subway cycling ttc line 1

Toronto student documents bike ride along the entire length of a TTC subway line

The TTC's Line 1 moved a daily pre-pandemic average of almost 800,000 people, and many locals know the route like the back of their hand after years of commuting on the line. But with most of the line's 38 stations built deep underground, far fewer know what it's like to travel the Line 1 route at surface level.

Spoiler alert: It is not easy.

A grade 12 student out of Scarborough, Hafeez Alavi, cycled the entirety of the TTC's Line 1 on Wednesday, covering an over 38-kilometre route that includes some treacherous suburban areas with minimal cycling infrastructure.

Alavi gained attention for his road and cycling safety advocacy earlier this year when he designed a safer street for the city in about ten minutes. His latest stunt highlights some glaring gaps in cycling accessibility, especially in the northern reaches of the city.

Departing from Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station, Alavi began working his way south through the suburban roads of the northern suburb, navigating fast-moving arterials that offer little in the way of protection for cyclists.

Along the way, he passes Highway 407 Station, which he accurately compares to Montreal's Olympic Stadium for both its architecture and white elephant status.

Roads in the area are not ideal for cyclists, but upon crossing into Toronto, Alavi encountered a new protected cycling intersection at York University, a sign of things to come as his trek continued south.

But the suffering — or perhaps Sufferin' — was not over yet, as Alavi first had to contend with the cycling nightmare that is Dufferin Street in the Yorkdale area.

After a jaunt down Marlee Avenue and through Cedarvale Park, Alavi arrives on Spadina, where bike lanes exist but don't offer any physical separation from cars.

It wasn't until Alavi arrived at Queens Park that the first protected cycle tracks appeared.

The infrastructure supporting cyclists is plentiful in the heart of the city, but that doesn't mean that commutes are necessarily easy or safe.

Rounding the curve past Union Station and up Yonge Street, the ride seemed mostly uneventful, cycling tracks allowing a smooth ride from the city centre up into the midtown area.

But it didn't take long before Alavi was back in the north end of the city contending with auto-centric infrastructure.

At long last, Alavi arrived at Finch Station to complete the journey. With all the deviations from the direct subway route, he ended up covering over 45 kilometres, adding roughly 7km to the distance of Line 1.

His total time in motion added up to almost two hours and 47 minutes. While that's roughly double the amount of time it takes a Line 1 train to traverse the entire line, it's still pretty damn impressive.

Lead photo by

Hafeez Alavi

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