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.