(Three raccoons riding down the street during this October's Big Toronto Bike Ride.)
August has thus far lived up to its reputation as a beautiful month for a bike ride. Amidst a lively schedule of summertime community events, we found some time to compile a fresh edition of The Ring & Post. Read on to find out more about a “big” Cycle Toronto announcement, some city council updates, and a new segment premiering in this edition, Just for Fun.
Table of Contents
- Message from the Executive Director
- The Big Toronto Bike Ride 2023 presented by Bike Law Canada
- CycleTO Committees
- Cycle TO general
- Bike Brigade
- Scarborough Southwest By-Election
- Bill 40
- July IEC & City Council Update
- Cycling Infrastructure Construction Updates
- Eglinton For All
- Construction Zone Safety
- Business Partner Spotlight
- Just for Fun
- In the Media
Message from Michael Longfield, Executive Director of Cycle Toronto
M. Forster wasn’t a planner or an activist. But the ribbon cutting ceremony for a short cycling connection between The Esplanade and Mill Street highlighted that perhaps he would have understood that the strength of a cycling network is only as strong as its interconnectedness.
Prior to this path’s creation, it’s no exaggeration that every day, hundreds, if not thousands of people on bikes would ride along the narrow little sidewalk between the two bikeways that already barely had space for the number of people walking and rolling. The potential for conflict (or at least annoyance) along this stretch was always high.
The new cycling path just north of the existing walkway along Parliament Square Park is less than 150m–a mere fraction of the 100km of infrastructure planned to be delivered between 2022 and 2024 (and the hundreds more we need). Staff highlighted this wasn’t an easy project, and involved considerable coordination between the city and Metrolinx. And the land itself is filled with a rich history well before the first settler arrived. Unlike the recently approved Bloor Street West extension, or the still tenuous Danforth-Kingston and Eglinton cycling projects, no major campaigns or petitions were created to push it forward. But addressing these kinds of gaps across the city in our growing cycling network–including prioritizing the safety of vulnerable road users in construction zones–is essential to getting more people to choose to ride a bike.
As we push for a city-wide network under our new Mayor and Council, remembering that its success in terms of modal shift and addressing our climate action and road safety goals will ultimately be based on how safe and convenient people will feel about biking their own 5km and local neighbourhoods.
I want to hear about cycling issues regarding every part of the city - please reach out to me at [email protected] to tell me about the cycling connections that could transform your neighbourhood.
(The cover of Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.)
The Big Toronto Bike Ride 2023 Presented By Bike Law
The Big Toronto Bike Ride presented by Bike Law Canada is back, and this year we’re all riding together! Join us on a lively ride around town, make a new cycling friend at the post-ride social, and, most importantly, help Cycle Toronto raise funds for even more programming and advocacy in 2024. We’ve spent 2023 amplifying cyclists’ voices during the municipal by-election, helping folks take up biking at our Learn-to-Ride program, and advocating for an expanded cycling network across Toronto. We have even bigger and better goals for 2024, but we need your help to accomplish them.
This year’s ride is on Sunday, October 1st, 2023! Participants can fundraise individually or as a team leading up to a ~12km ride to celebrate our big wins and help us continue our work to bring tangible change to Toronto’s cycling culture and infrastructure projects. We are excited to see that there are already many teams and individuals fundraising and ready to ride.
Prizes for top fundraising individuals and teams will be announced over the coming weeks, but we are excited to unveil one prize in today’s Ring & Post! Participants who raise over $500 will receive a limited edition Cycle Toronto raccoon t-shirt.
This limited edition shirt is also available for pre-order on our online store now if you’re unable to attend The Big Toronto Bike Ride 2023!
(The limited edition Big Toronto Bike Ride 2023 t-shirt.)
See you at the ride!
With our Annual Meeting behind us, applications are open for volunteers to sit on our committees along with staff and Directors of the Board. Our committees include:
Advocacy: supports, plans, develops strategy for, and assists in Cycle Toronto campaigns
Anti-Oppression: advises the organization on how to apply an anti-oppression lens to our work and how to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion within the organization
Finance: provides oversight, disclosure and transparency on financial matters; oversees the budgeting and audit processes
Fundraising: provides leadership in developing fundraising strategy and implementing the fundraising plan
Governance: advises the Board on strategic direction of the organization and on the operations of the Board itself
Human Resources: advises and supports the staff with respect to human resources issues as they arise; develops human resources policies and practices regarding staffing, compensation, professional development, and succession planning
IT: provides guidance to staff on all IT-related decisions, including our websites and systems
Cycle Toronto is committed to recruiting and supporting committee members that reflect the diversity of our membership and Toronto at large. Cycle Toronto encourages applications in particular from people who live outside of downtown, individuals from racialized groups, Indigenous people, women, people with disabilities, people of diverse faiths, people of diverse social classes, people with diverse gender identities, and people with diverse sexual orientations.
Cycle Toronto members who wish to contribute to these committees should apply here:
Looking to volunteer for Cycle Toronto in general? Check out our volunteer page here.
