Amanda Lewis and her bike, Bill Marmaduke, on Tichester Road.
Story and photos by Amanda Lewis
Describe your commute.
My commute is usually between 20 and 30 minutes and 7.5 kilometres each way. I ride my trusty Surly LHT from our house on Bathurst north of St. Clair to our office on Toronto Street. I usually skirt busy Bathurst as much as possible, though sometimes I love cruising down the hill toward Dupont, whooping it up past the Faile mural north of Davenport. From Bathurst I take Tichester Road to Spadina, then to St. Clair West. I ride down Russell Hill Road (always a thrill), where the designated bike lane begins. I follow the bike lane to Davenport and along to Church Street, and from there it’s straight on to the office near King and Church.
Bill and Amanda at the park.
Why do you commute by bike?
I love it! Fast, economical, challenging and relaxing in equal measures, lots of fun, better for the environment, exercises my office-bound limbs and suits my independent nature. I enjoy packing all my supplies (lunch, manuscripts, books, yoga clothes, various odds and ends) into my panniers. Come spring, I’ll be hauling a small mobile library in a trailer donated by Laurie Featherstone of Featherstone 2 Wheels Green Delivery. I don’t ride on very icy or snowy days, but I think cycling still beats the TTC on super frigid days: I’d rather be moving my body on a bike than waiting for a bus.
Bill Marmaduke on Bathurst street. Bill has political leanings.
What is the best part of your commute?
I usually hit the road by 7 a.m., and it’s great to be on the streets before they become too busy. I love those rare glimpses into kitchens where others are preparing breakfasts and lunches. Plus, I get to ride into the sunrise on the way to work and into the sunset on the way home. Random chats with other cyclists when we’re stopped at a light are also a perk. My route home usually takes me through the Annex, and it’s a great opportunity to pick up supplies and run errands at my haunts: Karma Co-op, Curbside, Grassroots…
Karma Co-op, one of the best places in the city.
What is the worst part of your commute?
Bathurst is full of potholes, with streetcar tracks and sewer grates. It takes a bit of navigating, and the cars on this stretch north of Dupont are many and fast.
Bathurst hill north of Davenport, with the Faile-designed mural.
The hill north of Davenport is also a drag, though it has become a bit more manageable (mentally) since learning Davenport used to be the shoreline of Lake Iroquois at the end of the last Ice Age.
What is the most surprising part of your commute?
As I usually leave the house so early, on those rare days when I don’t start until 8 or 8:30 a.m. it’s so heartening to see the masses of cyclists on the roads, along with other commuters. My commuting motto comes to mind: “Let’s all work together!”
Part of the Bathurst hill mural.
What infrastructure change would make your commute better?
More bike lanes! The one on Davenport is good, but why not continue it with connecting routes? Not putting construction signs in bike lanes would also be welcome. Filling in potholes and cracks, especially in late winter/early spring would be very helpful, as would patching the gaping areas around sewer grates. Bike boxes on Harbord at Bathurst would be grand. I wish there were more enforcement against parking in bike lanes, and more infrastructure and education to avoid the dreaded door prize. Kudos to Cycle Toronto for offering the Street Smarts program—I think these workshops are helpful for cyclists and non-cyclists alike.
Another part of the Bathurst hill mural.
Related on the dandyBLOG:
dandyCommute: Downtown via Shaw Street Sharrows