A few thoughts I'd like to add re garding your superb bike issue (NOW, April 12-18). As a bike courier, I've ridden more than 50,000 kilometers downtown over the last four years.
I've been sideswiped, hit by car mirrors and bumped hard. My question is, do bike lanes always have to be along the curb? Has any city tried bike lanes in the centre?
This could work, especially where streets are divided, as along University. Why not tear up some of the streetcar tracks that are apparently abandoned?
Bike lanes need to be better thought out. The bike lane on Harbord leads nowhere. Try getting to Yonge from University. And, as you've pointed out, Danforth, where there's heavy bike traffic, desperately needs one.
This commute won't pollute
I really enjoyed your bike issue. In particular, NOW's commuter challenge was excellent.
There is one additional environmentally friendly commuting method that you should consider: telecommuting. Working from home and commuting by telephone and Internet is becoming a very popular alternative to commuting in all other parts of the world except Toronto. The travel time is zero, and the environmental footprint is zero.
With such major environmental benefits, why does the city of Toronto specifically omit any references to telecommuting in its green plan?
Chancing the TTC
The TTC portion of your bike issue's commuter challenge is absolute nonsense.
I simply don't believe that your writer had to wait 33 minutes just to get on a train at Dundas station in rush hour. It doesn't ring true.
The route he chose to get to St. Clair and Lansdowne isn't even the fastest available. Why take the St. Clair streetcar all the way from Yonge to Lansdowne? Take the subway from Yonge and Bloor to Lansdowne station and then take the 47 bus north. That certainly wouldn't take 75 minutes.
The TTC didn't stand a chance in your challenge.
As a daily bike commuter, I read your bike issue with great interest.
However, in your list of safety tips, you note that cyclists should always pass cars or other bikes on the left. I wish you had also suggested ringing your bell so others know you're about to pass.
Most of my close calls are not with cars but with idiots on bikes racing by me without warning. One swerve by either of one us and we'd both go down in a heap, maybe into traffic. Funny, the only thing these speed demons usually beat me to is the next red light. Congratulations, you win!
RE Salad Of All Seasons (NOW, april 12-18). I live in an apartment and for five years have been shopping at a farmers market and eating much as Susannah Moodie did in the 19th century: only eating what is locally natural in each season. It's easy, enjoyable and inexpensive.
Winter means roots, tubers, dried fruits, preserves and pickles, along with apples and some pears, which can be stored. Come spring, I'm almost sorry to leave those behind when watercress, asparagus and dandelions appear, and then lettuce, peas, etc.
As each plant's season comes, I gorge. I'm well aware what leafy green vegetables provide, but we don't need them every day of the year. The body stores minerals and most vitamins.
At 70, I weigh only 5 kilos more than I did in my teens. I'm in perfect health. All that aside, I applaud Will Allen's excellent initiative and wish him many customers.
T.O.'s tower timidity
RE How High Is Too High (NOW, April 12-18). Please stop feeding the NIMBYs. They're big enough pests as it is.
There is absolutely nothing too tall about an 80-storey tower at the intersection of Yonge and Bloor. That there isn't already, at this particular corner, a building taller than the 51-storey Manulife Centre should be seen as a failure in planning that must be corrected.
In fact, a height of 60 storeys has been approved in the zoning of this site for a few years now thanks to a previous development proposal that ultimately fell through. You're creating an issue where there isn't one, and you're displaying with unfortunate clarity that notoriously timid Toronto mindset that for too long has kept the built environment of our city duller and blander than it could be.
Toronto's a big city, and Yonge and Bloor is probably its pre-eminent intersection. There should be a tall building at this location. Get over it.
High on ugly
If ever there was proof that being gay and having good taste can be mutually exclusive, then surely Councillor Kyle Rae is it.
It is truly Rae's touch with architecture and the cityscape in his ward that proves the point.
