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Sharrow Hal

Either something’s happening, or it isn’t, but it’s been a heady couple weeks for Toronto’s one step forward, two steps back approach to becoming a more people-friendly city.

Witness the sharrow lanes on College Street, new pedestrian friendly zones, City Council’s approval of the BIXI public bicycle system, public toilets at Harbourfront and the tabling of the 3-foot bicycle passing law.

Photo by chewie2008~, from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Photo by chewie2008~, from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Imagine if boneheadedness hadn’t scrapped the University Ave. bike lane trial.

But, is it just me or does it seem like we are hodge-podging our way through some cool initiatives without really committing to them.  Lots of good ideas, but not enough of any.  It’s like we’ve gone to the shopping mall of nifty urban planning ideas and picked up a few things.

- One public toilet
- 1,000 public bikes (Montreal started with 3,000)
- Sharrows on one street
- Two pedestrian friendly zones

List done, let’s get sushi.

Is it just the way we do things in Toronto?  Rarely bold, never leading, cautious in every step.

Or maybe it’s like what Lock wrote in a comment on BikingToronto’s Pedestrian Friendly Zones blog post, it’s baby steps. It’s better to have a seemingly unfocused, spread-shot approach to making the city more people friendly than to have none.

Except for the University bike lanes embarrassment, the recent news is all very good.

But doesn’t it feel like we’re being teased?

Posted: May 20th, 2010
Filed under: Uncategorized
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The Half Cycle Commute

If you’ve thought of commuting to work by bicycle, but figured it’s just too far, you’re probably right.

But that’s not an excuse to avoid it.

If we’re lucky, there’ll be a few times in our lives when we can justifiably say to ourselves “it doesn’t get any better than this – not for anyone, not even Diddy or The Queen.”
bicycle 2
For me, one of those times was a cycling commute.  From St. Clair & Warden to Lawrence & Leslie, I could ride almost all the way on trails beside Taylor-Massey Creek and Williket Creek.  In other words, a 13 km commute along a riverbank, through morning mists, over wooden bridges, past rabbits and snakes.  Every day. Twice.

Commutes don’t get better than that. And then it stopped.

I got a new job at Queen and Dufferin.  Double the distance and an earlier start time.  Not only was the constant riverbank gone, but distance and time meant I couldn’t ride to work at all.

Don’t know if someone gave me the idea or if it was desperation to find a way to ride, but it was then that I discovered the Half Cycle Commute.  I realized that if I drove half way to work and rode the rest of the way, I would get to work in a reasonable time and also get to ride.  So I put my bike in the back of the family minivan, parked at The Beach and rode along the Lakeshore trail into town.

Without getting into too much detail, my new commute took me across the Don River, past Harbourfront, through Confederation Park, in front of the Princes’ Gates, through the King West neighbourhood, past Dufflet Pastries, and onto Queen near The Drake.

Once I got familiar with the route, a thought struck me one day – commuting doesn’t get much better than this.

Hold the phone.

It wasn’t the riverbanks, tourist destinations or trendy neighbourhoods that made my commutes unbeatable.  It was that I was doing them by bike.

That was 2006 and since then I’ve changed jobs again and now the van is parked at a play field and I ride through north Scarborough and Markham – across seven lanes on Steeles and again at Hwy. 7 – and commutes don’t get much better than that.

Also since 2006, more buses are equipped with bike racks, there’s a Bike Station at Union Station and post & rings are popping up in suburban parks (like E.T. Seaton near Don Mills and the DVP) that make all kinds of half cycle commutes possible.

So if you live too far to ride your bike to work, you have no excuse not to.

Any other half cycle commute ideas out there?

My 1st Half Cycle Commute Cycle Route

My 1st Half Cycle Commute Cycle Route

Posted: May 13th, 2010
Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »