In our community, charity begins with a bike

Alec Locklin with bikes he collected for the Gateway Bike Hub. Photo by Holly Reid.
Alec Locklin with bikes he collected for the Gateway Bike Hub. Photo by Holly Reid.

Bikes are making a big difference in our community. Here’s how:

Student-led bike drive

Alec Locklin loves to ride his bike. The Grade 8 student at Bessborough Public School heads off to the trails in Serena Gundy Park at every opportunity. “For me, time stops when I’m out riding. I can forget about everything else and just have fun,” he says. “I wanted those who are less fortunate to enjoy the same experience.” So, at the end of May, Alec launched a bike drive to collect donated bikes for the Gateway Bike Hub, which runs programs in the Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park communities to get more people on bikes. He organized promotion and a drop-off day at Leaside High School, collecting 25 bikes for kids and adults. As Alec notes, “People were really happy to see their bikes go to a good cause and through their generosity more people will experience the joy of riding a bike.”

Wheels of empowerment for women

The Women’s Cycling Network is running its successful bike match program again, connecting people who have a bike they don’t need with a woman who needs a bike. To date, more than 80 women from across the city have registered to get a bike. 

What’s different this year are the reasons women want a bike. Health and exercise have always been a motivation to cycle, but more women are seeking a bike to deal with anxiety and mental health concerns. In addition, bikes are seen as a safe way to get around and avoid crowded transit. None of this is a surprise to Najia Zewari, Thorncliffe Park resident and one of the co-founders of the group. “We see the bike as wheels of empowerment for women, providing the means to improve their situation, whether it be mental or physical health, freedom to explore their city and emission-free transportation to work and for errands.” 

Bikes that are ready to ride can be donated through a volunteer-developed app www.bikematchwcn.com. If you don’t have a bike to give, donations of accessories such as bells, lights, racks and locks are always needed. Contact for more information.

Participants and organizers of the TPASN camp for kids with autism, August 2020. Photo by TPASN.
Participants and organizers of the TPASN camp for kids with autism, August 2020. Photo by TPASN.

Tour de Thorncliffe supporting camps for kids with autism

Last summer, faced with no local programming for kids with autism, the Thorncliffe Park Autism Support Network (TPASN) sprang into action, organizing a free two-week day camp for local children. As TPASN founder Shakhlo Sharipova explains, “Programming has been cut during the pandemic and many of our families do not have the means to travel where autism programs are available. Our camp was a lifeline for these families and so successful that we plan to run it for a month in August.” To operate the camp, which receives no government funding, TPASN has joined forces with the Women’s Cycling Network and the Gateway Bike Hub to raise the money required. The Tour de Thorncliffe combines a fundraising bike-a-thon with a celebration of planned safety upgrades to the Thorncliffe Park Drive bike lanes. To learn more about the Tour de Thorncliffe and how to register to ride or sponsor participants, visit tourdethorncliffe.ca.

About Holly Reid 33 Articles
Holly Reid is a recreational road rider and cycling commuter. An advocate for safe cycling, she is a member of Cycle Don Valley Midtown, Cycle Toronto’s advocacy group for Wards 15/16.