dandyCommute series: Sunnybrook to Parkdale

dandycommute series #1

This is the first in a series about commuting by bike to work. In this first dandyBLOG post about commuting by bike to work, I say goodbye to summer and hello to multimodal commuting methods on my new super (long) commute.

This series will continue with more photos and everyday stories about riding uptown, midtown and downtown, and what some of the challenges and joys are of riding to work every day.

We are inviting dandyhorse readers to share their commuter stories! Published commuters/authors will receive a prize. We'll be adding an easy to use, fill-in-the-blank template soon. The dandyCommute series will continue until at least the end of 2013.

Super commuter = anyone who rides a bike to work.

dandyCommute #1: Sunnybrook hospital to Parkdale (approximately 20 km one -way)

Story and photos by Tammy Thorne

If you'll be riding long distance in the city, one of the most useful things you can have is a bus rack. It creates what planners call a multimodal trip. And if you have to go a long way, uphill, you might think of it as a lifesaver. Some of Toronto’s TTC buses already have racks on them.

My new commute is around 20 km one-way, and it takes about an hour. (I'm stopping to take photos here and there, of course.)

It's uphill all the way there, so I've been using the shuttle service provided by the hospital network that my workplace belongs to, to get half way to work in the morning.

Seen above is my new Adagio bike from Opus on the front of the pretty pink shuttle bus.

I live in south Parkdale and work on the Sunnybrook campus near Bayview and Lawrence.

On my way home, I ride mostly on side streets (detailed below) like Duplex and Kilbary after taking Blythwood out of campus. Riding on Bayview looks really scary, although a lot of cyclists do it every day. The “Ride the City” electronic route service that you can find on the City’s cycling pages suggests taking Bayview. I do not, although it is the most direct route from downtown. Here is the bike map – which shows that you can’t really avoid Bayview if you want to ride the Don Valley trails. The trail isn’t fully connected the whole way. Carrying – or ‘portaging’ – your bike might be required.

I work at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences or ICES. ICES and Sunnybrook have one of the biggest BUGS in the city. A BUG is a Bicycle User Group, organized entirely by volunteers. Our BUG recently coordinated a fall biking workshop via SmartCommute and Cycle Toronto, which you can read about here. The BUG helps ensure that cycling commuters have secure parking, and lots of it! There are 15 different bike parking options on campus, including secure, covered parking cages. This is just one option - outdoor covered parking.

Many people bike to work at Sunnybrook and ICES. Many use the Don Valley and Bayview as part of their route. Every day, going up on the shuttle, I am absolutely amazed at the number of people who are biking up Bayview. Bayview is a fast, multi-lane, highway-like roadway, and also the only direct north-south route to the area of Toronto formerly known as East York from the downtown core. There was talk of a bike lane on Bayview in past, at least around the Evergreen Brick Works, a place that actively promotes cycling, but it currently seems to be a very unlikely prospect (what with our mayor removing existing bike lanes and all that nonsense). I admire all those people riding on Bayview, but I know most of them are doing it because it's the only option they have.The speed limit is 60 km/hr but most people drive much faster. If driving, please remember to pass safely and give cyclists lots of room!

If you live in the east end, coming up through the Don Valley trail system is an attractive option. It’s beautiful in the valley. Unfortunately, the trail is not so beautifully marked or maintained - and it's not very well lit, making it a no-go for evening commutes. So, even though people often suggest riding the Don trails, I don't. Here is my preferred route home, which takes into consideration recommendations from my helpful colleagues. It’s not the shortest possible route but it is, in my opinion, the most pleasant.

This photo is facing north on Bayview. The cyclist on the north side of Blythwood is heading west. It's a very big intersection with yellow signs that say "Motorists must yield to pedestrians".

Here is the full commute, with photos from the end of the summer, below the maps.

-       out of Sunnybrook (top right above the ravine), west on Blythwood (or south on Bayview and west on Broadway, signed route #26)

-       cross Yonge, take next left on Duplex

-       south to Chaplin then cut through Oriole Park

-       to Kilbarry (signed bike route #35)

-       Kilbarry turns into Burton which takes you to Glen Cedar at Cerdarvake Park

-       over the foot bridge to Wychwood

-       Wychwood to St. Clair to Christie, where there is a bike lane, but it's bumpy so you might want to nip over to Ossington where there is new pavement (even though it's quite fast, with two lanes and a bus.)


I like to freestyle my route when I get back "downtown" and take different routes depending on my mood, but generally like smooth pavement. Rusholme road is newly paved, for example. Because midtown is new to me, that is where I took more photos to start with. More installations will follow this post.

You can see from this second map that there are NO bike lanes in Parkdale.

Here are MORE DETAILS and MORE PICTURES from this first dandycommute:

Although Broadway is a signed bicycle route, Blythwood is decent, smooth and runs directly west out of Sunnybrook -- so you can avoid Bayview.

