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, the second post here and the rest are linked below. Safe rides everyone!
Peter's Commute Part 6: Yorkville to Classic Coin Carwash
Four Season Hotel Yorkville (Bay St. and Yorkville Ave.) to Classic Coin Carwash (College St and Lansdowne Ave.)
Photos and Story by Peter Harte
I have pride in the way my bike looks. I spent a decent chunk of change on it and so I want it to last and look the best it can. And since it is going between my legs on a daily basis, I better keep it looking sexy. So I clean it at the nearest self-serve carwash and power blast out the grime and salt that builds up in the winter.
One day after work last winter I had to go to some fancy holiday event at the Four Season Hotel in Yorkville. During that wintry afternoon the weather turned to real wet, slushy snow, but I already planned travel there on my bike. So I bundled up, biked uptown, and did a full quick change in a bathroom stall and damn it I felt like Wonder Woman. After the event, when I returned to my beloved bike, I saw how dirty it had gotten from that commute. Maybe it had something to do with the event I just came from? Or maybe it was the Yorkville influence getting to me? But I felt like I needed to bike across to the Classic Coin Carwash at College and Lansdowne and power wash the heck out of my million-dollar-baby’s cracks and crevices. Some people give me strange looks when I’m there, but I think it’s because they realize how great of an idea it is to wash your bike there. Two minutes, 2 dollars, and you’re done.
Now that Bloor St has bike lanes, I have chosen to use Bloor to travel west. Whereas I previously would have avoided Bloor at all costs. The easiest and most direct way to get onto Bloor from the Four Seasons Hotel would to just go straight south down Bay, and turn right on Bloor. But sometimes I like to bike through pockets that I don’t often frequent so I can rediscover the city time and time again.
I decided to turn right on Yorkville Ave, and cruise through one of Toronto’s most affluent neighbourhoods and what must be one of the more expensive shopping areas in the city. That being said, Yorkville is definitely not a bike friendly neighbourhood. A lot of pedestrian and vehicular traffic crowds these streets and tourists will cross the road however and whenever they please. When you enter areas like this it’s best to just accept the bad etiquette. Slow your pace right down, focus on the road and expect everyone to jump out in front of you. Or you can stand right in the middle of the road and take photos of an expensive car for sale. It’s areas like this that I understand I cannot expect people to accommodate me. Yes, I am on the road and deserve the same rights as a driver, but I feel this neighbourgood (and others like it) is an exception and all that I expect is simple respect for my space. I’m not on the street long anyway before I have to turn left on Avenue Rd. and then make a right turn onto Bloor St to enjoy the newly installed bike lanes.
I’ll take a minute to say that I am very happy that Bloor street finally has designated bike lane though. It was a major win for Toronto’s bike infrastructure! I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining when I point out some of its problems though. Mostly it’s the narrow size of the lanes that make me feel uncomfortable using them. Which has been echoed by other observers during our bike spotting outings on Bloor. Bloor’s notoriously busy sidewalks are on your right, and on your left is car parking, so if someone steps into the bike lane off the sidewalk, you might not have anywhere to go. It’s also very hard to safely pass another cyclist, which you often have to do because this lane is so popular. Another issues noted by our contributor Albert Koehl. The gutters right next to the curb are in very poor shape in some spots and it can easily eat 8 inches into your already narrow lane. But I guess on the flip side with all these things considered, no one should be cycling too fast on this road anyway because of how busy it is. Even if you’re riding fast and alert, you never know what is going to unexpectedly come in front of you.
So I safely bike across Bloor and pass Christie Pits Park, which is stunning this time of year and noticed that the bike lane have widened a fair bit as well. I choose to take Montrose Ave to begin heading south because I know that Shaw St is the busier option. I think this is because the Bloor bike lane ends at Shaw and it seems that the majority of cyclists will use that street by default. Both Montrose and Shaw have bike lanes, sharrows, and tree-lined streets to enjoy, so I prefer the least busy option.
Once I reach College St, it’s a right turn to continue westwards towards that car wash. College does have bike sharrows, but they're shared with street parking so you often don’t have much space officially designated to ride in. However the lanes are quite wide and I don’t feel unsafe when I find myself cycling between traffic and parked cars.
I feel like this image of the cars and tracks is so quintessentially Toronto.
When I arrive at Lansdowne the carwash is full and has a lineup waiting. I’m not really one for lineups of any kind. So I don’t have any fun footage of my bike getting cleaned with the power hose, which I was hoping to share with you. You’ll have to imagine.
OH! When I was around here I noticed that Lansdowne now has a bike lane. Which is great especially when going under that steep hill just south of Dundas. I remember way back (maybe 2009) hearing about approved bike lanes for Lansdowne, but years passed without any movement. Well, now it looks like they’re here. Hooray, another victory!