How a bicycle helped Kit editor Caitlin Kenny discover her own city
When I first moved from an Ottawa-area farming village to Toronto after university, I landed just five kilometres away from what Vogue would soon declare to be one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world. Indie art galleries, quirky boutique hotels and all the coffee-shop flatlay bait your Instagram feed could handle—West Queen West’s hipsters were living the dream, while I found sustenance in bagels from the Tim Hortons on my street.
As a car-less, public-transit-averse newbie, I was chained to the intersection where both my apartment and office building were, rarely straying beyond a 20-minute-walk radius. I barely got to know the city, and I missed home.
Three years later, I started dating a guy who kept three bikes in his closet and tasked himself with finding one for me, too. When we got to the Kijiji listing’s address, I hopped on the blue Supercycle and almost pedalled right off the sidewalk’s curb, my unsteady hands jerking the handlebars around like I was holding a jackhammer. We paid in cash, and my biking lessons began.
As my relationship with my boyfriend developed, so, too, did my relationship with the city. We spent weekends exploring neighbourhoods from the seats of our bikes. On a typical Saturday, we might swing by the plant boutique Crown Flora (pictured left) to pick up a new succulent, toss our tennis racquets in our baskets and head to the park for a match or find a new micro-brewery patio to park at. Thanks to my since-upgraded bike, the city opened up to me, and I started to appreciate all it has to offer, which goes way beyond what Vogue could ever summarize. Having recently moved away from that intersection that was once my life, I now even bike into work every day, taking the lakeside route from our townhome in—where else—West Queen West.