International Bike Spotting – Alan Carter

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:

Alan Carter is the anchor and Queen’s Park Bureau Chief for Global News at 5:30 & 6.

What is it like biking in your city? 

The mountain biking in Toronto is truly amazing.   There is a network of singletrack in the Don Valley,  close to one of Toronto’s major highways, but you’d never know you weren’t deep in the forest.   Stunts, berms, and switchbacks can be found beside more entry level lines.    The problem is when it comes to cycling, Toronto does well on dirt, but poorly on pavement.

 How are the bike lanes? 

There has been a long and bitter battle in Toronto over bike lanes.   This is a growing metropolis struggling with congestion, so every strip of pavement is coveted, and often cars win.   The city has begun to install separated bike lines in some areas, but all too often ‘bike lane’ means nothing more than some lines painted on the road and a convenient place for delivery trucks to stop and unload.

What can the city do better? 

The city is moving at a glacial pace to install kilometers of bike lanes that have already been promised.  One result is in many places the lane will simply end – putting a cyclist into heavy traffic.   The city needs to do a better job linking bike lanes so cyclists don’t find themselves competing with cars in live lanes.

 Where else would you like bike lanes? 

Ideally bike commuters would be able to bring their bikes on the subway, even during rush hour.   Unfortunately, just like everything else in Toronto, the subway is jammed, so accommodating bikes is likely not going to happen.

What is the relationship between cars and bikes? 

The relationship between drivers and cars is tense.   Drivers feel like roads are being restricted for bikes, despite low ridership numbers in the winter.   The other side of the coin is riders who fear for their safety because of aggressive and too often distracted drivers.

 If you could summarize city cycling in one word what would it be?  

Intense.   I favour spending my time navigating tight singletrack, rather than dodging cars.   At least I know that tree won’t make a sudden right hand turn.   Anyone who spends time commuting in this city knows the odds of a wipeout are good.   If it’s not the streetcar track twisting your wheel, then it’s the doors of the parked cars beside the bike lane.  One of them is about to open – can you spot which one in time?

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