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Isaak Kornelsen Deserved Better.

Isaak Kornelsen Deserved Better.

Video from the beautiful Critical Mass memorial Ride For Isaak by Andriko Lozowy, via YouTube.

Others have written much more eloquently than I can manage about the tragic, horrifying death of 21-year-old Isaak Kornelsen, who lost his life while cycling on Whyte Avenue in late August, and the infrastructure deficit that put him in danger. I refer you to their posts:

My heart breaks for Isaak Kornelsen’s family and many friends, and I feel I am poorer for not having known him. Certainly the world is poorer without him. 

I still feel ill whenever I think of the accident – and the ignorant, callous, victim-blaming comments I have seen made in certain quarters. The attitude that cyclists and pedestrians are inconveniences and obstacles to legitimate road traffic, instead of real people, particularly upsets me. Some have suggested banning the use of bicycles on Whyte altogether, and forcing cyclists to use the side streets, which misses the point that road safety is about making streets safe for everyone, not removing vulnerable users from them. I’m convinced that adding off-street parking in the form of another parkade and using what is now a parking lane to create a separated bike lane along Whyte Avenue would be a win-win for cyclists and motorists. If only it didn’t take a ‘freak accident’ completely preventable death to catalyze these important conversations about road safety and incomplete infrastructure.

(Isaak Kornelsen was not the only Edmontonian to needlessly lose their life while on a bicycle this year, although his death is being more widely mourned. While on a cycling vacation with her husband in July, 63-year-old Elizabeth Ann Sovis was struck from behind by a van driven by a man with multiple prior convictions for drunk driving. Follow up reports stressed that she was a cautious bicyclist, and Cycling PEI held a small memorial ride for her. The narrow, shoulderless country roads of PEI probably won’t get any infrastructure upgrades, despite the promotion of the province as a cycle touring destinationThe driver will go to trial this autumn. Ms Sovis was a French teacher, close to retirement, and her death has played out as a private tragedy because of her age and the location of her accident – but it was just as preventable.)

Critical Lass Edmonton reminder

Critical Lass Edmonton reminder

It’s that time again! We’ll be meeting on Saturday, September 8th, at 1pm at the Bike Bottleneck. This time our destination is the beautiful Highlands neighborhood of Edmonton. The forecast is *gorgeous* (26C and sunny) and our ride will likely take in some of the trails rimming the river valley.

If you do Facebook, the event page is at: and we’re discussing our route options there.

Update: We are adding an October CL date! Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 13th. Facebook event page is at: and we are wide open for suggestions about where we should ride.

Also, apologies for the short notice for those who missed our date announcement earlier this summer. It felt kind of gauche to promote CL when preparations were being made for the memorial ride (see next post), and on top of the back-to-school craziness I was knocked flat by a virus for a couple of days this week.

My New Neighborhood

My New Neighborhood

As I’ve mentioned before, my past six months have been absorbed with house hunting and moving. Our new neighborhood is next-door to our old one, still in the southwestern suburbs of the city; we wanted to keep the kids in the same school, and we like the area’s New Urbanist plan, which really does work as intended to make the subdivisions more walkable/bikeable (well, when the streets aren’t covered in snow, anyway). 
So why move? We needed a floor plan that works better for our family; much as we loved our old house, our needs have changed since we bought it (before kids), and we really wanted a home with all the bedrooms on the same floor and the kitchen and living room overlooking the back yard. The house we bought has good bones, a big yard for gardening, and good solar exposure. As we have time and resources, we’ll be making lots of changes to the new house that allow us to live more sustainably, which will be an ongoing topic on my other blogToday’s post has more to do with showing how our new location will still make it possible, with some diligence and work, to live car-light here and to model an active outdoor lifestyle for our kids.
When I spent some time with Google Maps, I found that our new house is: 

  • 2.0km from the kids’ school (25min walking or 8 min cycling for an adult), 
  • easy cycling distance from the cluster of shopping strips (1.7km to the Save-On Foods)
  • 2.4km from the new rec centre (and the weekly farmers’ market!),  
  • 3.0km from the new big-box area with proposed pedestrian-friendly ‘main street’ that’s being built on the other side of the Henday ring road (10 min cycling), and
  • 750m from a shopping strip that will include a yoga studio and a restaurant (2 min cycling), that includes a drug store with a convenience grocery section.
Yes, there is a bike rack already at the drug store. Planning fail on not bringing a longer lock or a reuseable bag.

