Live Free and Die (on bikes)

I bought this hot (as in sexy, not stolen) Peugeot bike in Windsor last week for $40, complete with “new rubber” and in very good working order. My advice is to go back to your home towns and take advantage of people by paying their ridiculously low asking prices for used bikes. I felt bad buying it from the guy (his shop had more, on Lauzon Road just south of the lake, if you’re near Windsor and want to check), who was also lamenting the demise of the Leafs. I said I was bringing it back up to Toronto (but not that this bike would cost over $100 up here) and he said “yep, yep, Toronto.” Windsor is divided 50/50 between Leaf and Red Wing fans — the Canadian Tire’s would list how many Leaf or Wing mudflaps they sold on their walls, as accurate a gauge of that city as any other I suspect — and it’s always better to know you’re with the Leaf people.

The bike says it is from France, and it has those weird internal gears (3 speeds). Yesterday I bought a ratchet set at the Cabbagetown Home Hardware so I could adjust the seat (somehow made it through years of bike ownership without my own ratchets) then rode down Queen East until I found a bike store, somewhere around Coxwell I think, where I bought a lock that cost more than the bike and a new helmet, as my old helmet is from 1993, and I suspect that being designed for the easy-going Clinton era is no longer tough enough for today’s harder times. Worse, the old helmet also had some weird hippy-dippy graphics that just won’t do anymore.

So it was nice to ride around last night. The freedom of bikes in the city is so wonderfully noticeable on the first few spring rides (for those of us who didn’t ride all winter long). Few things can compete with the quick mobility bikes offer in the city — I think about going somewhere, I pedal, then I’m there — no waiting or hurrying to get to a TTC stop/station. Maybe only cab chits that somebody else paid for can compare. I went back out at night, ziz-zaggin up to Dupont, then to Parliament, then to Queen, then to Queen East somewhere around Pape and back across the valley at around 2am, crossing at the Gerrard St. Bridge, all the time dodging rain, and then ultimately riding it in.

Riding wet didn’t put out that free feeling, but thinking about how tenuous and dangerous biking through the city is did. Reading Toronto has a post about the U of T professor who was killed on Avenue Road this week, complete with a J’Accuse directed towards City Council and the Toronto Police for doing little. Over on the Eye Blog Dale Duncan mentioned that Eye has written two editorials regarding the need for side panels on trucks to prevent cyclist deaths. Torontoist even showed a picture of what side guards can look like. If only these would result in the same public fervor that Zola’s original J’Accuse did, resulting in the city/province taking biking seriously. I’ll be happy if Royson James at the Star and other columnists who reach people who probably don’t read blogs would add to these calls.

It’s raining again today, but the Peugeot wants to see more of Toronto.

5 comments

  1. Three-speeds aren’t weird; they’re civilized. Apart from the occasional adjustment, and very occasional oiling, they’ll keep ticking away for years with very little maintenance.

  2. Eek. And here I was all ready to head over to the Community Bike Network’s Bicycle Swap later today (Sunday) and finally buy me a bike. For thirteen years fears of being turned into bloody pulp by motorized vehicles has kept me a happy but slower-moving pedestrian, and I thought that this would be the year that I would make the transition from sidewalk to street.

    But now I’m thinking twice…for the millionth time.

    For the sake of my finances and my health, I think I’ll keep both feet on the ground for now. (Or perhaps I’ll take a baby step and join Bike Share and limit my travels to bike paths.)

    But in case anyone out there is still in the market for a bike or bike accessories, you might want to head over to Mountain Equipment Co-op between 10am and 3pm. More details at: http://communitybicyclenetwork.org/?q=node/319

    ——melissa

  3. i love that first ride of the year

    sounds like you were shopping at velotique

  4. i have a bike just like that ( pictured) – except mine is red, which makes it even sexier/cooler
    gonna start riding this week!

  5. scruss> Totally civilized, but weird engineering. Weird as in neat.

    Chris> Yes, Velotique. No bikes, just accessories. I remembered the big mural on the side of the building, but couldn’t remember how far east, so I rode until I found it.

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