How was cargo biking with kids to Toronto Island?

In short, biking allowed us to experience Toronto Island in a way that we weren’t able to before on foot.

We love Toronto Island. It’s beautiful. The island can be buzzing with activity in one area and at the same time tranquil in another. The whole place feels much farther away from the city than it really is. Even when the ferry unloads hoards of people every 15 minutes, the island is big enough that everyone can claim a shady waterfront spot for an afternoon.

We usually go to Toronto Island a couple of times a year. In the past, our experiences were always constrained by how far we can walk in a few hours. A couple of years ago, we decided that we wanted to see more, so we rented a side-by-side pedaling bike and the two mini Prospects sat in the front basket (this was before The Forgotten One was drafted to the P team):

However, they were so slow that we could only go so far, and see so much, during the few hours of rental. We can’t stay on the island all day either. The mini Ps, like perishables, have a best before date (or rather “best before nap time”). Past this time and you risk full-on meltdowns.

Enter cargo bikes. This is the first year that we experienced the island with the Bullitt and the Edgy. All at once, the island became bigger and smaller. Bigger because we were able to see things that we didn’t see before. And smaller because we were able to ride from one end of the island to the other relatively quickly. We felt so free.

Our day began at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. Here’s Mrs. Prospect checking the ferry times:

We didn’t want the little Prospects to get lost in the crowd so they stayed in the bikes. With the weight of the kids, and the slow moving crowd up the ramp onto the ferry, the Edgy stalled and Mrs. P wasn’t able to muscle it over the hump. I watched helplessly from the back (by then we had separated a bit). I had The Forgotten One in the Bullitt so I couldn’t abandon him to help. Fortunately, some nice person helped by giving the Edgy a little push. Phew. Thanks stranger!

On the ferry, we found a little corridor to park the fleet:

We took the ferry to Wards Island on the east end:

Note that the ferry to Wards Island departs less frequently than the one to Center Island (every 15 minutes by mid-morning in the summer). Then we rode west along the north coast of the island to Hanlan’s Point:

In between, we saw amazing views of the Toronto skyline:

We picnicked on a large grassy field with kites flying above, and the CN Tower as the backdrop:

The Bullitt parked under a beautiful tree:

We rode by drinkers drinking their drinks on a patio off the boardwalk. We ventured into the bush and followed an unmarked path:

We ended up at the edge of the island. Here, we interrupted a kite boarder’s solitude, as if we discovered his secret hideout. We definitely wouldn’t have stumbled here by foot. Then we saw quaint little houses that resembled the ones you see in storybooks. These houses had all sorts of neat DIY structures, from treehouses to basketball nets. Something we didn’t expect were all the cargo bikes parked outside these houses. It makes so much sense! If you’re on an island with no vehicle traffic, cargo bikes would be awesome for transporting items such as groceries. It seemed so simple and idyllic.

By the time we were at Hanlan’s Point on the west end, The Light Switch was fast asleep…

…but he rallied to finishing the afternoon with a treat:

Peace and quiet, brought to you by ice-cream:

At one point on the way back to the ferry, we had to ride slowly against the flow of the crowd, which I thought made for a cool shot:

The day was full but there was so much more to see and do. Mrs. P and I took mental notes of all the spots we’d like to go to in the future.

Before we left the island, The Peacemaker called the day “the best day ever”. She then paused and said, “but this time, it’s the real best day ever.” The Light Switch, eyes closed and in mid-sleep, mustered what energy he had left to say, “I don’t want to go home.” Ironically, the bikes tired them out even though they didn’t ride. I guess they were able to see and do so much more this time around.

Some bike stats:

Trip distance = 27.3 km

Average Speed = 13.5 km/hr

Max speed = 30.5 km/hr

Total actual riding time = 2 hrs

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