Photo: Toronto Central Academy’s first club ride of the 2014 season (credit: Duvy Nguyen)
The trip to and from school is an important part of the day for children and youth. It can be a chance to be outside, to spend time with parents or caregivers and friends, and eventually to develop a sense of independence. Active modes of transportation - walking, biking, scootering and more - confer the most benefits. But since 1985, in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, the number of students being driven to school by their parents has doubled to over 30%, while the number traveling by active modes has fallen to under 40%.
Cycle Toronto has joined the growing movement to reverse the worrying trend. We focus on what we know best - cycling - a great travel mode especially for trips between 2 and 5 km in length. We advocate for improved cycling infrastructure in and around schools and bike education among children and youth. With partners, we work directly with students, teachers and parents to nurture a bike culture in schools across our city.
To date, our achievements include:
- successfully advocating with the Toronto District School Board to adopt the TDSB Charter for Active, Safe and Sustainable Transportation and to declare their first-ever Bike to School Day in May 2014;
- building on that success, collaborating with school boards, public health offices, regions and municipalities across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area to establish a region-wide Bike to School Week which involved over 16,000 students in 2015 and will be celebrated again from May 30 to June 3, 2016;
- supporting teachers and students to establish bike clubs and offer programs at 14 secondary schools: Birchmount Park Collegiate, Central Toronto Academy, Central Technical School, Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate, Eastdale Collegiate, Greenwood Secondary School, Harbord Collegiate, Jarvis Collegiate, John Polanyi Collegiate, Parkdale Collegiate, Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate, West Hill Collegiate, Western Technical School, and York Memorial Collegiate; and
- reaching almost 3,000 students with cycling education and promotion programs between April 2013 and December 2016.
The Bike to School Project is led by CultureLink Settlement Services; Cycle Toronto collaborates alongside Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank and Evergreen. Funding has been provided by Ontario Trillium Foundation from 2013-2016 and we at Cycle Toronto are excited to be part of the next phase of the project. Stay tuned for more news!