Traffic – Part 4 of 4: Commutercise

Toronto biker

Toronto Biking 52

The previous day’s commute practice was so fun that I just had to give it another go. “Commutercise” I call it. Following real commuters on their journey gives me some more experience, lets me participate in the festive feel of a group ride, and I get a good workout.

This time I rode with a bit more confidence, and though still overwhelmed by not knowing the roads and the ins and outs of dealing with street cars, I did a much better job, especially with left turns.

Stalking (see the previous entry “part 2”) one rider, who I’m pretty sure was out for a workout. I traveled much further North than before. North from downtown Toronto is uphill. After a couple miles, my guide made a quick left turn in a scary spot that I was not prepared to follow, so I was on my own. I wandered around for quite awhile hoping I’d figure out how to get back to the hotel. It took longer than anticipated, but keeping the sun to my left and traveling down hill got me close enough that I finally started to recognize things.

Later in the day, I suited up for a “real” ride, as opposed to a commuter-wannabe ride. Traveling the disjointed and often not very well marked but plentiful paved bike trails of Toronto I attempted to make a loop around the city. Thanks to some nice folks, I was able to make it back before dark, but not by much…

One nice rider named David deviated from his normal commute route to get me around a few closed sections of the main bike path. I think I’d still be out there somewhere if not for him.

Toronto Foot Traffic

Toronto Biking 54

An amazing thing happened out there. I was traveling for miles on a very busy four-lane road, kinda like Beechmont Avenue only busier. It was more like trafficked roads I’ve traveled on before where speed is actually a good thing. Unlike downtown Toronto, there wasn’t much going on other than potholes, so staying with traffic meant not being squeezed against the curb.

I zipped through the green lighted intersections between oncoming left turners. At one intersection, the left turner who was following the car in front of him was paying enough attention to see me and he slowed, perhaps stopped, to give me my right-of-way to get through the intersection. As he did, the car following him impatiently honked. The guy who yielded for me leaned out the window, turned toward the honker and yelled, “There’s a biker you idiot!!”

WOW!!! Never before has a motorist not merely grudgingly given me my right of way, but actually defended my right to be out there! Out in heavy traffic for miles and miles, and I was not honked at or yelled at or had stuff thrown at me or experienced any of the childish intimidation that greater Cincinnati drivers dish-out routinely. And the only yelling that occurred was in my defense! In Cincinnati under the same scenario, the driver might instead have yelled, “There’s an idiot on a bike, let’s get him!

Toronto Biking 55

Toronto Biking 56

Toronto Biking 57

Toronto Biking 58

Toronto_Biking_59

 

The only real trouble makers were the cabbies. Half a dozen times I had one swing over from the left lane, just barely in front of me, cutting me off then stopping to pick up a fare. Fortunately, I was one with my brake levers at all times out there. It was rude, but it didn’t upset me. As much tolerance as there was out there for me, I could show a little in return. In a way, it shows they have confidence in the biker’s abilities. If they really thought it would cause a collision they would not do it; they don’t want to waste the time on police reports. Yes, the cabbies are not to be trusted; they are on a different team, but they too have a right to be out there.

Later, back in town while waiting at a stop light, I asked the cabby next to me through his open window, “I guess you hate all of these cyclists out here.” He started to say something but seemed as if he could not find the words to express himself. Then he put his head into his hands as if he was crying and as he shook his head, said, “it’s just SO crazy!” Then the light turned green and we were back at war.

Leave a Reply