crap in the bike lane, left by police horses, is exhibit A. Minor improvements that would better the cycling experience for everyone are often left undone, like smoothing out bike lanes, installing contraflow streets, or ensuring ample bike parking in popular areas (seriously, who does a girl have to call to get some ring-and-posts installed around St. Mike's? Oh). It's nice to see some active promotion happening, even as the cops use the month as an escuse to crack down on bike infractions.

Maybe it's because I'm looking for it, but I really do feel like cycling and cyclists are in the cultural zeitgeist. There are at least two relatively new mags specifically for the cycling lifestyle: not, like, weird BMX bikes either, but normal people who just happen to love cycling. The newly established Bikes Without Borders lends a philanthropic air to the festivities, and there's a plethora of bike imagery popping up on tres cute clothes. It seems like a good time to grab your finest steel horse and ride off into the sunset.

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