English: Bicycle sharrows (shared-lane markings) on Harbord Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Sharrows are placed in a travel lane to remind all road users that a bicyclist may use the full lane. They differ from bike lanes as there is no separate lane set aside for cyclists. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After my blog post about dooring, I continued to explore other safety issues surrounding cycling in Toronto. Unfortunately, I encountered a lot of negative social media posts that contained complaints about the city’s inhabitable cycling nature. Beginner cyclists, and even those with years of experience, are hesitant to bike Toronto because of poor traffic conditions.
People reported that, “Toronto is so hostile to cyclists” and “It’s just pure luck that I survive the commute.” Other scorned cyclists condemned the conditions stating, “Most streets with bike lanes are pretty horrendous” or my personal favourite, “[biking in Toronto] is just suicidal.” Therefore, I wanted to briefly review some of Toronto’s trickier streets, as well as some suggestions regarding how to handle them.
Beware of Bloor
It appears drivers are not used to sharing the road with cyclists here. Due to Bloor’s high-density traffic, it appears as though many drivers believe that cyclists should not be allowed there at all. However, we are and they should learn to share.
Unfortunately on Bloor, we are both sharing the lanes with a whole other space-hogging presence – a mass of parked cars. The parked cars on Bloor make it nearly impossible to dodge doors. Therefore, cyclists are attempting to avoid parked, and fast moving vehicles making it nearly impossible to enjoy a peaceful ride.
Prepare to Cruise Casually on College
Cars aren’t the only force that cyclists have to face in Toronto’s lanes. For those of you that have to bike to work or to important extra-curricular activities – be prepared to set your cruise control well below the speed of common courtesy.
I admit that the bike lanes on College are well kept and I know that this should heighten cyclists’ desires to bike along this popular street; however, its popularity is exactly why it’s become a nightmare. Couples biking beside each other clog up the lanes and force fast-movers to swerve into oncoming traffic. Please cyclists, if you want to enjoy a cruise let people pass safely! Or, make sure you leave extra time to travel down College so you can enjoy your slow moving biking buddies, as opposed to braving traffic to arrive on time.
Look out for streets that cross on/off- ramps to a major highway
It’s nothing short of hair-raising when you’re coolly biking down one of Toronto’s streets and all of a sudden – boom – you’re headed onto a highway. I would highly recommend that bikers who are not overly familiar with Toronto’s on and off-ramps map them out before they take off for a ride. Make sure you know which lanes to avoid or how to properly maneuver to prevent yourself from crossing traffic that is speeding up for the highway.
I love biking in Toronto and I would never want to scare cyclists into leaving their bikes at home. However, Toronto’s streets require that you are constantly aware. Never stop checking your blind spots and do not make sudden turns. Know where you are going and take the safest route to get there. When you have the time, head to some of the best biking spots in our city (I have detailed them in my last blog!). Be safe and have your best bike yet in Toronto, Ontario