Archive by Author

Misquoted in NP article – my letter to the editor correction

18 Sep

I’m pretty unimpressed and frustrated with the editor that twisted this piece in such a way as to make my quote appear condescending towards the community I love and represent.  Thankfully they printed my full letter to the editor as a clarification.

Still waiting for the online piece to have an edit included so that the digital archive reflects my true statement and not some manipulated words for a self serving hack.  #NationalPostFail (Update from Sept 19 – link to letter to editor is now included in the original piece online)

Re: Kensington Gets Glimpse Of Potential Big Box Store, Sept. 16.

It should be noted that the quote attributed to me as co-ordinator of the Kensington Market Business Improvement Area (BIA) was very misleading and, in fact, the opposite of what I tried to clearly explain in my extensive discussion with the piece’s writer.

A big box store being proposed in such close proximity can certainly be seen as a threat to the thriving, open-air, multi-generational, and much loved Kensington Market area and business community. That said, this development is in its earliest phase, and a public consultation process, convened by Councillor Mike Layton, has just begun between the developer and the adjacent residential and business communities. I believe that if we have any hope of working together to invite businesses into this development that are complementary to the area, rather than in direct competition with existing businesses, we should all, developer and locals, act like good neighbours and try to work together in good faith.

The same applies as we try to address and minimize the additional impacts this mall will have on local traffic, noise and parking. But perhaps I’m being too optimistic in thinking there is any way to make this work – given the fierce independence of this long-standing community, and the vast number of citizens who will stand to defend it, we may simply end up with a battle to stop this development all together.

Yvonne Bambrick, co-ordinator, Kensington Market BIA, Toronto.

Book Review: The Next Eco Warriors

2 Jun

The Next Eco Warriors

Edited by Emily Hunter
Foreword by Farley Mowat
Reviewed by, Yvonne Bambrick for Alternatives Journal
(Originally posted May 9, 2011)

The Next Eco Warriors is a powerful collection of first person accounts of environmental struggles being fought by young activists from around the globe. Although they vary widely in focus, strategy and outcome – from oceans, to mining, to deforestation – the central theme concerns every living being on Earth. There is a very real fight happening right now to save an angry and dying planet before it’s too late.

Through her opening and closing words in this collection, editor Emily Hunter demonstrates clearly that, as the daughter of Greenpeace founder Robert Hunter, she is living and breathing her father’s lasting environmental legacy, while also making the case that our next generation of eco-warriors has come of age to be smarter and even more determined than its predecessors. The stakes are higher than ever and these young people are fighting for our lives.

While reading of the endless environmental violence detailed in this collection, I was often reminded that much of humanity has a fundamentally flawed and ego-based perspective on life and all that sustains it. Many, if not most, see humans as “apart from”, as opposed to “part of” the planet and all life upon it. As we have historically viewed unknown human cultures as lesser and exploitable, so to do we judge, abuse and misinterpret the language and lives of the fauna and flora essential to the fragile connective tissues and sustainability of Earth’s land and sea and air.

The Eco-Warriors in this book are people who have made this link, have had their eyes opened to the web of natural systems and the role humans are playing, and can no longer sit idle while humanity stampedes ahead in the name of progress and growth and “the economy”.

“…in realizing our interconnectedness, we need to unlearn the individualism we’re taught in this country (US). We need to relearn the responsibility of community.” Enei Begaye, p. 238

These stories tell of remarkable catalyst moments that seeded activism. Several highlight the COP 15 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen as a pivotal period that not only highlighted the urgency with which we must address climate change, but that we must mobilize millions of citizens around the globe to fight for the defining cause of our time.

While I have strived for my work to have a positive impact on the planet, I’ve often felt that my efforts were too insignificant, small and localized. This book makes it abundantly clear that it actually takes many hundreds of thousands of efforts, small, medium and large, individual and collective, within and outside of governing systems, to have an important and transformative influence on society if we are to actually slow climate change.

Although the stories presented in this collection tell of success, they also recount actions that raised awareness and connected community but failed in their purpose: Carcinogenic chemicals continue to be sprayed onto communities; poorly managed garbage incinerators are expanded to burn unsorted community rubbish full of recyclable material; the seal hunts, shark finning, and dolphin kills; and shamefully wasteful global practices that go on despite evidence of inhumane actions and sustainable alternative options.

“The reality is heroes don’t win the revolutions. It is ordinary people doing the extraordinary…. only when we take up the battle is there truly a fighting chance for that world.” Emily Hunter p. 253

We rarely if ever hear of environmental actions being undertaken outside of North America and the European Union. Ms. Hunter’s collection is truly global in its reach and all the more inspiring for it. This powerful collection of stories of great human spirit is accompanied by a resource guide and a website and growing online community.

Be warned! Reading these stories will likely compel you to take action if you are not already doing so. While aimed at young people, even the most dedicated environmental champion will learn from the individuals profiled in this book. It will not only provide new insight into our global struggle for survival; it offers encouragement and evidence that one person can play a profound and vital role in this battle, all while having fun, falling in love, developing practical skills and building community.

(Book published by Conari Press, San Francisco, 2011. 253 pages.)

