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Love Letter to The Great Lakes: Street Art Around Ossington

lovelettertThis week, Ossington is a major location for a new Toronto arts festival. This one brings some beautiful new murals to our streetscape. Love Letter to The Great Lakes as an event runs until tomorrow at Rally Ossington, but the street art will live on our local buildings for a long time.

Today, the team behind the project at Rally led a bike tour of the murals, starting behind their site at 12 Ossington. We stopped at several murals in and around Ossington, the street and alleyways. We checked out the murals as they were being painted, and got to hear from some of the artists. While this was a one-time experience, you can still go for your own walk or bike and have a look for yourself!

I took some photos and notes on where and who.  The website also showcases a map with the sites and bios of all the talented artists working on the project, so you can conduct your own personal self-guided tour in the days to come. Also, Rally is holding a pop-up shop and art exhibit with materials related to the project, so stop in tonight or tomorrow for more information.

Continue reading Love Letter to The Great Lakes: Street Art Around Ossington

Monthly Summer Series – Art Spin

feb6_art_spin_logoLast Thursday night, we participated in the first Art Spin of the 2013 season. Art Spin is a free monthly summer series that starts in Trinity Bellwoods Park and takes you to different art events in the near vicinity. All it requires is your bicycle and an open mind.

It’s been happening for a few years, and this past Thursday was the first time we could make it, and we were glad we did. What a uniquely west-end Toronto experience! More than 200 cyclists assembled at the south end of Trinity Bellwoods, and the tour started promptly at 7PM.

artspin1We rode north through Trinity Bellwoods, up to Dundas, east along Dundas and then south down to King Street. You never know where the first stop, the next stop or the next stop is, but rest assured, the organizers plan a varied and very interesting tour. We were never bored! The tour is different each time, so you can keep going and will see new performances each time. Continue reading Monthly Summer Series – Art Spin

The Pedal Stop Bicycle Shop Opens

Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 11.08.47 AMJust in time for spring, a new cycle shop opened this morning at the corner of Argyle and Ossington. The Pedal Stop offers new bikes, repairs, and accessories. This is a great addition to the neighbourhood as finding bike accessories and even basic repairs used to require going up to College or down across Queen Street.

We spoke with Alex, the proprietor, and his plans go beyond being simply a bike retailer. They are already working on an area of the shop for coffee and energy drinks to make the space more of community hang-out for cyclists and locals. Head on over to their Facebook page and give them a “Like” to keep on top of what they are planning.

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Why isn’t BIXI on Ossington?

The bike sharing program Bixi has been in Toronto for just over a year now, and it’s getting use. In fact, according to a BIXI representative:

The program is very successful. We have around 5,000 members and 20,000 casual users this year. Since the launch of the system, BIXI users have made more than 700 000 trips!

We haven’t had cause to use BIXI yet in Toronto, as it doesn’t extend west to Ossington, so we ride our own bikes to work. People have tweeted us to use it: in fact, during NXNE, a really gung-ho BIXI fan tweeted that we should ride BIXI and park the bike at College and Borden and walk home from there. That isn’t the nearest station, though; there’s one at Dundas and Bathurst, a distance of 1.2km.  Not a reason to switch from our own bikes, which get us door to door. Considering the number of cyclists who live in or visit Ossington Village, and the dearth of bike parking in the area, there really should be a BIXI station here. We contacted BIXI to find out why we don’t have a station yet, and learned that it’s not up to them, it’s up to the city.

“We need the city council to approve the release of funds and to approve the expansion project and the locations of the new stations. A report is coming to councillor this Fall.”

Our councillor Mike Layton is a cyclist and a supporter of city cycling, and he wants us to know that he is working on improving our access to BIXI:

As one of my first acts on council I put forward a motion at public works committee to develop a strategy for expanding bixi. The report is not yet complete as staff have been told not to include in the budget unfortunately. So we need to find other money.
I’ve also been working to secure money and space in new development to fund its expansion.
Its more complex that putting in a station. The Bixi models requires a station about 100m from another station so we would need to install many stations along Queen or dundas to make to Ossington.
We’ve already seen it move a little further west along Bloor which is good news.

Long story short, I’m working on it.

If you want BIXI to expand, tell Mike you support him. If you live in another part of the city, let your councillor know you want him or her to support funds for bicycling and BIXI in the city.

Bike Parking Photos – Tuesday afternoon, 4pm – Bikes everywhere.

Bikes, bikes, everywhere!  There have been some inspiring pictures on twitter lately about the need for bike parking in the neighbourhood –  highlighting the general frustration. So we thought we’d take a walk around and see how easy it is to find a place to secure your bike on a Tuesday afternoon.

The simple answer – it isn’t easy, even in a very off-peak time in a neighbourhood that isn’t known for a lot of office workers. While it’s fantastic to see so many people being environmentally conscious and taking their bike around the city, imagine how challenging it is on a Thursday night when we actually have people visiting the bars and restaurants. We see bikes getting precariously parked on unsafe scaffolds, on private fences, and unfortunately onto gas meters, which is seriously unsafe. The rings on Dundas just west of Ossington were removed on the last round of construction and never replaced. There are a limited number on Ossington, most of which are taken by the people who work locally, before the visitors even arrive.

Check for yourself. Share some pictures too!

Outside Reposado & Town Moto

South of Foxley

Scaffolding outside of Fishbar

Trying to sqeeze in near the hardware store

The Fence along Foxley

Pictures from the Ossington Blackout Anniversary Ride

We had a fun night on the ride. We biked from Spadina and Bloor, along College St. down Dufferin, back along Dundas, and then down Ossington where I caught some pictures. The ride ended up under the Queen and Dufferin bridge in a party.

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