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Rally Round the Bike

Saying something like, “Hey, it’s been a ridiculous year for cycling in Toronto” sounds like a bit of a cheap lead-in, but it’s true. This year, already dubious for widespread Obamamania, then equally widespread Obamaphobia, and peppered each month with one tragic, horrifying aviation disaster after another, has sucked pretty hard for local cyclists. From losing one of its own at Bay and Bloor to being told, laughably, that a carbon footprint somehow rivalling that of the city’s motorists is cause enough for a bike tax, Toronto’s cycling community has a few too many reasons to shake its collective head.
Which may or may not be the impetus, at least in the back of organizers’ minds, for 2009′s BikeCampTO. Presented by the Toronto Cyclists Union, Saturday’s event—similar to BarCamp-style happenings of the past few years, like 2007′s TransitCamp—is billed as “a jam session about how to get bikes better incorporated into T.O.’s transportation mix.” In keeping with the idea of “an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment,” BikeCamp-ers will meet at the Centre for Social Innovation on October 17 to “jam on a variety of ideas, campaigns, [and] events”—ranging from campaign themes to changes to the Ontario Drivers’ Handbook, what a Complete Streets policy in Ontario would entail, and even bike fashion.
“BikeCampTO is a chance for [the Toronto Cyclists Union] to engage with our members and the broader cycling community around issues of concern to cyclists from across the city,” says Yvonne Bambrick, executive director of the TCU. “This day long, facilitated jam session of user-generated topics will use dotmocracy as a tool to sort the ideas that come out of the discussion groups to see which ones have the most traction, and [the ideas] people most identify with as worth pursuing and, in turn, getting behind.” The Union focuses on the forthcoming municipal election as a rallying point, citing “the need to be ready with an action plan” to counter those claiming a vast, left-leaning, eco-commie-terrorist “war on cars” conspiracy as a political wedge issue.
“One of the main outcomes we’d like to see,” Bambrick continues, “is people taking ownership of good ideas and signing up as volunteers to work with the bike union in order to see these [ideas] through. We really want to involve more good people in the ongoing advocacy of the bike union so that we can continue to grow, improve cycling culture and, in turn, infrastructure in Toronto.”
BikeCampTO happens this Saturday, October 17, at the Centre for Social Innovation, 215 Spadina Avenue. Registration starts at 10 a.m.


  • http://undefined Solex

    I’m all for people riding their bikes if they want to, but trying to get rid of cars while they’re being converted to hybrids is just plain dumb, and is going to alienate everybody else-consensus is what’s needed, not getting rid of cars outright. Otherwise, you’ll more than justify what the Sun says.

  • http://undefined mark.

    I don’t think trying to get rid of cars is ‘dumb’ at all. Consider that hybrid cars are an example of ‘doing the wrong thing worse.’ That is, there’s more to the ‘problem of cars’ than their environmental impact and making cars more ‘efficient’ or whatever only exacerbates the problems.

  • http://undefined Brill Pappin

    Getting rid of cars is not a realistic goal and a “War on Cars” gives the wrong message and produces very poor attitudes in both camps.
    What’s needed is education for both motorists and cyclists as well as an improved transport infrastructure that can safely handle both types of vehicles.
    I love the fact that TCU is calling for volunteers to own good ideas. I’d really like to see a working group made up of both motorists and cyclists (ideally people that do both regularly) to take recommendations to the city.
    Cars are not going away. Bicycles are not going away. Get over it an solve the problem in a way that improvs the situation for everyone.

  • http://undefined mark.
  • http://undefined TokyoTuds

    Yes, cars are not going away anytime soon. But we need to convince government to seriously adopt the planning strategy of the Integrated Transportation Pyramid. This puts Pedestrians first and on top, followed by Cycling (and other human powered means), Public Transport, Taxis, then Private Autos.

  • http://undefined mark.

    I know, I know – who wants to read another article about how awesome Copenhagen is? gah! But I think it’s interesting to see how the gov’t there has purposefully made it difficult to get around in cars – notice the last lines of the article.
    I understand your very reasonable approach – let’s make roads better for everyone. But this hasn’t resulted in much of anything. It was from just this reasonable sprit that Jarvis was re-designed (sharing the road, giving room to bikes and peds) – it was this debate over Jarvis that gave us the infamous ‘war on cars’ rhetoric. I’m beginning to think of this like bartering: demand a million miles of bike lanes to get a couple hundred (if we ask for a couple hundred, we’ll get 10). I dunno – it just seems that the reasonable approach has been met with silence and worse (i.e. this idiotic reactionary ‘war on cars’ that the cyclists seem to believe themselves!)..

  • http://undefined mark.
  • bikingtoronto

    Todd, you seem to be falling into the “woe is me” mindset of many cycling advocates in this city in the writing of this article.
    2009 has not sucked AT ALL for bikes in this city:
    1) The fact that there is enough demand to hold a “BikeCamp”
    2) Bikelanes approved for Jarvis, a major artery, … and they are ones that aren’t put in “where there is room” but actually replacing car traffic
    3) The opening of Toronto’s first BikeStation at Union Station, with more planned at City Hall and TTC stations.
    4) The Bryant/Sheppard incident brought attention to the need to share the road with all road users.
    5) Bike Store opens at First Canadian Place.
    6) Toronto looks to repeat Montreal’s success with Bixi bike rentals by exploring options for our own bikesharing system.

  • http://undefined Solex

    Word, Bill! Thanks for the backup.