Bike Lanes? Do we have to go through this again?
Riding a bicycle to work is simply not an option for the vast majority of Torontonians.
In the June 29 edition of The Star — front page, “above the fold,” headline story — fellow scribe Joseph Hall identified James McKellar as a “real estate and infrastructure expert at York University’s Schulich School of Business.”
Hall wrote that McKellar and “other city planning experts” say we need a “more accommodating city, attuned to pedestrians and cyclists, and less dependent on hurtling trains and beeping traffic.”
Nice turn of phrase.
I would like to invite Messrs Hall, McKellar, and any “other city planning experts” to join me exactly six months from the date that story appeared — that would be Jan. 29, 2021 — on Yonge Street at York Mills Road, so I can watch them ride their bicycles north to Sheppard Avenue.
That’s only a 40-metre climb.
If that’s too much, let’s move a bit further south, to the Summerhill subway station, so they can pedal up to St. Clair Avenue.
That’s a mere 23 metres of altitude adjustment.
Piece of cake.
Hope they can fight their way through the hordes of other cyclists who will be enjoying the ride in temperatures which historically have been between a balmy 3 C,to a more cycling-friendly minus-4.
Wouldn’t want to get too overheated, now would we?
Oh yeah, watch out for the snowplows and snow drifts.
Or how about Pottery Road, running between Broadview and the Bayview Extension?
There’s a separate lane for cyclists on the south side, heading uphill, with a concrete wall for protection.
Bike silhouettes painted on the single downhill lane, which is shared with cars, trucks and SUVs.
Summer and winter.
We did a shoot a couple of years ago for TSN’s “Motoring TV.”
It was a perfect midsummer Saturday afternoon.
Myself and the cameraman did the entire bit walking in the bike lane on Bay Street, just south of Bloor.
The bit took about two minutes.
During which, we encountered a grand total of — wait for it — zero bicycles.
Lots of pedestrians on the sidewalk.
Lots of vehicles in the street.
Not a single bicycle in the bike lane.
They weren’t just being “Toronto-polite” and giving us room to do our shoot.
They simply weren’t there.
If they aren’t going to be there on a perfect summer weekend day, when are they going to be there?
Sure, you’ll see cyclists on the Martin Goodman trail, named in honour of the Star’s former president and editor-in-chief. During its 56-kilometre run along the waterfront, it has an elevation change of approximately zero metres.
Talk about Easy Riders…
Where do those people live? And where do they work? How can they commute by bicycle?
Maybe they’re lucky, like I used to be.
Back in the day, I was a professor at Ryerson. We lived in Leaside. When I taught summer school classes, I sometimes rode my Raleigh to work, cutting through Rosedale on Glen Road, which bypassed many of the area’s hills.
But like many people with young families, we couldn’t afford a house big enough for our growing brood in Leaside. So we moved to the boonies, north of Milton.
Fortunately, I was an “early-adopter” of the “work where you live” mantra. My job means I can write in my home, and electronically send my stories to the Star.
Yep. I pretty much invented the concept of “telecommuter.”
Most of us aren’t so lucky.
Most of us live “here,” and work “there.”
So it’s either transit, commuter train, or the private automobile.
The 401 is the city’s “main street” any way you look at it. It carries hundreds of thousands of vehicles every single work day.
At times it’s the busiest highway in all of North America.
Riding a bicycle is illegal on the 401.
And riding a bicycle to work is simply not an option for the vast majority of Torontonians.
In July, never mind January.
I have heard city planners praise Copenhagen, Denmark, for its bike-friendly infrastructure.
I’ve been there.
It is beautiful.
It is compact.
It is also flat.
Toronto is not and never will be Copenhagen.
Our city planners better get used to it.