Senior editor Susan G. Cole, associate art director Stephen Chester and writer Evan Davies set out to prove which is the most efficient means of getting around town. Each set off from NOW’s downtown office in rush hour and made the nine km trek to La Paloma, at St. Clair and Lansdowne. Their only restriction was that they had to obey the rules of the road.
5:10 It's bumper-to-bumper, and no one's going anywhere.
5:15 Stationary still. Take a picture of the guy on the phone driving the truck next to me, hoping it'll make him feel stupid. It doesn't. It just makes him mad.
5:20 Finally turn west onto St. Clair, where the pace picks up considerably. Anyone who thinks the dedicated streetcar lines on St. Clair can deter drivers is sorely mistaken. It's faster than ever.
5:25 I'm whizzing down the street, certain I'm going to win this race. Starting to feel guilty again.
5:28 Can't get parking near our destination, La Paloma; commit a moving violation to get to a south-side parking spot. Promise to add two minutes to my time.
5:30 Arrive at La Paloma to see bike guy on the curb, his ice cream already finished off. "What took you so long,?" he asks, grinning. No sign of TTC guy.
5:44 Still no sign of TTC guy.
5:57 Where the hell is TTC guy?
NEXT DAY : Take the same route as bike guy, thinking I lost so badly because I took the wrong route. I do shave five minutes off my time, but when I arrive at La Paloma, bike guy's again already tucking into a medium scoop. He's been there for over five minutes patiently waiting for me. 5:00 pm Leave the NOW office wishing I were riding my faster multi-geared racer instead of my usual commuter - a 20-year-old single speed.
Driver travel time 30 minutes
Calories burned 70
Environmental footprint1 2 kg of CO2
Cost per year2 $5,251.51
5:05 Get caught up in a series of red lights on Church, hope Susan's car is buried in the parking lot.
5:08 Hit Bloor. Happily, there's quite a traffic jam - that should slow her up.
5:11 Okay, now I'm starting to enjoy myself. I've cleared the traffic lights at the bottom of Davenport and am starting to go uphill in the bike lane.
5:12 I can't believe how little traffic there is at this time of day. Cars are steadily overtaking me. I just know Susan will pass me soon.
5:13 Start to really push it. We can't publish a bike guide that shows a car is the better way to get around.
5:14 I'm wearing a heart rate monitor to record how many calories I burn on the trip. It's showing my heart's beating at 193 bpm. I guess I'm riding harder than the average commuter. Still, anything to beat the car.
5:17 Turn right on Lansdowne - fuck, that's a steep hill. Wish I weren't riding a single-speed.
5:18 There it is, La Paloma, and no sign of Susan. Maybe she's inside.
5:19 No, the bike's won. I've burnt 392 calories, so it seems appropriate to celebrate with a pink grapefruit ice cream.
5.30 I've finished the ice cream and am on track 4 of the Grinderman album by the time Susan shows up. We arrange a rematch for the next day, when I'll take it a bit easier.
NEXT DAY Riding at an energetic but realistic commuting pace the bike still wins.
Cyclist travel time 18 minutes
Calories burned 392
Environmental footprint3 25 g of CO2
Cost per year4 $400
5:00 pm On my way to Dundas Station!
5:03 pm I swipe my Metropass and join a large group of north-bounders.
5:05 pm A train! There are too many people to even think about squeezing into a car.
5:07 pm Another train! Still too many people!
5:20 pm Just noticed a guy in an electric wheelchair. He'll never make it on.
5:22 pm Glad I have my iPod.
5:24 pm Still waiting. Some guy's wearing sunglasses even though we're clearly indoors .
5:28 pm I'm gonna have to start getting a little pushy-shovey.
5:33 pm Some guy does it for me, and I follow - freaking finally - into the car.
5:38 pm The big Bloor transition. Just as many people get on as off. Only three stops to go.
5:43 pm Finally at St. Clair. Such a yellow, yellow place. And like a ghost town compared to Dundas.
5:47 pm It's funny to see everyone on the streetcar trying desperately to stand or sit as far away from everyone else as possible. Probably due to some kind of post-sardine trauma.
5:57 pm The streetcar enters St. Clair West station. So far nothing's been outrageous or funny - no eccentrics, smellies or weirdos.
6:06 pm So close. So bored....
6:14 pm I arrive! That was ridiculously long. If this weren't a test, I'd be pissed. Seriously, is this where my $100 Metropass gets me? Time to dust off the old bike.
TTCer travel time75 minutes
Calories burned 200
Environmental footprint5 51 g of CO2
Cost per year6 $1,098
1 Environmental footprint is based on the fact that the average car produces about 200 grams of CO2 per kilometre travelled. 2 Cost for the car is based on 200 commuting days per year and includes the cost of a monthly lease, gas, insurance, maintenance and parking. 3 Environmental footprint is based on the fact that the average person exhales 0.69 grams of CO2 per minute while walking and roughly twice that while cycling.4 Cost for the cyclist includes the one-time cost of buying a bike (in this case $300) and annual maintenance.5 Environmental footprint is based on the fact that the average person exhales 0.69 grams of CO2 per minute. Data for TTC emissions unavailable. 6 Cost for the TTC rider is based on the 12-month pre-authorized-payment Metropass.