Public transit is decent; currently my husband drives ten minutes or so, then parks and takes a 20 minute LRT ride downtown for work. I’m planning to work from home. The kids will be able to take a school bus to school, as well. 

So the current walk score of 10 (eep!) and transit score of 32 don’t tell the whole story of what it will be like to live here in a couple of years once all the local amenities have been built. I think living car-light will be completely doable for us in this location.

One of the other big attractions of our new area is its proximity to the Whitemud Creek ravine for recreational walking and cycling. Our house is only 100 ft from the trailhead for a network of recreational trails along the top of the wildlife sanctuary that I’m enjoying exploring with my kids. Here are a few photos:
a paved multiuse path winds along the perimeter of the neighborhood at the top edge of the ravine,
with signage that shows a map of the main trails
and photos of the wildlife that live in the nature sanctuary along the creekbed,
and lots of inviting side trails to explore on foot.
(This one leads to a handbuilt child-size bench with a view of the creek below.)
Where the paved MUP crosses into the wildlife sanctuary, there is a broad meadow and a sign on the fence.
You can really tell here that this part of the area used to be farmland.
Where the paved path currently ends, there is a former farm driveway that connects to the MUP at the other end of the ravine, beside the uber-eco Larch Park development, so we think this will be paved at some point as well,
but there is also a well-worn footpath that leads down through the forest to the meandering creek.
There are lots of trails like these, much better suited for walking than cycling, including the abandoned piece of 142nd Street that leads down to the power line right-of-way and a path alongside the creek under the Henday to the other side, and a steep downhill path edged by caragana bushes that leads to a former coal mine (no, we haven’t found a shaft, just slag heaps). There’s all kinds of wildlife living in the ravine, too; so far my kids have seen a beaver, a coyote, and several species of birds while exploring these trails with their dad. I haven’t been quite so lucky yet. 
Critical Lass Edmonton: heatwave edition

Critical Lass Edmonton: heatwave edition

“High of 30.9 in #yeg today … felt like 34.” – @JoshClassen, local meterologist.

It was HOT. So we started by heading to the wading pools at the Provincial Legislature grounds.


Shadow self portrait. The water felt heavenly.

Then we borrowed an idea from our Seattle Critical Lass friends and did some bicycle portraits. 

Tess and Apollo 
Deb and Eliza (’78 Raleigh Tourist)
Judy and Miss Pashley (Princess Sovereign)
Jackie and her Trek hybrid. I love love love her skull-print sundress.
Jackie is one of the organizers of the fabulous Steampunk Ride that happened a couple of weeks ago.
group photo

Then we headed up the bike path via Railtown and found another shady spot to rest.

photo by Judy of us en route
Apollo and Pashley
I love this group photo that Jackie shared on the Facebook event page.
Ahhhh, shade
In retrospect, the hemp capris were a good choice, but polyester with sheer sleeves is… still polyester.

After a water break and a few photos we headed off again, through residential streets and a cemetery. 
What is it about cemeteries and crows?

At last we arrived at Duchess Bake Shop on 124th Street.
Jackie dashed nextdoor to Clever Rabbit for some vegan-friendlier takeout while we ordered.

Can I eat ALL the things? 
My late brunch: a vegetarian sandwich featuring goat cheese, green beans, and almonds, a lemon cream tart, an exquisitely flakey amaretto shortbread, and a dark chocolate macaron. I also had an iced cafe latte.
Check out the beautiful chocolate meringue that Tess had. 
It was super crowded when we arrived,
but by the time we left had cleared out enough to get a good shot of the beautiful decor.
Look up.
The food was delicious, but we really enjoyed each others’ company, too.

When we felt refreshed and ready to brave the heat again, we headed back downtown via Glenora.

The North Saskatchewan River valley really is beautiful.

We were running behind so hurried back across the High Level Bridge and parted ways after one last photo by Jackie, and an agreement that we’d set dates for August, September (8th), and October soon!

Thanks ladies! That was so much fun!!

(PS: Things you don’t notice from a car: 
people have started adding locks to the High Level Bridge and tossing the key in the river. 
I’m guessing that they’re inspired by this custom.) 

