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Things That Go Bump On Harbord Street

If a ride along Harbord Street over the past few days had made you feel like you’re stuck in an old episode of the Batman TV series, do not be alarmed. They may be onomatopoeias, but they mean no harm.
The painted-on words-that-sound-like-their-sounds (“OUCH!” “THUNK!” “OOF!” “YIPE!”) and words-that-are-more-exclamations (“holy cr*p!”) each point to a new potential hazard for a cyclist along Harbord: a deep crack here, a bump there. They were splashed onto Harbord over the past few days; reader Liz McLaughlin spotted them on Monday and sent us an email, noting that they were “preeeeeeeetty funny.”
The excited purple stencils are the work of the Urban Repair Squad—the same gang responsible for some of the more imaginative pedestrian- and cyclist-centric touchups in the past few years, including a beautiful river painted onto Crawford Street to aid those crossing it.
In a statement passed on to Torontoist, a member of the Squad who identified themselves as Saddletramp explained:
“The action-hero drama of dodging obstacles and potholes, escaping devil-may-care drivers in super-fast cars, and braving the fierce, temperamental elements, may seem, and feel, quite comic. Unless you’re face-down on the pavement. With some wit, we endeavour to provide warning with humour; suggest danger with comedy; invite caution without frightening…and most importantly, we appeal to our fine city to remember that potholes aren’t just uncomfortable, they really, really hurt.”
Clap clap clap clap.
Photos by Remi Carreiro/Torontoist.


  • rmcw

    Really? I’ve biked Harbord every day for the past week, from Spadina right to Ossington. Somehow I managed to fail to notice both the potholes and the stencils every time. I fail.

  • http://undefined Rodney

    This is pretty cool. I do feel like a comic hero when I’m riding my bike. Now they should stencil short stories on the road, or choose-your-own-adventures. It’d be like listening to an audio book, except more dangerous.

  • http://undefined Gregory

    The city should clean up the potholes on the regular part of the road too, bicycles in the bike lane are not the only 2 wheeled riders on the road, motorcyclists run a much bigger danger everyday with some of these huge holes found on the main part of the road.

  • http://undefined W. K. Lis

    And this winter is supposed to be a good winter for potholes (less of them)?

  • Pan Von Sol

    The bottom of pic #6, I can’t tell if that’s an even bigger hole in the road, or just a combination of shadows and my crappy monitor…

  • http://undefined Rémi Carreiro

    no it’s not another pothole. It’s just some dark pavement.

  • http://undefined mattalexto

    This is why I ride a mountain bike in the city. Has nothing to do with hills.

  • http://undefined fantasygoat

    I’ve been driving for 20 years now and I can tell you that the quality of the roads has dropped to a point where they’re actually *better* in Buffalo.
    It used to be a point of pride how smooth and nice our roads were.

  • http://undefined JoFergus

    It seems as though we’re enduring an epidemic of flat tires, road hazards and debris, and of course breathing all that dirty air from the dust being kicked up by all the cars driving across permanently filthy streets.
    I think I’ve discovered what’s behind all this mess…

  • http://undefined vitality7

    I second that, riding a mountain bike prevents a lot of oofs in the road folks. Keep it safe, great post!

  • http://undefined bonfire89

    I’m waiting for the first lawsuit of a male cyclist going sterile because of these things…

  • mpag

    I think they also need to have a look at Shuter. Holy cow it’s rough too.