Interviews are ramping up again. I met with another five people this week, and you’re going to want to read all of their stories!
On Wednesday, I met with a young man who has rubbed shoulders with some of our city’s landmark names. For instance as a youth, he was building bikes in Jim Miele’s shop, The Bicycle Factory. This young man’s father loved bicycles, and he would ride around town on his Leeder with both his son and his daughter perched on foam slabs. His legacy to the son was a “sea of bikes”, which in turn has allowed this clever young fellow to open his own bike shop downtown. It is one of my favourite love stories.
Thursday found me at Futures Bakery and Cafe, being entertained by a very Jacques Tati-esque character. This man had a lot of extraordinary bike stories for me. For one thing, he’s been involved with some of the more memorable Critical Mass events, including the ride along the Gardiner Expressway. In February, my friend delivers Valentine’s Day telegrams on his bike. When a cyclist dies in a traffic accident, this kind soul helps organize street vigils. He also described to me how “The Public Squares” work their spontaneous and charming magic to galvanize people around these public space issues. Why, this dear soul has even been in a movie!
If you’re not familiar with it, the Urban Repair Squad is a lesson in intelligent and playful bicycle activism. This man’s stories were charming, outrageously funny, moving, and kind.
I cycled over to the Danforth on Friday to meet a girl whose bike I had carded at the Bike to Work Day breakfast, because it bore the sticker Girls Kick Ass. I wanted to interview a strong female. As it turns out, not only has she done some pretty nice customizations on her step-through frame, she worked for a time for the city. This gal is one of those we can thank for bringing BIXI to the city.
My last two interviews of the week occurred while I was volunteering at a Bike Valet event in the Annex. The man who got me started on this project often organizes these events in town, and we spent a companionable hour over what his mechanic has dubbed his “family bike”. We also discussed the advantages of having his daughter ride on the road with him, rather than on the sidewalk, where there are so many more obstacles. His comment to me was that Toronto is “a fantastic place for riding”, and I can’t agree more. Then, I spoke with a woman who has organized some simple street rides around Ward 37, which is out in Scarborough. She just wants to get more people on bikes.
It was a really inspiring week and I’m more proud than ever to one of the multitude who bicycle around Toronto.