Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park are two vibrant neighbourhoods surrounded by barriers; the Don Valley forks at their centre, cutting them off in the south, east, and from each other. They’re further hemmed in by the rail corridor in the west.
These communities are not connected to the rest of Toronto with good infrastructure, nor are they connected to each other, and community leaders have been raising their voices to change this. Students, parents, teachers and other community leaders have been advocating for safer, better roads including bringing protected bike lanes on Overlea Boulevard to connect the neighbourhoods.
Don’t take it from us — hear from the residents of Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park that we've had the pleasure of working with for the past few years. They want to see their families and community members empowered to take out their bikes and ride with ease.
Meet Nazerah Shaikh
Nazerah has been an active advocate for protected bike lanes on Overlea Boulevard, and an active member of the Overlea Bridge steering committee. She was one of several community leaders who made a deputation in front of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee.
"Protected bike lanes are very much necessary and needed in Flemingdon Park. In a neighbourhood within walking distance of seven schools, protected bike lanes allow young cyclists, as well as their parents and caregivers, to feel safe when biking. This is absolutely critical when most residents live in high rise buildings and car traffic through the neighborhood has increased significantly. Although measures have been taken to prevent speeding, they are not always effective. Protected bike lanes not only ensure the safety of cyclists, but encourage healthy living choices."
Meet Ghotai Shirzad
As a mother and an active community member, Ghotai is deeply concerned about the lack of safe bike paths for her and her family. Like many mothers, she wants her daughters, Iqra and Yousra, to feel empowered to ride a bike. She wants to use cycling as a tool to get around the neighbourhood with ease and be able to spend more time with her daughters.
She hopes her daughter Yousra, who has a disability, would be able to join them for a family bike ride when there is enough protection. Ghotai also notes that as the neighbourhood is very crowded with people and traffic, bike lanes offer some relief to pedestrians, so that both pedestrians and people who cycle can walk and ride around the neighbourhood safely.
Meet Najia Zewari
Najia is a strong community figure and the co-founder of the Women's Cycling Network, an organization that provides easy access to cycles for women in surrounding neighbourhoods. Here’s what Najia had to say about cycling in Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park:
“The pandemic has made clear that massive numbers of people want to ride bikes in every corner of the city. Many areas of Toronto need safe infrastructure for people to ride bikes. Community members, including women and children from Thorncliffe and Flemingdon, want to have safe infrastructure, to build easy connections that are safe for all road users, and be vibrant in their basic rights to mobility."
Meet Hafeez Alavi
Hafeez is an engaged student at the local high school and an avid transit and bike advocate. He has been at the forefront advocating for a safe cycling path on Overlea Bridge.
“The Overlea Bridge is a key connector; a gateway between Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park. Safely bridging this gap would allow riders of all ages and abilities to get to school or ride with their friends.”
Move365 Connect Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park aims to support these community efforts in building a safer, mobility-friendly environment for everyone in the community. These communities have not received high-quality infrastructure they need — we want to help change that.
The first phase of our advocacy work would be to bring protected bike lanes to Overlea connecting Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park. As a plan for a new subway line takes shape, the next phase would be to connect these neighbourhoods to Danforth Avenue in the south and Eglinton Avenue in the north. However, the Ontario subway line won’t be complete for another decade; people need to get moving now.
Will you help us pave the road to more accessible, safe infrastructure for the members of the Thorncliffe and Flemingdon community?