As cycling advocates and members of the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition, we often hear about challenges Toronto cyclists (and would be cyclists) face – like how to stay safe, transport groceries, and deal with bad weather. As a group, we’ve figured out easy and affordable solutions to many of these challenges.
Here are 10 must-haves for every cyclist in Toronto this summer.
Ring them bells
A pleasant but piercing bike bell can make all the difference between staying safe and getting doored (or worse), since cycling collisions often occur simply because motorists and pedestrians aren’t aware of cyclists in their vicinity.
Electra Bikes, a subsidiary of Trek, makes a variety of great domed, metallic bike bells with psychedelic designs. They make a nice, loud brrriiiinnnng and are durable enough to handle life on the road.
You can find Electra bike bells at Trek Bicycle (625 Queen St. West).
Shine a bike light
Cycling at night can be a little dangerous due to everyone’s decreased visibility. Having a pair of lightweight rechargeable bike lights, like MEC’s Nickel USB lights, can help ensure drivers know you’re there, especially if you turn on blinker mode.
But if you’re the kind of person who has a hard time remembering to always charge your bike lights, dynamo lights may be a better fit for you.
You can find MEC’s Nickel USB front and back bike lights at MEC (300 Queen St. W), and dynamo bike lights at Curbside Cycle (412 Bloor St. W).
Lock it down
In an ideal world, people wouldn’t steal bikes. But in the meantime, you may want a good bike lock.
Abus U-locks are fairly affordable and last a long time. But when you lock up, be sure to also use a chain or loop cable, like those made by Kryptonite, to strap in both wheels.
You can find Abus locks and Kryptonite loop cables at Bikes on Wheels (309 Augusta Ave).
Keeping your bike tires topped up with air is a good (albeit not foolproof) way to avoid getting an ill-timed flat. Hand pumps, like the Planet Bike Ozone ATB Aluminum Mini Pump, are particularly handy in this respect because you can keep one on you all the time in a bike bag or knapsack.
You can find the Planet Bike Ozone ATB Aluminum Mini Pump at MEC (300 Queen St. W).
Keep your head on
Accidents happen. That’s why wearing a helmet to protect your noggin is a smart choice (they’re also required by law for those under 18 biking on public roads in Ontario).
All helmets need to adhere to the same safety standards, even the most affordable ones like the MEC Midtown Helmet. But if you’re ready to pay a bit more, you can get a wider choice of features, like better ventilation for your head.
You can find the MEC Midtown Helmet and other great bike helmet options at MEC (300 Queen St. W).
Carry on my wayward items
You could just put all your stuff in a knapsack, but a pannier that hooks onto your bike rack, like Green Guru Gear’s upcycled Dutchy 22L Pannier, definitely eases the load on your back.
You can (usually) find the Dutch 22L Pannier and other cyclist-friendly bags online at greengurugear.com.
When you bike to work in a nice outfit, you probably want to keep your face and back clean. Fenders, like Axiom Flascheguard’s, protect you from getting sprayed with mud, snow, and other street sludge.
You can find Axiom Flascheguard front and back bike fenders at MEC (300 Queen St. W).
Keep your pants in one piece
Riding everywhere in athletic gear might not be a realistic option for everyone. So a pair of jeans or chinos built specifically for cycling are highly recommended to avoid tears right in the crotch area. Those can be particularly problematic if they happen suddenly while en route to the office.
Swrve is a small Los Angeles-based company that makes a variety of stylish, durable pants, shorts, and other apparel items specifically for cyclists. They’re all about helping you avoid the crotch rips.
You can find swrve pants online at swrve.us.
Rain shouldn’t stop anyone from biking – not if they’re prepared. Carrying around a packable raincoat like the QIKPAC Waterproof Packaway Jacket is an easy way to keep dry when a storm sneaks up on you.
We’ve also heard good things about Vancouver-based Vessi’s waterproof shoes if you’re not into soggy socks.
You can find QUIKPAC Waterproof Packaway Jacket at Olly Shoes (2600 Yonge St.), and Vessi shoes online at vessi.com.
Find new friends and community with GTHA cycling groups
If you’re feeling social, there are numerous social cycling groups you can join in and around Toronto, like the Women’s Cycling Network and ManDem Cycling Club.
And if you want to get active with cycling advocacy, you can join Cycle Toronto or our group the Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition. We could always use help pushing for better, safer cycling infrastructure in the city.