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Family Cycling in Toronto, Part 1

 

Family cycling in toronto

In the Beginning…

Last fall, I bought a bike. I hadn’t ridden a bike in years. Before that, the bike I owned sat on the balcony of the condo that I shared with my hubby when we were first married. It sat there for 3 years, unused, lonely, and rusting. I bought it when I graduated from university in 2001, at the behest of my boyfriend at the time, who was an avid cyclist. You know. The type who builds his bike from scratch, wears the fancy cycling shoes, and the full-on cycling gear. I think I rode that bike all of twice after buying it.

When my hubby and I moved to our house, I donated the bike to the building’s garbage room. Luckily, a resident took pity upon the bike and adopted it.

It Takes One Kid…

Fast-forward to 2013. It was the beginning of the school year. My daughter had just turned 5. That summer, I was supposed to have taught her how to ride a bike sans training wheels. AND she was supposed to get a trailer bike for her birthday. In the ultimate parenting fail, neither of those things happened. So I promised her that I’d teach her how to ride her bike THAT DAY after school.

The thing about my daughter is that she’s a VERY determined little gal. When she puts her mind to something, IT HAPPENS. She’s only five. Little spitfire. Gets it from me.;-)Anyway, she was riding that bike in a week. And she taught herself to start the bike on her own as well, citing that mommy and daddy wouldn’t always be around to help her start. I don’t know if that should’ve made me proud, or cry. Maybe a little bit of both.

So, 1 out of 2 parenting fails negated. Whew! So our next mission was to get a trailer bike for her. Except that neither my hubby nor I owned bikes. So we decided we’d buy a bike for us to share, and a trailer bike to attach to that bike. Little problem with that. My hubby is 5’11. I’m 5’3. It’s not a one size-fits-all in BikeLand. Next think you know, we walked out of the bike store with 2 new adult bikes, and one trailer bike. Our local bike store, by the way, is Sweet Pete’s. I’m giving them a big shout-out for their awesome service. If you live in the Annex, definitely pay them a visit, because they are awesomesauce. They also have 2 other locations in Toronto.

Okay, so 2 parenting fails negated. I am on a roll!

How We Rocked Family Cycling in Toronto!

After buying our shiny new bikes, we set off. Into the busy streets of Toronto. Which. Was. Terrifying. My hubby and I had both grown up riding bikes in not-so-busy areas (i.e. The Burbs). We never had to deal with crazy drivers, crazy cyclists, and crazy pedestrians before. It makes driving seem like a walk in the park. My daughter took it all in stride and looked at this as one big adventure. She is DEFINITELY a city girl.

The good news is that we survived (I live to tell the tale). And as scary as it is to cycle in the streets of Toronto, it’s like a fine wine. It gets better with time. If you’re looking to do some family cycling in Toronto, here are some tips that will help!

  • While Toronto is no Amsterdam, I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of bike lanes throughout the city. If you can, plot out your route by either taking streets that have bike lanes, or navigate smaller, more residential streets, where there is less traffic. And lucky for you, Toronto has a cycling map.
  • Left-hand turns can be scary when you’re by yourself on a bike. They can be even scarier when you’ve got a trailer bike. The easiest way to make a left-hand turn if you can’t easily get onto a left turn lane (don’t be a cowboy/cowgirl) is to cross like a pedestrian. Get off your bike (your kiddie can stay on), and walk to the nearest intersection to make the left-hand turn on foot. Then once you’ve cleared the intersection, get that bike back on the road, and cycle on!
  • Obey traffic rules. Yes, I know that this seems obvious, but my BIGGEST gripe with most cyclists is that they act like cars when it’s convenient, and they act like pedestrians when it’s convenient. So, go the right way on a one-way road, stop at stops sign, and don’t ride on the sidewalk when it suits you. This is not only safe and courteous, it also sets a good example for your child(ren). Also, make sure that you wear a helmet. I see way too many adults riding bikes without helmets. I even see families riding together where the kids wear helmets and the parents don’t. BAD BAD example.

Now that you’re well-informed, go forth and rock that bike! I’ll be posting a follow-up post on our family cycling adventure on Victoria Day, so stay tuned!

peace, love, and pics

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