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One Bloor, Redux

by Ben

The Toronto Star has some renderings of the new NEW design for One Bloor (Bloor and Yonge, in Toronto, for those from away, probably the most expensive piece of land in the city).  As you may know, the property has had it’s ups and downs, but mostly downs, over the past while.

I was happy to see it get snapped up after the latest Dubai financed development collapsed, and if these renderings are any indication it should be a pretty nice benefit to the corner.  Check them out (props to for the images):

Read More…


I am the 2453rd Fastest Person in Chicago

by Jimsey

So this is a bit of a “dear diary” post. I know we don’t have many on TRR so bear with me. Sunday I was feeling saucy so I decided to run the Shamrock Shuffle 8k in Chicago (Well technically I felt saucy back in February when I registered). It gets billed as the largest 8k event in the world with 36,000 entrants. So that’s neat I suppose.

This was my first real race ever. Sorry Grosse Ile, your little 5k, which I ran hungover, registered while smoking and placed 2nd in my age group, doesn’t count.

Few thoughts:

First, I was not at all prepared for the pace of the race. More specifically the start. I’m a jogger, and I consider myself to keep a fairly decent pace. As soon as the air horn went, I wanted to tell everyone to slow down. For some odd reason I was placed in Coral A (the second group to start, behind the “elites”), so that probably didn’t help either. I still have no idea how I ended up there.

Second, while the race was through the streets of the loop, I don’t think I enjoyed it that much. Its not like I didn’t have time to enjoy myself, it just didn’t do anything for me. We ended up on all the boring streets, sorry Kinzie and Franklin. Though I did wave “hi” to work.

Third, I hate you weather. Friday was 61 (16c). Sunday was 33 (1c) and damp. At least it wasn’t raining or snowing like it did on Saturday, or like last year’s shuffle which I pussed out on.

Fourth, I feel like I left something out there. My typical distance in my leisurely jogs is around 12km. That combined with the pace of this event made me have no idea how to pace myself. The final km was hilarious. Seeing the finish line, I broke into a full stride sprint passing about 100+ people in the process. Maybe I’m an ass for doing it (I didn’t see anyone else doing it) or maybe I’m an ass for not pacing myself correctly. Oh well, life goes on.

Yes, that's me. Go Stretchypants Go.

Fifth, I’m used to jogging in the evening. 9am running is not cool. On my running days here, I have a very planned routine including meal times. When you aren’t used to scheduling your meals for a 9am run, you end up doing a second full sprint home to clean that mess out (if you know what I mean).

Finally, It was pretty freakin’ neat hearing the footsteps of thousands of people crunching along together. For quite a few sections it was just us in a giant posse.

Regardless, I can cross this off my Chicago to-do list. Oh, and I absolutely loved the hundreds of dirty looks for lighting up a cigarette after I got my bag out of gear check. Oh, and 38:01 was my time.

Small update to add this image ripped from the Shuffle’s Website:

Such a mass of people

Ride the City – Toronto Edition

by Ben

Upon hearing news that Google maps now had biking directions,  I was elated.  Upon hearing it was only in major U.S. cities, I was deflated.  And then, lo and behold, I was elated again upon learning that Ride the City just released bike directions for Toronto.

After playing around with it a little my overall impressions are positive.  Here’s the suggested “safe route” given for my work commute:

Can’t say I disagree.  Choosing the most direct route actually takes me a little further than I need to go, but there isn’t really a way for the app to read my mind.  Yet.  The ability to choose between safety levels is nice, and will also be useful when I feel like a scenic weekend ride rather than a hurdy-gurdy pedal to work ride.

The map layout is nice and the overall map has an appealing feel to it.  But one of the coolest bits to the map, and something I haven’t seen yet, is the addition of underground walkways (check out Bay and Bloor).  It appears this is the result of the base mapping program,, which is pretty cool in it’s own right.  Maybe I can finally figure out Toronto’s PATH system.

So, this will do for now.  Once Google gets around to Canada I can compare then.

Barring Maps…hic…I mean Mapping Bars

by Ben

A great series of maps using Google data has popped up in the past day or so looking at the occurrence of bars across the United States (hat tip to City Block and Floating Sheep).

I’ve reproduced some of the maps below from Floating Sheep (click for larger):

First up, total bar mentions on Google Maps by city.  Hard to see, but Chicago is the winner!

Chicago wins!

Does your area have more bars than groceries? You’re probably doing alright…I mean, how many different grocery stores do you want to go to in one evening?

Balogna or Beer?

There are some more fun breakdowns over at Floating Sheep, go check them out!

