Monday, June 25, 2007

Catchin' Up

I haven't disappeared, I've just been having more fun riding than writing about it. I started a new full-time job today which I'm very excited about, and also very excited to have a regular bike commute again. Its a pretty short ride (about 6 km) but its great to get to work fast. When I want a long bike commute I can always head west (say to Port Credit) and then loop back to work. Funny when you start riding 200 km brevets almost any commute does not actually feel like exercise. Its downtown (yay! it feels so alive!) and even better the creative/fashion district rather than the stuffier feeling financial one.

I had temporarily forgotten how the Toronto rush hour driver is a different mentality to contend with than at other times of day. I planned to take Queen Street all the way across. Its too narrow to share the lane (though many cyclists try to, most drivers at least put their left wheel into the next lane to pass). Usually I have no problem taking the lane, few will honk and most that do are harmless and others will change lanes (on a 4-lane road). But this time of day people just do this crazy swoop around you where they stay about an inch away from you at all times straddling the lanes. I'm sure they think they can drive perfectly safe to leave such a small margin of error but I'd like more room please! There's tons of cycle commuters out on Queen Street on a sunny summer morning, but they all crazily hug the curb. I close my eyes and go I don't want to look when they somehow manage to find space I didn't know existed between a right-turning heavy goods truck and the curb to pass on the right. No, don't do it!

Through the core Queen became very slow and congested so the crazy cyclists were once again sneaking by in mere inches on the right. Drivers compensated for the craziness but still I like room! So I turned down a side street onto Richmond and found lots and lots of glorious room. Richmond is a fast-moving one way arterial with 3 or 4 lanes. It looks rather intimidating with all the zooming going on but seemed sane enough with the security of my rearview mirror. I think tomorrow I will try getting onto Richmond earlier before the congestion.

It was neat to see so many happy commuting cyclists about. As I walked out of the office to head home a cyclist was happily zooming along Richmond with his daughter on the trail-a-bike behind with the biggest wheeee grin on her face. (so how bad can the road really be if there are smiling kids on it?) Unfortunately the air quality had reduced drastically by 5, and it was pretty smoggy. I detoured by Kensington (food heaven) to pick up supper fixings which is a bit out of my way - but then it lets me take College, a mostly bike-laned route as my cross town route.

During rush hour bike lanes are awesome. Space to pass congestion - even though you sometimes get slowed down by all the slow cyclists meandering in them - today was way too smoggy to care about going fast. A place to not get honked at by impatient drivers that don't understand you are making things quicker for them, not slower. A few too many people making wide right turns across the bike lane without merging into it first but a good eye out on intersections and mostly not an issue.