Tag Archives: toronto

Signs don’t equal Safety – Don’t support the All Way Stop at Ellerslie & Tamworth

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

The lyrics of Signs by Five Man Electrical Band always pop into my head when someone starts talking signs for safety: be they  speed limit signs, stop signs, or shoes required signs.  I do not support signs, and the neighbourhood is currently petitioning to get some new stop signs installed down the street, to convert a two-way stop to an All-Way stop, so here is my argument against this instance.  As a “long haired freaky people“, it seems to be the minority view, but I think with a little bit of consideration and research, you may change your mind.

First off, we are not traffic engineers.  I don’t necessarily put faith in ‘experts’, but if you want to play the role of considering traffic flow, then consider traffic flow in the entire neighbourhood, not just at a single intersection.  Changing an intersection will have impacts many intersections away in a variety of ways.  What if your support for a change at this intersection, resulted in an accident nearby?  NIMBY is a slippery slope to go down.  All-way stops are put in place to assist with negotiating right of way, when the intersection has near-equal traffic in all directions.  This intersection as one of its four directions is a dead end, you can assume right off the bat that it will not have equal traffic in all directions.  Studies have also shown that drivers will increase their speed between intersections to make up for their ‘lost time’ of having stopped.  Whoops?

I don’t like pollution.  Asking the majority of motorists approaching this intersection to increase their emissions and noise produced are two forms of pollution I’d rather keep out of the neighbourhood, not to mention the increased fuel consumption compounding over the next few decades that the sign would be there.  Oil doesn’t grow on trees (anymore).  If this isn’t obvious, when you accelerate from a stop, you use a lot more fuel, your engine is louder doing so, and when you are idle at the stop, and when  you are accelerating there are many more emissions in the area.

Risk compensation is a theory which suggests that people typically adjust their behavior in response to the perceived level of risk, becoming more careful where they sense greater risk and less careful if they feel more protected.  Pedestrians and cyclists at the intersection could end up crossing in a more risky fashion, assuming the competition at the intersection will be stopping.   Shared Space in urban design pushes this edge considerably and I lean towards this when ever I discuss traffic signs and road conditions with people.

The attention this has gotten in the neighbourhood shouldn’t be ignored, but let’s not knee-jerk our support for the All-Way stop, but rather channel the concerns into  looking at the larger issue of how can we make our community a better one for people traveling with-in it, and through it, on a larger scale.

Please also consider how well you are perceiving the ‘danger’ here.  Risk Perception is a funny thing.

Some more traffic related links if you’d like:

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LoveTheRavines Fall4Ravines photography exhibit at Patagonia

LoveTheRavines has their Fall4Ravines photography exhibit on display at Patagonia Toronto (500 King St W) until the first week of December, and four of my photos are on display.   Please take a few minutes to consider signing their petition to add the Don and the Humber Rivers to the Ontario Greenbelt.

I wanted to give a shout out to the other photographers (in no particular order) who had their images selected.  I look forward to meeting you Dec 3 at the evening reception at Patagonia.

Nicole Czorny nczorny , Jacquelyn Sloane Siklos (ig: @sloanesiklos), Joanna Johnston (ig: @joannacjohnston),  Sammy T (ig: @sammytangir), Ashley Therriault (ig: @ashtario), @lisarobertsonpics, Jonathan Scott Duder (ig: @jonathanduder ), Jeff Coussin: aka The Life & Adventures of Lenny Dawg (ig: @luciditydesign), Gabriel Bizeau-Régis (ig: @atroutatemyhomework), Gary Wallenwein ig: @totemblaze, Dan Berman ig: @scriptdr.

Here is my collage of the images as arranged to match those hung and curated by Phil Anderson, Executive Director of Gallery 1313.  I had excepted image titles and instagram ids at the exhibit, but there wasn’t any when I checked it out Nov 15 (update: the Official Facebook album had captions/titles for the images so I updated below (only 17 of the pics are there though)).  I’ll included them as I searched around below.
Fall4Ravines Collage 1Fall4Ravines Collage 2

Fall4Ravines Collage 3

Collage 1, top left to bottom right are:

Collage 2, top left to bottom right:

And the final collage are three by sammytangir:

Here is a link to all the #Fall4Ravine tags on instagram via iconosquare.

3rd Place – Flora in the SCB-Toronto Photo Contest

A photo I took of a neighbour’s magnolia tree won 3rd place in the SCB-Toronto Photo Contest.

