- If cycling in Victoria is a gentle pastime for retired people of all ages, in Toronto it's an adventure: You're either dead when it's over, or a lot more alive than you were when you started.
Fortune favors the brave, and the streets of Toronto are pretty much a libertarian paradise for the adventurous cyclist: Cars mostly ignore you, nobody forces you to wear a helmet, and even the bicycle cops ride the wrong way down one-way streets.
It's all very live-and-let-live---as opposed to Victoria, where motorists yell at you if they see that you're not wearing a helmet. I'm not saying it's all beer-and-skittles; there are challenges---the roads, for example. Where I live on Vancouver Island, there are long stretches of immaculately-paved bicycle paths, and roads that get fixed before anything even goes wrong with them. In contrast, Toronto's most important avenue, Bloor St., has never been less than a nightmare of potholes, lane closures, building construction and angry, bumper-to-bumper traffic.
That's why I can't stay away from it. Aside from it being the shortest distance for a cyclist between a large number of points, there is never a moment cycling Bloor St. when you are not fully engaged with your surroundings and feeling utterly alive. The whole downtown is like that---the maneuvers you have to make to just to stay in one piece are the best reminders you will ever get that you are vibrant flesh-and-blood, and that life is great. There are times---particularly at night---when I find myself laughing almost insanely as I make my way through hopelessly moribund Toronto traffic: The wind in my hair, car-exhaust in my nostrils, the darkness seemingly doubling my speed... moments when the universe clicks into focus and looks good.