Cycle Toronto's 2019 Year in Review

Riders participating in Bike to Work Day

Cycle Toronto's 2019 Year in Review

2019 was a big year for cycling in Toronto, and bodes well for the next decade. We wanted to share our highlights with you as we head into the new year. Here they are in no particular order:

Permanent bike lanes on Richmond-Adelaide-Simcoe-Peter

Getting around downtown got a lot easier when separated bike lanes were installed on Richmond, Adelaide, Simcoe, and Peter. Ridership exploded as soon as people had a safe alternative for bikes. Recognizing this, the City made the lanes permanent in January, but there was room for improvement. The Adelaide bike lane is currently in the process of being moved from the south to the north side of the street, and both Richmond and Adelaide will have upgraded protection starting in 2020. 

Busy on Bloor

Early in the year we found out that the Bloor bike lanes are some of the most heavily trafficked in North America. Even without separation in all spots, people were eager to ride in them, and businesses reaped the rewards. Watermain replacement and road resurfacing had the lanes shut down from Bathurst to Spadina through the summer and into November, but we came out of it with beautiful upgraded bike lanes. Those upgrades will continue east to Avenue next year and, simultaneously, the City will extend the protected bike lanes all the way to High Park next summer.

Road Rules Videos

We did something a little different as part of our Street Smarts programming this year: we produced a series of videos that are both educational and work to raise awareness and  empathy among people that might not know how close-call situations on the road feel from the position of the bike seat. Our Road Rules videos aired on CP24 and CTV reaching hundreds of thousands. This, along with our lead partner Toronto Hydro, helped reached far beyond our typical supporter base. We covered sharing a traffic lane, stopping in a bike lane, turning left, and turning right across a bike lane. Click here to watch the videos.

Staffing Changes

Nine years went by in a flash. Jared Kolb was instrumental as Executive Director of Cycle Toronto. In his time with the organization we grew a lot and so did cycling in the city. Toronto got its first separated bike lanes, and it’s now common to see people biking on our roads at all times of the year.

While we certainly miss Jared on the team, his leaving didn’t slow us down. We added three new staff members this year, and Keagan Gartz took over the helm as Interim Executive Director. We’re happy to have Community Engagement Manager Tamara Nahal, Campaigns Manager Kevin Rupasinghe, and Communications Lead Ryan Shissler on the team. 

Ride for Safe Streets

The Ride for Safe Streets presented by Bike Law Canada was our biggest and best yet. More than 300 people registered and raised money to show Toronto that we need safe streets. Riders had the choice of 25km and 10km routes on some of the city’s busiest and most iconic roadways led at a comfortable pace by our Ride Guides and the Toronto Police. Support from the community was amazing and we look forward to growing the event to 500 riders next year! Watch the 10km route in 2 minutes here.

Climate Emergency

On September 27, Cycle Toronto staff and board members took to the streets with tens of thousands marching in the Climate Strike. Cycle Toronto also joined the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) and more than 50 other organizations in successfully calling on the City of Toronto to declare a Climate Emergency. 

The City of Toronto’s TransformTO climate action goals include having 75% of trips under 5km made by biking or walking by 2050. The Climate Emergency Declaration aims to accelerate this process. We have been and will continue to put pressure on Councillors and City Staff to prioritize and accelerate installation of cycling infrastructure to help Toronto quickly reduce its transportation carbon emissions.

Toronto Cycling Handbook: Family Edition

We’ve given out well over 50,000 copies of the Toronto Cyclists Handbook since the second edition was published in 2016. This year we took a new approach to the Handbook, launching the Toronto Cycling Handbook: Family Edition during Bike to School Week. It shows just how easy it can be to ride a bike as a family. The Family Edition gives the tips you need to ride from pregnancy all the way until you have a family with teenagers.

We’re developing the Family Edition into a full workshop in 2020 so that we can help even more families get on their bikes and enjoy the city. 

New Cycling & Pedestrian Projects Manager

The City appointed a new Manager of the Cycling and Pedestrian Projects Unit this year. Becky Katz is an experienced urban planner, engineer and also bike rider. Throughout her career, Becky has weaved her passion for collaborating and engaging with communities into planning and designing high-quality public spaces and multi-modal transportation infrastructure. Working with Becky has been great so far, and we’re excited about the possibilities for our city with someone with a passion for cycling in her position. Read more about Becky Katz in our Q&A.

New Bike Plan and Vision Zero 2.0 approved at Council

This summer the city approved a new bike plan and Vision Zero strategy. The Cycling Network Plan calls for bike lane implementation and studies on many major roads by the end of 2021. The Bloor bike lane extension is part of this as well as studies on Yonge, Danforth, Warden and more. Read our initial thoughts on the bike plan.

Vision Zero 2.0 calls for road design improvements and speed reductions that have already begun implementation. Coupled with long-term cycling network upgrades and greater traffic law enforcement this can contribute to much greater road safety.

30th Anniversary of Bike to Work Day

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Jones

This year we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Bike to Work Day, growing to over 2,000 participants. Cycle Toronto took over the ride in 2012 and it’s a highlight for us every year, even if you don’t like waking up in the morning. Starting from four different locations across the city it was magnificent riding down Yonge with the entire group on a safe and open street.

Bonus: 2020

2020 is going to be a big year for cycling in Toronto. Here’s a few of the upcoming projects we’re excited about:

  • Bloor is getting protected bike lanes from Shaw to High Park, and potentially all the way to Runnymede.
  • We have a real chance of seeing a pilot bike lane on Danforth Ave.
  • 50 automated speed enforcement cameras will roll out this spring, aiding Toronto Police with their enforcement efforts.Toronto Police has also re-allocated $1million for dedicated traffic enforcement officers thanks to our push with Friends & Families for Safe Streets.
  • The Toronto Zoo and the Rouge are being connected all the way to the Don Valley. 10km of existing multi-use trail are being expanded upon to make the 16km trek a breeze.
  • We’re developing Biking with Your Family workshop to introduce a more hands-on approach to the ideas taught in The Toronto Cycling Handbook: Family Edition.
  • Building on our workshops we plan to introduce community, confidence-building rides. They’ll take place on quiet streets and trails where riders can cement the ideas they’ve learned while exploring their own neighbourhoods.

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Street Smarts Fundraiser

Our dream is to bring high-quality active transportation education to every Torontonian that wants it. We want everyone to know what it’s like to ride a bike; the way you relate to your city, how fun it can be, the money it can save, and how to stay safe on the road. This vision involves a long journey, and we’re still in the early days, with a long way to go. You can help us on the way.

Our program partner CultureLink processes donations so that you can get a charitable tax receipt while we awate a decision on our charitable status. Donate now. Under “Fund” select “2 - Cycling Program - Street Smarts Educational Activities.”

Under “Fund” select “2 - Cycling Program - Street Smarts Educational Activities.”

Click Here to Donate to Street Smarts

 

By Ryan Shissler on Dec 24, 2019

  2019, year in review, Bloor, Danforth, Family Handbook, Road Rules Videos

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