Critical Lass Edmonton 2012 plans

Critical Lass Edmonton 2012 plans

You’ll remember that we decided last year that we will plan only two Critical Lass rides in Edmonton this year. (I know. We’d love to hold them monthly too, but with Angel unable to ride, and Deb travelling to Nova Scotia this summer, this will have to do.)

We’ve picked our dates! Mark July 8th and September 8th on your calendars.

As always, they’ll be social rides in street clothes on an easy route, with a stop for food and bevvies so we can get a good visit in.

Here’s our route for July’s ride:
Meet at Bike Bottleneck (corner of 109th Street beside High Level Diner) at 1:00pm
High Level Bridge and Downtown-area bike paths and residential roads
124th Street area with a stop for dessert at Duchess Bakeshoppe
coasting down Victoria Hill (whee!),
across Groat bridge, and up Saskatchewan Drive to return to U of A campus

See you then!

UPDATE: The forecast is sizzling! But we aren’t rescheduling. Instead, if we decide it’s too hot for a long ride, we can alter our plans on the fly (say, ice cream at Da Capo followed by wading at the Ledge and City Hall). Please leave a comment here or on the Facebook event page, or on Twitter (@ecoDomestica or #CLassYEG), to let me know if you’re coming.

Critical Lass 2012 plans & vintage fun

Critical Lass 2012 plans & vintage fun

First, some housekeeping: we have decided that next year we will plan only two Critical Lass rides, one in June and one in early September. Stay tuned for dates (we want to wait until the Bikeology schedule is out before we pick them to minimize potential conflicts).

It was a glorious fall day Saturday (if a bit windy), and my family needed the bike-hauling vehicle, so I rode instead. (I was running behind, and knew my battery was running low, so didn’t take any photos along the way.) En route I had a text from Judy saying she was the only one at our meeting spot, so we threw all our route plans out the window, met up at Belgravia Station, and rode over to the Old Strathcona Antique Mall for a browse, at her suggestion.

Which means this was my one-way trip: 15.8 km. Not too shabby.

A photo by Judy of the view from the second floor railing.
The Old Strathcona Antique Mall is in the former United Cycle building a couple of blocks south of Whyte Ave,
next door to United Cycle’s new location. As you can see, it is enormous.

We had a hot drink at the adorable in-house cafe-slash-ice-cream-parlour (their lattes are pretty good), and had a lovely long chat.

carved handles on the drawers of a massive oak wardrobe from France
an adorable Thonet-influenced chair with a caned seat

Plus we spent a couple of hours wandering the aisles and admiring the goods. We came away empty handed (for now, at least). Sometimes I’m all about the smalls, but the furniture was my favourite on this day.

Fab early 20th century Eastlake-style dresser
The next four photos are Judy’s. Thanks Judy!
gorgeous joints on the drawers

Edmonton has a scarcity of vintage fashion places, so we were really excited to see this room upstairs:

late 1960s burnout velvet paisley

Sweet! A staff member told us it’s brand-new, and is curated from the offerings of several sellers. (Hot tip for tweed riders: there’s a great wool plaid ladies’ cape and some awesome mens’ hats in there right now.)

On the way home I took this photo of the markings for an about-to-be-painted bike lane on 76th Ave:

Here’s Eliza at Smith Crossing, in the valley where 23rd Avenue crosses Whitemud Ravine. There’s a great walking path through the ravine that’s part of the Waskahegan Trail and includes McTaggart Sanctuary, and a decade ago we frequently saw deer grazing in this spot. They’re gone now that there are oversized mansions rimming the ravine. Sigh.

I was also able to get a nice magic-hour shot on 23rd Ave, looking back at Smith Crossing:

And a shot of the setting sun in a neighborhood park:

Such a glorious day!

October Critical Lass announcement

October Critical Lass announcement

What: an inclusive social ride for female cyclists in stylish clothes, on a route suitable for novice riders, to promote cycling as an approachable, fun, everyday activity

When & Where: 
Our next Critical Lass ride will be the afternoon of Saturday October 15th. We’ll meet at 1:45pm, depart 2pm, and end 3:30pm; and we’ll start & end at Bike Bottleneck (at the racks at the corner of 109 Street and 88 Ave, beside the High Level Diner). Afterward those of us who can stay to hang out will grab a table at one of the many cafes and restaurants in the area.

