Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Life on the Sidewalk

One way to surprise a suburban driver? Remind them that life might actually exist on the sidewalk. I do it regularly when I'm walking to get my lunch. So do a lot of people. (Why is it still surprising then, you ask?)

I've been doing more than my share of sidewalk cycling lately. I don't like it for a bunch of reasons. One: there are all those statistics that say it's more dangerous (I do suspect though that sidewalk cycling becomes many times safer if you actually stop at every intersection and look left and right, then wait for cars to pass, but sometimes they never finish passing). Two: slowing at every intersection so I can yield to turning cars is really annoying and slow. Three: seeing cars turn in front of me who don't see me at all is unnerving, just like when I'm doing the pedestrian thing. Four: bang-bang, bang-bang, bang-bang, bang-bang....

I usually only use the sidewalk in two places on my commute. It's along short stretches with no intersections and few pedestrians. It lets me avoid some serious high speed traffic.

Right now, one of my favorite residential streets is under construction. The top layer of asphalt has been scraped off, leaving deep ridges and cracks that are even more painful than the sidewalk. Instead of riding on the sidewalk through the residential neighbourhood, I tried riding on the sidewalk along Highway 7 (a highway that's about 2 stoplights away from being an expressway).

Beside the sidewalk, Highway 7 has an asphalt boulevard along each side that looks quite inviting to the cyclist, but at every shopping plaza entrance the cyclist is reminded that he isn't meant to exist. The cyclist is forced to drop down over the curb, then negotiate a traffic island designed to help create mini on/off ramps in and out of the plazas. Then the cyclist has to lift the bike back up over the curb to get on the next sidewalk.

It's slow and difficult. It's suburban cycling at its worst.

Today, I need to go fast. I'm going to suck it up, take some major roads, stay off the sidewalk and fly downtown so I can get to the Cycling Cog group ride before everyone takes off.

Darren J 8/30/2006 04:26:00 p.m.


I always forget that you're making your way half-way from nowhere just to get to the rides. Good on ya!

I remember taking Highway 7 - I stayed on the road for about 200m until I decided my life was too important to obey the letter of the law. The semi's were just inches away from taking my life.

Once in Vaughan the sidewalks are much more inviting.

That street is a mess in Thornhill. Hopefully they'll have it re-paved soon.

I suppose it would be possible to take Leslie south all the way to John. But John is often pretty busy, and there is also the business of the big hill just west of Leslie... However, after watching you ride up that monster in Hogs Hollow, I don't think you'll have any trouble.
I guess I could, but I don't like Leslie that much. I've taken Bayview the last couple days and it's been manageable (I still wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't bike much). I've also found out that if you're on the south side of Highway 7, there are fewer driveways and intersections because of the 407 and "undeveloped" land, so it isn't as bad.

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