#30DaysOfBiking Day 14 – An Unexpected Find

Today I had originally planned a longer ride of about two hours but due to miscommunication I ended up starting dinner instead and took a shorter ride, one I could be back from in an hour or so in time to make dinner.

Out the door into another 26°C day I went – I’m really getting used to this. (I’m ignoring the fact that there’s 2°C weather and possible snow next week.). Again, not only was the temperature good, the wind was good as well and so I made good time. Though I knew the way there, I made a GPS track of a nice route – then promptly put myself on autopilot and went directly there. The downside of the direct route was that Broadview Avenue has loads of parked cars on the right and streetcar tracks on the left. This leaves a choice of risking cycling into someone’s opening car door or crossing the tracks with a slight risk of a fall and then being in the only travel lane with irritated drivers (and possibly streetcars) behind you. I chose the third option, share the lane with parked cars but be very attentive and much slower.

The nice thing about Broadview is that once you’re south of Danforth Avenue, the view of the city is nice. Mostly I was just watching carefully for opening car doors and cars pulling out of parking spaces but I did pull over to take some time to look at the view.

This is just a part of the length of the park but the whole way down people were enjoying the sun, relaxing on blankets and towels and watching the skyline. Music from various radios floated up to me as I rode by. It’s a great atmosphere.

This park is actually hugely popular year round. There’s loads of space for sports, for relaxing and chatting or picnicking and in the winter this same hill becomes a popular tobogganing destination.

I ride past Gerrard street and the Riverdale Library. (I still need to visit there) and continue down until Dundas West when I turn off onto a side street.

Now I was originally planning on taking you to Joel Weeks Park where one of my favourite sculptures is – this one:

I like the reverence the squirrels have for the nut.

Joel Weeks Park has a story attached to it – it’s a sad one so I won’t rewrite it here but I did talk about it in this entry.

But before I arrive at the park, a whole bunch of beautiful murals catch my eye.

This project is “Women Paint Riverside which is described on their website as:

A partnership between East End ArtsWomen PaintNative Women in the Arts, and the Riverside BIA, ‘Women Paint Riverside’ is an exciting opportunity to beautify and enhance the Riverside neighbourhood with a series of interconnected murals, exploring the relationship between the vibrant urban Riverside community and the Don River from which it takes its name. The project builds upon the area’s existing public art legacy, and will feature the work of 20+ street artists, as well as an opportunity for the participants from Girls Mural Camp 2021 to put what they learned at camp this summer to the test as apprentice mural artists. 

Working with  co-curatorial consultants Bareket Kezwer and Ariel Smith, Women Paint Riverside aims to bring diverse women and gender marginalized* street artists, muralists and graffiti writers together to create new work, bring attention to the importance of the Don River within an urban setting, and share their diverse stories in public spaces—a place these voices are often underrepresented. 

Women Paint Riverside will take place on the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, which is also the traditional territories of the Huron-Wendat, the Haudenosaunee confederacy and the Anishinaabe. This territory is subject to the dish with one spoon treaty, a covenant between the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee to share and care for the land and resources in the lower Great Lakes area.

In many Indigenous nations across Turtle Island, women and Two Spirit people have long carried sacred responsibilities to protect the water, and are strong  leaders in the growing movement for water sovereignty around the great lakes. Given the close relationship of the Riverside community to the Don River and Lake Ontario, the murals for this exciting laneway transformation will all explore the element of water.

Laneways and alleys have historically been areas that do not always feel safe for women and other gender marginalized people, and can be associated with the threat of violence. Projects like Women Paint and Girls Mural Camp take up space in the public sphere and help facilitate discussions about important issues that affect our overlapping communities such as misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, white supremacy, colonization and gentrification. 

*East End Arts and our partners respect trans women as women. We use the term gender marginalized to be inclusive of trans feminine, trans masculine, Two Spirit, non-binary and gender queer folks who may not identify as women.

Women Paint Riverside

You can also find the descriptions, credits, artists’ statements and links to the artists’ websites for the pieces above as well as a few I missed at the link above.

This is another wonderful thing about cycling in the city versus other modes of transportation. In a car people often aim for the fastest and most direct ways to get places. These have a more uniform appearance and, if traffic is good, you’re going by quickly and paying attention to driving. On a bus it’s often the same but you also don’t even need to look out the window. Many just read, look at their phone or nap, waiting for their stop announcement.

When you’re on a bike, or walking, your limited speed is also an asset. You get to experience a place at a human pace. You’re also not motivated by choosing the route with the highest speed limit, fewest stoplights and most direct flow. When I ride in the city I average 18-20 km/hr. That speed is appropriate for any road in the city. So for me, choosing a busy road over a laneway makes no sense except in those cases where I might need the safety of traffic signals to cross major roads. But in small neighbourhoods like this one, it’s just as quick for me to choose a narrow laneway or a small residential street as the main road. It’s often better as it likely lacks parked cars, traffic, and streetcar tracks. Instead I get public art, people playing ball hockey or in late summer, making tomato sauce in large vats over a gas fire. In short, I get the unexpected – and this, in great part, is why I ride.

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