[TheThinkTank] Fwd: Toronto Cylclists Union Newsletter July 2008

dragonfly at mac.hush.com dragonfly at mac.hush.com
Wed Jul 23 10:26:34 PDT 2008

Hash: SHA1

     Hello, All.

     Although I don't live in Toronto right now, it is my home
town, so I signed up.

     They sent me a newsletter today, and I wanted to pass it on to
encourage and perhaps inspire everyone, particularly those in less
bike friendly places-- it took thirty years to get to this in

     I'm going to see if we can do the same thing here in Windsor-

     Please note the reference to Momentun Magazine, and go check
out their web site. They do profiles of the cycling culture in
North American cities. You all could totally write articles about
your city for them.


- ----- Forwarded message from Toronto Cyclists Union
<info at bikeunion.to> -----

The Toronto Cyclists Union launched on May 20, 2008, with a public
press conference at the Peace Garden in Nathan Phillips Square in
Toronto. Speaking guests included Mayor David Miller, City
Councilor Adrian Heaps, Metrolinx Chair Rob MacIsaac, Walk & Bike
for Life Executive Director Gil Peñalosa and CultureLink Executive
Director Ibrahim Absiye.

The advantage to the Toronto Cyclists Union, and for cyclists in
general, is the power in numbers: the more names and emails we have
of individuals in the bike union, the stronger we become when
working with politicians and other interested parties in the city.
There's a lot of cyclists here in Toronto, ready to get involved in
making this a better city to bike in - we intend to make that
known, and to help make it happen.

We've made the membership cost low enough to allow everyone to
join, and it's now easier than ever with a direct credit card
processing system. Take advantage of the bike union's lock removal
program, social events, rides and parties, and other unique
services. Visit bikeunion.to often to connect to the ideas, plans
and actions of other cyclists. As we grow and gain momentum, so too
will your member benefits.

Join Toronto's first member-funded, city-wide bicycle advocacy
group today at bikeunion.to

New bike union makes the news

Since our launch in May, the Toronto Cyclists Union has made
headlines  across the city.  As the  new representative voice of
hundreds of cyclists we have already begun to establish ourselves
as an important source regarding cycling issues and have been
sought after for comment by most local media outlets, as well as
others beyond the GTA.  The more frequent recent media attention
paid to cycling issues is a reflection of the growing momentum and
interest in all forms of cycling, and commuting in particular.  Our
voice can now regularly be found in the Toronto Star, Globe and
Mail, National Post, CBC radio & television, Global News, CFRB,
680 News, CIUT,  Toronto Sun, Eye Weekly, NOW Magazine, Toronto
Social Justice Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, and at
least a dozen cycling and non cycling related blogs.

Recent coverage can be viewed here

Advocacy in action

In June, we met with city staff and politicians to push for
increasing the number of bike lanes in our city and a full
implementation of the Bike Plan.

Some highlights of recent advocacy on behalf of cyclists include:

o	Speaking to councillors, and making deputations at a Public Works
and Infrastructure Committee meeting regarding the cycling
facilities on Annette Street

o	Being invited as a special stakeholder by Metrolinx as they
prepare a sustainable GTA- wide transportation strategy

o	Attending public consultations for Don Mills LRT

o	Speaking at the Etobicoke Community Council Meeting regarding the
redesign of the South Kingsway/Queensway Interchange

o	Engaging in discussions with Toronto Police Services to clarify
procedures of the recent Bicycle Safety Blitz

Visit bikeunion.to to find out more about our successful events and
the Paint the Plan campaign.

Everyday activism

The Toronto Cyclists Union is currently implementing a Ward
Advocacy Program whose mandate is to mobilize local cyclists  in
all wards of Toronto, from Etobicoke and Parkdale to Riverdale and
Scarborough.  Councillors need to hear from local cyclists about
the issues in their neighbourhoods.  The first campaign strives to
hold the city accountable to the Bike Plan.

There are several ways that you, as an individual, can get

o	Do you think that the city of Toronto needs an major East-West
bike route? Write a letter to your councillor.

o	When you're shopping on one of the major East-West streets, such
as Bloor, you can also let the merchants know that you arrived by

o	Not quite ready to write your councillor?  Know who your
councillor is and pick up the phone to let them know you are
choosing a cleaner and healthier mode of transportation.

Do you believe in strength in numbers? Join the bike union!

Pee-wee takes Bloor St.