The wind tunnel that is the ugly and pedestrian-unfriendly Bay Street condo strip anywhere north of Dundas (almost all built during his watch), the wasteland that is Dundas Square and the massive architectural carbuncle and temple of advertising excess that is the Mel (sorry, Metropolis) across from the square all suggest he is, quite possibly, the last person who should comment on what he believes is the "ugliest intersection in Toronto."
Barry W. Cook
RE Feds Come Clean On Batteries (NOW, April 12- 18). The news, of course, is terrible. Fifteen batteries discarded per year per person. And increasing rapidly. The timing's terrific!
Ontario Environment Minister Laurel Broten has asked this industry to develop and implement a diversion program.
Tell her you want Take It Back (to any point of purchase) for batteries, for paints and for solvents, too.
Waste Diversion Campaigner
Sierra Club of Canada
Ashley Walters appears to have an axe to grind with Newmindspace. How else to explain Walters's hatchet job of an article, Newmindspace Lays An Egg (NOW, April 5-11)?
Frankly, Walters is splitting hairs in this trivial egg debate. One could just as easily argue that biodegradable waste creates imbalances in the ecosystem, while plastic eggs have the potential to be reused!
Surely, Walters has better things to do than attack a harmless collective whose sole intention is to find unusual ways to cheer people up and enjoy life.
Kensington not for sale
In his article market's sidewalk Squeeze Play (NOW, April 5-11), Michael Louis Johnson articulates a fear held by some that the city's recent blitz on sidewalk encroachments is somehow connected with the designation of Kensington as a national historic site.
Let us assure readers that the purpose of national historic site designation is not to inspire gentrification but, rather, to recognize the history and unique character of the area and encourage these qualities to remain.
National designation provides recognition, not regulation. It includes a commemorative plaque honouring the area's history, to be prepared by the Historic Sites and Monument Board of Canada in consultation with the local community.
The designation of Kensington was initiated by a working group of volunteers rooted in the local community. The group continues to meet regularly to develop with the community an exciting program to accompany the ministerial plaque-unveiling ceremony.
This event is planned for next year. Everyone is invited to attend to celebrate and help preserve the diversity that is Kensington.
Chair, Kensington Designation Working Group
Middle East wake-up call
The first three letters in your recent issue (NOW, April 5-11) are, as expected, anti-Israel.
Why is your overly, and overtly, left-wing (basically Communist) publication so anti-Israel? Logic, justice, fairness, knowledge, etc. all dictate the same thing to any fair-minded person, and that is that Israel has a stronger claim to the land of Israel than any other person, people or entity that exists now or has ever existed.
When will the world wake up to history?
Take a chill pill on Israel
RE The letters about B'nai Brith, Anti-Semitism and Kosher wine. I wonder how many of these letter writers were actually born or ever lived in the West Bank, Gaza or Israel? Or have first-hand knowledge or experience of what life is like in these places?
Their opinions are no doubt shaped either by the Western media of the left, like NOW, which supports the Palestinian cause, the Western media of the right, like the Globe and Mail, which supports the Israelis, or the Arab media like Al Jazeera which daily uses monkey and pig imagery from the Qu'ran to describe Jews?
None of us in Toronto has a clue about what is best for the Palestinians and the Israelis.
I invite NOW readers who support or condemn the Palestinians or the Israelis to cool down the rhetoric, chill out and find something meaningful to do with their time.
Yummy in the tummy
It's too bad that after just one disappointing visit, letter writer H. Mayne (NOW, March 29-April 4) felt it was warranted to write a potentially damaging letter about a small business that is just getting established.
I, too, went to Yummy based on Steven Davey's review, and love it so much I have to stop myself from going every night.
The food is not overcooked or lacking in flavour. As mentioned in the review, you have to ask for more spice if you want it.
Even though I don't eat meat, the fact that Yummy is not exclusively vegetarian didn't bother me, because, just as Davey wrote, "most of it" is meat- and dairy-free.
After a conversation with the owner, I found out that she will be transitioning to an all-vegetarian menu, exploring gluten, etc. to replace the meat on the menu.
The samosas, which are vegan, are amazing!