Story and photos by Amy Lavender Harris
I commute from the Junction (Runnymede and Dundas) to Ryerson University (a distance of 10 km x 2, 30-35 minutes each way) in the fall and winter, and from the Junction to York University (a distance of 16 km, all uphill, about an hour and fifteen minutes going; less on the downhill home) during the summer teaching term.
Because I teach afternoon and evening courses, my commutes home are usually late at night.
Inner-suburban commuting – which poses unique challenges, chief among them cars buzzing by inches away at 80 km/h – gives me a different perspective on (and appreciation of) downtown commuting.
Because, as an unathletic 40-something university teacher, researcher and parent to a little girl, I don't have much time to engage in exercise for its own sake. Biking keeps me (more-or-less) in shape and gives me a sense of liberty and even euphoria. Biking makes me feel happy almost all the time. [I also teach environmental studies courses, and biking is one way of putting the theory into practice.]
Best Part of your Commute?
1. Predictability. I can time my ETA to within five minutes. Try doing that by transit or car.
2. The sense of being engaged – physically and spiritually – with the city and its moods. I'm an urban geographer whose work focuses mainly on Toronto, and many of the ideas I've written about have unfolded while riding the city's streets and thinking about its topography, history and cultural character.
Worst Part of your Commute?
Dangerous drivers, discourteous cyclists and oblivious pedestrians. A little less self-involvement would make the roads safer for everyone.
Most Surprising part of your Commute?
How much easier (and warmer) winter riding is than I had ever expected! This will be my second year winter-riding, and I think it's become my favourite time of year to ride. [Riding home late at night on silent streets makes me feel as if there's only me and the wind.]
What Infrastructure Change Would Make Your Commute Better?
Bike lanes along major arterials in the inner-suburbs. Jane, Keele, Eglinton. Lawrence, Sheppard, Finch, Steeles etc. all have road allowances more than wide enough to accommodate separated bike lanes [e.g., on the grassed/paved median between the road and sidewalk] without affecting a single lane of vehicular traffic.