Toronto ♥️s Bikes Make-a-Thon presented by Cycle Toronto

Toronto heart bikes make a thon logo superimposed on a neon collection of bikes and bike parts

Cycle Toronto’s first ever bike-themed festival of making!

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With bike lanes expanding, bike sales exploding, and active transportation freeing up the TTC for those who really need it, bikes are fast becoming a larger part of our lives. For some, this past year has been their first time on a bike. For others, it wasn’t the first time riding but the first time using a bike to carry groceries, transport kids, or get around in winter. The way we think about bikes will need to grow and change with their impact on our lives. As we reflect on our new reality one year into lockdown, we each have the opportunity to help make Toronto a safe, healthy, and vibrant cycling city for all!

This all-virtual make-a-thon aims to identify issues around cycling, and showcase creative solutions from the community. Judges from a variety of organizations are excited to learn more about not only the problems you identify as “worth solving”, but your ideas for solving them.

Our theme this year is Working Bikes: how we can get our bikes to do more for everyone, for work and for play? Have you created a new way to carry groceries on a bike, or attach a child trailer to a Bike Share bike? Do you have data on bike camping, or a way to carry a picnic basket to the beach? How can we make cycling more accessible and useful for all?

Register now!

Registration is free! Suggested $10 donation, if you can afford it; we don't want money to be a barrier to great ideas. 

Submissions

Submissions will take one of three forms:

  • Prototypes: if you can make or build it in 2 weeks, it’s a prototype. A prototype is an early working demo of a solution to a problem. Examples: mobile or web apps, crafted or 3D printed mechanical devices, physical architectural or planning models.
  • Ideas: ideas are visions for the future that can’t be made in 2 weeks. These should be precise, actionable proposals supported by data and/or user research. Examples: policy proposals, funding models, topic and speaker list for a new conference.
  • Data stories: data stories are narratives about data. These can use open datasets or data collected by the make-a-thon team, and should combine both data and storytelling to inspire action. Examples: infographics, annotated GPS traces or maps, diary or journal studies, interactive data visualizations.

All teams will need to include a 2 minute video (doesn’t have to be professional!) walking us through the problem; the approach; and their submitted prototype, idea, or data story.

Criteria

Your submissions will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • Theme: How well does the submission address the theme of Working Bikes? Does it help more people do more with bikes?
  • Execution: How complete is your submission? Do you have a working prototype, actionable idea, or polished data story?
  • Creativity: How unusual or surprising is your submission? Does it show unique insight into the problem or how to solve it?
  • Validation: Did you identify an intended audience for your prototype, idea, or data story? Did you test it with that audience? Did you make improvements in response to feedback?
  • Documentation: How well can we understand your process? How easily could others continue your work, given the information you provide?

Prizes

One winning team will win a prize pack worth approximately $300, while three runner-up teams will each receive prize packs worth approximately $100.  (More details coming soon!)

Note: All teams that enter the contest will have their submissions evaluated by our panel of judges.  However, we are only able to ship prizes within the Greater Toronto Area.

Schedule

The make-a-thon will take place over 2 weeks, beginning April 3 at 11am with some announcements and a kickoff meeting.

  • February 26: Registration opens
  • April 3 11am: Announcements and kickoff meeting: https://zoom.us/j/92089029009 This call is open to all, but will focus on make-a-thon logistics. It's also your chance to meet a team and brainstorm a project, and your last chance to register!
  • April 3 12pm: Challenge begins!
  • April 3-17: Teams work on their projects. We will also do a midpoint update with teams, sign up here: https://calendly.com/savage-evan/torontoheartsbikes-makeathon-midpoint
  • April 17 12pm: Final project videos and files due. Submission link to come in your email and on Discord.
  • April 18 1pm-7pm: Judges assess team submissions and choose winners. We will stream live reactions from the judges to team videos at 1pm, then they will debate in private. At 7pm, we will release their announcement of which teams and projects have won!

Judges

Our awesome panel of judges will evaluate your prototype, idea, or data story. They bring a wide variety of expertise in civic tech, active transportation advocacy, municipal politics, and transportation engineering; they're excited to have a look at what you create!

Each judge has posted a short video discussing a problem or question related to active transportation in Toronto which they are interested in. While your submission can be anything related to Working Bikes, these might inspire you in picking a specific problem to work on!

Marisa Bernstein: Code for Canada

How might we make urban cycling feel as safe as cycling in the countryside?

Marisa Bernstein is a Program Manager at Code for Canada where she oversees two local initiatives, Civic Hall Toronto and GRIT Toronto. Marisa works closely with public servants, tech and design practitioners, entrepreneurs, and communities across Toronto to find new ways of collaborating together in order to address challenging civic issues. With a background in urban design and community engagement, she previously co-founded a civic tech company that created digital tools to help communities become better engaged in the urban improvement process.

Michael Black: Walk Toronto, Cycle Toronto, TCBC

How might we improve the experience of cycling in the rain?

Michael Black is an advocate for all manner of active transportation, serving Cycle Toronto through the Advocacy Committee and local ward programs. He also co-founded Walk Toronto in 2013 and, more recently, the Toronto Community Bike Coalition. He has been cycling for around 60 years, and was the recipient of the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT)’s Active Transportation Champion award in 2016.

