Take a Summer Road Trip

Take a summer road trip

Summer road trips are an annual ritual for many families. This year, a short drive from home is the extent of a vacation many of us will have. Limits and travel advisories restrict foreign trips. Continued social distancing guidelines remain in place, even as Canadian communities reopen.

Consider a local summer road trip an opportunity. It is a great way to get outside, change your scenery. Discover a little history, or see and taste something new in the area you live.

Before you go

Coming along for the ride should be common sense actions for road safety. Ensure your vehicle is road trip ready, since it may have been parked more than normal lately. Fuel up.

Maybe get your mechanic to change the oil, air filter and check tire pressure. Just like winter tires, they are key to road safety. Top up the washer fluid. Refresh the first aid kit in the trunk. Drive in style, take your vehicle through a wash, and give the inside surfaces a sanitizing wipe.

Make a plan

Plan your summer road trip a little before you pile everyone into the car. Have a democratic vote on a destination. Throw rings on the paper map in your glove compartment. Draw straws to pick who’s doing the driving and the family member who gets to choose your summer road trip.

Be guided by theme or destination for your adventure. Forget the GPS and let serendipity navigate for a change. The wrong turn can lead to great times, if you avoid the argument. If you make it a road trip series, then everyone in your bubble can lead at least one.

Still stuck? Here are a few summer road trip ideas:

Make it natural

natural wonders to find on a summer road trip

Pick a Provincial park you have not been to before. Walk a trail. There are several at the pastoral Scottsdale Farm, an Ontario Heritage Trust property about an hour’s drive from Toronto. Get everyone to photograph their favourite local flora and fauna.

A walk works up an appetite. Maybe bring a change of shoes or clothes in case you get muddy or wet. Book a table for an alfresco lunch at an outdoor patio before you head home.

Make it tasty

Pick a picnic destination. Pack a basket or cooler with something to eat and drink. Or map out a route past farm-gate produce stands and a local take-out sandwich shop to pick up freshly made provisions. Bring a blanket, wrap individual cutlery and plates in napkins. Have hand wipes or sanitizers. Bring a frizbee, soccer ball or book. Or, just look up at the clouds and while away the afternoon daydreaming you are far away…

Make it historic

Canada is still a young country, but there are plenty of historic plaques, places and routes to discover. Look them up. For example, in Upper Canada, the Underground Railroad has several terminus sites such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Dresden (check first if they are open before you drive there).

Since school has been abnormal for quite some time, you could turn your road trip into a history, geography or literary lesson if the kids permit, and you are not tired of being the teacher.

Debate monuments and movements. Link them to events of today. Add new vocabulary like ‘abolitionist’.

Make it a sweet compromise

If you would rather avoid sticky issues, try sticky sweets instead.

Across the country, there are no less than 15 festivals, trails, and tours that celebrate the not-so-humble butter tart. The surprisingly controversial story of the butter tart, by Emma Waverman, Cottage Life, July 6, 2020.

There is controversy even with desserts. In Ontario, the Wellington County Butter Tart Trail first launched in 2008 in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region. Further east, a copycat Butter Tart Tour through Northumberland, Peterborough and the Kawarthas now has more than 50 self-guided sweet stops to choose from.

At first, these rival treat trails exchanged nasty letters over the ‘invention’ of local tart road trips. But in true Canadian fashion, they compromised (apparently over butter tarts!). Good lesson whether you have a sweet tooth or not, prefer your tarts plain, or with raisins, currants or pecans:

Differences can be resolved through cordial discussion.

Apparently, butter tarts are a Canadian culinary invention dating back at least two centuries when pantry supplies were quite limited. Nationally there are many variations. Sugar pie (tarte au sucre) is a close cousin in Quebec, if you want to take a road trip in la belle province. Evolving as Canadians’ tastes change, butter tarts commonly found now have new ingredients like spices, maple syrup and bacon. Debate that!

Whatever direction of your summer road trip, look up the weather forecast for the day you plan to take it. Plot your route, have your designated field guide navigate. Follow the road signs, don’t speed, and look out for cyclists and pedestrians sharing the road.

Our own Be Alert program of reflective child-friendly designs are made to be highly visible in low light conditions. They are easy to attach to clothing, bike helmets or backpacks. We can customize a wide range of safety products with insignia, badges, zippers and other identity and apparel products with your own important message. In the meantime, take a summer road trip to discover some pretty amazing things just a little ways from home. We are here, contact us for help with your safety communications.


