Can we have safe, 
connected cycling routes in Leaside?

Cyclists are advocating for safe and connected cycling routes in every ward.
Cyclists are advocating for safe and connected cycling routes in every ward.

That’s the question Cycle 26 will put to council candidates in what is, as of August 13th, Ward 26 and one that safe streets advocates from across the city will be asking their candidates as well. Cycle 26 is part of Cycle Toronto’s ward advocacy program, which helps local residents campaign for better cycling infrastructure in their community. In the lead-up to the municipal election, the push is on to “Build the Grid” – essentially get the City to step up the implementation of the Cycling Network Plan to create safe and connected cycling routes in every ward.

Slow progress, poor connections
Approved two years ago by City Council, the Cycling Network Plan has seen spotty progress. For example, here in Ward 26, new bike lanes are currently being installed in the Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park communities, but the connector, Overlea Blvd., is being left as is, forcing cyclists into busy, fast-moving vehicle traffic and inhibiting travel by bicycle between communities and local schools. Other local concerns include the pinch-point on Millwood Rd. under the railway bridge and the poorly designed boulevard trail on the east side of Bayview between Nesbitt and Moore. Getting connected cycling routes where everyone feels safe is something that Cycle 26 is working on.

Advocacy through Cycle 26
Cycle 26 is co-chaired by Louis Fliss, chiropody lead at Flemingdon Community Health and former CanBike instructor, and regular Leaside Life columnist Geoff Kettel, a long-time cyclist and environmentalist. In addition to reviewing and providing input to the City’s cycling infrastructure plans and identifying issues and concerns for cyclists in Ward 26, Cycle 26 organizes local participation in Bike-to-Work Day, held annually at the start of Bike Month. Heading into the municipal election campaign, they will be organizing an All Candidates Ride and asking all council candidates the following:

• 
Will you be a champion for building safe connected bike routes in our neighbourhood?
• 
Will you support building protected bike lanes on main streets? (Both Laird in Focus and EglintonConnects propose separated bike lanes.)
• 
Do you support accelerating the City’s 10-year Cycling Network Plan to be completed in the next four years?

A recent survey conducted by EKOS Research Associates reports that 80% of Torontonians support building protected bike lanes. The random survey was conducted across the city, included all age groups, and 75% of respondents were primarily drivers. Still, councillors are accountable to their constituents and that means that if you want safe, connected cycling routes in Leaside, you need to make your voice heard.

How to get involved:
✓Contact Geoff (gkettel@gmail.com) or Louis (lfliss@gmail.com)
✓Join Cycle Toronto at cycleto.ca and participate in city-wide advocacy
✓An All Candidates Ride is in the works – watch for details and plan to join in!

Holly Reid is a recreational road rider and cycling commuter who has lived and worked in Leaside for 30 years. An advocate for safe cycling, she writes the Ask a Cyclist column for Cycle Toronto (cycleto.ca).