To help us get through the next couple of colder months, dandyhorse is profiling cyclists from around the world! Folks who love to cycle here in Toronto and further afield will give us insight into what it's like to cycle in their cities. Want to add your voice to the Bike Spotting series? Get in touch with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chloë Hill in the Bloor West Village with Gus, her commuter and main frame.
Chloë is a Franco-Ontarian and public relations professional from Ottawa. As a commuter and road cyclist now living in Toronto she is passionate about promoting cycling as a way of life. Her commitment to Toronto’s cycling community lead her to champion the title of Ride to Conquer Cancer Ambassador and Cycle Toronto Advocacy Committee Member.
In January she ventured to South India for a 17-day cycling trip. While touring India’s bustling communities she documented her adventure through the eyes of a woman on two wheels. The trip was led by David Trattles, a renowned Canadian documentary journalist and seasoned organizer of the South India Bicycle Adventure. You can read all about Chloë adventures later this month on dandy horse! But for right now Chloë gives her two cents on what's it like to ride in Toronto.
What is it like biking in your city?
Invigorating, but also at times intimidating. At first hesitant to take to Toronto’s busy streets, I have come to understand and appreciate the vigilance required to navigate the city’s network and traffic
How are the bike lanes?
Lacking. Recent developments have led to significant improvements in cycling safety, however network expansion is not the only item of importance. The specific type of bicycle infrastructure matters as well. Despite progress, the large majority of Toronto is not adequately served by bike lanes. The city does not offer a sufficient network of lanes to allow safe and consistent travel on connected routes for cyclists. To increase safety and mitigate tension amongst all motorists, dedicated bike lanes are the recommended choice. Sharrows should not be considered sufficient.
What is the relationship between cars and bikes?
Unsteady and confrontational. Accidents and altercations are often the result of impatience or distracted driving. By keeping calm and alert behind your handlebars, you are ensuring a safe and respectful road for all travellers.
What can the city do better?
Communication is key. City Council, the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee and similar stakeholders must continue to work in conjunction with cycling advocacy groups such as Cycle Toronto. Toronto streets can be awful for potholes and uneven road surfaces—proven to be dangerous for motorists and cyclists alike. According to Swedish documentary-maker Fredrik Gertten, individuals who bike their cities, become city-lovers. With this in mind, urban planners and transportation experts should consider cycling needs when drafting and proposing plans. Overall, I support a fully integrated cycling network and will relentlessly promote its implementation.
Where else would you like bike lanes?
I would love to see permanent dedicated bike lanes extend along Bloor, connecting Etobicoke to Scarborough. This may be ambitious, but I think creating a cycling network bridging the city’s heavily-populated municipalities is feasible.
If you could summarise city cycling in one word what would it be?
Shifting. Toronto’s cycling communities and needs are dynamic; its infrastructure should evolve to reflect this.
Any tips for winter cycling?
When properly equipped, winter cycling provides such a thrill. Some days, it’s neither safe nor enjoyable to ride your bike. In those cases, there is no shame in choosing alternate travel options. For the days you do choose to ride, consider the following:
- Stay grounded. Low tire pressure increases traction and helps prevent snowy skids. Studded tires may also act as reassurance for weary cyclists.
- Own the road. Take a strong position in the road and maintain it. Riding at a consistent pace and steady position will help motorists predict your next move and ease sharing of the road.
- Be seen. With daylight being scarce during winter months, keep at least one rechargeable bike light on your handlebars and tail-light. A high-visibility vest and reflective strips are also part of a winning winter lineup.
- Take pride in your ride. Salt and snow decrease a bike’s lifespan significantly. To offset this fact, clean your bike frequently.
- Ride safely, slowly and steadily.
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