What happens when you get a crowd of indie artists, one talented
comedian, several Toronto Cyclists Union volunteers and an Iconic
bicycle film?  The Pee-wee Herman Picture Show, brain-child of Dave
Meslin, the founder of the Toronto Cyclists Union, drew an
enthusiastic crowd of 1500 people at the Bloor Cinema.

You may have seen the cover of the Eye Magazine with Lex Vaughn,
leading up to the show, gleefully sitting a top the red bike in a
classic Pee-wee-Style Tux.  We waited with anticipation, wondering
if it would live up to the expectations of the crowds that snaked
down the block outside.  Cyclists rode up to the Bloor Cinema in
droves and volunteers eagerly parked bikes to the happy tunes of
Guh.  As the theater seats filled with excited bike fans, it all
came together.  The film screened as some of our favorite local
celebrities entertained on stage. Fans sat in awe, some wore
costumes, some joined in shouting out favorite lines, some had the
pleasure of seeing
the film for the first time - in its new-found glory.  Then
somehow, the cast and crew, perhaps functioning solely on
adrenaline, did it all over again for a second, equally popular

Best of all, the production of the Pee-wee Herman Picture Show
highlights what can happen when people come together for the love
of bicycles.  We have many people to thank for this extremely
successful fund raiser: Cast, crew, those who worked to get props
and costumes together, valet bike parking attendants, staff at the
Bloor Cinema, local businesses who helped to sell advanced tickets,
and front of house volunteers. The uniquely Toronto Pee-wee Herman
Picture Show could not have been staged without any one of these
folks.  Thank you!

What a great way to launch.  This amazing night left members of the
Toronto Cyclists Union executive team saying, in the words of Kevin
Morton (an actor in Pee-wee) "I am always ready! I have been ready
since first call! I am ready! Roll!"

Bells ring on a beautiful day on Bloor

On Sunday, May 25th, the Toronto Cyclists Union co-sponsored Bells
on Bloor.  Fifteen hundred cyclists rode safely along Bloor Street,
to highlight the need for a continuous bike lane on Bloor Street
and Danforth. With children, parents, and seniors singing, ringing
bells and laughing, it was a true pedal-powered celebration – and
the largest gathering for safe cycling in Toronto's history.
Although it was a joyful celebration - cycling on Bloor should not
just be a Sunday activity done with a police escort – it should be
an everyday event so that our city can start reducing the number of
deaths from smog, climate change, and collisions.

This east-west roadway is an ideal place for a bike lane, precisely
the conclusion made in a report for the City of Toronto's Planning
and Development Dept. in Feb. 1992!  Bloor Street is long, flat,
and free of streetcar tracks; therefore it's easy to redesign,
given a little paint and
political will. Indeed it's already a favored cycling route – 14%
of the vehicles are the two-wheeled variety. (Unfortunately, Bloor
is also one of Toronto's highest car-bike collision corridors.)
Bloor Street hosts the subway, which makes Bloor a logical place
for a bike lane since there is less need for car transport along
this mass transit corridor. Bikes and bike lanes also have the
potential to deliver far more shoppers to Bloor St. businesses.

More bike lanes, which require a mere 150 centimetres on the side
of a road, would produce more bike riders. A 1998 Environics poll
found that 70 per cent of Canadians would bike to work for
distances that took less than 30 minutes if they had a dedicated
bike lane. And where bike lanes have been created in Toronto, the
number of cyclists increased by up to 42 per cent,
presumably because of the huge untapped potential of Toronto's
950,000 adults who ride a bike.

Photos of the event can be viewed here.

The ultimate urban cycling competition comes to Toronto

Over 40 people attended a BBQ and social ride on June 15th to cheer
on the "fastest, bestest messengers on the planet" at the Cycle
Messenger World Championships. Despite intermittent rain showers,
the event was a great success.

Surrounded by trees, water and wildlife at Hanlan's point, the car-
free community on Toronto Islands that hosted the competition,
messengers from around the world challenged themselves via a
variety of events designed to test both their physical and mental
limits. The showcase event included hours of grueling navigation
through multiple checkpoints, where racers had to determine the
fastest and most efficient route to collect and drop packages. The
championships are designed to replicate the real-life, high-
intensity world of the urban messenger, with some spectator-
friendly ramps, stairs and jumps added in.

The Toronto Cyclists Union's very own Craig Barnes had his own
personal success at this year's championships, placing an
impressive 20th. The bike union would like to extend a big
congratulations to the event organizers and TOBMA for staging this
world-class event.

For more information about the competition, visit the CMWC site.

Vancouver cyclists trek to Toronto to share their documentary

They've visited 22 countries and have traveled thousands of
kilometres by bike - and they even have a documentary film to prove
it. But Vancouverites Gwendal Castellan and Tania Lo had never been
to Toronto... until last month.

