Text and photos by Ben Spurr
dandyCommute series: Queen and Roncesvalles to Church and Shuter (about 6 kilometres)
On a good day, my commute takes me about 20 minutes. It’s a straight shoot down Queen Street from my place on Roncesvalles to the NOW office on Church. It can be a harrowing ride, especially during rush hour when traffic is bumper to bumper. Often the only space I get is a three-foot span of pavement between moving cars to the left and parked vehicles to the right, with slippery streetcar tracks a few inches from my tires and the ever-present threat of getting a door prize. I envision devastating crashes several times a day.
Although the hazards make it stressful, I ride my bike because it’s cheaper, faster and less rage-inducing than getting on the 501 streetcar every day. It feels good to get around under my own power, on my own time.
There’s nothing that stands out as the best part of my commute, but on days when I’m in no hurry I sometimes head south on Roncesvalles and take the long route along King. Once I get further east it’s just as crowded as Queen, but before I do, I get a sweeping view of the lake and the highway. A jolt of blue sky before I’m swallowed up by the towers downtown.
The worst part of the ride is traveling under the Dufferin bridge, where the slope of the underpass sends me hurtling at a high speed through an intersection, over a tangle of streetcar tracks, and then into the darkness beneath the bridge over uneven pavement. I can always feel the cars snapping at my heels as I zigzag to avoid the cracks and potholes in the road.
It would be great to have bike lanes on Queen, but unfortunately I don’t think it’s practical. It’s a narrow street, with streetcar tracks down the middle, and I doubt there would be enough room. Until the day comes when there are far fewer cars on the road, the only option is to strap on a helmet and keep your wits about you.
I’m moving up to College next week though – maybe I’ll have better luck there.
Ben Spurr covers City Hall news for NOW Magazine.
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