Bike Culture Archive Toronto & Beyond 2003-2012.
Photography by Martin Reis and Hamish Wilson.
Opening remarks by Darren Stehr)How far are we along the road to total bikeability?To achieve bikeability people must be inspired, not forced, to ride onroads that are not just survivable but part of the community and theireveryday lives. The road to total bikeability requires strong leadership without which it will never be achieved.Interest in cycling in Toronto is being motivated by grassroots efforts, by an enhanced concern for the environment, and the spiraling cost of gas.Groups like Streets Are For People, Bike Pirates, Bike Fridays,Takethetooker, Dundas East Group and other like groups that are inspiring people both to dream about and actually use their bicycles more. This is some of the most important work being done.Recent interest in the environment is also causing people to ride, whether this is a fad or permanent remains to be seen. What is important is that this group of people must be inspired to continue riding even after a newissue becomes important to them.Those riding in response to the high cost of gas are the most fickle, this is the group of people that are being forced to ride regardless of whetheror not the streets are bikeable. They seek out any excuse not to ride a bicycle and need the greatest encouragement to ride.The question today is “How far are we along the road to totalbikeability?” The question can be answered by asking if we are even on the road?We look towards City of Toronto to provide leadership to construct theroad to total bikeability, what we see is a City so devoid of leadership that it assaults all of our aspirations for total bikeability.The City has become, by far, the best at selling us plans and promises that it never has any intention of bringing to fruition or that hold simply no promise at all. We have a Bike Plan which only serves the politicians. When cyclists ask for something new we are told “no” because it is not in the Bike Plan, we then ask for something that is in the BikePlan and are told no because it is not possible. We have faced a litany of excuses why the aspirations of cyclists cannot be met, even those in the Bike Plan. As an example politicians will blame cyclists for not beginvocal enough yet when they are vocal they label us extremists.Sure the politicians will protest and point to the cycling facilities they have installed, at best they are miniscule attempts which only exist to provide more spin to camouflage their lack of leadership. We are years behind American cities providing bike racks on buses and proper storagefacilities for bicycles for instance.Even the facilities that currently exist are poorly managed due to theutter lack of leadership. Since the inception of bike lanes cyclists have asked their politicians to take a leadership role and put an end to vehicles parked in said lanes. Though it could be argued that it is notlack of leadership but purpose; simply use the issue as cannon fodder to keep cyclists busy and not asking for more.While bicycle lanes are important to the road to total bikeability weshould already be past that subject and on to building the complete picture. We should be working on the next steps. Year round bicycle centric maintenance of cycling routes, cycling as a tourist activity, and shower facilities at workplaces just to name a few.Cycling on Toronto streets is survivable. They are just that, survivable. Most of you today have already discussed with other cyclists right in this room your recent close calls with errant drivers or poor facility design.The discussion should have been about the new friends you have made while riding or the finding of a new neighbourhood.To be on the road to total bikeability we need leadership, without it, asking if we are on the road is premature.
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