Photo of Hamilton Beach by Waite Air Photos.
Last year, Donald Wiedman wanted cyclists to take the GO train. This year, he also wants them to take the bus, subway, intercity coach, and ferry, all in the name of safe and fun cycling adventures. The GO-by-Bike pilot project last summer encouraged cyclists to take the GO train to Ajax and ride back to Scarborough along the Waterfront Trail. For this summer, the initiative has morphed and grown into Bikes+Transit, a broader awareness campaign that aims to get people to use all varieties of public transportation to take their bikes to cycling destinations around the Golden Horseshoe.
The expanded program now includes nine pre-scouted day-trip routes including Grimsby, Aberfoyle in the western Greenbelt, Hamilton, and Ajax, as well as local favourites on the Toronto Islands and in all of the city’s big river valleys. Bikes+Transit’s tours are intended to be self-serve: the web site will sell a packet of maps, offer tips and pointers, and highlight one recommended route during each of the program’s nine weeks this summer, but there won’t be any on-site tour guides. Wiedman is hoping that combining cycling day trips with public transportation will become second nature to more people, in much the same way that they currently go for bike rides in neighbourhood parks or to local stores.
Bikes+Transit is running a TwitterFlickrFest contest starting June 13. The best photos and tweets highlighting the nine recommended routes this year will be judged by a panel that includes Mayor David Miller, BikingToronto‘s Joe Travers, and authors Paul Quarrington and Nino Ricci. The idea behind the contest is to get early adopters—those who make a journey before the project officially begins on July 13—to help promote awareness among fellow cyclists by documenting their adventures and generating content on social media sites.
About half of the participants in GO-by-Bike’s inaugural year were families, and Bikes+Transit is trying to attract even more this year. Wiedman hopes/fears that highlighting the Coach Canada route to Grimsby one week this summer will result in ten people showing up at the Bay Street bus terminal all trying to get their bikes onto the intercity coach. Still, he’d consider it a success and hopes that the drivers would relish the challenge of trying to arrange several bikes in the luggage compartment.
Weidman’s challenge is to make families think about taking intermodal day trips using transit instead of loading all of their bikes onto a car rack. Even better would be getting people to explore beyond their own neighbourhood parks once they realize that there’s a safe and easy way to get out of the city without a car. With a bus trip to Grimsby, a family can easily ride along the Niagara Escarpment and down to the Waterfront Trail, returning to Toronto by GO train from Burlington. As nice as Toronto’s waterfront can be, there are many more sights around the Golden Horseshoe within easy reach of casual recreational cyclists. Many of them just don’t know it yet.
Bikes+Transit runs this summer from July 13 through September 13. The TwitterFlickrFest runs June 13 through July 13.