Ah, the suburbs. They're often misunderstood as cycling hell. The truth is, it's mostly idyllic. The streets are quiet, as long as you choose the right ones. Parallel parked cars are about as rare as pedestrians. The thing is, there are these short stretches of fire and bubbling lava that you eventually have to cross, known as the 400-series highways.
Yesterday, Andrew, on his Monkey Martian site, covered some of the biggest challenges we face in the suburbs. His advice is worth a read for someone starting out, or even an old pro, especially if you only venture out of the core once in a while. If you haven't read his site before, Andrew is one of the few people in York Region who chose to own a bike instead of a car.
On Expressway crossings:
I find it best to keep my cool, be very aware of where I’m positioned and take the lane where necessary. This isn’t always easy to do. It is sometime difficult to even position yourself out in the lane if the traffic is particularly heavy and fast moving. I use a helmet mounted mirror to look for gaps, and do lots and lots of shoulder checks.
Trucks will often have quite a gap in front of them, as they are slow to start up from a stoplight. I’ll continue to make shoulder checks to make sure there are no cars, and then ease my way out into the lane. I’ll continue to look behind me, right at the driver if I can. Normally, a truck or bus driver gets the picture and will move left to pass you.
On Getting Buzzed:
When you see how big the tires of a semi are, and all that space under the trailer that looks like it wants to swallow you up, it’s easy to panic. Use your best judgement, tighten that sphincter and hold your line.
Read the rest of Andrew's advice and commentary.