Thursday, August 17, 2006

Scarburbia - the land that civilization forgot

Quick note - I just realized that Internet Explorer (which I rarely use) doesn't load my blog well, and sometimes puts the right sidebar all the way down to the bottom of the page. If you switch to Mozilla Firefox as your browser, it should go a lot better.

Although this purports to be a cycling/commuting blog, I rarely ever write about cycling. Today I'll explain why.
On June 16 I described the route and the bikes I was using at the start of this commuting adventure. Although being extremely out of my way, that route at least had some nice bits, as I wrote and showed in photos in my July 4 and July 11 posts.

However, that route was a very hilly 67 km, took me 2 1/2 hours, and included an increasingly nerve-wracking stretch on Highway 7, which is a busy two lane highway which seems to have a lot of dump-truck / transport truck action. One morning I said "screw it" and took off on the more southerly, more direct, and flatter, Kingston Road/Highway 2. Previously I'd assumed Highway 2 was a death-trap for cyclists, but I discovered that if you're riding east OUT of Toronto, at 5:30 - 6:30 in the morning, it's a pretty safe and decent ride.

And boring as hell, as the following photos will attest. The humdrum monotony of Scarburbia is why I don't write about my commute much. The following photos can all be enlarged by clicking on them, and they more or less are ordered from beginning of ride to end of ride.

My bike's cockpit and a random Dundas Street scene. This is my dark world of deserted streets around 5:20 a.m.

Scarborough shots. I'm not being mean - there is really NOTHING of any interest to ANYONE in the WORLD on the stretch of Kingston Road through Scarborough. It's just a bunch of TD Banks, coffee shops and parking lots.

When I took these photos, Friday morning last week, I was startled to see gas down to 96.7 / litre. In Canada gas has been around $1.08 all summer. So I took a shot of this gas station's sign, and this happens to be right where I zoom down a hill and enter Pickering. The other photo is a shot of Highway 401 and all the tired souls driving into Toronto for their day of work.

A couple places on my route Kingston Road takes dead aim at the rising sun. It's actually fairly dangerous, I can barely see anything when I'm cycling into it, and just hope that any cars behind me can spot me before it's too late.

There's a lot more farmland in the Whitby / Oshawa area than I realized. In fact, to the northeast of Oshawa it's all farmland, and it's gorgeous - rolling fields with big old farm houses. After I leave Kingston Road, I go up Salem to Rossland Street, which takes me all the way into Whitby/Oshawa. Rossland passes a bit of farmland before it enters the city, but guess what? They're building subdivisions on the farmland. This new subdivision is right across from this field, which has another subdivision on its other side.

This is on Garrard street, just north of Taunton (and close to UOIT). It's hard to read, but basically it's an announcement of the rezoning of agricultural land as residential land. That is so classic. Here's a Stats Canada report titled Urban consumption of prime agricultural land. Not only are we sprawling residential areas farther and farther away from the downtown areas, we're paving over the best agricultural land we have. We're so doomed.

This is how my days end. This is my bike (an old Cannondale frame built up by my friend Smut) at the Whitby Go Station, looking slightly annoyed because, once again, it got me to Whitby in time for the 5:11pm train back to Toronto, which we had to let go by because it turns into an express and zooms past the Danforth Go Station. So, we wait until the 5:27pm train to Toronto arrives.


Dorothy W. said...

I hate to see farmland swallowed up by subdivisions -- it's so very depressing. There's a ton of building going on where I'm at too.

George said...

I've found that if you put pics more then 410 pixels wide on a standard Blogger blog template......your side bar ends up down at the bottom on IE.

I use Firefox as well, so your blog looks fine as far as I'm concerned:-)

Anonymous said...

Idea for your blog: Can you put up a map of your route? Google Maps lets you trace out a route on a map and save it; however, I'm not sure if you can link to that from your blog. But I would love to see a map of the route!

Claire :)

Cardinella said...

I know that stretch of Kingston Rd. "They're" even talking about making it into a retail village, so that they can encourage pedestrian traffic. As if...

It may be time to create a new extreme version of Extreme Makeovers.

Dan said...

Thanks for the nice comments over on my blog. Most of my area in Indiana is flat corn or soybean fields, but I've been lucky enough to find a few good photo ops.


Da' Square Wheelman, said...

Great post!

I do a lot of work in the suburbs around Chicago. There's a definite feel once you cross the city line. It doesn't have to do so much with the hostility typical of suburban drivers. It has more to do with the dismal quality of suburban sprawl. It sends chills through my body even on the hottest summer day %(

Also, would love to add you to my rollers who blog list. Would be honored if you did the same.

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