What does it take to get someone on a bike?

Taneisha wears a bike helmet outside Union Station

I’m Taneisha, and I’m the Community Outreach Coordinator at Cycle Toronto. This year, I was excited to lead our effort to bring cycling engagement activities to all 25 wards in the city — a first for our organization. Through pop-up bike safety stations, Get Lit! bike light giveaways, and educational workshops, we invited Torontonians – whether they ride a bike or not – to engage with cycling as a vital mode of transportation. Having this city-wide presence was a tremendous challenge and accomplishment for us, and I’m so proud of our team of staff and volunteers for making it happen!

Equipped with a cargo bike, a bright orange Cycle Toronto tent, and educational materials available in 14 languages, our outreach and engagement activities are an opportunity to connect with people in their communities; it’s a conversation. We help people get the most out of cycling in Toronto by answering questions, giving tips, and providing basic bike maintenance services. These touch points are also an important opportunity for us to listen and learn from local communities about their aspirations for safe cycling in their own neighbourhoods.

 

While every community we work in is different, there are a number of common factors that contribute to someone choosing to hop on their bike, no matter which area of the city they live in. This city-wide feedback is important for informing our advocacy work, and helps guide the campaigns, policies, and programs that Cycle Toronto pursues in order to push for the safe cycling city we all want to see.

 

What are we hearing?

It probably won’t come as a surprise that access to a connected network of safe cycling infrastructure is a big consideration for many people before deciding to ride. Moreso, the existing network is inequitably distributed, leaving many neighbourhoods behind, especially outside Toronto’s core. Our work to secure an ambitious Cycling Network Plan, including 100 km of bike lane installations over the next three years will certainly have an impact on connectivity and help more people ride in the years to come. 

Another important consideration is having access to bikes in the first place. This is why we are working to support the expansion of Bike Share into more neighbourhoods outside the core, and we continue to advocate for affordable rates to access the service. With Bike Share bikes available year-round (even in the dead of winter) we’ll be partnering with the team at Bike Share to offer free winter riding workshops in 2022 to give new and existing riders the confidence to use their bike to get around during the colder months. We’ll also be bringing back a revamped version of our popular Coldest Day of the Year Ride to provide an encouraging atmosphere for new riders to try winter riding, which is another barrier to cycling we’re hoping to help folks overcome. 

Connections to public transit are another important consideration for people choosing to ride a bike in the city. As someone who takes their bike on the TTC and the GO in order to get to work and run errands, this is something I can personally appreciate and relate to. Being able to rack my bike to the front of a bus or take it with me when boarding the GO train allows people like me to fill long-distance gaps in the cycling network and get to places much faster.Having the ability to close gaps in infrastructure by using cycling and public transit allows me and many others to complete trips that wouldn’t be possible on a bike alone. Our team continues to advocate for ways to encourage multimodal trips to get around and reduce our impact on the climate.

Getting more people on bikes in 2022

As we head into 2022, I’m looking forward to more opportunities to meet people who are interested in riding a bike. Planning is well underway for the 2022 edition of Bike Month. It will be my first time leading this program for the GTHA and Guelph, helping encourage millions of people to connect with their community through bikes.  

Our programs can’t happen with our efforts alone; it takes many individuals and organizational partners to run successful programs. For instance, our longtime partner, CultureLink, has played an essential role in our outreach and we’re hoping to be able to have the return of a full Bike to School Week with them this year. We’re also continuing to grow relationships with organizations like The Breakaways from Youth Challenge International, Africa Climate Action Initiative, and the Women’s Cycling Network, among others.

Helping more people ride bikes is the main goal of our organization and our advocacy plays a major role in that. We advocate for safe places to ride and laws that respect people riding bikes. Continuing to expand our actions to work in more neighbourhoods and help more people can’t happen without your support. Please donate to Accelerate Our Advocacy now and help us continue to grow in 2022.

Donate: Accelerate Our Advocacy

More stories from Cycle Toronto

By Ry Shissler on Dec 24, 2021

  Accelerate Our Advocacy, Stories