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.
Today, I biked the entirety of Line 1 on the TTC.— Hafeez A. (@trainguy89) June 30, 2022
Join me as I start from Vaughan, and check out the streets and sights to see! A long 🧵 pic.twitter.com/SciNgXO3qy
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.
Jane Street is also a stroad and I have no shame with taking the sidewalk. pic.twitter.com/asvV7zqNVO— Hafeez A. (@trainguy89) June 30, 2022
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.
Toronto’s first protected intersection. One of many to come. (Murray Ross/Evelyn Wiggins) pic.twitter.com/4lSCScoOHU— Hafeez A. (@trainguy89) June 30, 2022
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.
The Yorkdale area really does suck for people not in a car, and to be frank, I feel like the Yorkdale TMP won’t go far enough to truly transform this area.— Hafeez A. (@trainguy89) June 30, 2022
Dufferin sucks in general, but i guess that’s Sufferin’ Dufferin. pic.twitter.com/2C3dz7WnQo
Painted edge lines are useless because if cars are parked in them, drivers have to switch lanes anyway. So a parking protected bike lane could’ve just done a fine job at keeping cyclists safe. (On Spadina n. of Bloor) pic.twitter.com/wtfnB8tjts— Hafeez A. (@trainguy89) June 30, 2022
It wasn't until Alavi arrived at Queens Park that the first protected cycle tracks appeared.
Queens Park is the name of the park but it is also the name of a street. I don’t know where I was trying to go with that. pic.twitter.com/u12twJW4jr— Hafeez A. (@trainguy89) June 30, 2022
The infrastructure supporting cyclists is plentiful in the heart of the city, but that doesn't mean that commutes are necessarily easy or safe.
Never change, Toronto drivers. (Front/York) pic.twitter.com/rNb4JTQAYh— Hafeez A. (@trainguy89) June 30, 2022
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.
The Midtown Bike Lanes on Yonge, albeit narrow, have been a game changer for cycling. Hopefully, they get extended north really soon. pic.twitter.com/TNZlfch9tq— Hafeez A. (@trainguy89) June 30, 2022
But it didn't take long before Alavi was back in the north end of the city contending with auto-centric infrastructure.
Forcing cyclists/pedestrians to take this convoluted and uncomfortable path to avoid the Yonge/401 interchange is so suburban. Really hope MTO has a plan to accommodate everyone in their plan. pic.twitter.com/tYAN5BuGWK— Hafeez A. (@trainguy89) June 30, 2022
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.
Thanks to all who somehow scrolled through all this. I’ll be doing Line 2 next. pic.twitter.com/pxAbHbSprE— Hafeez A. (@trainguy89) June 30, 2022
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.
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