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A stroll down verdant cliffs above the English Channel, a ten-minute drive around a headland topped with a twelfth-century castle, a misty amble through the medieval alleyways of a sleepy Auvergne town – I’ve enjoyed some decent commutes.

scarborough castle

My current daily trek pretty much props up the pile: A 40-minute drive through suburban blight along 18 kilometres of eyelid-drooping roads. Head north, lurch west, and jolt north again, trapped in the aural hell of Radio WNKR.

I could take the bus, of course. Even Mississauga has a bus service. Door to door, including the walk to the bus stop, I’d  be looking at 90 minutes each way. That’s right, 180 minutes a day to travel a total of 36 kilometres.

Average speed: 12 km/h or, in olde English, 7.5 miles an hour. Which is more or less my running pace.

So, forget the bus.

Since this is merely the sixth largest city in Canada, with a smattering of just three quarters of a million people, naturally there is no mainline railway station in Mississauga.

Granted, there is a suburban train to Toronto (the optimistically titled GO train – is “non-eponymous” a word?).

There’s one train an hour. Plus a couple of one-offs at “peak times.”

I’d love to be able to cycle, but there are several reasons why I won’t consider this: winter roads, the survival instinct, and a healthy appreciation for the driving “inconsistencies” of many fellow residents.

Blissful memory flashback: I fondly recall my daily cycling commute in Tilburg, Holland. Here a network of cycle paths, largely independent of the road system, snakes in silence throughout the city.

Southern Ontario is flat like the majority of Holland. So why not here? Real winter only lasts a couple of months these days.

The Greater Toronto Area is finally waking up to how woefully inadequate its transit systems are.

As Steve Munro, Toronto transit activist, notes, “population growth vastly exceeds our plans for providing more and better transportation services, and the public is getting fed up with excuses for what we cannot do. ”

At the Mississauga Summit 2007, transit was at the heart of residents’ concerns. This report from The Toronto Star pointed out that:

“a majority of the Mississauga Summit 2007 focused on how to make transit a viable option for car-dependent Peel Region residents.”

There are even talks about talks about a feasibility study for a light-rail transit link running north-south through Mississauga.

Sadly, should this project along with the rest ever reach completion, I suspect the pull of verdant headlands, downtown cycling networks, and pedestrianized medieval town centres, will have proved all too strong.

issoire.jpg

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