Commuting by bike from East York to U of T Scarborough

 Chelsea and her dad after their first ride out to UTSC in 2014. 

In homage to the dandyCOMMUTE Series, new dandy contributor Chelsea La Vecchia shares the details of her Scarborough commute with us below. We're not in the Beaches anymore Dorothy!

dandy COMMUTE: East York to U of T Scarborough through the Gatineau Hydro Corridor

by Chelsea La Vecchia

About a year ago I used to regularly commute from my parents house at Coxwell and Mortimer to my school, the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, located at Ellesmere and Military Trail. It was about 19 km there and back, and took roughly an hour and fifteen minutes. Most of it was on the Gatineau Hydro Corridor, which is a fantastic bike path. I also took side streets through East York until I had to take St. Clair Avenue East for about two blocks, and then side streets until I got to Pharmacy Ave. At this point they had already removed the Pharmacy bike lane (like Jarvis, a victim of the Ford era), but it certainly felt safer than Victoria Park. I've started the commute again for my summer classes that began May 5. Unfortunately, I can only make it a one-way trip by bike, since my class ends at 8 p.m. and the corridor isn't well-lit. I also don't trust those wide Scarborough roads at night.

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Pharmacy sans bike lane and the terror of cars passing too closely, and then the safety of arriving at the Gatineau Hydro Corridor. Also tree-shaped bike parking*, because why not? (*Note, we'll have a story on the creators of these bike plant bike parking posts in the coming week here on the dandyBLOG.)

Why do I commute by bike?

Numerous reasons. The first one is, of course, the environment. I have been an environmentalist since as long as I can remember, since my parents both are. I also love getting exercise, but hate exercising inside. For the most part it's also faster to commute by bike, at least for the majority of places I go to. The main reason though is that I genuinely love the feeling of gliding around, feeling the wind in my hair and face.

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Obstacles along the East York-to-Scarborough commute include crossing the Scarborough Rapid Transit line into subdivision territory and waiting a millennia for the bike lights to change.

Best part of my commute?

When you're coming back west on the corridor and go through the park close to Pharmacy Ave. there is this stunning view of the CN Tower and downtown Toronto. It's especially great on those days when I'm coming home around the sunset, because the orange colour is just incredible.

Worst part of my commute?

There's a hill right at the end, close to UTSC campus. Normally I'm okay with hills, but this one is a monster. It's when you leave the end of the corridor and take Military Trail all the way to the subdivisions end. You go through the valley, and drivers speed a lot since it's fairly un-monitored.

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Such a beautiful trail, but it sadly ends a few Scarborough-sized blocks away from UTSC.

What is the most surprising part of my commute?

The most surprising thing is that I thought it would take me forever to bike out to Scarborough, but it took me about the same time that it does to take the TTC. It was also a really nice ride in large part due to the Gautineau corridor being such a nice path.

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The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre on Military Trail. 

What infrastructure change would I make to make the commute better?

I would love to see the corridor extended to UTSC on Ellesmere, with a small bridge to avoid the monster hills between Orton Park Road and Military Trail. This would make the commute much safer and much more accessible to a lot more people.

It would also be nice if they had a bike lane that connected Cosburn to the corridor. My personal preference would be lanes on Woodbine and over the O'Connor bridge, then across St. Clair East to Pharmacy (sigh, had a bike lane...once).

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UTSC's super fun bike locks courtesy of a studio art student. 

Chelsea La Vecchia is a new dandyhorse contributor and will do a dandy pedal poetry series here on the dandyBLOG this summer, and she'll be focusing on infrastructure issues in the east end.

Want to share your commuter story with us? You can do our commute Q&A here.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

New Parkdale Bicycle Shop

dandyCommute: Bathurst and St. Clair to Toronto Street

dandyCommute: Queen and Sorauren to Adelaide and Brant


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