Biking in Toronto
I just finished a 32.31 KM bike ride bringing my May 2016 total to 1014.16 KM. This is the first calendar month of my life in which I cycled more than 1000 KM.
Here's how I did it.
The Star has an article today about the worst streets for locking up your bike. Not surprisingly, downtown is where most of the thefts occur.
Toronto is the bike theft capital of the world with more than 18,000 bikes reported stolen between Jan. 1, 2010 and June 30, 2015. As a cyclist, I'm rather sensitive to this, and as careful as possible.
For the vast majority of my rides, I don't lock up my bike at all. And when I do bike to a destination, as I did today, I'm careful to choose a highly visible area and use multiple locks, including my trusty Kryptonite.
No lock is unbreakable, but I like to think thieves with smaller tools will bypass my locks for an easier score. So far, so good.
I haven't had a bike stolen since I was 14 and it was lifted from the family garage. Have you had a bike stolen in this city? If so, what kind of lock did you use and where did you leave it?
Well, they're not locking their bikes to bikes, but locking posts in the shape of a bicycle. This may exist elsewhere, but I've only ever seen it in Germany.
In Denmark, people are so trustworthy, bikes are often only locked to themselves, if they're locked at all. I walked past many a fine bicycle that was only locked to itself so you couldn't ride it, but could easily be picked up and carried.
On the streets of Toronto, those bikes wouldn't last five minutes.
On days like this, I bike east on the Martin Goodman Trail. That cycling trail is actually maintained by the city during the winter, so they plough and salt.
And they really, really salt. I get why they dump so much salt down, as their primary concern is safety, but it's like biking on gravel. I can't tell you how many tubes I've busted from riding on salt.
Today, when I was cycling at lunch, one lane of the trail was ploughed and salted and the other was not. I decided to bike in the unploughed lane. This, it turns out, was a bad decision.
I crashed, creating quite the visual distraction for backed-up motorists on the Gardiner Expressway. Once I realized I hadn't broken any bones, I got up, put the chain back on my bike, and started cycling so the motorists knew I was okay. I was fine, but my bike was not.
With a disabled bike, it was time to start walking west towards home. It was sunny along the waterfront, and for the next 45 minutes, I saw things in a completely different light.
Here's a pic I snapped shortly after falling. It all looked so damn pretty.
Then, there were the low rise apartment complexes along Lake Shore. I had biked by them hundreds of times, but I had never really realized how cool the signage looked. One day, these old signs from a previous era, will be gone.
I often tell motorists that they're missing most of the city by not cycling instead. It turns out, you'll see even more if you go for a walk.
This is it. It's the last month-over-month cycling comparison I'm going to post. I surpassed my 2015 goal of 5000 KM way back in September, but I felt like I should see this through until the end of the year.
December was awesome for cycling. Most days felt more like October with unseasonably warm climes. I only had to skip one day because of the weather, and that was Tuesday.
December 2015: 692.03 KM
December 2014: 511.13 KM
As mentioned, I finished 2015 at 7551.79 KM. We now return to our regular programming.
In 2014, I biked 4693.42 KM. It was the most I had ever cycled in a calendar year. I wondered if I could reach 5000 KM in 2015 and set that as my goal.
Earlier today, I went for a brisk 30.28 KM ride along the lake and called it a year. That brought my total for 2015 to a satisfying 7551.79 KM. That's right, I demolished my goal and made 2015 the most cycled year of my life.
July was my best month for cycling, and not surprisingly, February was my worst. Don't get me started about February...
My goal for 2016 is far less precise. I aim to cycle when I can, and enjoy every minute of it.
I went through an old bin of stuff I've saved for decades, throwing some stuff out and keeping a few priceless gems.
In this bin of memories I found a couple of guides I received 25 years ago. One is entitled "Cycling Skills" and taught me the rules of the road as a young cyclist in this city. I found this little booklet invaluable as a teen navigating the downtown core at all hours of the night.
The other was the 1990 TTC Ride Guide. If I wasn't biking, I was jumping on the subway. I loved the subway and mapped my routes with this handy guide.
Sadly, the TTC Ride Guide isn't much different today as it was in 1990.
Yesterday, at about noon, I crashed. Literally. Let me tell you about it...
Much like today, it was warm out, but rainy. Ice certainly wasn't a concern, as we were nowhere near the freezing mark. It was just another rainy ride.
There's a little loop near the Port Credit Yacht Club I decided to ride. Part of it is pavement, where coincidentally I fell last January before snapping this picture. Then, the pavement ends and a wooden boardwalk completes the loop. Here's a photo of this spot, taken earlier today.
Less than a half second after the rubber of my front tire hit the wood, I was down. It was far more slippery than any ice I can remember. There was no traction at all, it was pure slick, and I crashed down on my left side before I knew what was happening.
Yes, my head slammed into the wood. Yes, I was wearing a helmet, because I won't ride without one. I was bruised, but otherwise fine, so I got up and continued my ride.
What makes this part of the Waterfront Trail so slippery? Again, there's no chance of ice, as it was an unseasonably warm day. It was just wet wood, but it's so dangerous to ride or walk on, I'm surprised there's no signage or that this surface even exists.
Not only do I now have a helmet to replace but it was my first crash on my new bike. It seems fine, but nothing messes up a finely tuned bike faster than a crash.
Here's the part of the Waterfront Trail you should avoid in wet conditions. I'm thinking of putting up a sign myself.
In the spring of 2014, I wrote about the stretch of the Waterfront Trail between Norris Crescent and First Street. This is really the only part of the trail that's not off-road, not on quiet side streets and doesn't have a designated bike lane.
I followed that entry up with an update in July of 2014. I contacted my counsellor about it, and he told me they were looking at it. in fact, there was a study done, and they were actually looking at it.
Now, we're very close. There's an open house tonight, but I can't be there as it conflicts with my boy's hockey game. Here's what's coming, and a pic of what it will look like.
The City of Toronto is planning a 1.4km cycle track along Lake Shore Boulevard West from Norris Crescent to First Street, west of Mimico Waterfront Park in Etobicoke, Ward 6. The new cycle track will provide a safe connection for cyclists, and will close a gap in the Waterfront Trail.
It's even better than I had hoped. I can't wait to ride it.
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