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CHATTER (AUGUST 2017): Don Watterson dies at 71

September 13th, 2017 · No Comments

PHOTO BY GEREMY?BORDONARO/GLEANER NEWS

The founder and owner of Bloor Street retailer Curbside Cycle died of an apparent heart attack on August 16. He was 71 years old.

Don Watterson launched Curbside in 1991 as a tent on the side of a curb (hence the name) near Bloor Street and Brunswick Avenue, not far from its current storefront at 412 Bloor St. W. He was also heavily involved in Bells on Bloor, which advocates for bike lanes on Bloor Street, and was instrumental in making Toronto more accessible for cyclists.

Like his advocacy work, cycling in the city is at the heart of his shop. As a result, Curbside’s focus has always been on bikes that people use primarily to get around the city, rather than bikes for recreation (mountain bikes) or sport (racing bikes).

His entrepreneurial spirit enabled him to break from a rigid pre-existing supply chain structure and import city bikes directly from Europe, establishing Fourth Floor Distribution to distribute European city bikes across a Canada-wide network. According to their website, “it remains the case that bike stores tend to be run by males, often really grumpy males, and only sell products that are designed for other males, many of whom can also be quite grumpy. So while we dream of sharing our vision of city bikes with retailers across North America, it’s going to take a while to convince them.”

A recent visit to Curbside Cycle found not one grumpy staffer but rather a mechanic with a smile, eager to get a flat fixed on the spot to get the rider back on her way.

Watterson would have been proud.

—Brian Burchell/Gleaner News

 

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