Route: this is still under discussion. (We’re guessing our original leaf-viewing idea won’t be happening, since the leaves have already all turned.) Here are the ideas we’re considering:

1. north across High Level Bridge and around the Ledge grounds (although we already have been through that area twice this year)
2. east on Saskatchewan Drive to Mill Creek Ravine (likely too hilly for some of us)
3. down the new 106th Street bike lane to Pleasantview Cemetery, then back
4. through Belgravia and south past the U of A Farm, then back up via 115th Street and the LRT MUP

Please leave a comment to vote on these ideas or suggest another route. For those of you on Facebook, here’s the event listing – we’re also discussing the route ideas on the wall.

Scenes From Tweed Ride

Scenes From Tweed Ride

Sweet poster, via the Facebook event page.

Today I went to the Edmonton Tweed Ride with a few friends. Despite rain that ended at the last minute, there were an impressive number of people who came out. We had a wonderful time, met lots of great people, and rode a perfectly gorgeous route through the river valley.

It started pouring mid-afternoon, but – thank goodness – it stopped in time.
Here is Eliza, dried off and ready to go after a rejuvenating tea at Karen’s.
The City of London souvenir hankie tied to the vintage purse is a sly little homage. 

The bike pile in front of Pembina Hall.

Sarah rides this Vulcan with the adorable bell and basket she scored at Calgary’s BikeBike.
Even Robert was dressed to impress.
Loving the argyle socks.
Coreen sewed her outfit, isn’t it rad?
Gorgeous, bubbly Sarah. Love her skirt and boots.
Impressive trackstanding skillz. Loved her flapper dress.
Organizer Neil telling us about our route and destination.
Down Saskatchewan Drive,

and across the road into Belgravia,

where the sun decided to join us.
At the top of (the former) Keillor Road we paused to chat with another group of cyclists.
After taking it slooooow coming down the switchbacks – because I was more than a bit nervous about my rod brakes in the wet road conditions- Judy and I had Keillor Road to ourselves. So pretty. In another week or so the leaves will have all fallen.
Notice the point-blanket scarf. This is how Canadians do Tweed.
At the other side of the bridge across Whitemud Creek everyone was waiting for us slowpokes and having a lovely chat.

Judy took a great photo of me – thanks Judy!
Our destination, after a bit more riding: the new(ish) Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge.

Judy admires the view upriver.
We stopped at the midpoint of the span to hang out.
The downriver view. Pretty!
Everyone looked so great. I wish my photos turned out better – my candid approach doesn’t always work.

Luckily there were a lot of cameras there. Here are some great shots that Tess took, for example.
I’m sure more will get posted to blogs over the next few days.

Kevin demonstrates his mad trackstanding skillz.
You are here.

On Keillor Road on the way back. Some of the horses were in the field at the equestrian centre.
Taking a breather at the top of the hill on the Saskatchewan Drive MUP.

Soon after this we parted ways – some of us needed to get home early,
while the rest carried on to get dinner and drinks at The Next Act.

Neil tells me there will be another Tweed Ride next Spring! Can’t wait!

There are more great photos and a video of the ride at TuckamoreDew (as mentioned in the comments).
I also found a ride report with links to others’ photos from the first Edmonton Tweed Ride (in 2009)!

Critical Lass 7: New Southern Bike Lanes

Critical Lass 7: New Southern Bike Lanes

In summary, the new bike lanes are pretty sweet…
and we’re really excited that they connect up all the bits of
previously-disconnected bike infrastructure on the south side of Edmonton…
but you’d like to see some photos, right?

We first attempted this ride on the last Sunday of August,

but too few people were able to make it, so we rescheduled for yesterday.

Laura and Angel
We waited for about 25 minutes at Century Park,

L-R: Laura, Angel, Emma

then we were off.

There were shiny shoes


and fabulous lace tutus.

Karen and Robert

We crossed the LRT tracks,

admired a cool tandem while we waited for the lights,


and started counterclockwise around the loop,
opting for the road instead of the under-the-power-lines multi-user path for the first bit,

and stopping only so our littlest attendee could be given more crackers.

The section of the route south of 23rd Ave has just been repaved to fix the potholes, 
and is still awaiting paint.

The city has put these awesome signs up all along the loop.
Millwoods’ sharrows could use signage like this, too.

Several sections, like this one, could potentially put you in the door zone of parked cars, so stay alert!

