On a trip to Toronto in the summertime, I was pleasantly surprised to find the colourful bikes on the street. How foolish of me to think it was a subsidized art initiative from The City! What kind of world would we live in if people’s creativity was welcomed and encouraged by our administrations?
In all seriousness: the bikes are fun, different, and even beautiful. Instead of crashing down on the idea, the city should plan to make an annual event to have the abandoned bikes decorated and displayed over the summer. This raises awareness of art, cycling, creativity, sense of community, waste management, sustainable practices, etc. It’s just simply a wonderful concept.
Hope this letter helps your cause. Sincerely,
Marie-Pier Demers (Ottawa)
Two weeks ago, we were partying with friends and friendly strangers at our favourite bar, The Avro in Queen Street East. The cupcake-laden, beer-doused evening was organized to launch THE GOOD BIKE PROJECTpublication and film, and to bring together everyone who helped us realize that city-wide neon vision. The publication is a self published wrap-up designed by the talented Andy Callahan. Its pages include photos, press excerpts, write-ups for each of THE GOOD BIKE PROJECT’s sixty painted bikes and an essay on our experience as artists on a politically charged project. The film, which was produced by The Public Assembly, is just plain awesome. We’re so thankful to have footage from that crazy, wonderful summer that connected us with so many amazing, community-minded people in Toronto. Things certainly felt cosy at The Avro, and we’d like to thank the bar’s dynamic duo, Bruce and Rachel, for hosting us that night and for taking such good care of us always. Cheers again to everyone who came out to our party, and to all of those who lent their hands and hearts to THE GOOD BIKE PROJECT! *** FYI, the publication is available for sale at the OCAD U Student Gallery (and will soon also be available at Art Metropole).
The Good Bike Project is going out with a bang! Come celebrate the launch of our related publication and film at The Avro on February 9! The Good Bike Project publication includes write-ups on all of our bikes and an essay on our experiences liasing between The City and the city. The publication was lovingly designed by Andy Callahan. The film will serve as a book-end to our experience last summer and was produced by The Public Assembly. See you there!
Heavy, wet flakes of snow were falling outside, and Dundas Street looked all shades of brown and grey. Adding to the scene was an abandoned, rusted Raleigh bicycle, which we were pondering from the dry and relatively warm front room at the OCAD U Student Gallery where we are the Program Coordinators. Together we started considering ways to use it as a pseudo sign-board for the Gallery in the springtime. It had a beautiful frame, complete with curved handlebars and a wire basket. A coat of bright paint and some greenery would be nice, we thought. Little did we know that this brainstorming session was determining our summer plans.
On a bright May afternoon the bike was sanded, primed and painted, much to the interest of passersby. Some were perplexed, asking us why we were wasting time painting a piece of garbage. Others told us the bike was a valuable antique and probably worth some money. A pair of policemen wandered over from the station at the corner and asked us we were up to. On hearing about our rusted bike they left, only to return later with a list of flower varieties that would suit the bike’s basket. Kids were the most enthused about the painted Raleigh, and many stopped to talk about its transformation. One girl asked us to paint her bike orange, and a number of others stopped to say “cool” or “sweet bike”. A passing elderly man waved his cane and exclaimed, “that’s one funky-ass bike you’ve got there”. One woman stopped us to shake our paint-covered hands and to thank us for making our street more beautiful. When the bike was completed, we watched from inside the Gallery as people gathered around the glowing bicycle to chat and take photos.
Our small, simple act of beautification morphed into something bigger thanks to the perfect storm that surrounded it. The climate in Toronto has been tense ever since conservative Mayor Rob Ford took office in December as he’s picked fight after fight with the “left wing pinkos” living in the city’s core. Liberal city dwellers take particular issue with his decidedly anti-bike and anti-art policies. Ford once referred to cyclists as a collective “pain in the ass” during a Council meeting, and he has publicly condemned their so-called “War on the Car” on several occasions. In June, his motion to remove the newly installed Jarvis bicycle lane became a reality. His cause is the bottom dollar and he denounces cycling safety as a waste of money, which seems contradictory when you consider that it will cost the City $200 000 to remove a bike lane that cost $59 000 to be installed. Unsurprisingly, Ford is not a patron of the arts either: In the spring, he announced a “War on Graffiti” that resulted in the removal of a barely completed, publicly funded mural in the Junction neighbourhood; and during the election, Ford was booed from the Art Gallery of Ontario where he spoke against the merits of public arts funding.
