The Toronto Star today features a chin-stroking piece on a D.I.Y. device that Mr. Warren Huska of Toronto uses for his 18-km daily commute between The Beaches and North York.

Now, when he mounts his trusty two-wheeled steed, Huska is protected by a pool noodle.

Strapped to his bike’s frame with bungee cords, the floppy foam cylinder is a reminder to drivers not to get too close.

…for the past year, drivers have given Huska a wider berth.

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 (Randy Risling / Toronto Star)

Most of Toronto is not kind to commuter cycling. Biking along the lakeshore is nice in decent weather and the old City of Toronto’s grid allows some relatively direct connections parallel to arterial roads. But north of St. Clair Avenue and the Don Valley, you are on your own.

The city’s new bike network plan looks pretty good on paper, but each separate project will need its own follow-up engineering, design, and approvals stages. This is where a lot of consultants will be paid a lot of money to investigate and design cycle lanes that will never get built. As a consultant myself, I encourage my Ontario colleagues to shoot for the moon.

With less network redundancy in the ‘burbs, direct connections need to be made along arterial roads. What are the odds that the City will reduce car capacity along the widest roads in York, Etobicoke, Scarborough, or North York to accommodate cyclists? Slim.

In one of those ‘why hasn’t anyone thought of this before’ moments, Mr. Huska has created his own portable cycling infrastructure; and by his account, it works.

Huska took up the noodle in mid-2015, when Ontario enacted new laws requiring drivers to leave one-metre’s distance when passing cyclists on the road.

“The edge of the noodle (helps them) gauge space instead of them trying to judge where my elbow was,” said Huska.  The change he noticed was “almost magical,” Huska said.

In a perfect world, dangling a pool noodle from the side of your bike to nudge motorists towards safer driving behaviour wouldn’t be necessary. But as anyone who’s ever had to bike along Lougheed Highway, Kingsway, even Hastings Street can tell you, our world is sometimes a damn mess. Good for Mr. Huska for taking some clever initiative when the City of Toronto won’t.