Toronto has many options for people who prefer not to ride their bikes with car traffic. Check out the different types of cycling infrastructure in the city and other bike-friendly ways to get around:
Protected bike lanes
Protected bike lanes are physically separated lanes for bicycles that run next to vehicular traffic. They have different designs to separate cyclists from vehicles, including the use of bollards (Adelaide St), a hard curb (Sherbourne St), or even planter boxes filled with flowers (on Richmond St W, near Spadina). The City of Toronto refers to protected bike lanes as cycle tracks.
The first protected bike lane was installed on Sherbourne St between Bloor St and King St. While all of Toronto's protected bike lanes are currently downtown, the city is starting to invest in more widespread installation of this infrastructure.
Painted bike lanes
A painted bike lane is the most common type of cycling infrastructure in Toronto, and is indicated by the bike symbol and a solid white line. The solid white line tells motorists that they can't cross it, and so bike lanes give cyclists space in the road. When the line becomes dashed, it is where a vehicle might have to enter the bike lane to make a right or left turn at an intersection. There are several bike lanes across Toronto, particularly downtown.
Sharrows are a bike symbol painted on the road with two forward-pointing arrows. They remind motorists to share the road, and show cyclists the safest place in the traffic lane to ride.
Sharrows are found all over the city. Recently, "wayfinding sharrows", where the forward-pointing arrows actually point left or right, have been installed to help cyclists follow cycling trails where they may cross a major road.
There are lots of trails and off-road paths in Toronto, and they are a great way to explore and integrate natural beauty into your routes. They are scenic, quiet, safe, and easy for beginner cyclists. Many offer great views of the lake, the Don River, the Humber River, and can be a quick break from the busy city.
Instead of lanes and trails, you can also use quiet residential roads
You can zig-zag your way across Toronto's street grid on quiet streets. These routes will help you get to know your neighbourhood, are more relaxing that using major streets, and have less air pollution, too!
Discover new cycle-friendly routes using the Toronto Cycling Map!
You can view the Toronto Cycling Map online, or pick one up from City Hall, your local library, the nearest Civic Centre, or the Cycle Toronto office.
Pictured: the Waterfront Trail at Queen's Quay, a multi-purpose trail that runs along Lakeshore Blvd through downtown Toronto. The trail gives great views of Lake Ontario, the Toronto skyline, and access to beaches along the waterfront! Photo by Martin Reis.