Brad Bradford: City Councillor, Ward 19 (Beaches East York)

How might we help customers access local businesses by bike?

Brad Bradford is a Canadian urban planner and politician. He was elected to the Toronto City Council in 2018, and represents Ward 19 Beaches—East York. Bradford was appointed a commissioner of the Toronto Transit Commission Board by city council in 2018. He also sits on council committees, the Budget Committee, and the Planning and Housing Committee. Prior to his election, Bradford worked as a planner for the City of Toronto. He holds a bachelor of environmental studies degree in urban and regional environments from York University, and a masters degree in urban planning from the University of Waterloo.

Raphael Dumas: Transportation Services, City of Toronto

How might we learn more about how non-professional bike couriers move through the city?

Raphael has been cycling in Toronto since 2016 when he joined the city to work for the Transportation Big Data Innovation Team. There he has performed analyses of the impacts of the King Street Transit Pilot, the introduction of Private Transportation Companies like Uber & Lyft, and provided data for the planning of ActiveTO. After getting degrees in Urban Planning & Transportation Engineering from MIT, he interned at the Boston Cyclists Union. You can find him biking in all seasons to his office on the Lower Don Trail.

Darnel Harris: Our Greenway Conservancy, CITY Institute (York University)

How might we ensure people have access to bikes that meet their needs?

Darnel is a planner, researcher and community advocate breaking down barriers to practical mobility for all ages and abilities. His research and outreach efforts have been recognized by the  German Government, the Canadian Urban Institute and York University. Darnel is the Executive Director of Our Greenway Conservancy, a coalition of businesses, residents and community groups in Toronto's northwest seeking to build 21 kilometers of mobility paths protected by raingardens, connecting people to places and new opportunities all year round.

Keagan Gartz: Cycle Toronto

How might we get residents involved in the design process and vision for cycling in Toronto?
 

Keagan is Cycle Toronto’s Executive Director, overseeing advocacy, programs, and operations; she was the second permanent employee when she joined in January 2013. Her love of sustainability and governance was nurtured in her time obtaining an Environment & Resource Studies degree from the University of Waterloo, while her interest in transportation planning as a tool to transform cities originated in her time at Smart Commute and as a member of the TCAT steering committee. Keagan rides her bike year-round, including since she became a new mother. She's passionate about reshaping public space as a means of civic engagement and social justice.

Marvin Macaraig: Health Promoter & Scarborough Cycles Coordinator, Access Alliance

How might we lower the barriers to participate in political decision-making around cycling in Toronto?

Marvin Macaraig is a Health Promoter and the Scarborough Cycles Coordinator at Access Alliance, a community health centre serving and supporting some of Toronto’s most vulnerable communities. He aspires to increase suburban cycling by building institutional capacity and addressing the hidden barriers that prevent residents from living healthier and more active lives.

Marvin has broad experience implementing and evaluating community projects, and appreciates working on-the-ground at the neighbourhood scale. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto (Geography) and has expertise in Active Transportation and Civil Society.

Unless otherwise noted, all comments from judges are their own and are not official comments of their employers or organizations.

Prizes provided by

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FAQs

What is a Make-a-thon?

A make-a-thon is an event where teams come together for a short period of time to identify problems, find solutions, and present their work. It’s similar to a hackathon, except that we encourage physical, artistic, and low-tech/no-tech creations alongside software and code.

Your team’s goal is to come up with one of the three submission types: a working system prototype, an actionable proposal of an idea, or a completed data story.

Once your team has submitted their project, you can rest! After the 2 weeks are up, our team of judges evaluate all submissions, and select entries to receive prizes.

After the judges have made their decisions, we’ll celebrate all entries on the Cycle Toronto website and social media accounts!

When is the Make-a-thon?

The make-a-thon lasts 2 weeks in early April, with signups starting in late February:

  • February 26: Registration opens
  • April 3 11am: Announcements: https://zoom.us/j/92089029009
  • April 3 12pm: Challenge begins!
  • April 3-17: Teams work on their projects
  • April 17 12pm: Final project videos and files due
  • April 18 1pm-7pm: Judges assess team submissions and choose winners

Where is the Make-a-thon?

The Make-a-thon will come to you! To help keep everyone safe and healthy, this will be a fully virtual event. You can take part from wherever you are, and we welcome you to join us on our Discord channels to meet and hang out with other teams. Submissions will also be virtual; more details will be posted about that soon.

How can I get involved?

There are several ways you can get involved:

  • Register your team (1-5 people)! Registration is free! Suggested $10 donation, if you can afford it; we don't want money to be a barrier to great ideas.

  • work as a volunteer! We’ll need people to help us out with various aspects of the event; get in contact with us on Discord to find out more.

  • stay in touch! The organizers and other participants will be hanging out on Discord; feel free to join us and share what’s on your mind.

I don't have a team yet, can I join one?

Absolutely! Many people are hanging out in our discord channel where you can find like-minded folks and get set up with a team.

Who owns the things that get made in the make-a-thon?

You do! If you come up with a great new design or program or idea, it’s yours to do with as you like. When you submit a photo or video or writeup to Cycle Toronto, you’re giving us permission to post about it (particularly if you win!), but the underlying idea belongs to you.

I have another question.

Please feel free to give a shout out to Valkyrie Savage (valkyrie.savage@cycleto.ca) with any other questions you might have.

Register now!

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