In my urban neighbourhood you don’t see folks paddling past in their kayaks. Occasionally, on the snowiest of days, you might catch a skier taking advantage of fresh powder on their way to the local park. Climbers sometimes find a place to practice their bouldering skills outside, and slackliners will set up their lines for a go when trees and weather permit. But bicycles… bicycles, steady like a river, flow down the streets of Toronto. People are riding for pleasure, to commute, to run errands, and to just get from here to there. Cycling is the great equalizer. It transcends gender, age and culture. Bicycles are for everyone.
Toronto is a fabulous city for riding. Extensive trails, lanes, and routes criss-cross this gigantic metropolis inviting all who live here to partake. Most of the residents here like bikes, but our friends at the Bicycle Commons and the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation (TCAT) love bikes. The Bicycle Commons is an advocacy group that supports the bicycle community through education, training programs, and outreach. They share a belief with so many of us that the future well-being of our city lies in sustainable transportation and social initiatives. TCAT has a vision of Toronto as a clean, healthy, and safe place for walking and cycling, and they support this through research, policy development and promotion. But TCAT and Bicycle Commons are not alone in fighting the good fight. In cooperation with many dedicated organizations, they work toward a common goal – a city fuelled by people, passion, and pedals.
The Toronto Cyclist’s Union, among other things, operates a ward advocacy program. It is run by volunteers who connect with residents and Councillors, to increase recognition of the cycling community and help improve the well-being of riders. Other non-profit community bicycle collectives repair bikes and offer up space and tools for riders to do repairs themselves. They provide rental services, new and used parts, as well as mechanic and skills workshops and courses. To get started, check out Bike Pirates, Bike Sauce, and Community Bicycle Network. If you know where to look, you will never be at a loss for people willing to give their time and energy to help get you pedalling. Whatever city you live in, please share info on the organizations local to you — let’s make sure that folks in every neighbourhood can connect with the advocacy groups in their neck of the woods.
To ensure that we will always have a place on our roads, let’s work together and let our representatives know that access, safety, and infrastructure are important to us. Let’s make our cities even better for cyclists, and cleaner for everyone. If you are not yet an urban rider consider this… cyclists are not just hipsters and hardcores. They are my mom, and my kids, and they can be you too. Bicycles are beautiful machines… simple, affordable, accessible, clean running, and rewarding.
Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world. ~Grant Petersen