Thursday, September 6, 2012

That Ain't Pittsburgh: Biking Toronto

I could never ever live in a city that wasn't possible to bike. Being that I absolutely hate (and am horrible at) driving, it's a necessity. Rob and I had rented bikes in Toronto on a previous trip, but the bikes were bulky and we had to buy a lock from the rental place because they didn't seem to understand that we might want to dismount and explore whilst riding around. So this time around, we invested in a bike rack so we could take our own bikes along. We experienced a couple minor disasters, but the benefits of this plan were great. I'm pretty sure our bikes will be accompanying us on future road trips around the northeast.

One of the minor disasters had to do with us not fully understanding how our new bike rack works. We were on the Don Valley Express or Parkway or whatever fast road it was and hit a bump and almost lost all the bikes. When we pulled over to fix the situation, the tire on my red bike was about an inch off the ground. NOT GOOD. We had a Canadian guardian angel stop and help us get re-situated, though we never fully recovered from the near-loss-of-bikes. We spent the rest of the ride to the campsite worried they'd fall again. For the long haul back to Pittsburgh, we actually put my red bike IN the car so there'd be less weight on the rack. We live. We learn.

Toronto is definitely a city where biking has become a way of everyday life. There were loads of people biking. And loads of bikes locked up to racks just about everywhere we went. The city is a whole hell of a lot flatter than Pittsburgh, which was pretty great. (Though the hills are good, and I would miss living without them.) The second minor disaster happened because one draw-back of biking in Toronto are the trolley tracks embedded in the streets. (See photo below.) Streets that are already pretty clogged with traffic, parked cars, and the trolleys that use the tracks. I'm (obviously) not used to the added condition of the tracks, so when a car started pulling out of a parallel parking space, I veered around. My front tire went right into one of the tracks and I went right down, right in the middle of Queen Street West.

The resulting injury. Now I've crashed in two countries. I've left a bit of my skin and blood on the streets of Toronto. And now I'll have a great Canadian scar.

While we were wandering around Downtown looking for Toronto Raptor t-shirts, I spotted some excellent bike art all along the way.

Verdict on Toronto biking: Excellent. Just watch out for those trolley tracks.

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