eBike Riding Experience on the Toronto Lakefront Bike Path Run Right By Our Front Door
Having purchased our eBikes in the spring while the snow was still on the ground, we needed some real ebike riding experience to validate that our splurge purchase was not wasted money!
With three children in university – spread across Canada in 3 different time zones – we kept our large house for many years in case one or more of the kids decided they needed to come home. When it became evident that a single not one of them wanted to live in Toronto, we did the empty nester thing and downsized to a condo by the lake.
A major draw of being in this location was the easy access to things to do in Toronto and to the walking and bike paths that run for 46 km along the waterfront, with connection to trails that wind throughout the city (city plan includes 1000 km of bikeways with 500 km of on-street bike lanes and another 250 km of off-road paved).
First 100km On the eBike Odometer
As the odometer rolls over on 100km on the eBikes, what have we found?
The eBike Value Proposition Was Reinforced Early
I am sure that many people think about eBikes as the lazy way out. Yes – you could ride with power all the time and get little exercise. But we have found since we got our eBikes that we rarely take the lazy way out and we ride our bikes without power assist most of the time. But the little bit of power help has proven to be a real saver in the scenarios we considered when we went in search of an eBike:
Riding home: We are now biking longer and longer on each trip. We are often riding days in a row. And when we push it, it is nice to know there is just a little power to help when we are dragging on the way home.
Riding into the wind: We often ride on the bike paths on Lake Ontario. As a Great Lake, it has a wide open fetch. And the bike path seems to change direction to cover about 240 degrees meaning no matter which way the wind is blowing off the lake, at some point we will be riding into the wind. And of course, that is usually when we are on our way home and already tired. I remember many days riding home where it felt like I was barely moving forward. The eBike power gives me just a little boost when I turn into the wind.
Riding up hills: Toronto has large parts that are level with only minor grades but when we want to go downtown or want to head away from the waterfront, there will be a hill in the way. In the past, we had avoided big hills for our rides or sometimes trailered the bikes up major hills (aka “The Bayview Extension”). Since we have started riding our eBikes, so far we have not found a hill that has stopped us!
The Biking Season Is Longer
We picked up our new eBikes in April and on the first sunny day we were out riding. Bundled in coats, gloves and scarves we headed out around Lake Ontario. The ice was still in the harbour but we knew we could get home fast so it helped us to venture out when only the hardy were on their bikes.
Bikes Are Now A Mode of Transportation
One of the major downsides of living in the condos by the lake was that we lost our local neighbourhood we had when we owned our house. While the increasing number of condos has brought in ground floor stores and restaurants, we still generally have to get in the car to shop. Now that we have our bikes, we have a real alternative to head out a little further for an eBike riding bike experience rather than take the car. One day we did the 22km round trip to get supplies for our home espresso machine. We can ride to the new Starbucks close to our condo …
Or it is an easy ride to our new favourite real Italian cafe in Bloor West Village.
Staycation Tourists In Toronto
We often just ride the bike paths but sometimes we use the waterfront bike paths to venture into downtown and the waterfront tourist area. We stop regularly to catch images of “our Toronto” that we often take for granted.
When we reach the Queen’s Quay area, there are lots of options to lock the bikes and enjoy lunch or a drink as we watch the people go by enjoying our great home town in the summer!
Enjoy The Parks and Bike Paths Away From the Waterfront
From the lakeside bike paths you can travel all over Toronto. An easy deviation from our condo is to ride up beside the Humber River.
You can even ride up and rent a kayak for more adventure along the Humber River.
Don’t Forget the Basics
An eBike is still a bicycle and you must remember the rules of riding like a bike when heading out on your eBike riding experience. It is not a motorcycle but it is faster and heavier than traditional bikes so you need to factor that in when riding.
Bike Hand Signals: Don’t forget to use your signals when you are turning or stopping. Failure to do so may result in someone running into you when you make a turn in front of someone! And with your heavier eBike, the collision will be harder!
|Graphic from www.sbhawaii.com|
We struggled for awhile to figure out where we could mount a rear view mirror given all the extra controls that the eBike puts on the handle bars. Having the mirror helped a little to be more aware of traffic (cars and bikes) coming up behind me. David opted for a mirror on his helmet.
Bike Path Etiquette: In most places we have ridden bikes outside of Toronto, the bike paths are clearly marked as bike paths – with both signs at eye height and often with bicycle drawings on the path. The bike path markings in Toronto are not so great and since the bike paths are often very close to the walking paths, pedestrians can regularly be found on the bike paths. Once the weather warms out, the paths get very busy.
So riding on the bike paths must be done with a third eye out for people ambling along, for kids that will dart out at your quickly and for dogs with a long leash. With an eBike you are a bit heavier and you may be going a bit faster, so you need to be extra careful about ensuring you are always in control and can always stop!
Riding With the Cars: While Toronto has a good number of bike paths, there are large parts of the city that do not have dedicated bike lanes on the road. If there is a bike lane, it is generally wide enough to give you a safe distance from the cars – if the cars stay out of the bike lane! You need to be careful when the bike lane ends and you merge in with the traffic. When you are back on the road, your best bet is to assume every car is aiming for you and ride defensively!
It has been an exciting first 100km eBike riding experience! We have validated our decision to switch to eBikes and we know they are not just of the lazy! Now that we have broken them in, we can plan for longer rides and to put them on a trailer to explore much further afield. Stay tuned for the next update!
What is your favourite summer bike ride? What is your favourite pet peeve about riding in the city?