Although winter this year has been mild enough to keep even the less than avid cyclist on the road for the majority of the season, most of us are eagerly awaiting those longer, warmer days of spring. Torontonians, on the whole, have embraced this efficient, clean, and fun way to get around; but while choosing the bike as a primary mode of transportation can be difficult for many, there is something to be said about its use recreationally.
Opt for Trails and Pathways
While the city debates over how to expand its on-street bike network, and those brave enough deal with the often stressful, although rewarding commute through these traffic-laden streets, the rest of us can seek a far more pleasurable experience, recreationally. Hundreds of kilometres of trails and multi-use pathways meander through Toronto’s greenbelt areas and off the city’s busy streets. Far from the cars, into the trees, the bike can swiftly take you from the urban jungle to a sea of green.
Cyclists interested in expanding their horizons are graced with some beautiful long distance trails expanding across the city. The neighbourhoods around East York and the Danforth hug the Don Valley watershed, which offers nearly 30 kilometres of semi-connected trail networks. Other prominent park trail networks in the city span Taylor Creek, the Humber River, and Etobicoke Creek along with the multitude of shared paths following Toronto’s waterfront. All of these trails offer the perfect getaway for even the novice cyclist.
Keep Your Bike Maintained
Now is the best time to drag out that old beach bike or visit your local bike shop for an upgrade. Whether your ride needs some work or a simple tune-up, any time spent doing maintenance can bring you that much closer to understanding the mechanics behind the machine before enjoying all it has to offer. While physically working on your bike can be therapeutic in itself, the real benefits come once you hop on the saddle and start pumping the pedals.
Leave your Car in the Driveway
While biking is a relatively efficient in terms of the amount of energy you have to input to move, it can actually be a great source of exercise for those less inclined to hit the gym. Making the decision to rely on the bike to travel to that café that seems just out of walking distance, or to head to your Sunday afternoon family picnic by pedal power instead of by car will, over time, give you a new sense of freedom, expand your view of your neighbourhood, and slowly give you some calves of steel.
Even solely as a recreational endeavour, cycling empowers anyone with the freedom to efficiently explore this city through their local neighbourhood streets to the largest river valleys. Whether looking for a great view along the lakeshore or just picking up some milk from the local grocery store, the bike easily compliments our increasing human need for autonomy and efficiency in our ever stressful and busy lives.
Photography by Jonathan Beacher, Jacques Lebleu, Sean Marshall, Andrzej Wrotek, Simon Carr and Scott Schumacher via Flickr
Peter Gleason is the Food and Beverage editor for the On The Danforth summer edition. The bike is his ideal mode of transportation wherever in the world he happens to be exploring. When stuck at home he enjoys cooking and planning his next adventure. You can contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.