The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) is an international professional organization dedicated to advancing the science and practice of conserving the Earth’s biological diversity. SCB has local chapters across the globe that provide opportunities for members to engage in conservation at the local level.

SCB-TO is one of these local chapters, we strive to build a network of active conservation biologists from the three local academic research universities – University of Toronto, York University and Ryerson University, as well as government, non-government and private agencies operating within the Greater Toronto Area. Our goal is to facilitate the discussion of and solutions to urban conservation biology issues that threaten the function of Toronto’s local ecosystems.

magnolia

Winning Magnolia Tree Photo

All the winning photos are being exhibited all week at Baka Gallery Cafe near Runnymede Subway Station in Bloor West area, and the award ceremony will take place Friday evening.

flora 3rd gift flora 3rdThanks to Sheridan Nurseries for my prize.

You can also view a version on Instagram.

NYCL Scratch Day Diary

We’ve been looking forward to Scratch Day for a couple of months now, and am happy to say it went off wonderfully.Facepainted 7 Year Old ready to lead his first Scratch DayIt was five months ago today that we checked out No Starch Press’s SUPER SCRATCH PROGRAMMING ADVENTURE from the library, and it was this past Saturday that Xander revealed Scratchy to 15 more kids, ages 7 to 12, as the culmination of his hard work.

After we shared his Scratchy themed birthday cake (he turned 7 in January) with the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT, I learned of ScratchEd (thanks @TwilightDreamWolf for the heads-up) and their role in helping to bring Scratch to more kids.  From their group, I learned of Scratch Day and looked into where we could go to meet other Scratchers in Toronto, only to find there wasn’t anything already organized.    Thinking about possibilities of organizing something to help foster his passion, I mentioned the idea to him and he said he’d love to teach kids to do it — which cinched it, this was going to happen if he was this keen about it.

There is an amazing technology vibe in Toronto, so I knew there would be many ways to go about the event.  Part of me wanted to see if people at UofT would want to be involved, to keep the university feel of Scratch, but I didn’t have any current contacts there to work.  Working the start-up vibe was another angle I considered, but was a bit wary of the sponsorship angles inherent with that culture.  When I was at an early Maker Series event at the Toronto Reference Library, in connection with their new Digital Innovation Hub, I saw they had the new version of the SUPER SCRATCH book in their collection (which isn’t available in the Library’s main collection). I inquired asked about the possibility of doing Scratch Day there, and they declined saying they didn’t have a kid friendly space.  This brought me to our local library, North York Central Library, which we have a good rapport with.

I introduced the idea to them, and they did some research to see if it might be a good fit.  We arranged to meet and Xander shared his enthusiasm for Scratch and we discussed some of the ideas for what the day could be.  We settled on a small introductory class for kids aged 8-12 accompanied by their parents as a trial run.  Coordination with the Learning Centre in the Teen Zone/Hub at the library, outside of the Children’s Department usual dealings and recruitment  within the Teen Department’s Youth Advisory Group to find volunteers to help mentor during the class was done.  Much thanks to Sharon Andic, and Kathryn Copeland for their work in preparing the program, and to Chantee, Charles, and Wendy for their work during the class helping the kids out.

We announced the class on a blog setup for the event at ScratchDayNYCL.tumblr.com and the library put it in their Spring Flyer of events.  Registration quickly filled up with positive comments from parents.  Xander practiced his instruction skills with a friend, going early to our Homeschool Group at the library for a few weeks.  We also arranged to tour the Learning Centre space to get a feeling of the room and what was available there and discuss the format and layout of the pairs.  Everything was set — I was more nervous than he was.

The biggest hurdle was going to get through introductions, as he was really struggling with that part in our practice session.  Kathryn agreed to introduce him which worked out great.

The class went very well.  We managed to squeeze in two extra groups who arrived morning of to see if anyone didn’t show-up.  Many smiles and much enthusiasm from the kids gathered (and a few handstands from the leader).  We made a NYCL Scratch Club Studio on the Scratch website to help encourage the kids to collaborate and build their skills together going forward.  We ran over our time estimates (of course) so we didn’t get to do the maze program he planned, and we didn’t get to show some of our ‘Connecting to the Physical World’ projects as we had hoped.  His response?  “We’ll just have to have another class.”

