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Biking 101 in Toronto

Biking 101 in Toronto

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If you are new to cycling or find yourself riding more than ever before, you are not alone, as the number of cyclists out and about in the past year has skyrocketed. Getting comfortable and being confident on two wheels will help take you to new places safely. Like Driver’s Ed, practice and knowing the rules of the road are necessary. If you are ready to roll, there is no better learning course than the bike trails and bike lanes in Toronto.

Pre-Ride Check

Before any ride it’s wise to check off a few items for safety’s sake and to help ensure you have a great ride. This includes making sure the bike you are riding is your size, the brakes are in good working order and tires are pumped. It is also strongly recommended you wear a helmet, are dressed to ride, have a bottle cage to carry water and bike lights handy should you be out past twilight.

Toronto Sign

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Rules of the Road

Whether on Toronto city streets and trails, or riding elsewhere, in the eyes of the law a bicycle is just like any other moving vehicle; two wheels or four, all must follow the same road rules which includes obeying all traffic signals and signs. Being predictable, riding single file, giving way to pedestrians and using hand signs when turning or slowing down are some other basics. Find all you need to know about safe cycling in the following handbooks: Cycling Skills: Ontario’s Guide to Safe Cycling and the kid friendly version Young Cyclist’s Guide. You also might want to consult the City of Toronto’s cycling information webpages at and some cycling specifically rules plus city safety and education tips.

Getting Going – Off-Road Trails

There are two primary types of cycling infrastructure, on-road and off-road bicycle facilities, and in Toronto, you’ll find plenty of both. Off-road trails are your best bet to begin, and with over 346km in Toronto, you are never far from a rail trail, hydro corridor trail, boulevard trail or major park trail. Some favourites include: the Don Valley Trail; Taylor Creek Trail; Humber River Trail; West Toronto Railpath; Martin Goodman/Waterfront Trail; Finch Hydro Corridor. With over 1,600 parks across the city, some top parks to ride and enjoy other activities are: Hyde Park; G. Lord Ross Park; Cedarvale Park; Sunnybrook Park; Highland Creek; Toronto Islands. All of the above would make for a great ride to start or provide ample space and safety for young family riders.

Cyclist in front of Toronto Skyline

Photo Credit: Destination Toronto

Toronto Cycling Map

To help you find your way and plan a route best suited to your skill level having a print copy or digital access to the Toronto Cycling Map will be of great assistance. Make use of the colour coded interactive map online or download the highly detailed PDF map of Toronto trails, west and east. A full fold-out free print cycling map is also available and can often be found at bike stores, community centers or by ordering a copy from the City by phoning 311 if within Toronto city limits or 416-392-CITY (2489).

Cycling On-Roads

With an extensive network of 627km of on-street cycling facilities practicing riding on the urban roads in Toronto is a very safe option. A large portion of the network is comprised of dedicated cycle tracks and bicycle lanes, a great place to start. Some favourites include: Shelbourne Cycle Track; Richmond and Adelaide Streets; Davenport Road; Royal York Road; Danforth Avenue and Bloor Street. Signed bike routes with shared lane pavement markings, such as sharrows, or simply signed routes with no markings are the next level. A few Toronto specific riding safety tips include taking caution when crossing streetcar tracks (take them at an angle) and being alert for parked car doors opening.

Bike share cyclist on Bloor Street

Photo Credit: Bike Share Toronto

Bike Share & Bike Rentals

It is not a necessity to have your own bike to discover the great cycling in and around the city as Bike Share Toronto is readily available from 625 bike docking stations across the city. Easily access one of the ever-growing number of bikes, which at last count stood at 6,850, plus 300 ebikes. Setting up and downloading the app beforehand makes it all the more simple, but you can also buy a single trip, day pass, 72 hour access or annual membership from a docking kiosk. From there all rides 30 minutes or less are free, but after incrementally increasing charges per added half hour make it wiser to rent a bike if going for a longer excursion. Bike rentals can be found at a number of bike stores around the city and so too can bike tours of Toronto (just google).

Summer Bike Days – ActiveTO

This summer will see some major roads closed on weekends for cyclists and pedestrians giving ample space for users and encouraging physical activity. Continuing on from a successful ActiveTO program in 2020 that saw an average of 25,000 users per weekend, past road closures included Lakeshore East and West, plus Bayview Avenue. Even the infamous Yonge Street that divides the city from east and west ends, was closed for a pilot trial weekend last summer, and may yet return again this summer. Routes are confirmed weekly online, so be sure to plan accordingly. Additionally, some neighbourhoods have ‘quiet streets’ with reduced traffic to allow for extra outdoor space. Find out all you need to know in this article here or experience it before you go by watching this video.

Active TORONTO road

Photo Credit: Destination Toronto

A Bicycle Friendly City

Whatever your reason for riding, getting from A to B, exercising or visiting, and regardless of your skill level or experience, it is easy to find a great ride route and enjoy a few hours or longer exploring Toronto by bike.

For more information on cycling and Toronto visit:

destination toronto
Published On: May 31, 2021Categories: Destinations, Home, News

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