A novel approach to alfresco dining

Welcome back to alfresco dining

In a novel alfresco dining solution, cities began allowing restaurant patio space to sprawl. For the first time in maybe ever, restaurants have the green light expand to some streets and public spaces. Parking and traffic lanes are giving way to socially distanced seating. Normally, mixing patios, pedestrians and vehicles is not a good idea for road safety reasons. But this role reversal is a creative adaptation to our pandemic times.

Canada is a bit behind Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. That is where the mayor was among the first in Europe to authorize use of public squares to become larger cafe spaces. So long as they were following operating guidance. In the old town, the StrangeLove cafe patio is highly recommended by the Barista Institute. But it will likely be a while before we travel there.

Meanwhile, everyone continues to cook and make coffee at home a whole lot more than normal. Thank goodness the idea of setting up additional alfresco space made it over here in May.

Spaced Out

Victoria, BC plan Build Back Victoria

Space, it seems, is the new luxury. Canada has a lot of it, but it has not been very accessible for those looking to escape their home haven for more than a drive-thru or curbside take-out meal.

Victoria BC mayor, Lisa Helps convinced city council to approve the “Build Back Victoria” plan allowing alfresco dining on sidewalks and streets, and some public spaces. Maintaining an unobstructed pedestrian right-of-way with 3m clear space is a must. Access to utilities, buildings, crosswalks, bus stops are also requirements for operating a temporary patio space.

Continuous physical barriers between the patio and travel lane keeps everyone safe.

Ahead of many provinces flattening curve, British Columbia began allowing restaurants to start opening in May with new space and hygiene rules. Moving quickly, many more municipalities across Canada have changed zoning and bylaws to relax alfresco dining rules. Expediting patio licensing permits and showing flexibility allows restaurants to space out safely using curb lanes, sidewalks and laneways.

Adding the use of public spaces and plazas for ‘commons-style’ alfresco eating is another welcome way to space out.

Alfresco cafe culture change

Alfresco cappucino allowed on larger patiosEnjoying a good coffee or meal while socializing is one of those things many miss the most (including us!).

We respect cafe and restaurant owners showing a tremendous capacity to pivot from dine-in to delivery and pickup business. Wearing personal protective equipment is the new normal for front of house and kitchen staff. Pickup windows and no-contact payment reduces exposure, and keeps the cash register ringing a little. Delivery services, or apps like SkipTheDishes and UberEats give restaurants a way to get meals to you.

But we know this is not enough for many restaurant owners.

Support your local restaurant safely

Suffering significant business interruption, a Restaurants Canada survey released in April said seven out of 10 food-service businesses are worried. If things don’t improve in the next few months, some may not survive.

Even through business hardship, we are impressed by how many have also been donating prepared food to front-line essential workers. Dine-in restaurants usually rely on short patio season to increase capacity during summer months. Adding new alfresco space while continuing safety precautions for workers and customers will help more dining establishments re-start and recover.

Efforts to support hard hit small restaurant and retail businesses will be needed in the Golden Horseshoe and some other regions in Ontario. Catching up with the west, Premier Doug Ford announced restaurants could re-open for dine-in in areas less affected by the pandemic on June 12.

Dine, drink and shop local, said Toronto Mayor, John Tory, when proposing a CafeTO program to allow for temporary patio expansions. The council vote on his plan will take place on June 22.

Stick with six: a modified alfresco dining experience

Canadians always thirst for our notoriously short outdoor patio season. This summer it seems we have to try alfresco dining in a modified way. It is tempting to relax the personal safety rules in place for months, but we encourage you to “stick with six”. Six feet (or 2 metres) of social distancing, and maximum of six at a table.

Municipalities recognize restaurants need more space to handle less business. Rules for restaurants to open alfresco dining service are extensive. Finding way to make this happen safely while road traffic volumes remain lower than usual deserves a good tip.

Not everyone is ready to operate under those rules. Neither is everyone is ready go out just yet. When you are ready to venture out of your kitchen, book an alfresco table at a local restaurant open in your neighbourhood. We urge you to ‘stick to six’. Savour the luxury of space. Enjoy the pleasure of a really good cup of coffee, or someone else doing the cooking while you dine alfresco again. Cheers to that.

Road safety still matters

Summertime brings out the kids, bikes, scooters and soccer balls, and soon, day camps too. Sometimes they veer onto streets. Our own Be Alert program of reflective child-friendly designs are made to be highly visible in low light conditions. They are easy to attach to clothing, bike helmets or backpacks. We can customize a wide range of safety products with insignia, badges, zippers and other identity and apparel products with your own important message. In the meantime, enjoy the extra alfresco space. Contact us for help with your safety communications.



