Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Seam

Driving in Toronto is not quite the chaotic apocalypse that it's made out to be, and personally, I've only seen the R.E.M. "Everybody Hurts" scenario play out three times on the Gardiner.  That said, it can definitely get a bit hairy driving around the city unless you know a few shortcuts, know when to avoid certain streets and if you have a mystical knowledge of The Seam.

I'll explain.  I live in the Corktown area of Toronto, which doubles as one of the city's more convenient traffic nexus points.  I say convenient since I have easy access to the DVP, the Gardiner, Lakeshore, the Broadview extension and Mt. Pleasant Road, not to mention my most-traveled roads, the two one-way streets of Richmond and Adelaide.  The one-ways are particularly convenient since they're usually "slightly" less congested than the regular roads and they get me either right into the heart of downtown (in Richmond's case) or provide me with relatively clear passage out of the downtown traffic madness (i.e. Adelaide).  Of course, this isn't always true since Adelaide always seems to have a lane shut down due to building construction and Richmond attracts that unique class of moron who decides to cut over two lanes to turn left onto University but, be that as it may.

And yet, Richmond also has the The Seam.  I dare to even whisper its name lest the power be lost, but surely what's the point in having a legend if nobody ever tells it?  At a certain time of day, when traffic is just light enough, it's possible to drive down Richmond and get nothing but green lights.  Oh, it's true.  And the stunning part is, The Seam occurs during rush hour --- which in Toronto is closer to three hours.  It's just that the road seems weirdly clear during this particular stretch of time, thus making it possible for your car to magically coast from just east of Parliament to right downtown in under five minutes. 

I discovered The Seam when making one of my typically last-minute dashes to the movies.  I'm the sort who will decide he wants to attend a 6:40 film screening at, say, 6:30, and then have to haul ass out the door.  This is the one time when I'm glad for the 10-15 minute barrage of ads and trailers that preclude every movie, but still, my timing can still be cut close given traffic conditions. 

In this case I was going to the Scotiabank Theatre downtown, so the assignment was Corktown to Richmond/John in roughly 10 or 15 minutes.  It's only a little over three km on Google Maps but still, time was tight and it was rush hour.  I hopped onto Richmond and suddenly, it's my car was on a cloud.  Green light after green light after green light, and nary a traffic slowing to be found.  Astoundingly, I found myself sitting down in the theatre not even 10 minutes after I'd left my front door.  It was the closest human equivalent to getting a star in Super Mario Kart.

You might argue that this was a one-time occurrence and just plain luck, but NOPE.  It happened again a few weeks later, same time, same incredible stretch of green lights.  It's now gotten to the point where I try to time my driving 'exactly' around The Seam to take full advantage, though you need absolute pinpoint accuracy.  I'm probably not going to ever become a NASCAR driver* but I daresay that finding the exact instant to catch The Seam is an equivalent.

* = probably 

So anyway, in case you're wondering when exactly The Seam begins and when you should aim for it yourself, uh, well, I'm not going to say.  TS for you.  Dude, surely you realize that if I encourage more drivers, that will ruin the whole point of The Seam.  It's just common sense!  "So then, what was the point of this entire post, Mark?"  Bragging, mostly.

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