It’s easy to forget all the great stuff that goes on over 365 days, and there’s no exception following biking in Toronto.
Here’s a reminder of just 10 (in no particular order) of the great things that happened in the cycling community in Toronto in 2007. A lot more great stuff happened, but these are the 10 best, in my opinion.
The next time you hear someone whining about nothing good never happening for cyclists, you can print off this list and prove them wrong.
1. The Toronto-Niagara BikeTrain
Spearheaded by one individual, Justin Lafontaine, Via Rail started offering special “biketrain” trips between Toronto and Ottawa in a pilot project in 2007. By all accounts, it’s a fun and worthwhile service, and expansion is being considered for 2008
2. The Toronto Cyclists Union
Dave Meslin has an envious problem – he’s got a golden touch. After starting up the very influential Toronto Public Space Committee (from which Spacing Magazine sprung) and shaking up municipal politics with City Idol, he’s now focusing his energy on creating a bike-community unifying and member supported advocacy organization for those of us on two wheels. While it launches in the Spring of 2008, a lot of the foundation and planning work happened in 2007.
3. TCAT Steps (& Cycles) it up
The Toronto Coaltion for Active Transport started in 2006, but really came into it’s own in 2007. From getting a large grant from the Toronto Community Foundation, forming a Steering Committee, hiring a Project Co-ordinator, launching an informative Newsletter and becoming a constant presence in anything regarding cyclists and pedestrians at City Hall.
4. Infrastructure Improvements
2007 saw a lot of cycling infrastructure and more importantly, talk of infrastructure improvements. While talk is meaningless unless followed up by action, we can look back at 2007 and be happy for the infrastructure that was installed and was discussed, including:
- Bikeracks on Buses
- BikeLocker Expansion
- Long Branch GO Station
- Etobicoke Civic Centre
- Metro Hall
5. Bikelane Approval Streamlined
In the past, bikelanes were routinely blocked by an anti-cycling councillor or community council who didn’t understand that providing safe places to bike in a community makes a community better. 2007 saw City Council streamline the bikelane approval process, making it possible for Council to okay new bikelanes if they deem them good for the City’s sustainable transportation plans (that’s a no-brainer!), over objections of local interests who sometimes care more about abundant car parking than making their neighbourhoods more people-friendly.
6. 83% increase in the Cycling Budget
While cycling advocates didn’t get as large an increase as they wanted (which was needed to finish the BikePlan by 2012, the Cycling Budget still saw a large 83% increase for 2008. Growing from $3 to $5.5 million, it’s a good start in a financially-strapped city just starting to take advantage of new revenue tools.
7. Bells on Bloor
Cycling advocates organized a big ride along Bloor Street in September, and hundreds of people came out to it… cycling advocates, regular bike-commuters, and children – all in support of a Bloor-Danforth Bike Lane.
8. Police Online Bike Registration System
The Toronto Police Service have a great system for tracking down stolen bikes using the id numbers found on the bottom bracket (the hub where the pedals are), but previously, we all had to print off a registration form and submit it at a Police Station… we saw the TPS come into the online world this year with their Online Bike Registration system – making it easier for all of us to officially register our two-wheeled steeds in case they go missing.
9. Our First Coloured BikeLane
Other cities (especially in Europe) have had them for years – bikelanes with coloured pavement to visually define the area of the road set aside for bikes. They are commonly used in areas with a lot of cyclist/car crossing patterns (such as on-ramps to highways, etc). Strachan Avenue down by the main entrance of the CNE was the first section of road to see nice blue bikelanes installed as a test (the paint failed to stick to the road properly, so it’ll be reformulated and re-tested in 2008) in Toronto, and we’re all looking forward to seeing blue lanes everywhere
10. No PST on Bikes
This happened most recently – as of December 1st, 2007, the Ontario Government is not charging the 8% provincial sales tax on all bicycles under $1000 as well as on helmets and other safety equipment. Go buy a bike for yourself or someone you love.