Cycling Advocacy 101

Getting started in cycling advocacy can be a bit daunting: there is a lot to learn! This guide outlines the steps to an effective advocate for the consultation and development of equitable cycling infrastructure in Toronto and your neighbourhood. This guide will walk you through:

  • How Cycle Toronto advocates for safer cycling routes
  • Plans and studies that identify locations for cycling routes
  • The process through which cycling infrastructure is installed at city hall
  • Cycle Toronto campaigns, such as Bikes Love Bloor, Yonge, and Danforth; Protected Bike lanes on Eglinton; and advocacy for vulnerable road users
  • How to get involved on city-wide and local projects, from writing the occasional email to taking on a volunteer leadership role
  • How to get involved in projects in your neighbourhood through the Ward Advocacy Program

The big picture: what is needed to get a cycling project approved?

  • Strong community support: Gaining the support of the local residents, businesses, and business improvement areas (BIAs) is hugely important in getting a cycling project approved. Often, the first step is making sure the community is aware that people are talking about change.
  • Local stakeholder buy-in: Stakeholders are organizations or residents that have a vested interest in the project at hand. For instance; stakeholders for a bike lane project on a major road could include nearby schools, major employers, residents’ associations, Cycle Toronto and more. Finding ways to identify the needs and concerns of stakeholders can help move a project forward or help you find a new ally.
  • Inclusion in a bike plan: having a route already identified in a Cycling Network Plan, which we discuss on the 'From Plan to Reality' page, is a big help in advocating for its construction
  • Councillor support: Councillors must hear from their constituents when something needs to be changed or else they may never know that desire is there. Hearing the same thing from many people reinforces its important.
  • City staff support: ensuring that a cycling project is feasible and a priority for city staff is important because they will be the ones designing it!

What does Cycle Toronto do?

advocacy on behalf of our members and provides resources for cyclists to be effective advocates themselves, such as through our Ward Advocacy Program. Together we are able to present a strong, unified voice advocating for the rights of people of all ages and abilities from every corner of the city to be able to safely choose how they travel. This includes legitimizing and raising the profile of cycling as a form of transportation and recreation.

Cycle Toronto does its advocacy work by:

  • Educational outreach: Create and share educational resources that enable more people to safely ride bikes and increase public familiarity with cycling,

  • Working directly with the City: Regularly interact with the Mayor, councillors’ offices, and City staff to identify problems and work toward solutions,

  • Collaboration: work with provincial and federal advocacy groups such as Share the Road Coalition, Velo Bikes Canada, and more!

  • Organization: Work with ward groups, volunteers, and extensive contact lists to collectively action important items

Map of the 10-Year Cycling Network Plan

From Plan to Reality

How does the City of Toronto create a cycling map? What goes in to the creation? Learn more about the process!
A smiling person hands a reusable bag filled with goodies to a person on a bike.

Building Momentum

How does Cycle Toronto build momentum and support for its campaigns? Learn more about the process, our current campaigns, and some of our past efforts.
Cycle Toronto Advocacy Forum 2020

Get Involved in Cycling Advocacy

You've read about the city's processes and Cycle Toronto's efforts and now you're ready to get involved, too! Read more about how you can help join the conversation no matter how much time you can contribute.

Building Connections

A man stands holding an ice cream cone in front of the store Uncle Betty's

Bikes Mean Business

Building cycling infrastructure on main streets makes it easier for people to shop locally. Read more about other case studies and how Cycle Toronto is working with business improvement areas (BIAs) and businesses to encourage residents to #BuyLocalBikeLocal.

Other Topics

Common Cycling Myths

Learn about some of the common cycling myths - and how to respond to them.
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