Over at City Block, the author wonders this:

Unsurprisingly, we see all sorts of concentrations of bars that correlate with population density – namely, cities.  Wisconsin, however, is punching well above its weight.   That well-worn drinking culture shines through.  Southern cities, conversely, seem a little thing based on their populations – perhaps a holdover from dry counties and other temperance movements?

I think there is certainly something to this, but I’d add another variable.  Some of the biggest bar towns also have access to something other areas of the U.S. don’t – copious amounts of fresh water.  Many of the best microbreweries (and big breweries, for that matter) have started around the Great Lakes.  Good water sure goes a long way towards making good beer.

To celebrate this wealth of data I suggest going to your nearest watering hole and raising a toast to Google data and all the folks who can crunch it!

Introducing When We Was Young

by Ben

Slightly off topic for TRR, but I wanted to engage in a little shameless self-promotion.  For the past few months my friend Chris and I have been making like overgrown adolescents by forming a band, appropriately named When We Was Young.  It’s been incredible fun and I’ve surprised myself with some limited ability to play bass, thanks to Chris’ efforts.

In any case, we’ve recently started doing some songwriting and recording, with result being the release of our first single, “Out of Place”.  The song writing process is terrific fun, and we’ve had great help from our partners/band managers.

Anyway, check the single on our MySpace Music page here and let me know what you think.  Input is always welcome, and we’ll be working to get a slightly more polished version up (I just couldn’t wait).


New Cyclist

by Jimsey

So I finally got around to buying a bike. I’m a huge pedestrian/transit fan, and biking seemed like the next logical step. I wanted to write this post to share some of thoughts from my first day riding.

  1. Riding home I was originally scared shitless. Having really haven’t ridden a bike since I was in college, and never haven ridden in a big city street setting, I was quite nervous on the way home. Don’t get me wrong, Chicago has bike lanes on all the major roads to give me some breathing space. But until you cruise down S. Western with traffic zipping by at or around the 35 mph speed limit, its hard to prepare yourself. Read More…

TTC Customer Service Advisory Panel Announced

by Ben

With surprisingly little fanfare it appears the TTC has announced the members for it’s Customer Service Advisory Panel.  The always resourceful Transit Toronto has the full details here.  Here’s what the membership is going to look like:

  • Matthew Blackett, the publisher and founder of Spacing magazine.
  • Robert Culling a professional transit operator for the TTC.
  • Yves Devin the chief executive officer of the Société de Transport de Montréal (STM) since 2006.
  • Tyson Matheson, WestJet’s vice president of People Relations and Culture.
  • Dr. Roy Morley, professor of marketing in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University.
  • Sue Motahedin of TELUS Communications Inc.’s Loyalty and Retention Department.
  • Krisna Saravanamuttu, a fourth-year criminology major at York University and the president of the York Federation of Students.
  • Kripa Sekhar, the executive director of the South Asian Women’s Centre.
  • Julie Tyios, the chief executive officer of Red Juice Media, an online marketing firm.

Early impressions:

  • First, the TTC announced earlier in the week that there wouldn’t be any members from the public.  That said, I was still holding out home that Steve Munro would be on here.  It was as squandered opportunity on the TTC’s part.
  • I’m generally a fan of Matthew Blackett.  He at least represents the “activisit” side of the equation to some extent.
  • Robert Culling – It appears that Culling is a TTC driver (not sure of what vehicle).  A logical choice for inclusion on the panel, and I’m curious as to what criteria determined what driver was selected – e.g., peer suggestion, Union suggestion.
  • Yves Deviln – Solid choice.
  • Krisna Saravanamuttu and Kripa Sekhar – A surprising nod towards the diverse needs of TTC users.  I’m especially pleased with the community focus of including someone from the South Asian Women’s Centre.   Very impressive choices here.
  • The rest are the usual corporate and academic suspects, no surprises there.

Details of the panels goals are summarized at Transit Toronto and by Steve Munro, so I won’t cover that ground again.  With the report due at the end of June, however, I am interested in how much work will be achieved.  I haven’t seen an indication as to the frequency of the meetings, but I would hope they would at least be twice a week.

Probably a larger fear is how much voice some of the “smaller” members will actually have.  Will the needs of students be heard over the opinion of corporate VPs?  Will genuine debate occur in these meetings, or will they be hijacked by competing interests?

For now I will maintain a fine balance of skepticism and optimism and wait for more details.  Regardless, a positive step.

Make That 180

by Jimsey

Chicago Tribune Article

Update to our friend from the last post. Apparently this time he’s been nabbed for being a little more than slightly aggressive. I wonder if this is representative of the other 178 arrests, or if this is rare and he’s more or less getting slaps on the wrist for just simply panhandling on the CTA?

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