Historicist: Cycling Through the Seventies

A look at the origins of Toronto's cycling infrastructure over 40 years ago.

This article originally appeared January 5, 2013

A cycling riding in front of St. Patrick's Market on Queen Street, 1970s. Photo by Ellis Wiley. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 2, Item 125.

In the introduction to their booklet Bicycling in Toronto, Estherelke and Bob Kaplan imagined two ways the state of getting around the city on two wheels during the early 1970s might be viewed at the dawn of the 21st century:

Maybe in 30 years or so our children’s children will run up from the basement to announce the discovery of a rusting bicycle. Did we really ride bicycles back then, all that long ago? And maybe we’ll tell them about the great fad of the early Seventies, when businessmen and aldermen and all sorts of other Torontonians actually rode bicycles to work, doing their bit for ecology and physical fitness…On the other hand, we may be in the throes of something other than another fad. Let’s hope so. Let’s hope that the non-polluting, compact, maneuverable, healthful bicycle will continue to grow in popularity.

While cycling has proven stronger than a passing fad, there have been moments where it feels like members of the current City Hall administration wish it was. Yet when the Kaplans published their guide for city cyclists in 1972, there were many signs that officials, even suburban ones, were alerted to the future needs of two-wheeled riders.

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Executive Committee Votes Against Ranked Ballot Panel

They didn't want an independent panel to review the idea, which council originally endorsed three years ago.

Photo by Neville Park.

Photo by Neville Park.

In the latest blow to local electoral reform, City Hall’s Executive Committee voted down a proposal to convene an independent panel on ranked ballots, with possible implementation for 2022.

The panel, supported by ranked ballot advocate Dave Meslin, was voted down 3–6 yesterday evening. Mayor John Tory, who came out in support of ranked ballots in early 2015, and voted for them later that year, was absent from the vote. The issue will come up again at Council on December 13.

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Non-profits Offer Much-needed Food Services

A non-profit that allows people to "adopt a kitchen" offers tangible results.

Pauline has been visiting Houselink kitchens a couple times a week for about three years.

Pauline has been visiting Houselink kitchens a couple times a week for about three years.

Wendy has been working in Houselink kitchens for about six years. She was referred to the organization by a friend and started out cleaning, but now she also cooks and does inventory. And she only has good things to say about her time there.

“I love cooking different meals, recipes, experimenting,” Wendy said, later adding, “It’s been great. You meet a lot of great people here. I love cooking a lot for people.”

Houselink is a charitable organization providing supportive housing to people living with mental health issues and addictions in the city; rather than simply finding an apartment for someone and putting them there, groups like Houselink also offer everything from help finding employment to recreational programs. One of the most important things these organizations can offer their participants, and one frequently overlooked by people who haven’t lived on fixed or low incomes, is food. As food prices go up while wages and benefits stagnate, people at the bottom of the economic ladder find it more and more difficult to cover the necessities.

Keep reading: Non-profits Offer Much-needed Food Services