East Yark's favarite pizza shap

East Yark Pizza Shap

I can’t help but channel my best Fargo accent whenever I read the location on this pizzeria’s flyer.

As funny a mistake as that is (and as much fun as it is to say “East Yark” over and over and over again), the sad part is that an earnest businessperson is probably losing a significant chunk of potential business from people who think that if you can’t take the time to spell-check the name of your neighbourhood, you can’t be putting much care or attention into cooking pizzas either.

My mother mused for a while about starting a side business doing nothing but quick proofreading of flyers and brochures for local businesses before they get printed and distributed with howlers of mistakes on them. For a few bucks, she’d make any necessary corrections before releasing the work to the printer. She got started by correcting flyers that she received and sending them back to the offending business along with a business card and a brochure of her own. She eventually gave up after getting no responses and continuing to receive misspelled flyers months after she sent in her free corrections. But there must be a viable business in here somewhere, even if only for a printer who looks at the client’s copy and says, “Hey, wait a sec…” instead of just shrugging and starting the press.

Pharmacy bike lanes gone but not forgotten

The bike lane was removed from Pharmacy Ave last month. As someone who rides regularly along Pharmacy as an alternative to Warden and Victoria Park, I think the city, driven by the misguided local councillor Michelle Berardinetti, made a big mistake taking it out. But what’s even worse than taking out the lane is the way that they did it. Before the bike lane was originally put in, Pharmacy was four lanes wide. When the bike lanes were painted, Pharmacy went from four lanes to…four lanes: two bike lanes and two vehicular lanes. The reconfiguration also allowed painting of a centre median and the creation of left-turn lanes at every intersection. So in places, there were actually five lanes.

When the city took out the bike lanes, it would have made sense to configure the street as it had been originally, with four traffic lanes and no turn lanes. Instead, they simply erased the bike markings, retained the centre striping, and reduced Pharmacy to a single lane in each direction. The current configuration has absolutely zero benefit to anyone over the configuration with bike lanes.

Confused, I emailed Councillor Berardinetti earlier this week to ask whether the road would be restored to four lanes or left as-is, and this was her reply:

Operation crews promised that the full restorative work would be complete by the end of this month. However, given the colder November nights and shortage of equipment, city staff are indicating that the work will now only be complete at the onset of spring.

Having said all that, we are all glad [Ed. note: actually, “we all” are not glad] that the lanes are going back to their original state but if the work could not be done at a single time, then they would have been better off leaving everything as was until the spring.

So the lanes were removed this fall for, really, no reason whatsoever.

In a followup email, I asked the councillor if she could recommend an alternative north-south cycling route to access the businesses on and around Eglinton. No answer yet. If she (or a staffer) took the time to look at a map to try to answer my question, she’d have seen that there is no such beast.

Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

Jack Layton at the East York Canada Day Parade, 2010

This is how I remember Jack Layton, from the 2010 East York Canada Day Parade. Risa and I were riding in the parade along with the  rest of Ward 29 Bikes and Jack Layton was walking right behind us greeting spectators with a genuine smile and fistful of flags. It was only a few months after he’d revealed his battle against prostate cancer and everyone was  happy to see him in such good spirits, even if he looked a touch haggard. I had a brief conversation with him as we made our way at parade pace down Coxwell; 29 Bikes member Vincent, above, spoke with him longer. Even though I’m sure he’d never heard of us before seeing a gaggle of blue t-shirts in front of him,  he thanked us for doing cycling advocacy work in the riding. He even apologized for not being able to ride his bike in the parade that year. It was hardly necessary.

To say that I’m a cycling advocate because of Jack Layton is overstating the case a little bit. It’s more that I’m able to be a cycling advocate thanks to Jack; by having a major hand in Toronto’s first tentative steps toward embracing cycling as a form of transportation, Jack certainly made it easier for people like me and the rest of the members of 29 Bikes to come along and take up the cause. A lot of the hard work has already been done, and I’m just trying to see it through.

Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done. That’s a tall order for someone in the cycling advocacy business in Toronto, where “it can’t be done” is the standard official response to just about everything. But if I learned anything from Jack, it’s that progress requires perseverance.

Thanks for everything, Jack.

