This is the ninth installment in dandyhorse’s new dandyCommute series, which will continue with more stories and photos of your favourite utilitarian cycling routes through 2013. Send us your super commute story today and win bike swag.
dandyCommute #9: Sheppard Avenue East to North York YMCA (approximately 3 kilometres)
Story and photos by Kyuwon Kim
My commute to the gym where I work as a lifeguard and swimming instructor is just over three kilometres, and it takes me about 20 minutes door-to-door (Google says that it should take about 14 minutes, but I guess I bike slow). I leave my house near Shaughnessy and Sheppard and take Sheppard westward until I get to the North York YMCA (at Bayview and Sheppard).
Unfortunately, because Sheppard is such a big arterial road it can be scary to ride on. So I end up riding most of the way on the sidewalk, going at a very slow pace (maximum 15 km/hour) since I have to be mindful of pedestrians.
I commute by bike because it saves me time and it is more enjoyable than taking the TTC. If I wanted to take the TTC, I'd have to schedule my day to fit the bus schedule. Or I would have to walk to the subway station and then wait for the subway. Factoring in all the wait times is something I don't have to do on my bike. I like having complete autonomy over my own schedule. I'd much rather spin out my legs on the bike rather than going up and down flights of stairs in TTC stations.
Going to work, there is a small hill between Ambrose Rd. and Burbank Dr. So my favourite part of my commute is when I've made it to Burbank and I've done my hill for the day.
I also love the downhill ride home after work, when I am whizzing past the cars on Sheppard and just blazing down the hill on my mountain bike.
The worst part of my commute is when drivers pass me too closely. Usually after a too-close-to-call incident like this I take to the sidewalk and continue my commute there.
There is quite a bit of traffic coming in and out of IKEA and Canadian Tire. The cars going westbound can be aggressive with their left turns and sometimes it makes me uneasy. When I'm going back home downhill, I have to be extra cautious and look out for left-turning vehicles.
I'm going to echo a lot of other commuters out there when talking about what infrastructure change would make my commute better. I'd want a bike lane on Sheppard or on a parallel route to Sheppard. While on the subject of bike lanes, kudos to the City of Toronto for putting bike lanes on Shaughnessy north of Sheppard. In Sept 2012, the City reduced the number of car lanes from two to one and put in a concrete barrier in the middle and bike lanes.
I would also appreciate more secure bike parking at the YMCA, which would allow me to ride my fancy road bike and not have to lug around my old mountain bike.
dandyhorse social media manager and assistant web editor Kyuwon Kim lives in North York and loves to ride all over the city (including the Don Valley Trails and on Toronto Island). She’s also the dandy writer behind our popular Montreal/Vancouver/Toronto poster in response to the ridiculous removal of Tornoto’s Jarvis street bike lanes. (Read more about that here).
This story is part of a new series about commuting by bike to work.
Related on the dandyBLOG:
Send us your dandyCommute story here and get free reflective tape on your bike courtesy of 3M and Sweet Pete’s.