The area has a couple of big parks with playgrounds in them, several schools, 
and a mix of single-family housing and apartment-style condominiums 
(in addition to the big transit-oriented complex at Century Park),

and a fire station! Sadly, the brave uniformed guys had other things to do than flirt with us.

Our route circumnavigated the area of strip-mall shopping and grocery stores, 
but we did see evidence of it. 

It was cool to still see all the ghost marks in place that precede application of reflective paint.

The bike lane turns the corner at a three-way stop at the southern end of 106th Street, so, so did we.

We had to veer around a curb repair. We were really glad for the barriers.

Then we took the multi-user path beside 34th Ave back to 111th Street,

By this time the wind had really picked up and we wondered where the sun had gone.

So we were glad to wrap things up (for those of us who could stay)
with brunch and fancy coffees at Bistecca.

There was Italian Eggs Benedict,

and Southern French Toast,

with a side of cutie pie

Robert’s always a charmer.

and lots of great conversation.

I want a wrist tattoo like Laura’s.
We were so glad Judy caught up with us.

We emerged from brunch to rain and wind,

but it didn’t stop us from admiring all our sweet sweet rides, 
before we fled to the warmth of the LRT or our vehicles.

PS: Since our tentative date of Oct 9th is Thanksgiving weekend, we need your help rescheduling the next Critical Lass ride: please participate in our Doodle poll to see when works for the most people! We’ll announce the date and create a Facebook event page within the week.

Critical Lass August plans

Critical Lass August plans

When: Sunday, August 28th, meet at 1 pm, depart at 1:30 pm 

What: an inclusive social ride for female cyclists in stylish clothes, on a route suitable for novice riders, to promote cycling as an approachable, fun, everyday activity – on a family-friendly route this time!* 

Where: meeting at Century Park LRT station

Route: this time we’ll head a block or so north from the LRT station, then counterclockwise around the Saddleback Road -19 Ave – 105 Street – 29 Ave loop (on the new on-street bike lanes). We’ll stop at the Royal Pizza to pick up some food, and carry it with us to the playground at (location TBA, there are several decent-sized ones to choose from, and we want to check closer to our date to make sure the construction is complete on the section where we’ll stop) Steinhauer Elementary School (see below), where the kids can play while we picnic! (So, yeah, you may wish to pack some food and drinks too.). Afterward we’ll finish the loop and head back to the station, where you can either choose the LRT or the bike path to head home.

Aug 16th update: I’ve just checked the progress of the lane-painting on this *brand spanking new* bike route, which should be complete by month’s end. This is going to be a great connector for a bunch of bike infrastructure in the southern suburbs, so it’s really exciting to have this chance to check it out! The western half is still mostly awaiting paint, but has signs up (including “call 311 for more information” signs), and the eastern half is all painted – including paint from the 3-way stop on 29 Ave up 106th Street to eventually connect with the rest of the network! So, we’re going to use the playground at Ermineskin Community League / Steinhauer Elementary School on 106th as our stop for eating (it’s a bit bigger and shadier than the one at Keheewin School, and it has picnic tables). You’ll notice that I’ve replaced the original map above with an edited screencap from the Google version of the City of Edmonton Bike Map, so now you can see how our route ties in with the existing network (green lines). The solid yellow is the part where the paint was complete tonight; the dotted yellow is where (I think) is left to be painted; and I’ve marked in our landmarks for the ride in red.

*As for the family friendliness of this route: it is on the long side for little ones (at about 8km), and it is an on-street path, so if your kids (like mine) don’t yet ride fairly straight or stop reliably, then they may be safest in a trailer or cargo bike, or on a bike seat or trail-a-bike.

27 Aug update: the forecast is 24 degrees Celsius and sunny, so hats and sunscreen weather! Also, as I’ve noted on the Facebook event page and in comments, it turns out the Saddleback Road location of Royal Pizza doesn’t open until 4:30 – there are other places to grab something before we set off, and a couple of 7-11s en route, but our best bet will be to treat this as a potluck picnic. See you tomorrow!

28 Aug update: since almost nobody was able to come, we are postponing this ride. Stay tuned for details.

9 Sept update: NEW DATE AND TIME for those of you not following the FB event page where this discussion has been ongoing! We’ll go on Sunday, Sept 11th, and since we’re in the middle of a heat wave, meet 9:30am, head out 9:45am, ride the loop counterclockwise, then head to the Century Park location of Brewsters for brunch afterward.