The Bike Brigade
The Bike Brigade is a group of 1000+ volunteer cyclists delivering food and other essentials by bike across Tkaronto (Toronto). While the Bike Brigade emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it continues to ride and support its partner organizations to reach communities across the city.
With the longer days and warmer weather, now is the perfect time to help. You don't need a special bike or fancy equipment.
Scarborough Gets (Another) Municipal By-Election
With the resignation of former budget chief Gary Crawford, the Council seat in Scarborough Southwest was declared vacant and a by-election will be held later this fall. For the residents of Ward 20, this will be the third (!) municipal election in just over one year. Transit, affordable housing, and safe streets remain key issues. The Danforth Kingston Complete Streets Extension planned as part of the city’s commitment of 100km of new bikeways between 2022-2024 remains a key priority for Cycle Toronto. For context, local residents have seen three separate cycling projects, including the recent ActiveTO Brimley bikeways, have been installed and then removed in this ward.
Cycle Toronto, with the Alliance for Safe and Active Streets, will reissue our election campaign survey (for the third time) to help residents of Ward 20 Scarborough Southwest vote for a candidate that supports active transportation and policies that prioritize the safety of vulnerable road users.
Candidate nominations will open September 7, 2023. Election is expected late November or early December. More information will be posted on the city’s website.
Until the vacancy is filled, the former Councillor’s staff remain in place and are available to address constituency matters for residents of Scarborough Southwest.
(Elections Canada map of the Scarborough Southwest electoral district.)
July IEC & City Council Update
Police continue to target cyclists
It wasn’t long after Mayor Chow’s arrival at City Hall that police began targeting food delivery couriers as well as cyclists crossing with the advanced pedestrian signal and in the pedestrian scramble at Yonge and Dundas.
Last summer at this time, we were alarmed by the Toronto Police’s campaign targeting cyclists in High Park, despite the number of fatalities and injuries caused by motor vehicles in and around the park. We remain resolute in our belief that the targeting and ticketing of cyclists is not an effective use of police resources; their targeting of a particularly vulnerable subset of people who bike: gig workers. We remain opposed to calls to license couriers, as this unnecessarily perpetuates a polarizing issue that contributes to not only making our roads more dangerous, but distracting people and policy makers from focusing on achieving the city’s Vision Zero Safety Plan and implementing sustainable solutions that benefit all road users.
Our laws need to change to better reflect the safety of cyclists. Under the Highway Traffic Act, cyclists are treated as vehicles despite the inequity and obvious differences between these forms of transportation.
Toronto Parking Authority Presents an update on the City-wide Parking Strategy
On July 18 the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) presented an update on On-street parking review and the City-wide parking strategy. We were pleased to hear Scott Collier, the President of TPA, speak of the need to fix the current fragmented approach between their programs and that they are seeking to be a leader in mobility and congestion management, as well as the importance of being aligned with city policies. We have been advocating for this holistic approach that should prioritize active modes of transportation. We are calling on TPA to take a more equitable approach to how they cost Bike Share Toronto in conjunction with their on and off-street parking. With the city in dire financial straits, there is an opportunity for the city to revisit the incredibly low cost of car parking compared to the high cost of the corresponding infrastructure. It shouldn’t be cheaper to ride a Bike Share e-bike than drive and park if they are serious about supporting the city, alleviating traffic congestion and meeting climate action targets.
We were very concerned about the absence of any mention about the city’s urgent need for more safe and secure bike parking and are now working with Transportation Services who is leading the City-Wide Parking Strategy. Cycle Toronto will be one of the community stakeholders and we look forward to being part of consultations in the fall.
As the city moves forward with their planning and consultations we will be watching for the following initiatives:
- Increasing the revenue generated from on and off-street parking by increasing the cost of on and off-street parking to reflect the real cost
- Expanding access to safe and secure bike parking across the city
- Testing new forms of secure bike parking for Torontonians who have no safe place to store their bikes or e-bikes
- Aligning with the city’s micro-mobility strategy
- Providing parking for different types of mobilities such as cargo bikes and e-scooters
- Ensuring on-street parking is enforced
- Consolidating on and off-street parking as well as on-street permit parking
- Applying an equity assessment to determining parking rates
Sign up for action alerts today so you don’t miss a beat.
July 19 & 20 City Council Meeting:
On July 20, City Council debated whether the city should adopt a e-scooter sharing pilot program (IE5.5- Planning for an E Scooter Pilot). We were pleased that our recommendation was adopted. The city needs a comprehensive micro-mobility strategy before it can assess specific types of mobilities. Cycle Toronto will be an important community stakeholder and look forward to working on this issue as it develops. Make sure you sign up for our Action Alerts.