Yvonne Bambrick is a life-long year-round cyclist/photographer, and recently served as the founding executive director of the Toronto Cyclists Union, her hometown’s first city-wide cycling advocacy organization. When not pedaling around town, she’s also the co-ordinator of Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market and the Kensington Market BIA.


Conference Photography & Shooting by Bicycle

3 May

The 2nd annual Complete Streets Forum took place on April 28th & 29th, 2011 and I was there to listen, learn and capture it all on camera.

Here are some photos from the conference at Hart House, and the cycling and walking tours that took place on day two. I shot most photos of our bike infrastructure tour while riding along.

All other conference & tour photos can be viewed here on Flickr.

Those Pinko buttons are on all kinds of folks!

11 Apr

I’ve been seeing the Left Wing Pinko & Bike Riding Pinko buttons everywhere since launched them following Don Cherry’s now infamous speech in Council Chambers back in December.

Since I was planning to proudly wear my bike riding pinko button to Saturday’s ‘Respect for Toronto’ rally, and bringing along my camera, I thought it might be interesting to take photos of some of the other self-identified ‘Pinkos’.

Here are the few pix I’d like to share from the rally. It was a gorgeous day and thousands of Torontonians marched together to City Hall to demand the Respect we were promised by our new mayor, something many think he’s shown little of since taking the position.

Tips for Preventing Bike Theft

2 Apr

With fairer weather now in season, lots of folks are getting back on their bikes, or buying new ones and taking to two wheeled transportation for the first time.

In an effort to help avoid the heartbreak of bike-theft, I thought I’d share these tips for keeping your trusty steed safe and sound.


  • It generally costs you more to replace a bike than to invest in a good quality lock – it may be worth taking a second look at yours…  (I love my thick, cloth covered, Abus chain – super strong, and gives me the flexibility to lock to more than just a post & ring.)

  • As Eric of Curbside says, “Never buy a cable lock. It’s like locking your house with a screen door.”

  • Consider using two different kinds of locks, one chain, one U-lock.  This will make your bike harder to steal quickly since different tools are required…

  • Unless you absolutely need them, do not use quick release on your wheels or seat.

  • Nice seats are easy targets so lock ’em down with an extra seat lock, or use a quick release and take it with you every time you lock your bike. (Check out the awesome bike chain seat lock in the photo above!)

  • If using a u-lock, the bigger a gap you leave when locking, the more likely your U-lock can be busted open with a bit of torque. Keep it tight.

  • Avoid leaving your bike outside overnight.

  • Personalise your bike:  I love my flower covered basket ;)  Aside from being pretty and making me more visible, it’s also a theft deterrent.  In general, it is men who steal bikes… girly flowers can help.  Boys can certainly do something similar – use your imagination!


  • Take a photo of your bike and mark down key identifying information such as the registration number (usually on the underside of the bottom bracket – flip her over and take a look).  If your bike is stolen, you have the details handy and can prove it’s yours should it be recovered.

  • Use these details to register your bike with the Toronto Police Services Bicycle Registry.  If they recover stolen property they can only return it to you if your bike is in the system.

For more theft prevention tips, and to register your bike with TPS, visit

Finally, without putting yourself in harms way, if you notice someone messing with a bike, say something – even a joke will do.  We can all help each other by participating in a bit of ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ style community support.

Ride on.  And please share this note with any cyclists you know.


Connecting Community in Kensington Market

31 Mar

This week marks the start of my new role working with the new-ish (late 2010) Kensington Market BIA as their first Coordinator. I’ll be working with the community on a number of area projects (graffiti/murals – (possibly) a farmer’s market that complements rather than competes with local green grocers – BIA website – On-street bike parking – public seating – …), and will continue to serve as Coordinator of our now 8th season of Pedestrian Sundays, alongside Shamez Amlani, and with the help of several new BIA volunteer board members. There will be many opportunities to get involved in this much loved community celebration and I’d love to hear from anyone who’s keen to come hang out and help out!

Our annual Pedestrian Sundays Community Meeting (6:30 to 8pm) is coming up in late April (date TBC).

Follow @pskensington and join our FB Group for updates about upcoming street events in the market.

Really excited to now be working even more closely with my favourite neighbourhood in Toronto!  More info soon.

Random acts of kindness: $ for cycling

4 Mar

Darren at Toronto Cranks posted on March 2nd about a kind female senior citizen who was handing out sweet letters, which included a monetary gift, to thank fellow citizens for riding a bicycle.  I am truly moved by this story so thought I’d share it here.

This woman’s simple and hands-on philanthropic gesture thanking random cyclists is genuinely touching, and about as unexpected to most as the ‘Thank You’ cards given by bike riders to considerate drivers were back in ’09. Random acts of kindness will never cease to amaze me – this one is timely and unforgettable and will continue to make my heart a little lighter for years to come.  I would love to meet and thank her personally , but no news yet on who she is.


