After months of quiet preparation, Toronto’s very own Bike Union officially launched at City Hall yesterday morning. Modelled after successful cycling advocacy groups in Chicago, London, and elsewhere, the Toronto Cyclists Union is already a big name in the city’s cycling community.
One of the Union’s primary activities will be advocating for cyclists at City Hall, but organizers have much bigger plans. July will see the debut of Dandyhorse, a thrice-yearly magazine about bike culture in Toronto. The premiere issue will be widely available in cycle shops around the city, with subsequent editions distributed exclusively to TCU members. Union organizers also hope to launch cyclist-centered services like bike trailer rentals, CAA-style roadside assistance, and social rides.
It all sounds wonderful, but will anyone pay $24 and up for annual memberships in a cycling organization? That’s more than most people spend on their bikes annually. However, precedents abound: Oregon’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance has more than 4,500 paying members, the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation over 5,500, and the London Cycling Campaign well over 10,000, making it the largest in the world.
As we wrote just two months ago, cycling in Toronto is undergoing a renaissance. Since then, the pace of cycling activity seems to have accelerated: GO-by-Bike was launched, tickets for the second season of the Toronto–Niagara Bike Train went on sale, the inaugural Bike Summit attracted over 150 cyclists for a day of policy discussions, a reprise of last autumn’s popular Bells on Bloor ride has been scheduled for this Sunday, and the first downtown bike race in 17 years has been announced for May 30.
With the appearance of more cargo bikes and trailers on city streets and ever-increasing gas prices forcing more people to rethink how they use their cars, cycling is—to borrow cyclists’ own term—reaching a critical mass of acceptance. As more casual riders start strapping on helmets and using their bikes to shop or go to work, the need for both services and infrastructure that cater to them will increase. It looks like the Toronto Cyclists Union will be in a good position to lead the charge.
Annual memberships in the Toronto Cyclists Union start at $24 for individuals and will soon be available for purchase online at the Union’s website.
Val Dodge is a member of the Toronto Cyclists Union.
Photo by Squeakyrat from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.