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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Cyclist Profile – Ken the urban designer

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Cyclist profiles are a regular feature on I Bike TO.

Name / Occupation / Age
Ken Greenberg / Architect/Urban Designer / 62

What do you use your bike for?
Everything. Almost all my travelling around the city is done by bike, and I also use it for recreation and shopping. I try to be on the bike as much as possible for at least 10 months per year.

How often do you ride?
Almost every day when I’m in Toronto. I’m travelling quite a bit.

How long have you been commuting by bicycle and what made you decide to do it?
Well, I’ve been doing it for a very long time, going back, way back, when I lived in the Beach. Several decades ago it felt pretty lonely. There weren’t many bicycles on the road.

Can you give a brief description of your route?
I live at 20 Niagara and I don’t have a regular commute because I work from home. For meetings I often just came over from Eastern and Logan (around the film corp offices.) In general, almost all the people I deal with are within biking distance. As you can see, Eti and I use the tandem together for outings — off street and on.

What’s the best thing about commuting by bicycle?
Many, many things. I enjoy seeing the city from that vantage point. I like the convenience, exercise, fresh air… there are multiple pleasures in one activity!

Any advice for new riders?
Be extremely careful. Just try exploring the city. It’s a great way of getting to know the city. It’s very different from walking or driving and has its own unique pleasures and vantage points.

What would you say to convince someone who is considering commuting by bicycle to get on board their bike?
Just try it. Most people have a bike. There is no big investment involved. One of the things that is making it more pleasurable is the large number of people who are doing it. Drivers are changing the way the act. They are more aware of cyclists. There is strength in numbers.

What do you like about biking in Toronto?
Compared to other cities it is flat and easy to get around. I’ve biked in many other cities and find Toronto is getting a lot better.

And dislike?
There are a few areas in the city, where traffic patterns feel suburban, that are organized in a way that make it very uncomfortable for bikes. For example; getting down to the waterfront — crossing over at Lakeshore or the Gardiner. Spadina from Front down to Queen’s Quay is not pleasant.

Where is/are your favourite place(s) to bike in Toronto?
One really gorgous place is the Belt Line — it is absolutely magical. I really like the Humber River Trail. The Spit and Tommy Thomson park, too.

What’s your favourite cycling street in Toronto? Least favourite?
St. George is my favourite. Least is Lakeshore Boulevard.

What’s your favourite piece of cycling kit/clothing/gadget?
You don’t need anything special and that is what I like!

Favourite bike stories?
My favourite thing is that Eti and I bike all the time together on the tandem. The lovely thing about it is that we can have a conversation. It is just a great way to bike around the city.

How could the City help you enjoy riding more? The city could be much more aggressive in extending bikes lane more quickly, both on and off streets.

What sort of bike do you ride? The tandem is a Schwinn that goes back to about 1950. My parents had it. It was one of the best gifts we ever got. The other is a non-descript inexpensive bike. I don’t have to worry about it.

Helmet or no helmet? Sometimes but not always — not as good as I should be

Bikelane or no bikelane? Both.

Anything else?
Bicycling is just a great form of transportation. I was in New York recently and was amazed to see how many people are riding around Manhattan. I will try it there soon.

My team just won the competition for the Lower Don Lands and we are going ot make sure there are extensive on and off street bike lanes and paths in the entire area.

To view the Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates design competition display panels for the Lower Don Lands project, click here. Previous Spacing wire posts about the competition can be found here and here.

Crossposted to I Bike TO.



  1. my fiance and i would like to grow up to be just like these two!

  2. They’re opposed to the Front St. Extension too!