A business trip to Toronto. A free Sunday afternoon before the meetings begin. A chance to explore and experiment with Toronto Bikeshare!
You may have seen the Hubway bicycles in Boston -- Toronto offers the same thing: 45 pound upright 3-speeds. Wide, knobby, small diameter tires. Of course, flat pedals, no clips. Just for some extra fun, we "enjoyed" rain showers and 20mph winds off the lake. All of which just would add to the total experience - another chance to apply Cycling Rule #9.
As you would expect from a ramble in unfamiliar territory, my journey took me through a range of experiences. Like the Charles River path in Boston, the lakefront in Toronto has a 10+ mile path which allows you a "car free" chance on flat terrain to see the city. My highlight was my journey out to the Tommy Thompson park, a bike-only peninsula leading out to the old lighthouse at the mouth of the harbor (or, I should say, "harbour").
After reaching the end of the bike path I turned inland from the lake -- that's where I found the flip-side -- busy streets, few bike paths, far more traffic than I would have preferred. Next time I will ignore the Strava heat map and stick to the streets that have marked bike paths (there are fewer of them than Boston, but they are there). And I really enjoyed my meandering on side streets through random residential neighborhoods -- I got a much better feeling of life in the city than I have ever gotten from previous numerous trips between the airport and downtown on expressways. And, despite the crummy weather, I saw LOTS of cyclists, especially along the lake. Bike culture alive and well in TO!
I ended up doing over 50km (33 miles) on the bike, and while I was pretty beat at the end of it I got a much better sense of how bikesharing can provide bike commuting options for the casual user. I will make it a point to look for opportunities to use Hubway when I return home.