I tried both. Blythwood is better. When I tried Broadway, I ended up taking the sidewalk on Bayview because it's so busy and crowded and bumpy in the roadway and there is a big hill up to Broadway. Broadway is nice and has some speed humps and mini roundabouts that I presume are for traffic calming. Both Blythwood and Broadway have a couple of good hills though so I was very glad to have a bike with gears.

This was a cool sculpture called Mindshadows by Catherine Widgery at North Toronto Collegiate on Broadway that I stopped at just before I got to Yonge.

No matter which road you take west, pass over Yonge to the first cross street, Duplex, then turn left/south.

Head south down past Eglinton to Davisville.

It's pretty wide and leafy on Duplex, but it's also a bit bumpy, especially near Eglinton, which has lots of construction and a police station and is really kind of hairy with pedestrians and motor vehicle traffic.

When Duplex ends after Davisville, I turn right on Chaplin and head west at Oriole Park, which is quite pretty and it has delineated the space for cyclists by suggesting one path for them and the other for pedestrians. It seems to work, but there is still a mix on both paths.


I rode my single speed a couple of times (above) but it's really hilly in midtown and uptown Toronto so gears are highly recommended. 

Nice amenities at Oriole Park including tennis courts, playground, baseball diamond and separate paths through for cyclists and pedestrians.

The park also has really nice new bathrooms and a water fountain - which was very useful in July and August! The only thing missing was an air pump.

When popping out on the other side of the park watch out for joggers going through at the Beltline trail.

Then, head west on Kilbary, which turns into Burton, and takes you to Cedarvale Park - the next "cut through" heading south.

Turn left at Cedar Vale across a lovely foot bridge via Cedarvale Park.




On the other side of the foot bridge, there is a kind of boulevard to a little roundabout on Wychwood, which takes you to Vaughan.



I then cross Vaughan (which has a bike lane), and keep going south on Wychwood to St. Clair.

Keep going through down through the funky Wychwood barns if you like.


You can then "cut through" the Wychwood park community, but it's not really much of a short cut -- it's more of a detour, even though you end up on Davenport, which has a bike lane.

This kitty greeted me at the corner where Wychwood turns west toward Christie, and where I usually go over to the Christie bike lane, which is lovely but kind of bumpy. From there, it's usually Christie to Davenport to Ossington -- which has smooth new pavement -- down to Dewson and then I have a special zig zag back to Parkdale from there.

..but instead, this time, the kitty suggested I check out the neighbourhood so I went south into the park.



Gotta love this handmade stop sign!

15 km/hr speed limit. Nice.


The Davenport bike lane (above.)

Jane Jacobs mural on Christie and Davenport. "Cities have the capacity of providing something for everybody only when they are created by everybody." You can see this particular photo is slightly more recent with the red-leafed tree in this photo.

This is one of my favourite photos of the sun setting lakeside in summertime.

In the summertime I could make it back down well before sunset, now I have to put my lights on for the ride home.

NEXT UP: Like most people, sometimes after work I have dandy things to do and I don't go home right away - that is when I would take the Russell Hill Road bike lane off of Kilbary, downtown.

Did you know that Poplar Plains road was the first bike lane in the city? Russell Hill is the adjacent southbound bike lane, right through one of the toniest parts of town. The bike lane has some thrilling turns and continues all the way downtown. It's great to see those long red (and blue) lines on the bike map.

ALSO UPCOMING: more about the west end and downtown bike commuter experience + plus fall foliage!


dandycommute / super commuter = any one who rides a bike to work!

This is the first in a series about commuting by bike to work. 

This series will continue with more photos and everyday stories about riding uptown, midtown and downtown, and what some of the challenges and joys are of riding to work.

We invite dandyhorse readers to share their commuter stories too! We'll be offering prizes to contributors to this blog series too, continuing through 2013.

Email supercommute@dandyhorsemagazine.com to submit your story and you could win a helmet or a bag from one of our sponsors. This is our first bag: the Timbuk2 Tres Especial (in green). 

Email: supercommuter@dandyhorsemagazine.com with your story and (at least two) photos today. More details to come.

(NEW:We'll be adding an easy-to-use, fill-in-the-blank upload template soon to the dandyBLOG for the dandyCommute series!)


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2 responses to “dandyCommute series: Sunnybrook to Parkdale”

  1. bill says:

    I ride from main station to finch station (20k one way) so bayview is my best option. Sunnybrook is about my half way mark and that is usually where most people biking stop going north with me:(. A bike lane on bayview ould be dreamy. The sidewalk is underutilized and good be given a facelift all the way north. Also I go during rush hour so bayview motorists rarely go more than 20km/hr but I can see it would be intimidating to most regardless of speed.

  2. Ben Elling says:

    Great post, always nice to see the different routes other riders take. I used to commute down to Bay/Wellesley from Yonge/Eg, and cutting through Oriole Park was one of my favourite parts.

    And fun fact about Poplar Plains! Had no idea, that ride down the bluff is a treat.

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