So, we’re planning a birthday party for a very special almost 4-year old. There’s a quasi “adventure” theme. Stealing inspiration from a Donna Hay magazine (what’s a Pinterest?), we’ll be serving swamp lemonade. (Lemonade with green food colouring and gummy worms. ) In Donna’s example, she wrapped the punch bowl in burlap… as one is wont to do in the wild.
Lemonade and gummy worms is easy enough to procure in Centretown. Burlap.. less so. It would require a trip to a fabric store (I had my doubts that Darrell Thomas carried burlap). The Fabricland at Merivale and Baseline seemed to be my closest option. I’ve driven here many times for groceries with the Vrtucar, it’s a super easy drive from Little Italy. Which in North American speak means it’s likely a pretty lousy way to get there by foot, bike or bus.
The great thing about Merivale and Baseline is that it’s very easy to reach by bike from downtown. Yes! I cycled through the Experimental Farm and the only traffic I had to deal with was a gaggle of slow moving geese. (Well, the pedestrian pushbutton crossing at Fisher *could* work faster. I jaybiked at a break in traffic. Honestly, I didn’t think it was ever.going.to.change.) I looked back a few minutes later to see traffic stopped for my “walk” light. Heh. Consider it, free traffic calming.
Onwards to Merivale! McCooey Lane provides a pretty backdrop for biking.
When I approached Merivale, I saw a very pretty path running towards Baseline. Great!
Until I saw the ‘no bikes’ sign.
Why? Why? Why? Since there was no one else around, I rode by bike.
Why would I bike on Merivale Road when there is a beautiful off-road path leading to my destination?
Ruh roh. I’m a bad mom.
There are three ‘no bike’ signs. They meant it. Really, NO BIKES. Ok ok ok. I decided to give the Merivale bike lane stub a stab after seeing a lone wolf approaching.
He continued on along Merivale. I decided I’d like to live another day and chose the sidewalk to continue along Baseline.
There appears to be a little bike lane nubb that begins on Baseline just before Merivale. Of course, that assumes you’re biking on Baseline to begin with. Which I am not. LOOK AT ALL OF CARS at the light. It then ends shortly after the intersection.
Meanwhile, up in sidewalk-land – there is a wide strip of pavement roughly 3 feet wide. I suppose this could be a raised cycle track, but it seems to be occupied with a 60km/h speed limit sign. Yes, the traffic sign is afforded more space than cyclists here. Fact.
When I reached the Loblaws plaza, I was pleased to find a decent bike rack. And it was even full of bikes! The mom who was parked next to me with the Chariot trailer had another child attending one of the martial arts classes.
This dad and his kids were biking to the grocery store too. I assumed they sidewalk cycled as well to reach the mall.
I didn’t expect to see any other cyclists. And I certainly did not expect to see families riding here. I felt badly about their options to travel safely by bike in their neighbourhood.
Sadly, this Fabricland was sold out of burlap. Sigh. I should have called ahead. My next errand was in Westboro, so I headed west along Baseline to deeky-doo back around to Kirkwood. That’s when things got weird again.
You see, another Nessie bike lane appears on Baseline as you approach Clyde. You’ll see it starts about where the “look out for jaywalking pedestrians” signs are. (Yup, it’s another dedicated sign lane!) I think it’s a bike lane. Or maybe it’s a right hand turn lane. I have no idea. I stick to the sidewalk. There’s no one walking here.
I see the stencil for a bike lane, but I’m already on the sidewalk and I can’t tell what happens when you cross the intersection. Does the bike lane continue? Does it just jog to the right? So many questions. The sidewalk also jogs, but for now, it seems the better option.
I reach the new pedestrian friendly plaza and see there is a wide lane by the curb.
I think it’s a bike lane; however, I don’t see any bike stencils on the road until I’m closer to the Walmart sign. Again, I stuck to the sidewalk until I saw a stencil.
The lane seemed wide enough that to make me feel safe to be sharing the road so I hopped off the sidewalk and pedalled on the road. Albeit, for a short distance. The lane ends at Clyde.
Since, I’m heading north on Clyde, I jump back onto the sidewalk. The traffic on Clyde is heavy and the road is rough.
Then again, the sidewalk was much better. The walkability and charm of old world Bronson Avenue.
I met another man on his bike here. After all, there seems to be a segregate lane jutting off Clyde that leads to the Walmart.
I’ll write about the adventure getting to Kirkwood and across Carling another day. Spoiler: Traffic still goes very fast on Kirkwood despite traffic calming bulb outs and the bike ride didn’t improve until I was on Richmond Road.
So, funny story. As I was biking along and cursing at myself for biking out to this part of town, I realized that my local Bridgehead was selling used coffee bean bags for $2. Yup, nice brown burlap bags. In my neighbourhood.
I guess the next time I need to go to Fabricland, I’ll drive.
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