bike toronto

Here's how to get around Toronto faster on a bike

According to the most recent City of Toronto Cycling Study, cycling became one of the most popular ways to get around the city, with about 70 per cent of Toronto's residents reporting using bicycles with some frequency.

Among the ranks of cyclists, some live off their bikes as food couriers or use them to get to work. For this portion of the public, speed is king, because it means more money with deliveries or an easier time getting to the workplace.

With this in mind, here are some tips and tricks to maximize your speed in the streets without having to expose yourself to unnecessary risks or getting exhausted from pedalling too hard.

Planning your routes for maximum speed

The fastest way to get it whenever you need is also the smartest. Plan your trips using maps, GPS or your knowledge of the city streets always prioritizing these three factors:

  • Avoid Avenues and busy streets, use parallel streets instead, and with as few turns as possible to minimize stopping for traffic lights or slowing down to maneuver.
  • Recognize when you can go south rather than north. Use gravity in your favour! There’s some inclination on the streets of the city facing south towards Lake Ontario. So, whenever you can, ride the same way to enjoy some easy pedalling and more speed. Also, your legs will thank you for not riding uphill unnecessarily.
  • If you have no other choice than to go north, shift to a lighter gear on your bike and focus on not having to break or stop too often since it will demand more on your body to get the bicycle up to speed again on uneven terrain.
Bike Lanes and cycle tracks are a good friend

According to 2021 Cycling year in Review Report by the City of Toronto, the city has a total network of 115.6 km of Bike Lanes, 75.03 km of Cycle Tracks and 386.1 km of multi-use trails. This means a lot of space that's only shared with other cyclists and pedestrians. 

Parks and trails equals shortcuts

If you're new to the city and are using a bicycle to work, a good strategy that might come by unnoticed is to navigate in Parks and trails. Aside from offering a good break from traffic, they can be even faster than the street, with large sections being a nice straight line.

Also, when crossing the ravines of the city, like the Lower Don, be sure to open your navigation app for the best route on the trails and enjoy the amazing views!

Get a bicycle route planning app

Do not text and cycle! However, if you want to use your phone to plan routes it's okay. Many apps like Map My Ride GPS, Strava or even Waze can give you the fastest routes available and are even capable of monitoring the traffic so you can avoid any jams.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert. With files from Ilgin Karik

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