Young buck

A young deer crosses the path in Mount Pleasant Cemetery

I frequently encounter joggers, walkers, cyclists, workers, rabbits, squirrels, and birds on my near-daily rides and walks through Mount Pleasant Cemetery, but this is the first time I’ve seen a deer. He was right near the Bayview entrance munching on some floral tributes before crossing the path to see what tasty treats await on the other side. I encounter deer often enough in the Don Valley that I’m not really surprised to see them in the city, but they usually bolt as soon as they see or hear you. This one walked almost straight toward me to get to the path—I moved twice to keep my distance—and didn’t seem fazed by any of the other people who passed no more than 15 metres away.

Also, I’m going to start carrying a real camera with me again; this phone camera just doesn’t cut it.

This is your turd and final warning

You’ve got to admire the homeowner who believes that non-poop-and-scoopers will be cured by a bit of passive-aggressive public humiliation. You’ve got to admire the homeowner who presents a wayward bag of poop to the perpetrator for removal. You’ve got to admire the homeowner  who concludes his turd-removal directive with an anticipatory “thank you.” But most of all, you’ve got to admire a homeowner whose style, persistence, and faith in dog-walking humanity hasn’t changed in the three years since I first saw a bag of dog poop nailed to this fence:

Leaside swinger

Riding under the Leaside Bridge on Thursday evening, I noticed something hanging off the side. It looked like a wayward piece of scaffolding at first glance, but I quickly realized that it was an art installation. I went back Friday for a closer look and better pictures.

From up top, it becomes obvious that something is attached to the guardrail.

And now it’s a little more clear: it’s a tin man made primarily of air ducting. From this angle, it looks like he’s jumping to his death, but he’s actually sitting on a swing. His body is tilted forward because his left arm is broken and isn’t holding him upright on the swing seat any longer.

It looks like the Tin Man found his heart.

I like. I give it an A for whimsy and concept, plus bonus points for the heart.

This was my first time riding along this route in the Don Valley this year, so I’m not sure how long this installation has been there. I vaguely recall seeing a couple of people doing something at the railing during my ride home across the bridge one evening this week, but they could have just been gawking rather than installing.

One less car here, one more car there

“(But) we need to change the direction the past has taken us in and go in the direction we need to go, which is less car.”

[Emphasis added.]

So sez Councillor John Parker, quoted in this week’s East York Mirror, positively glowing about a North York Community Council decision to deny a gas station redevelopment in Thorncliffe because it included a doughnut store drive-through. The same article also quotes/paraphrases Parker saying:

“But I don’t support this application. It is the best thinking of 1950s futurism” that envisioned everyone living in highrises and reliant on cars.

Wow. That’s the sound of a councillor clearly coming out against car dependence as a basis for planning. Unfortunately, this is the same Councillor John Parker who  just last week made a surprise motion to eliminate the Jarvis Street bike lanes without any real reason, but presumably just because he (or whichever of his City Hall bosses handed him the motion and told him to put his name on it) thinks that cars should take precedence over other considerations when it comes to planning.

So to summarize: cars in Thorncliffe, in his ward, bad. Cars on Jarvis, in someone else’s ward and on the way between his home and City Hall, good. Is it any wonder that politicians rank somewhere below personal injury lawyers, E. coli, and Lucy van Pelt holding a football on the trust scale?

If I knew then what I know now…

…I would have taken a picture of Rob Ford campaigning at the East York Canada Day Parade last year, where he was glad-handing the crowd instead of kicking back at the family cottage where he says he’s spent Canada Day for the last 30 years.

Granted, he could have gone up to the cottage after the parade, but his claim that July 1 is some sort of inviolable family cottage getaway is pretty tenuous.

Just one more licence plate

After posting the results of my licence plate hunt last autumn, I vowed never to take or post a picture of another licence plate again. And I’ve let some real doozies pass by undocumented in the ensuing months, never succumbing to the impulse to point the camera at the back of a car.  But I just couldn’t resist this meta beauty I saw in a parking lot this morning:

There’s a whole class of personalized plates that I’ve never really understood: the ones that reference the car itself. MY BMW, JIMS JAG, and so on. I mean, I can tell by looking at the car that it’s a BMW or whatever and I’m really not sure why someone needs to use a licence plate as an additional nameplate. One they pay extra for, no less. This one takes needless self-reference and turns it up to 11. I love it.