Friday, November 27, 2009

The Danger of Cycling as a Means of Transportation in Toronto

I have been cycling to work daily for the last seven or eight years. I do this even in the winter. During these years, I have fallen three or four times. Two times with injuries. The latest fall was today, with some nasty injuries on my wrists/palms and knees.

Cycling in downtown Toronto is especially dangerous, due to the streetcar tracks in many major streets. This is in addition to other dangers such as crazy car drivers, obnoxious pedestrians, endless street constructions, and other inconsiderate fellow cyclists. Queen street, which I use daily to commute to work by bicycle, has street car tracks. Both of my very bad falls had to do with the tracks, and in wet conditions. The tires on the bicycle just skids on shiny metal tracks when it's wet.

Today I tried to go around a fire truck that was parked on the side of the street near River & Queen. Due to the very wide width of the fire truck, I had to use the centre lane to go around it. On turning back into the right lane, the front wheel of my bike skidded the track and I lost control. I fell face down but used my hands to cushion the fall, hence the very bad bruise on my palms, and I sprained my left wrist. Large piece of skin came off the right knee but he left knee survived with just a little scrape on the skin.

There are few streets in Toronto that has dedicated bike lanes, but unfortunately Queen street is not one of them. Converting streets to have bike lanes is a two edged sword. On one hand, it's safer and better for both the cars and the bicycles, on the other hand, addition of the bike lane means the reduction or elimination of a car lane, which means traffic is restricted. Unless the street is very wide, adding a bike lane is not always feasible.

I hope I am well enough to ride my bike again on Monday. Driving to work will drive me insane.

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