Thursday, May 11, 2006

Group rides

I live in a bike city. I may live on the edge of it, but I still see that there's something special going on here. Cyclists have some valid complaints and concerns in Toronto. We also have a powerful trend that is worth enjoying. When I spend any time in downtown Toronto, I see cyclists everywhere, which makes me think of how pervasive cycling is in Toronto culture. Cyclists cruise down main roads or slowly wander through neighbourhoods on the narrow streets. Bikes locked to posts or patio railings line every street.

This week I spotted something that must be of some significance: groups of young guys out riding their bikes together. I'm not talking about racing clubs, just people casually getting from one place to another. There have been three groups in four days. It's anecdotal, but that's what blogs are for.

One was a group of four teens cruising through downtown sidestreets on Sunday evening. They rode four abreast, spanning the entire street, with no concern for oncoming traffic, and no need to be concerned. Everyone around was either a pedestrian or on a bike. They talked and weaved as I followed them until they made their way to a slightly busier street, where they grouped to the right and sped north.

Another was a group of younger boys on their way to school near Yonge and Finch (the north suburbs). Maybe they could have walked or gotten a drive from their parents like so many of their classmates. Instead, they chose to ride, again slowly, with lots of talking and goofing off.

The last group was in their late teens, also in the north end of the city. This was the only group that crowded themselves onto the sidewalk even though the road was a slow residential street. They were talking and joking around with their friend who appeared to want to be on the road.

Did all these groups of guys say to each other, "Hey, let's go for a bike ride!" "I'll swing by your place, and we'll head over to Mike's house on our bikes!" Or, "Do you want to ride bikes to school tomorrow?" Obviously I don't know how it all went down, but I imagine some conversation like that took place, and everyone responded with "You betcha." At an age when little else is more important than what is cool, it's nice to see that the bicycle passes the test.

Darren J 5/11/2006 12:45:00 p.m.


By the way, when I say "trend", I don't mean the kind that comes and goes!
I tend to see a similar trend here in Spain, though at a much more modest level, particularly because I live in a rural area. But I do see more people on bikes and particularly older people that I hadn’t noticed before. I see them strolling around just as you described in your blog entry; sort of just enjoying the sites. (Lot’s more walk everyday for health reasons.) Though I am new to biking and commuting myself I frankly can’t believe that not more people do it for the reasons you mentioned: just to stroll around or to get to work every now and then. I feel so much better and stronger since I started commuting and riding around that I must share it with others. People don’t know what they are missing.

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