Naxder and his Dad leading Scratch DayNot only that, he came home and asked to start to write a book about Scratch, for his “55%”ers, those we know a bunch of scratch but want to do more advanced things.  When he started Scratch, he didn’t read and he learned so he could do more Scratch.  I guess it will also be his gateway to writing too!

A very proud Papa.

 

 

Homeschooler Catapult Exhibition, June 2014

The kids & I thought it would be fun to revive the catapult exhibitions we attended a few years ago, when they were too little to build any themselves.  So, here we go:

Catapult Exhibition
June 11, 2014 11AM
Location: TBA green space near North York Centre
Participants: Children educated at home in and around the Greater Toronto Area
Comment here or send me a message (iam at this domain) and I’ll build a roster of participants

Catapults go by many names: ballistae, trebuchets, onagers, hsuan feng, mangonels, petraries, scorpions, tormenta, and others.  What we’re looking for here is a ballistic device used to launch a projectile a great distance without the aid of explosive devices.  Put your thinking caps on, get your tools out, work out the maths and angles, and build away.

We are thinking of setting up a system to measure the distance the objects are thrown, and also an accuracy/target course.  Two categories: kid made only, and then the models which the adults helped with.  Ammo wise, plan to use something similar to an orange — we’ll update this after we’ve had a chance to test a few things out.   Depending on numbers we will either give everyone a chance to talk about their build in front of the group, or a set time where spectators can go from build to build and ask questions about it.

Ideally the space we pick in addition to the missile range will have some playground equipment for families with younger siblings, area to picnic for lunch, and generally hang out to make a day of it for those so inclined.  I have a great spot in mind, I just want to test out the range of our builds to get a sense of how much space we’ll need before I settle on it.  Don’t want any windows broken or near by roadways interfered with.

catapult-DIY-easy-kid-actvity-marshmallowNot everyone is as handy with tools and building as they once were, so I hope to see some collaborations between different groups, maybe even some teaming up to share resources and expertise, or some grandparents pitching in.  It could be just the opportunity you’ve been looking for to try a maker project?  Alternatively you might want to start small and build a simple one out of craft sticks, or marshmallows.

Toronto Tool Library logoA place you might want to check out in the course of your project is the Toronto Tool Library, they have a variety of tools available, and at their East End location a makerspace.  Another makerspace in town that has woodworking capability is Site3 co-laboratory.  Let me know if you are aware of others.  Maybe we’ll see some 3D printed designs, in which case maybe check out the Digital Innovation Hub at the Toronto Reference Library?

A site we like is DIY.org, and they have a Catapult or Trebuchet challenge you can submit your project to, or review some of the devices other kids have made.

Some books we’ve found at the library that have designs and plans and ideas on how to get started are:

Toronto_Public_Library_logoSpeaking of the library, maybe you’ll join us at our Wednesday afternoon homeschooler group at North York Central library (1:30-3pm in the storyroom).  We plan to cover a few topics in the next couple of months applicable to catapults (levers & fulcrums for example is set for April 9th’s session for example).

Busy few weekends

green eggs and ham storymobThe next few weekends have a lot of action going on.  Here are some of the things we’re doing, what is keeping you busy?

September 7 we’ll be meeting at the yet to be revealed location (Update! Cabbagetown Festival Another update — CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER) for our Green Eggs & Ham Storymob!  In the morning Jen will be helping out at the Ladies Learning Code Introduction to Drupal.

Toronto School of Circus Arts LogoSeptember 14 the kids and I will be returning to the Toronto School of Circus Arts for another exciting session of all things circus.

September 15 is the Ice Ride.  We’ll be participating in Toronto’s ride to help save the arctic.

September 21-22 is the Toronto Mini Maker Faire, and the Sunday has recently been announced as Family Day at the Faire, where families can go as a group and enjoy some activities as well as all the awesome makers and their creations (such as the ‘Mothra’ skis).

Toronto Mini Maker Faire banner

Toronto Mini Maker Faire banner

ChrisNolan.ca

August 27, 2013

Whenever I hear people talking about changing roads around to make this better for cyclists I like to ask them if they have heard of “Shared Space” in urban design?  There are places in Europe who design their spaces where pedestrians, cars, and bikes all share the space.  No lanes, no signs, just respect for one another.  The Risk Compensation (see some work by Ian Walker studying how cars treat him when in different gear on his bike) that takes place when you impose further rules and restrictions is argued to not actually improve safety over all.  Something to consider, if you haven’t already, as a cyclist.

Be Kind to One Another.