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French media covers Bells on Bloor

Toronto’s French language newspaper, L’Express de Toronto, covered last weekend’s Bells on Bloor event. Journalist Vincent Muller covered the event and his article is translated here.

LExpress de Toronto covers Bells on Bloor

Cyclists paraded on Bloor street last Saturday, between High Park and Queen's Park, demanding bike lanes on Bloor.

Bike Lanes On Bloor?

The 4th Bells on Bloor event was held last Saturday, days after the announcement that charges were dropped against former Attorney General Michael Bryant, who was accused of having caused the death of a cyclist last August. Close to 2000 cyclists were on the annual parade route, prancing down Bloor street, between High Park and Queen’s Park. By it, they hope to bring awareness to the importance of creating bike lanes on this vital Toronto artery.

Though the date is a fluke, the fact that Bells on Bloor happened just days after the announcement that charges were dropped against Michael Bryant and the fact that the accident happened on Bloor street, gives the event a particular dimension. The death of [Darcy] Allen Sheppard last August, was without a doubt on the minds of a number of cyclists, like Albert Koehl, co-founder of Bells on Bloor.

Though this lawyer who uses his bicycle daily downtown admits to not knowing all the details of the affair, he is convinced that if the city put up the necessary means into the construction of bike lanes, this altercation might have been avoided.

“This incident gets people talking about the problems faced by city cyclists, but there are a lot more who are killed that we don’t talk about, because the circumstances were more banal”, he laments. “A few months ago, a cyclist was killed in Mississauga, and there was only a little paragraph about it in the newspaper.”

According to him, the city proves its hypocrisy through announcements for cyclists, like Bike Month, which began yesterday. “Politicians speak of the advantages of the bicycle, but don’t do their part; in other Canadian cities like Montreal and Vancouver or in Europe, where we see significant changes. But not in Toronto.”

Insisting on the importance of facilitating the movement of bicycles on Bloor, Albert Koehl remembers a study undertaken by the city 20 years ago, which highlighted the importance of creating bike lanes on this central line, on which according to him, 15% of users are cyclists.

“20 years later, there is still nothing, while the number of cyclists is increasing. What’s more, the city is far from the objective set in 2001 which was to put in place 500km of bike lanes by 2010. Today the city barely has 100km!”

The objective of this parade was to celebrate the bicycle all while putting out the message in a playful manner, with cyclists of all ages and all walks of life accompanied by musicians along the parade route.

Looking at the number of people who participated in the event and the growing number of cyclists in the city, the potential is there. “Torontonians have done their part, it is up to the city to pass the act now,” insists Albert Koehl.

Posted: June 2nd, 2010
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