Every week, Toronto residents make approximately 3 million bicycle trips, and 1 million of the city’s 2.7 million residents use the bicycle as a regular means of transportation. That’s over 30% of Toronto’s population! Yet, only 2% of the city’s roads have bike lanes. Perhaps more daunting yet, in the year 2010, Toronto was the scene to more car-cyclist collisions than any other major Canadian city.
The task of reversing statistics such as these is one of the central goals of Cycle Toronto, the city’s member-supported cycling advocacy and awareness organization. Formerly known as the Toronto Cyclist’s Union, the group represents cyclists and ensures that their voices and opinions are heard at all relevant legislative levels. With a staff as diverse as the city itself, Cycle Toronto seeks to make biking hassle-free and accessible to all areas and peoples of Toronto, so that citizens may have the opportunity to feel in touch with the city’s culture and be set free from the environmental, health and financial burdens of the conventional commute.
In a city blessed with such multicultural riches, the promotion of bike culture is happily married with the need to cater to the diversity of its people. In 2010, Cycle Toronto, through a partnership with Culture Link Settlement Services, launched the Toronto Cyclist’s Handbook: essentially the cyclist’s bible, covering everything from cyclist safety and bike maintenance to cyclist’s responsibilities and important traffic laws. The handbook, available in an impressive 17 languages, also includes information on workshops, bike safety courses, and Toronto’s extensive Cycling Map.
Similarly, through its popular Bike Host Program, Cycle Toronto helps newcomers gain confidence with cycling in the city by partnering them with experienced city bikers; through this, they gain a sense of community in their adopted homes, while at the same time practising their language skills, making friends and networking with more established individuals and groups within the city... distinctly Canadian indeed!
To learn more about the organization, become a member, and join the movement, visit www.bikeunion.to/join.
Need assistance choosing the best and safest routes around the city? The Toronto Cycling Map can help you pick your path using bike lanes, parks, and/or side streets. Check it out by clicking here.