Ben Spurr has been cycling in downtown Toronto for the past two years and considers his bike an asset to him as a journalist. A transit reporter for the Toronto Star, he often has to get from the offices at the bottom of Yonge Street to City Hall in a short amount of time. “It takes a lot longer to wait around for a streetcar or subway,” says Spurr. Occasionally, the commute yields stories of its own.
Spurr says that his ride to work along the Martin Goodman Trail once inspired a story about the Queens Quay revitalization project and the effectiveness of its new design. “One of the great things about riding a bike is that you’re pretty much engaged in the streetscape, so you see how transit vehicles and all the other vehicles are behaving and performing,” says Spurr.
With any luck, Spurr will have more Toronto bike lanes to scour. Last summer, the city installed a pair of high-profile bike lanes on a busy strip of Bloor Street West, a heavy-traffic corridor. In the meantime, Toronto City Council approved a 10-year cycling infrastructure plan. Every year, $16 million will be invested in everything from new trails to upgraded major corridors.
It’s a lot to report on. For $128.9-million, Queens Quay, Spurr found, had become “beautiful. Confusing. Expensive. Dangerous.” From atop two wheels, Spurr’s also a political reporter, health reporter, and business reporter. It’s a lot of helmets — er, hats — for one journalist to wear. Even if Spurr runs out of road, he won’t run out of stories.
Practical Tips for Cycling Journalists
What to know before you hop on
- Make sure your bag can properly secure your computer.
- A journalist is nothing without a brain. Wear a helmet.
- Lock up your frame, not just your wheel — you never know where your reporting might take you, and you may need to leave your bike secured for a while.
- In the summer, bring an extra clean shirt for important interviews. You will sweat!