Taking the Laneway Around

Last year I wrote about learning to travel like a cyclist in Toronto. A lack of connected cycling infrastructure and car-oriented city planning makes many of the most direct routes in Toronto also the ones with the greatest potential for door-prizes, right hooks and distracted drivers.

Traveling like a cyclist means exploring side streets, cutting through parks and taking multi-use trails where they exist. There’s also another option. One that can give you the feeling of urban exploration, even if it’s quite obvious many people pass through here on a daily basis.

In between many of Toronto’s downtown residential streets runs a grid of laneways. Barely wide enough for a large truck these laneways were originally used to deliver coal. Over the years they have become shared driveways with garages squeezed together lining each side.

Many of these laneways remain unnamed, they are often visible on Google Maps, yet can’t be integrated into trip planning. It’s as if they are a mirage, an extra layer of quiet streets untouchable online.

There are exceptions and the other day I took a winding way home starting at Croft Street:

Simple brick townhomes face this narrow laneway:

Colourful doors welcome home the owners of these bicycles:

Backyard trees throw shadows over the grey and graffiti of many laneways:

Several residents have decorated their garages, a secret pleasure for those who explore here:

Oddities abound:

Colour, though scarce, often makes a bold appearance:

Will you take the unnamed way home?

For more information on Toronto’s Laneways visit Graeme Parry’s Laneway Tour site.