There’s also of course the obvious juxtaposition of this gifting $ to cyclists, with the recent refunds doled out to ‘Ford Nation’.  I doubt I need to explain the relative impacts on roads, public space, health costs, environment, of cars vs. bicycles…  When it comes to our municipal piggy bank however, cycling & walking makes deposits into the community coffers, whereas driving makes withdrawals.  Anything that recognizes this, encourages more cyclists, and in turn more ‘sound collective health/environmental/fiscal policy’ should be applauded!  This woman’s kind & thoughtful gesture certainly qualifies.

Looks like other folks agree – the story has also been picked up by Torontoist.

Larger discussion here about subsidies, tax rebates, and the like for cyclists (opens big can of worms…) – any thoughts?

Smart Living by Bike – Momentum Magazine gets a Re-design!

3 Mar

Looks as though the ladies at Momentum magazine have done it again!  Their 50th issue was launched on Mar 1st with significant rebranding – both the mag and website are looking hotter than ever.  The cheeky cover shot certainly helps.

Great new logo!


In addition to my appreciation for the hard work and finished product of the amazing Vancouver-based Momentum team, I’m also happy to have been included for comment in one of their feature articles, This is the Bike Lifestyle, alongside friend, colleague and ‘bike-lifestylist’, Eric Kamphof from Toronto’s Curbside Cycle, and NYC Streetfilms Director of  (awesome!) Video Production, Clarence Eckerson Jr. 🙂

My bike is looking good in this pic! Got it from Eric's shop - the guy to my left.





Reporting: International Women’s Day – Film Screening and Panel Discussion

2 Mar

What: International Women’s Day: Film Screening and Panel Discussion – ‘The Journey of Feminism’
Where: The Law Society of Upper Canada at Osgoode Hall
When: March 1, 2011

In recognition of International Women’s Day on March 8th, the Law Society of Upper Canada, in partnership with the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, the Ontario Bar Association and the Women’s Law Association of Ontario, hosted a well-attended documentary screening, panel discussion & reception at Osgoode Hall.

The evening began with the screening of the documentary, Constitute! which explores the largest social mobilization of women in Canadian history and shares the stories of female activists who fought for stronger equality provisions in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Following the screening, a panel of feminists, including those involved in making the documentary, were on hand to discuss the vitality of the movement in Canada – both now and in the future.  Moderated by Professor and Law Society bencher Constance Backhouse, featured panelists were Clara Ho, Staff Lawyer, Advocacy Centre for the Elderly; Linda Palmer Nye, Constitute! film subject; Marilou McPhedran, Principal, Global College, University of Winnipeg and Constitute! film subject; Julie Lassonde, Lawyer; and Mehrak Mehrvar, Gender and Governance Specialist, International Development.

The panel concluded with a recap of what continues to energize the feminist movement; its diversity, inclusivity, expertise, hard work, fun, courage, and camaraderie.  The wine and cheese reception featured a live jazz duet, and some 60’s style sing songs fit for a feminist gathering sung beautifully by Linda Palmer Nye!

* Yvonne Bambrick is an Urban Cycling Consultant and a Toronto-based Event & Portrait Photographer. Cross-posted at

(* I’ve just joined the Precedent Magazine team to shoot & report on local lawyer-type events that will be featured on their site


Bikes: Growing the local economy

28 Feb

Today’s excellent post (with useful links) by Grist columnist Elly Blue, ‘How Bicycling Will Save the Local Economy (if we let it)‘ reminded me of how often I’ve tried to emphasize this message when speaking about the myriad benefits of cycling.

Imagine getting a $3,000 to $12,000 tax rebate this year. Now imagine it coming again and again. Every year it grows by around a thousand dollars. Imagine how this would change your daily life. … it’s actually a conservative estimate of how much you’d save by ditching your car, or even just one of your cars — and getting on a bicycle instead.”

By switching to cycling transportation, rather than spending a yearly average of $8,500 of your hard-earned income on car payments, insurance, parking, tickets, maintenance and gas… you can redirect some of it into the local economy via groceries, theatre, restaurants, services, etc.., as well as contribute more to your own personal savings for retirement (don’t know about you, but this is something I’m starting to take more seriously).

Thanks to great car-sharing services like Auto-Share now widely available in the city, you can have access to 4 wheels whenever you really need them and still save thousands!  I sold my car (that I was very attached to) back in 2001 to help pay for grad school – I’ve been on 2 wheels, year-round, ever since and haven’t missed the expense, responsibility, or hassle of car ownership one bit.  I’ve structured my life in such a way that I can get to 95% of my regular destinations by bike.  The TTC, or car rental, are handily available on the rare occasions that my bike just won’t get me there.  Although I don’t have to worry about children, I have several friends with kids who have found excellent, non-car solutions.

Although this infographic is specific to car ownership costs in the US, it applies equally well here in Canada and shows the immense amounts of money that are redirected out of our local economy due to the automobile.

Investing in the local economy. Infographic by MGMT Design


And bikes/cyclists really are great for business! There’s been some excellent research done locally by the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation and the Clean Air Partnership via their 2009 report ‘Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business‘. Amongst other very compelling findings about the benefits of on street bike infrastructure, they found that in the study area, “Patrons arriving by foot and bicycle visit the most often and spend the most money per month.”

As per Elly’s piece – there are many additional economic, environmental and health-related benefits to cycling. Not to mention how much FUN it is to ride!