• Stephanie Hinds

#CyclistProblems: The Difficulty of Cycling in Scarborough

There is nothing more annoying than driving in Toronto. The constant traffic, the inescapable sound of horns honking and being flipped off often leads me to question why I spent money on a vehicle in the first place. It is then that I remember the convenience of being able to get anywhere in the city-as fast as traffic allows me to-and remember why I signed the papers.

The arrival of the Pan Am games has made traffic even more of a nuisance. The lane restrictions, the jam-packed streets and the surplus of cars on the roads has made Scarborough residents feel like they’re Downtown.

A recent class project about an issue that needs some attention got my partner, Asha and I thinking about cycling. I thought about how common it is to hear news stories about the latest cyclist to be hit by a driver at a big intersection, like Neilson and Sheppard. In the last year, I can personally recall Immanuel Sinnadurai being killed there while on his bike.

On a recent trip to Montreal, my boyfriend and I rented what’s called a bixi. You pay $5.00 for a bicycle rental that lasts you 24 hours, and you can drop it off at any bixi station set up throughout the city. I was mind-blown. I couldn’t believe how easy it all was. When my friends told me that we had these in Toronto, I felt silly for having to travel all the way to Montreal only to try out something I had in my own home and native city.

As we cruised down the Old Port of Montreal, I felt inspired to reconnect with my own bike. Then I wondered why I hadn’t ridden it so often anymore. But when I came back to Toronto, to the traffic, the honking, and the fingers, again, I was reminded. For some, this may have been even more of an excuse to hop on a bike, but for me, I saw red flags and danger signs all over the place.

Quite frankly, cycling in suburbia is not the same as cycling in Montreal. Its not even the same as cycling in Downtown, Toronto. The bike lanes that allow cyclists their own space just do not exist. In fact, the bike paths that they are given aren’t well-lit enough to make even the bravest soul feel safe.

To combat this issue, we’ve contacted two Scarborough MPs, Mitzi Hunter and Raymond Cho to ask that they spend some time and resources trying to resolve the ongoing issues that exist for cyclists. We seem to live in this paradoxical world of telling people to save the environment, carpool and cycle, but fail to realize how impossible it is for them to do so without the essential resources.

Suburbia often gets a bad rap. My aunt that lives in Yorkville always jokes about how people who live in suburbia are more prone to being overweight because we drive everywhere. And she’s right. People of the suburbs love their cars. But I’m sure that people in suburbia would love their bikes, too, if only it were safe enough for them to ride them.

Bike riding in Scarborough would be an absolute pleasure. We’ve got streets like Morningside that allow for virtually uninterrupted riding for stretches of road before a traffic light pops up. But safety is a huge issue. There’s no doubt that it’s time for a change, Scarborough. Lets get on our bikes and prompt an increase in our safety. Once you learn how to ride, you never forget. But lets not wait long enough to get back on our bikes to have to test that theory out.

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