A Walk in the Park for Safe Suburban Cycling Connections
On Sunday July 30 we joined The Centre for Active Transportation, Foodshare, Park People, Toronto Field Naturalists, WalkTO and TenBlock along with Councillor Pasternak and Becky Katz from the city of Toronto’s Transportation Services to enjoy the beautiful nature trail in Earl Bales Park. Our collective objective is to connect the park to York Mills subway station so people have a safe way to connect the subway. We aim to create a sustainable transportation option that promotes active living, reduces carbon emissions, and brings us closer to a harmonious coexistence between urban development and natural preservation of our green spaces. Cycle Toronto advocates for quality bike infrastructure, but creating quality connections between the city’s wonderful trail system to the city’s transportation network can be equally valuable. The group will be gathering for another walk in the park in winter when the golf course is closed.
(The Earl Bales Park Walk group poses for a photo.)
Cycling Infrastructure Construction Updates
Construction will begin on the Bloor West cycle track extension on Monday, August 21st. These protected lanes will extend from Runnymede Road to Aberfoyle Crescent, which is just east of Islington. New bollards, planters, and signage will be built along the route, with a second phase of construction planned for summer 2024 to complete the approved route.
(City of Toronto map of the Bloor bikeway extension.)
In Cabbagetown, another exciting series of small projects will provide the downtown-east neighbourhood with a collection of new cycling connections. Most notable are the new contraflow lanes for Sackville Street and Sumach Street, which will provide north-south connectivity to Gerrard to the south and Wellesley to the north. Construction on these improvements is expected to be complete by the end of August.
(City of Toronto map of the Cabbagetown cycling projects.)
Finally, bicycle-specific traffic signals have been activated along Adelaide. The street, which has been a chaotic construction site this summer, is undergoing changes that will see its bike lane switch from the south side to the north side. The new lane on the north side of Adelaide will make cycling downtown safer by removing the requirement for people cycling to merge with motor vehicle traffic along the route.
(City of Toronto rendering of a Cabbagetown contraflow lane.)
Eglinton Complete Street
Years of construction of the Eglinton Avenue Crosstown LRT has hindered the growth of communities along Eglinton and the businesses that sit on it. There are already plans for protected bike lanes, better pedestrian infrastructure, and other streetscape improvements, but much of this is unfunded. Completing protected bike lanes now, instead of after the LRT opens, will allow for recovery to begin sooner and proceed faster. It would allow the street to become a place for people of all ages and abilities to choose how they want to move — to ride bikes, to walk, to use mobility devices, to take transit, and to drive. These plans will be discussed at an upcoming Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting in Fall 2023.
Construction Zone Update
Sometimes it feels like every time you turn a corner, you encounter another row of pylons and big orange signs. Construction sites are often inconvenient and frustrating for people driving; they are scary and dangerous for people walking, rolling, and biking.
Earlier this summer the chaos on Adelaide Street, one of Toronto’s busiest cycling thoroughfares with over 6,000 people on bikes a day, underscored the need for change. Adelaide was a flashpoint for a growing crisis across the city.
With construction impacting several segments of the Bloor Street bike lanes for at least the next year, we are calling on the city to ensure there is a safe path of travel for all vulnerable road users across the city.
Read our recommendations for making construction zones safer and your name to our list to help us call for change:
(A collage of construction zone signage.)
Business Partnership Spotlight
Urbane Cyclist is a worker-owned cooperative, founded in 1997. The friendly and expert staff are long-time supporters of better biking in Toronto, and have been supportive of Cycle Toronto since the early days.
Urbane is located just north of Kensington Market at 240 College West. They’re open from Monday to Thursday, 10:00 - 6:00, Friday 10:00 - 7:00, and Saturday 11:00 - 7:00. Beyond their repair services that can be reserved by booking online, they also offer sales consultations and test rides. Highlights from Urbane's unique bike selection include cargo and family bikes, folding bikes and recumbents. Their parts department and service counter offer repair services that are unparalleled in the city. If you haven’t checked them out, do so now!
(A photo of Urbane Cyclist. Courtesy: Google Maps.)
Introducing….Just for Fun
As bike parking options have expanded around the city, most cyclists have surely taken note that some designs are pretty convenient and some are quite frustrating. Cycle Toronto recently set out to determine what kind of bike parking riders find easiest to use, which they find the most secure, and which simply look the best. Almost 100 cyclists took part in our survey and left comments that would indicate they are quite passionate about the topic. The final results reveal which designs are universally loved, widely detested, and decisively contentious.
Read all about the survey and the results on our site, and let us know what other topics you would like to see us cover.
(Several different types of bike parking alongside their "grades" they received in our survey.)
In the Media
Learn to Ride program in Rexdale with the Bikes for Climate Hub - Ongoing classes for all ages, registration is still open
Learn to Ride program with CultureL!ink Bike Hub in Humber River – Black Creek - Ongoing classes for adults, registration is still open
Learn to Ride program with Community Place Hub in Weston - Mt Dennis - New classes for all ages, space is still available
Scarborough Cycles x Cycle Toronto x Plaza Pops ride together on Aug 26 to Wexford Heights - Join us for a ride and food social in Wexford Heights
Culture Link Bike Host Community Bike Ride, Picnic & Scavenger Hunt on Aug 27 on Toronto Island - Join Bike Host for a family friendly community bike ride, picnic & scavenger hunt. Cycle Toronto will be there too, supporting this fun event with one of our safety stations.
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