The pair made the trek to Toronto on behalf of Momentum Magazine
for the Cycle Messenger World Championships. During their visit,
Gwendal and Tania teamed up with the Bike Union to present a
special screening of their documentary film, Long Road North, to an
engaged crowd of Toronto cyclists. The film highlights their
spectacular 19 month cycling journey from Patagonia to the Canadian
Arctic. For more information about the film, visit:

Having traveled to over 22 countries by bike, Gwendal and Tania are
accustomed to finding the bike community in each city, town or
village and exploring away.  So during their visit to Toronto, they
wrangled some bikes and went to town.

"When people from around the world come and visit, it's a great
opportunity to see your own town through a fresh set of eyes.
These eyes noticed that Toronto has a flourishing urban cycling
culture that has strong roots to grow from," she says.

Tania identified some favourite features of Toronto: 401 Richmond,
home of Martin Heath's Cine Cycle and Janet Bike Girl's studio, two
of the city's gems; the Toronto Cyclists Union's current home, the
dynamic Centre for Social Innovation (a concept she'd like to bring
back to Vancouver); and the Toronto Islands, an oasis in the city
where she witnessed the shining  spirits
of messengers from around the world.

Gwendal and Tania thank Heather McDonald, Rick Conroy, Herb Van den
dool, Martin Neale, Martin Heath and Janet Attard for being
exceptional ambassadors of Toronto.

Featured volunteer

Lucy Perri is very proud to call Scarborough home.  Despite living
out of  the downtown Toronto core, Lucy is one of the Toronto
Cyclists Union's most dedicated and remarkable volunteers.

Lucy is the secretary of the Toronto Cyclist Union Board of
Directors. She also stepped up to emcee the Union launch in May,
drove the "broom truck" (the support vehicle) for the recent
Waterfront Trail Ride, helped out with tables at Pee-wee, and
promoted the Toronto Cyclists Union at an event in Scarborough.
What's more, Lucy regularly cycles downtown from Scarborough for

Lucy is a great ambassador: she is a CanBIKE instructor and long-
time cycling enthusiast.  She is a member of the Touring Concept
Cycling Group, based in Whitby. Lucy is also a member of the Outing
Club of East York, for which she was a cycling coordinator for five
years. Her favourite place to ride her bike is the trail in
Thompson Park, located at Lawrence and Brimley. Lucy's energy and
passion for cycling is contagious - thanks for all you do Lucy.

If you're interested in helping the Toronto Cyclists Union grow and
succeed, visit

What's new in New York? Toronto gets a visit from Transportation

On July 24th at the Centre for Social Innovation, the Toronto
Cyclists Union and Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation will
co-host an evening of film and discussion with Noah Budnick, the
Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives in New York.

Noah is responsible for TA's campaigns to improve and increase
walking, biking and transit in NYC. He's also engaged in efforts to
win congestion pricing, complete streets and increase federal
transportation funding.

The evening promises to help illuminate solutions to some of the
major challenges facing Toronto

Chris Carlsson, the man who helped launch Critical Mass, visits

The legendary Chris Carlsson will be in town Sept 5 to 9, 2008.

Stay tuned to bikeunion.to for further details about speaking
engagements and the Toronto launch of his new book Nowtopia.

Chris Carlsson, executive director of the multimedia history
project Shaping San Francisco, is a writer, publisher, editor, and
community organizer. For the last twenty-five years his activities
have focused on the underlying themes of horizontal communications,
organic communities and public space. He was one of the founders,
editors and frequent contributors to the ground-
breaking San Francisco magazine Processed World. He also helped
launch the monthly bike-ins known as Critical Mass that have spread
to five continents and over 300 cities. He has edited four books,
"Bad Attitude: The Processed World Anthology" (Verso: 1990),
"Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture" (City
Lights: 1998, co-edited with James Brook and Nancy J. Peters),
"Critical Mass: Bicycling's Defiant Celebration" (AK Press: 2002),
"The Political Edge" (City Lights Foundation: 2004). He published
his first novel, "After The Deluge," in 2004, a story of post-
economic San Francisco in the year 2157 (Full Enjoyment Books:
2004). Carlsson makes
his living as a book designer, editor, and typesetter. He is a
member of Media Workers Union Local 100 in San Francisco. He is
also recent past board president of CounterPULSE, a San Francisco-
based arts organization, where he has been producing a series of
public talks since January 2006. Check his website for updates on
this and links to his blog and other activities:


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