Follow Peter Harte as he commutes from one end of the city to the other through all seasons and shares his recommendations on the safest, smoothest, and fastest routes in this dandy series. You can read this first installment here.
Peter's Commute Part 2: Sherbourne Commons to Tarragon Theatre
Sherbourne Common (Sherbourne and Queens Quay) to Tarragon Theatre (Dupont and Spadina)
Total distance 7 km
Photos and words by Peter Harte
I was waiting to meet a friend to see a show at Tarragon Theatre up at Dupont and Spadina one evening after I had finished work. I had some time to kill and so I found myself hanging out near the water’s edge in the new(ish) Sherbourne Common Park at Sherbourne and Queen’s Quay.
When I began my journey to the theatre, I remembered that there was some serious construction on Richmond St. (it’s supposed to be done by the end of November) and the bike lane is a mess, so I knew I had to take a slight detour from what my ideal route would have normally been. Despite that, I still find that this alternative gets you north and west without feeling too much of the northerly incline, and westward without feeling too crowded by the constant traffic in the city’s core. It also takes you through Grange Park and up through the University of Toronto which are both quite scenic. Here’s the detailed route, below. Enjoy!
I begin my ride heading north on Sherbourne because it has a separate bike lane from traffic, and offers a smooth ride to The Esplanade which I know I will eventually be taking westward. I also feel immediately privileged as a cyclist as I am permitted to ride north on Sherbourne in the bike lane on the short portion that is a one way street heading south.
Once I get to The Esplanade, I turn left and ride on the tree-lined street until I reach George Street.
I tend to avoid riding up Jarvis at all costs, especially in this area because a lot of traffic comes off the Gardner expressway and uses Jarvis to get into the city. George is quiet and does not have a steep incline like Jarvis or Market Streets. I turn left once I get to Front Street, and keep heading westbound until Front meets Wellington.
You’ll notice the iconic Flatiron building (above) right where the two streets split. I take Wellington approximately 1 km until I reach Simcoe Street. (Remember: This route I just took is to avoid the construction on Richmond. Otherwise I would have just gone straight up Sherbourne to Richmond and headed west from there. Once this construction is complete, I would suggest taking that route with the protected bike lanes it’s quite good.) Simcoe has a nice wide and separated bike lane and is a safer way to get through some of the business district traffic.
The lovely Simcoe bike lane recently received some upgrades on the southern portion.
I quickly reach the part of Richmond (above) where there is no construction, and turn left continuing westbound. I then look out for John Street to head north on. I like John because it eventually turns right into Grange Park (below) which you can cut through to get to Beverly Street on the west side of the park.
Currently the Grange is going under construction and parts of the park are inaccessible. But you can still get through and check out what’s been under development over the last year. Once on Beverly, it’s easy sailing straight up from here. Beverly has a bike lane, and after crossing College Street it turns into St. George and takes you through the University of Toronto’s downtown campus.
St. George also has a bike lane up until you reach Lowther Street, just north of Bloor Street. I don’t find this part of St. George too terribly busy most days, but if you don’t feel comfortable riding on a road without a bike lane there is a lane on the west side of the street for cyclists heading south. You could ride in that lane – which is called “salmoning” and is generally shunned as a dangerous activity, so if you do that, be very, very aware of cyclists heading towards you. St. George eventually runs right into Dupont Street, which is the road I need to briefly take to get to Tarragon Theatre.
dandyhorse does not endorse the practice of "salmoning" but this bike lanes ends on the east side of the street. Weird.
Turning left to head westbound on Dupont can be tricky as this is an unsignalized intersection here. This is an instance where I use the left turning lane and hand signal to let all of the drivers around me know what I’m intending to do. I creep out onto the street once it’s safe to do so, and make the left turn just as I would if I was in a car. Depending on the time of day, Dupont can be busy with traffic and other cyclists, and today I discovered the construction that is at Dupont and Spadina (which is scheduled for two years!)
Dupont is reduced to one lane in each direction, and I felt confident enough at the time to take the entire lane and ride in traffic to get past it, which was only about 1 or 2 blocks. Tarragon Theatre is only a short ride away, a few blocks down Dupont and I quickly reach Howland Avenue. Then it’s a right turn, under the bridge, and then turn left on Bridgeman Avenue. The Theatre is right there and often has lots of spaces available to lock up your bike.
Alternate Route: The straight shot up Sherbourne (and why I don’t take it.)
An alternative route to take could be using Sherbourne all the way north to Bloor and then heading northwest on Davenport until you reach Dupont. I decided against this because the Sherbourne bike lane is usually too busy for me to truly enjoy the ride, and there are a lot of pedestrians who hang out in, or run across the bike lane without looking at what’s coming at them. I also find that on Davenport the motorists drive way too fast, and because there are so many bends on this fast road with a narrow bike lane, I never feel that I’m given enough room when a car passes me in certain sections – especially where there is no bike lane. I mean, this is a great route that could get me where I’m going relatively easily and pretty straight forward, but not one that I’d take because I don’t always feel safe on it, and safety always determines my route choices.
This is Peter Harte's commute #2 in this all-season dandyhorse series. Follow Peter as he rides from one end of the city to the other and shares his recommendations on the safest, smoothest, and fastest routes.
Next up: Peter's 'hipster mecca'? Trinity Bellwoods to the Junction.
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