dandyCommute: Bathurst and Niagara to College and Lansdowne
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New dandy contributor Matt Talsma's dandyCommute
My commute is from Bathurst and Niagara, to College and Lansdowne. There is not much in they way of cycling infrastructure between points A and B yet. The planned Shaw street bikeway, and the proposed Florence-Argyle bikeway would be super helpful, and phase 2 of the West Toronto Railpath would be perfect, but I'm still waiting on those. I tend to avoid arterials because I was involved in a pretty serious car collision last year while on my bike. Still recovering, I like to seek out slower traffic and quieter streets.
Proposal for a west end bikeway system (from the Ossington community association website). My commute is basically from the bottom right corner of the map, towards the top left.
The first part is pretty sweet because I can head out from my building and angle myself northwest by taking Niagara up to King, King over to Sudbury, and cut from there up to Queen Street. The Sudbury street extension was just opened this past year along the rail corridor in behind the old Abell street lofts (now condos). This stretch is peaceful and scenic. There is next to no traffic, and Sudbury street has a great view of the outdoor art all along the south sound-wall by the train tracks. I think of this route as a secret shortcut, so each time I take it I feel like it's a mini victory.
The Wellington Squeeze: Right near my place on Wellington there is about a block's worth of bike lane. Mid-block, the lane asks you to move over to the right to join the trash in the gutter. I always keep left.
Heading west on King, I hang a right to avoid the underpass, and take the 'Sudbury Sneak'
This nice stretch of Sudbury is brick-paved and calmed with speed bumps
Outdoor art along the rail corridor
After Sudbury ends, I pass over Queen and take Gladstone for a bit, but Gladstone quickly becomes one-way south and I don't like to bike against a one-way. There is room enough for it (contraflow anyone?), but I think it irritates motorists so I'll head over west to cross Dufferin. This is a bit of a tricky part. I am not going to take Dufferin because that stretch is super chewed up, and cars treat it like a race track. I'm not set up for all-terrain biking, so I just make a quick dash to the other side of the street, hoping to avoid the potholes and barrelling trucks.
Looks like they are working on it though
West of Dufferin still south of Dundas there is a really cute neighbourhood of old cottage-style homes. The streets are short so there is a lot of zigzagging to do, which is fine if you're not in a hurry, and I'm usually not. The streets here are nearly carless, and I pass a little community flower garden by the tracks which is always nice.
Spotted: vacant lot art - a lumberjacking sasquatch
The Delaney Street community flower garden
On the way home I might choose to take Dundas and maybe stop at the elceeb on my way. I really don't like taking arterials without any cycling infrastructure. Biking between the row of parked cars on my right and moving traffic on the left can be stressful.
I cycle defensively and stay well out of range of the door swing, but this can be a gamble. Avoiding one risk lines you up for another - my most dreaded motorist maneuver: the blow-by. This is when an impatient motorist zooms passed you with inches to spare so that they can get to the next stoplight faster.
They like to really gun the engine as they overtake you, flexing their cylinders and nearly clothes-lining your handlebars as they do so. I find this terrifyingly dangerous and it will usually leave me frazzled for a bit.
(It is interesting to note that the worst blow-by offenses I've experienced are most often committed by BMW drivers. Runners up are the Mercedes, and less often but still in contention, the Audi.)
Swimming with sharks on Dundas
Anyway, once I survive that stretch of Dundas, I pop in to Trinity Bellwoods from the north end, and am immediately relieved. It's all just pick-up soccer games, park drinking and dogs up in there - a welcome change from the rush-hour traffic behind me.
I will slowly roll to the south end, checking out the action and maybe stopping along the way. At the southeast corner of the park there is a nice little hill that spits me out onto Queen, and safely back into my hood. I bike the last stretch of Niagara happy to have survived another day.
New dandy contributor Matt Talsma with his trusty ride
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