Monday, August 31, 2015

Biking in Toronto

I know I've mentioned that I am biking fairly often in Toronto, though I don't know how much I've actually written about the conditions.  I'd have to say that biking here is ok, not great.  I am clearly not up for biking year-round here, so that makes it a lot more like Chicago unlike Vancouver or Cambridge where I basically did bike year-round.

Vancouver was interesting, since if you were biking north of King Edward (roughly 25th Ave), then cars were reasonably wary of you and gave you a bit of extra space, but the drivers south of King Edward were generally very suburban in outlook and drove far too fast for the local conditions.  Toronto drivers are fairly aggressive, not dissimilar to Chicago drivers.  In general, both Vancouver and Chicago have wider streets which make it easier to carve out marked lanes for cyclists.  There are a few streets I try to avoid at all costs, primarily Queen and King, since between the narrow streets, parked cars and street cars, cycling is a huge challenge.  Unfortunately, the Trump Tower suffered some kind of malfunction today (so many punch lines...) and Adelaide St. was closed off, which meant I had no choice but to go up Queen for a stretch.

The conditions of bike lanes in Toronto is often poor, particularly Shuter Street, which I take essentially every day I ride.  But Dundas isn't too bad nor are the new bike lanes on Richmond and Adelaide.  I do like the fact that Toronto is much flatter than Vancouver, though there are still some hills, particularly if you are heading north.

The bike racks (or rather bike rings) throughout the city are a particularly lousy design, but the city seems to have doubled-down on them.  Every time I think it couldn't get worse, I go find some place that has bike racks from the 1970s or something.  The one by the No Frills on Carlaw are perhaps the worst bike racks I've seen in my life.

So things could definitely be better...

I was working quite late today (and then took a bit more time to get my contribution off to Sing-for-Your-Supper* before heading home) and it was actually dark before I left.  Though I had bike lights, it was really uncomfortable making the ride home.  Not only did a cop car almost turn into me (without signaling), a van came extremely close to clipping me, while I was on the bridge crossing the Don River.  I just can't see doing much more of this cycling in the dark, whereas I had a somewhat safer (yet hilly!) route in Vancouver that I could handle in the dark.  Cambridge was interesting, as I was so freaked out by going through this park in the dark that I changed my entire route in the winter, but it was still reasonably safe.  Of course, I say that but the only time I was hit by a car was in Cambridge, plus the time I clipped a car that passed me and then pulled all the way to the left, blocking my path.  So many drivers, so many assholes...

* While I don't want to go flouncing about, this is the last time I will submit anything to Sing-for-Your-Supper if this piece is not accepted.  I simply have more important things to do, and the longer pieces I want to work on won't fit their format anyway.  I did think this new piece was amusing, though a bit under-developed.  At one point I envisioned a whole chorus chanting something about the river rising (perhaps a bit of a reaction to thinking that the Louisiana section of Svitch's piece was the weakest and that I could do something a bit more interesting), but I substituted a homeless man who sort of sings/hums Johnny Cash's Five Feet High and Rising.  (Check that out here.)  If I had a few more pages I would probably have had the Clarice character start fantasizing about restarting the human race with the two (gay) men that ended up in her clutches.  Probably just as well to leave that somewhat implied but just out of frame.  I am reasonably proud that I knocked out the 10 pages of dialogue in just about 2 hours.  You can read it here, and I will certainly post again if it is accepted.

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