A new cyclist's review of Gerrard and Dundas streets
Story and photos by Jenna Campbell
I knew Gerrard Street was pretty rough. I ride it westward past Sherbourne Street often and I’m convinced it's where I've popped my two tires over the last several months. The street has many potholes and cracks and I've hit them a few too many times.
I’ve mentioned to my editor, Tammy Thorne, my dismay for Gerrard Street more than once and she suggested I write a review about it (without telling me any details about the route to ensure I had an untainted experience). So, the plan was to head east on Gerrard Street to visit Lahore Tikka House in Leslieville (I’ve never been, but she recommended I try it), and kick down south and head back west on Dundas.
At first, riding east on Gerrard Street was exactly what I expected. It was cracked and pieces of the road were coming loose near the Gerrard and Sherborne intersection.
Though, past Parliament Street, I was surprised because the ride was very pleasant and smooth. I don't remember there being any major bumps in the road.
I also was surprised because it was so easy to ride despite there being no consistent bike lane. If I remember correctly, there wasn’t a bike lane for the majority of my ride down Gerrard Street, except for a small strip across the bridge over the Don Valley Parkway.
The ride was so uneventful, that I’m tempted to call it boring. I only entered into the door zone between streetcar tracks once, which didn’t last too long and traffic wasn’t moving too fast either.
I was more so noticing how cold the ride was. I regretted not wearing anything to cover my ears. I was wearing a big jacket, scarf and gloves, but found my hands were freezing by the time I arrived at Lahore Tikka House. I've now learned to always cover my ears and I'll probably take two pairs of gloves or mittens next time. (Eds note: gloves under mittens can work well.) I'm happy to take more suggestions from readers who are veteran winter cyclists on staying warm, too!
I was glad my editor recommended I visit. Inside it was warm, it had a bright decore and it had an upbeat energy — servers constantly delivering sizzling plates throughout the packed restaurant (during the middle of a Saturday afternoon too. A good sign I thought.) Most of the tables were meant for six people or more and I took up a big table to myself — whoops. I think it would be a great place to visit if you were a part of a larger party.
Afterwards, I headed down south on Woodfield Road, a local road with a contraflow lane, until I hit Dundas.
Riding Dundas was great. I was riding on a bike lane for what felt like a really long time and I kept thinking, “Wow, nothing has gone askew on this ride. No getting lost, no chain malfunction and no panicking."
But Murphy’s Law, I spoke too soon.
Right after Pape Street there was a minor bout of construction, but that was mainly it. The ride home was more beautiful if anything. I had a great view of the CN Tower for a while, I again passed over the bridge crossing the Don Valley Parkway, which was lovely, and I passed a huge graffiti mural that I stopped to take a photo of. Similar to Gerrard, its bike lane wasn’t consistent, but it wasn’t too difficult to ride without.
To sum up the ride, east down Gerrard Street and west back on Dundas was pretty easy, but I did bike during low traffic hours. I know rush hour can make a big difference in how easy it is to maneuver down roads and bike lanes, as I learned during a previous bike review.
It would be great if Dundas and Gerrard streets could each have extended bike lanes, but it wasn’t impossible to get to Leslieville without. The lack of a consistent bike lanes will not prevent me from returning to Leslieville for more butter chicken.
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