dandyCommute series: Junction triangle to Spadina and Richmond
Text and Photos by Matt Zukowski
My daily commute starts at the northern tip of the Junction Triangle. I'm lucky in that this also happens to be the very top of the West Toronto Railpath, without which I probably wouldn't have considered moving up here. The railpath covers a full third of my commute, although it certainly doesn't feel like it. With no traffic to dodge and no stop signs to slow me down, the two kilometres of elevated path go by quick.
In the summer the Railpath can feel like a brief escape from the city. All you hear is birds singing and grasshoppers chirping in the tall grasses. Recently some really awesome graffiti has popped up on the barriers and old post-industrial building along the route.
Unfortunately the railpath I love -- the unkempt mix of open sky, meadow, and urban grit -- may soon be replaced by something decidedly more unpleasant. Metrorolinx wants to build massive "sound walls" along the route to block noise from the airport diesel trains that will soon start running along this route. The sound walls, if built the way Metrolinx has proposed, will almost certainly rob the Railpath of its sense of openness and tranquility.
On the bright side, there are plans to extend the railpath all the way down to Sudbury Street. This will hopefully happen at some point in 2014. Right now the path comes to perilous end at Dundas and Sterling, just west of Lansdowne. Every morning I pass the spot where Jenna Morrison was struck and killed on her bike in 2011. People still regularly leave flowers... the valentine's day card that her son left for her earlier this year brought me to tears.
Soon after Lansdowne, I dodge south into the maze of small streets that run through Little Portugal. Argyle takes me from Dufferin all the way to Bellwoods. I used to live around here, and I miss it sometimes. I'm glad I still get a chance to spend a bit of time in this neighbourhood every day.
I like the bike shop at the corner of Argyle and Ossington. The people there always seem like they're up to no good, but they're great guys. I've had more than a few flat tires fixed there in a hurry.
Lush Trinity-Bellwoods is a nice break, about half way through my commute. Once I almost ran over the white squirrel. And more than once I almost collided with other bicyclists. Biking here in the morning is what I imagine driving is like in Mumbai -- everybody just goes, in every direction, and all you can do is say a little prayer and hope you don't collide with anyone.
After Bellwoods I cut across Queen Street and then quickly turn south to continue along Richmond, which runs eastwards on this side of Bathurst. A contraflow bike lane here would come in really useful; in the evening a steady stream of bicyclists (including myself) come back this way. Sooner or later an enterprising cop will set up a ticket trap here. But going against the traffic -- even risking a ticket -- is still safer than trying to brave Queen Street in evening rush hour
The last stretch of my commute takes me along Adelaide. I usually try to pick up some speed here to keep up with the fast moving car traffic.
My office building, on Spadina just south of Richmond, has a bike room which is pretty sweet for keeping my bike safe and dry. The room is almost always packed, which makes finding something to lock to tricky, but it's good to see that so many other people are choosing to bike to work.
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