Sunday, June 14, 2020

Preparing for the Toronto World Naked Bike Ride 2020

The global protest against oil dependency was postponed due to Covid-19 precautions. The protest on two wheels was delayed from June 13 to Saturday, June 20, 2020 as the Province has now started to reopen for business and protests have been allowed by Canadian public health officials. Health Minister Patty Hajdu has said that "I think it's people's right to express their support, and in some cases concern, about things that are unfolding both here in our country and across the world." But remember that in a Covid-19 world we must wear masks and maintain physical distancing. Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Theresa Tam suggests using signs instead of shouting while protesting.

Gene talks to CBC news
The Start - Coronation Park

Riders will begin to gather around noon on Saturday around the flagpole in Coronation Park (about the centre of the park near the veteran's memorial). The park is at 711 Lake Shore Boulevard West, just south of the Princes' Gates at Exhibition Place.
No vehicular access to the park during ActiveTO

Unless the City ends the weekend closures (started May 11 and will continue until further notice) Saturday's ride will take place during Toronto's ActiveTO: From the City's website "ActiveTO is about making sure people have space to get around while respecting physical distancing. Initiatives include quiet streets, closing major roads for active transportation, and expanding the cycling network." Lake Shore Boulevard West (eastbound lanes only) from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road will be closed along with the eastbound Gardiner Expressway off ramp to Lake Shore Boulevard West (exit #146). Update: ActiveTO Major Road closures will be in place this weekend, from Saturday, June 20 at 6 a.m. to Sunday, June 21 at 11 p.m. This will mean that the entrance to Coronation Park is closed, participants will have to ride to the park from other areas. In the park the reconstruction of the multi-use paths is almost complete and most of the fences have been removed.

Nearby Parking

The closest public parking is probably in Exhibition Place and the Gore Lot across Lake Shore Blvd, but there are also plenty of spots along Queen's Quay. Parking lots on the south side of Lake Shore Blvd across from Exhibition Place will be closed.

Pre-ride Preparations 

Usually ride co-organizer Gene Dare gets to the memorial early and his extra-large, red felt Canadian hat and World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) banner becomes a beacon for riders to converge on. I don't think body painters will be on site this year, however you never know. Update: No official body painters to attend, so bring some of your own paints. This time is also used for individual and group photos. Appropriate social distance socializing will take place ahead of the 1:00 pm departure - rain or shine.

Approximate route map from the Wiki World Naked Bike Ride Toronto website

Toronto WNBR route

The ride heads north, leaving Coronation Park and heading up Strachan Avenue, west along Queen St West and into Kensington Market. At College St you go west again until you hit the University of Toronto. The ride goes around the giant circle, then under the bridge and onto Queen's Park where the first photo op takes place. Continuing north into Yorkville, just above the Mink Mile, the south on Yonge Street and west along Bloor Street before heading south into the Gay Village along Church Street. Then west on Gerrard St, pass through Ryerson University and west on Dundas and around Yonge-Dundas Square (sometimes twice) and regaining Yonge Street down to Queen Street. Hitting Queen Street the ride continues westerly until they dismount at Toronto City Hall. The riders pause to play in the fountain in Nathan Phillips Square, pose for more photos, then it is back on the road and heading south to finish at the Ferry Docks and Harbour Square Park.

Most years, part of the riders head to the Toronto Islands, part head back to Coronation Park and part depart the ride at this location. Currently ferries to the Toronto Islands are closed to all but residents so it looks like the party at Hanlans Point nude beach is a no go this year.

A side route is sometimes taken into Allan Gardens, ahead of the visit to Ryerson University, for solidarity with sex workers. Whether that happens this year is still to be confirmed.

Ride length and precautions

The overall ride lasts almost 3 hours, includes hundreds of riders, and finishes at the Ferry Docks around 3:30 pm. Posing for a few more photos, saying goodbye and splitting up by 4:00 pm. The ride is a pretty gentle pace, stopping at red lights, sometimes accompanied by police cyclists providing traffic control (see the police lead the ride around Toronto University's King's College Circle in the photo at top). The only cautions are be prepared to stop or slow down at all times and be aware of the streetcar tracks. Both of these have caused riders to fall and it is painful if you don't have the protection of clothes. Because of Covid-19 the use of helmets and masks are both recommended.

Update: Saturday's weather is supposed to have a few clouds along with a high of 31 degrees Celsius and a scorching humidex reading of 37 degrees. Keep hydrated and slather on some sun tan lotion. Gene says "If on the ride you feel like you will pass out, remove your mask. Bring water. It will be the hottest ride ever."

Come back during the ride when I will post photos and information on the WNBR Toronto 2020 Covid edition. And remember that the ride is as bare as you dare.

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