Go slow road to recovery

Go slow is key to Vision Zero and restarting the econcomy

Flashing caution signs are everywhere: Go Slow! Slow Down! Literally, the road to recovering our lives and livelihoods is full of warnings telling us why it is best to go slow right now. Adjusting to a new low-speed reality, we admit, is not so easy for our fast paced world.

We notice an interesting intersection of two different ‘vision zero’ goals. Vision Zero is the global campaign for road safety. The other is a statistical goal which signals it is safe to begin re-starting the world economy. Both require us to Be Alert and know some important safety rules.

Both are like learning how to drive up a steep hill with a stick shift, or knowing how to safely handle a four way stop when the lights aren’t working.

Curb your speed

Venturing out for necessities or fresh air has got many more pedestrians and cyclists taking over deserted roadways to keep a safe distance. Go slow if you begin driving back to work, or visiting re-opened shops for ‘curbside pickup’. We welcome these positive signs the economic recovery is starting. We worry this means a lot more people will be out and about than in the past few months.

Getting the economy and our lives going again is great. But we urge everyone to go slow because this is not a return to ‘normal’. Please curb your speed.

Children are still mostly not in school. Working from home looks likely to be partially permanent, if you can. Keeping our distance is still necessary. Walking and biking will continue as preferred modes of exercise and transportation, especially as the weather warms.

Delivering essential goods, food and packages by trucks, couriers and Canada Post are busier than ever. Those returning to work may commute by private car instead of public transit. Figuring out where to pull in to pick up is not always clearly marked. Parking is not always available, especially where municipalities have closed facilities out of an abundance of caution, or to make room for those new bike lanes.

Go slow in first gear

Ferrari Italy factory re-opens with F8 Tributo among first in production

F8 Tributo production, photo courtesy Ferrari

In Italy, famous racing car maker, Ferrari announced it’s factory is at full capacity after seven weeks of near total shut down.

Ferrari factories in Maranello and Modena gradually returned to full production, in line with the “Back on Track” program. – Ferrari back at full capacity today,  press release, May 8, 2020.

Joining Ferrari in once again making vehicles soon will be the North American automakers. Restarting the auto parts supply chain, and other industries is good news for a lot of businesses and employees idling for weeks. We applaud companies including Ford Canada and GM Canada for making face shields and masks for health care workers and first-responders.

Gearing up production requires re-engineering how we safely return work and school. Factories, stores and offices have to give workers and customers more personal space. Shift work helps space things out. Even though many office workers now “Zoom” regularly, it will take time to get to economic engines at full throttle in the real world.

For much of the economy, it is a recovery in first gear. And that is ok, because no one wants to have to shift into neutral again, much less go in reverse.

Go slow transition to a different vision zero

UK Covid-19 go slow recovery plan transmission chart

Virus transmission illustration, UK Recovery Plan

“Transmission ratio” doesn’t have anything to do with a vehicle, but it has to do with speed. Speed of infections passed from person to person.

Reaching a transmission ratio below 1:1 is key.

The lower the number, the faster the number of new infections will fall. Our plan to Rebuild, UK Government

Testing tells public health where cases are occurring, so they can then trace close contacts and stop the spread.

Achieving lower transmission rates gives cautious governments evidence to begin loosening restrictions. That is what is happening in many countries, including Canada. Wondering why different provinces are opening things differently? It is because of different transmission rates happening in PEI, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia than in Ontario or in Montreal.

Ultimately the ‘vision zero’ goal for public health is to have no transmission of novel coronavirus cases in our communities. Scientists are hard at work to make that happen with treatments or vaccine.

We commend the public health and government leaders for helping us learn a lot about how novel viruses spread, how to stop them. Singing a tune along with proper hand washing skills are among other newly acquired personal safety routines. We are learning how protecting yourself also protects those around you.

Be Alert, Stay Safe…Stay Alert?

Finally, we noted the similarity to our longtime “Be Alert” and “Stay Safe” road safety messages sound a lot like the cautious “Stay Alert” slogan used by UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. His UK roadmap to recovery has not gone over too well, as illustrated in this cartoon by Nicola Jennings in The Guardian on May 10, 2020. Confusing signals are part of the problem.

You see? Vision zero and Vision Zero goals are at the same intersection. In all cases, it seems prudent to proceed in first gear, as if the traffic lights are not functioning, you are unsure of the clutch, and there are plenty of potholes on a steep uphill road.

Seems to us, plenty of good reasons to go slow.

Our own Be Alert program of reflective child-friendly designs are made to be highly visible in low light conditions. They are easy to attach to clothing, bike helmets or backpacks. We can customize a wide range of safety products with insignia, badges, zippers and other identity and apparel products with your own important message. In the meantime, keep safe, go slow, and contact us for help navigating your communications during your road to economic recovery.