Cycling in Toronto has been undergoing a bit of a renaissance lately. Hundreds of people took to the streets last September to promote a cross-city bike lane on Bloor Street, the cycling intervention collective Outdoor Urban Repair Squad was named the best activist group for 2007 by NOW Magazine, the Toronto Cyclists Union is launching this spring, and the city’s Bike Week has become so packed full of events that it will stretch into Bike Month this year.
All of these are outward signs of increasing activism and interest in using bicycles as transportation in the city, even as officialdom seems to find it more difficult to find a place for bikes on the streets and cyclists get more cynical. The city not only refuses to even consider lanes that aren’t in the Bike Plan, but falls short in its attempts to add lanes that are in the Bike Plan. As councillors make more pledges, cyclists continue to agitate for change. The year ahead promises increasing conflict as cyclists’ expectations continue to outpace the city’s ability to take meaningful action.
Stepping into this strained relationship are the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation (TCAT) and the Clean Air Partnership. They’ll be teaming up with the city, the province, Metrolinx, Trek Bikes, and the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada to run a one-day Bike Summit on April 25.
Some of the speakers at the all-day event include Seattle Senior Transportation Planner Peter Lagerwey; Chicagoland Bicycle Federation‘s Randy Neufeld; and Koy Thompson, Director of the London Cycling Campaign, which is described as the largest urban cycling organization in the world.
Can they teach Toronto to take cycling seriously? It’s easy to be cynical and believe that the city will never make serious progress on cycling infrastructure. Indeed, it’s highly unlikely that a single day of discussion will change any minds or speed up the city’s implementation of its cycling plans. But it is an important step in the political process and you can bet that the established TCAT, nascent Cyclists Union, and other cycling groups will be learning some new tricks.
The Bike Summit 2008 will be held April 25 at a location yet to be announced. Registration [PDF] for the entire day, including all sessions and a light lunch, costs between $75 and $125.
Photo by rock paper scissors ink from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.