Cycling in 80s Toronto

Dusted off from the archives, WolfRuck brings us some vintage footage of first-person cycling through Toronto's 80s streets. The biggest difference: no bike lanes. The same: the red pumps on the cyclist, vintage mountain bike, and the red streetcars.


All that illegal stuff the rider is doing - was it illegal in the 80's?

I like seeing vintage Toronto, and 80's style the first time around, but the sidewalk riding, not yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks, or stopping for people getting on / off streetcars that this video shows certainly doesn't do us any favours, and would seem to justify the regularly quoted perception of cyclists as 'law breakers'... especially not with the opening description of the recent events on Bloor St.

with an opening text like that, you would think that the video would not show all the illegal maneuvers performed by the cyclist (noted in comments above). you might as well say that nothing really has changed since the 80's...

I don't see how a video made so long ago serves to exemplify cyclists behaviours today.

The message of it seems obvious to me; that cycling through the streets of Toronto is not dangerous, at least that holds true today.

The sidewalk cycling ban was not introduced until the mid 1990s

I think the same video shot in 2009 would have many more cyclists on the road.

There most certainly were bike lanes in the 1980s. The curb lanes of the S Kingsway were made into bike lanes after the TTC stopped serving it. There certainly were bike lanes on Gerrard between Yonge and University. Bike lanes were evident on the Queens Quay between Spadina and Parliament. There had been bike lanes on Royal York Rd in the 1930s until it was widened to 4 lanes.
The first studies recommending Bloor get bike lanes were made in the 1980s. Furthermore there were grade separated bike paths on Weston Rd n of the 401 and on Scarlett Rd.

MOST municipalities forbid and forbade sidewalk bicycling. Toronto proper did not allow it at that time for wheels greater than 20" in diameter.
If the video had been shot in the 1970s there would have been more bicyclists on the road. Bicycling declined through the the 1980s and 1990s.
As for where and how bicyclists bicycle, consider how bicyclists are actively marginalised by motorists. Consider how often we are passed much too closely, honked at while waiting for a clearing to make a left turn, yelled at to get off the road .. . Consider the efforts of the CAA in directing certain media outlets to shepherd motorists to direct their road rage at bicyclists. Consider bizarre and inconsistent treatment by police when collisions occur. I can't blame other bicyclists from making pedestrian turns, riding in crosswalks and riding on sidewalks. I can't blame bicyclists believing they are pedestrians when passing streetcars when the city commonly treats them as pedestrians at its behest with "dismount" signs where infrastructure fails to adequately address usage. I don't like it but I can't blame them. They have been marginalised by ineffective municipal and provincial transportation planning that has elected to neglect all but motor vehicle centred infrastructure. Why is this? Are these agencies in the pocket of the motor vehicle lobbies? Is the job of the province and city to make bicycling and walking as inconvenient as possible to drive up motor vehicle sales and in turn drive up share prices?

This reminded me a lot of Quicksilver. The filming style, riding style and music were all spot on.

But where are Kevin Bacon and Larry Fishburne?

Oh, how I love super 8. Thank you for posting it. Not much has changed since the 80s when I used to ride in Toronto.

Actually, FREEWHELIN' was originally shot in 16mm ... then digitized (on a beer budget) from an old 16mm print for posting on YouTube. Hence that "Super 8" look ...