Summer is fun; the sun is shining, birds are singing and people on bicycles are ruling the streets in all of their shiny-helmeted glory. I remember looking at the bicyclists of Toronto with envy, noting the wind in their hair, the flushness of their face and their wonderfully sculpted legs. Every time a car-driver cut off a bicyclist in front of me, I would scoff and shrug my shoulders, giving the bicyclist an understanding shake of the head in solidarity (as if I knew all the struggles).
I adored them and I wanted to be them!
Unfortunately, as you all well understand the struggle of being a broke student, I never ended up saving enough money to actually buy a bike. It just never happened. My dream of being one of the cool biker kids never came true.
Until recently. ENTER BIKECHAIN.
So this summer, I thought I would finally roll up my sleeves and do something about this bike issue. It’s honestly the best way to get around downtown Toronto. Especially when you have a class at Sid Smith from 12-2pm, office hours at St. Mikes then end at 2:30pm and a meeting with your student group at 3pm. A 30-minute walk through downtown easily turns into 5 blissful minutes of feeling the wind in your hair (-through your helmet, safety first folks!).
So BikeChain is an organization located on the west side of campus, between the Earth Sciences building and the MultiFaith Centre. They provide a lot of services but my personal favorite is their free bike rental! I signed up with them this summer with my TCard, another form of government-issued ID and a $100 deposit. I got this deposit back as soon as I returned the bike so basically I got to be a cool kid for free.
They gave me one their bikes with a lock and my very own key and briefed me on some of the hand signals to use when riding the bike. This was very helpful because the last time I rode a bike was in the park trail of my very safe suburban neighbourhood with my mom riding beside me. I definitely needed a briefing.
I rode around for a week and then came in to ask for a renewal which they granted after making sure the bike was still safe to ride and I hadn’t severely damaged it. I wasn’t offended because two minutes with me is proof enough of my inherent clumsiness. They gave me the bike for another week and then I had to wait one week before taking a bike out again. But fair enough, they have limited bikes and the entirety of U of T to serve, I can’t hog the coolness forever.
Also, if you’re a commuter, you can leave your bike at Union Station for around $2 a day. You would spend that money on the subway anyway so why not try biking around for the summer? I understand how weird it is to carry a bike onto a train or a bus so I went for this option and only used my bike when I reached downtown.
POINT BEING. Great experience, love the people, love the place and they made my dream come true so obviously I encourage you guys to try it out. Let me know about your experiences in the comments below!