This December, we are profiling Cycle Toronto members who told us that the lack of safety on our streets is a major barrier for them to ride a bike more often. These are their stories.
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Kathryn, Cycle Toronto member:
Growing up, I loved riding my bike to school and to my part-time job.
Once I moved to the city, riding a bike in Toronto seemed too dangerous. The streets were narrow, the traffic was out of control, and it felt like too many drivers had little patience for anyone else on the road. Cycling seemed impossible to me, and I haven’t yet built up the confidence to get back on a bike.
If I felt safe enough to ride, I would be able to embrace a more active lifestyle. I could get around the city more efficiently. I love walking, but it’s pretty slow. I don’t mind taking transit, but it is often not very easy or efficient. Every summer, I love spending lazy afternoons at Woodbine Beach on a rented paddleboard enjoying the sun and the water. Someday, I want to feel safe enough to ride a bike to the beach.
(A photo of Kathryn on a hike this summer.)
Supporting Cycle Toronto helps my vision become a reality. Their relentless advocacy stands up for those who ride a bike already, but also for those like me who imagine themself finally feeling safe enough to ride one day. I imagine where else I would be able to go with a network of safe bike lanes and quiet streets across the city. The benefits are endless - riding a bike would allow me to improve my health, save money on transportation, and save time getting around town.
Cycle Toronto relies on the support of people like you who want to help to create more cyclists. When more people choose to bike, our collective voice grows louder, and our vision of making Toronto a safer city for cycling for everyone becomes a reality.
Your donation today has the power to create more cyclists.
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Devon, Cycle Toronto member:
When I was a kid, riding a bike was so easy. It gave me so much independence - I was able to visit friends around my hometown without waiting for a drive. I loved the freedom that cycling afforded me.
When I moved to Toronto later on in life, I wanted to start riding again. With a new job downtown, and a patchwork of bike lanes leading me there, I decided to get a bike and start riding to work. I was slowly getting used to the chaos of Toronto’s streets when one day, while stopped at an intersection, a driver rolled down his window and began to take his road rage out on me. What could I have possibly done? Had I been taking the lane a little too much for his liking? I felt relief when the light turned green, assuming he would drive away. Instead, he continued alongside me and harassed me for several blocks.
I never rode my bike again after that day, and I sold it a year later.
(A photo of Devon last fall.)
During that brief period of riding to work, I saw everything that was wrong with riding a bike in Toronto: cars parked in bike lanes, chaotic construction sites, and the competition for space with drivers when there is no bike infrastructure. It was scary.
But I also saw the good. I got to experience those same feelings of freedom and independence that I felt as a kid. I experienced the convenience and health benefits that riding a bike brings. If only it had felt safer.
I’ve recently begun taking small steps to begin riding again. I’ve been relying on Bike Share - I’m a little apprehensive to fully commit again, as I’ve come to realize that many of the same barriers exist as 10 years ago.
It is clear that cycling conditions have improved in some parts of the city, however. The other day I was walking in High Park, which now feels far safer for everyone, thanks in part to Cycle Toronto's work advocating for restricting vehicle access. I imagine that one day, I will feel safe enough to regularly ride to High Park to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery.
Supporting Cycle Toronto helps my vision of safely riding to High Park become a reality. Their work stands up for those who ride a bike already, but also for those like me who imagine themself finally feeling safe enough to ride one day. Supporting Cycle Toronto means that more Torontonians will be able to discover the endless benefits of cycling.
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Suraya, Learn-to-Ride participant:
I wanted to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude for the incredible cycling program you organized.
Participating in it has been an immensely valuable experience for me. When I was kid, I was always fascinated by biking in my native country. Upon moving to Toronto, joining Cycle Toronto was a pivotal moment. Through this program, I’ve gained a comprehensive understanding of biking, and I can now confidently ride around the city.
(A photo of Suraya on a bike ride last summer.)
Your guidance and the program’s teachings have been instrumental in enhancing my cycling skills. Today, I find myself relying on my bike for nearly half of my transportation needs. Whether it’s a trip to the grocery store or navigating through the city, riding has become second nature. Moreover, being able to troubleshoot and address technical issues when my bicycle encounters problems has been empowering.
I am sincerely grateful to Toronto Cycling for providing such a wonderful opportunity to delve deeply into the world of cycling here in Toronto. The skills and confidence I’ve gained are invaluable, and I wanted to extend my heartfelt thanks to you and the team for making it all possible.
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