Long ago, in the days of sunshine and short sleeves, the lovely lady Iva wrote us this …
Hello! // My name’s Iva, I’m a student at Humber College Lakeshore Campus. I live in Toronto, but commuting everyday through cement-filled and highway-crossed Etobicoke is not the most visually appealing of experiences. I was wondering, is there any chance we could work together to bring a good bike to my Humber Campus and make it a little more colourful please? Take care! // Iva Jericevic
We painted her a bike and she installed it on the Humber campus. Last week we got another email from Iva with these photos! It read: The lovely thing is, I don’t know who did this. I’ll probably put a small ‘thank you’ sign somewhere. It’s part of the community here now! :)
These photos are from the memorial bike ride held in memory of Jenna Morrison, a wonderful woman who was recently killed in a tragic cycling accident on Sterling Road and Dundas Street West. Hundreds of people came out at 7:30 AM on the morning of November 14th to ride together for Jenna. It was incredibly touching to see such an outpouring of love and support. Geoffrey Bercarich installed a ghost bike on the corner of Sterling and Dundas, while Jenna’s friends and family addressed the crowd that had gathered around the bike. The ghost bike remains, covered in notes and flowers for Jenna. My heart goes out to her family and friends. I can’t imagine the pain they must be feeling at this time.
In order to prevent this from happening again, please sign this petition for proper side guards on trucks. There will be a fundraiser to raise money for Jenna’s five year old son Lucas at The Garrison on Thursday December 15th. It looks like it will be a fabulous evening of music, dancing and remembering. Check out the facebook page here.
The Neon Dog Project, by Dave Bedrich.
We found this locked up near the OCAD U Student Gallery. It’s maker remains unknown!
After reading about The Good Bike Project, some folks in Thessaloniki, Greece have started their own bike project called The Recycling Project. We are so thrilled.
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All but one of the abandoned bikes we painted on College Street (between Huron and Spadina) have been removed! We spray painted them so the City would see that they were abandoned and take them off of their bike posts. It took longer than expected, but finally there are more parking spots for cyclists in front of the Lilian Smith Library! Hooray!
With our Good Bikes spread throughout the city, cleaning them up responsibly with little support from the City seemed a daunting task. That is, until Brian Platten came along.
After reading Ben Spurr’s latest article on the Good Bikes in NOW Magazine, Brian called us at the Gallery to offer us his U-haul, his tools and his weekend. We drove all around Toronto retrieving our bikes: Some went to an artist in Parkdale, who wants to weld the bikes together to make a larger Good Bike sculpture; others were dropped off with people who’ve asked to adopt them; and Brian took the rest of the bikes to a recycling plant.
Our bike clean up was epic. Brian was not only patient but extremely helpful, loading all of the bikes into his U-hual himself. He even sawed a sad looking bike in half to release it after its lock had been stuffed with glue. Riding around the city in Brian’s truck was great fun. He told us stories about his dog, his family, his love for rock n’ roll and B-rated horror flicks. He even took us to visit Smash his favourite furniture store).
When we told Brian how grateful we were for his time and truck, he told us that he was happy to help and that it was the least he could do. As we drove by the village of tents for Occupy Toronto, he remarked that in these tough times artists are often hit the hardest. He believes that pursuing a career in the arts is both a noble and scary pursuit, and that he tries his best to help artists by moving their art or furniture for them in his spare time. “It’s my way of doing my bit to help,” Brian said. “If everyone did their bit, we’d live in a much better world.”
It was surprisingly sad to say goodbye to Brian at the end of our day together. Thank you so much Brian, for your overwhelming kindness.
P.S Brian moves everything from furniture to art to electronics. If you need a mover - email him at email@example.com. Honest, the man is a super hero.
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