Contributed by Kevin McLaughlin – It’s a strange time to be starting something new, but I am excited to get a chance to write a column about 2 things that I love: Parliament St. and transportation. As we have all been affected by covid-19, it makes sense to start there. First, let’s raise a big toast to to Kale and his team at Cycle Solutions, our neighbourhood bike store. Deemed an essential service early on, they quickly adapted Distancing Protocols – including a big, well spaced lineup outside – and have been providing new bikes, tune-ups and fixing flats for those of us who need to move safely through the city, or just get some exercise.
Cabbagetown has become the cycling capital of Canada, with an astounding 38% of residents indicating they rode a bike to work in the last census. One of the central social spots on the street has long been Jetfuel, with its road bike racing culture, and even its own BikeShare Toronto station out front. Recently, Kaelo has added a cargo trike to the delivery fleet at the Menagerie (still Toronto’s most unique pet supply store). It’s cost effective, fast through local streets and a great way to reduce your climate impact as a pet owner.
Cycling is booming in cities around the world during covid-19, and so is the need for lots more safe space for people to walk and ride, at a distance. The number one reason people don’t cycle more often is safety, and unfortunately Toronto has moved very slowly over the last decades to create new cycling lanes. Over the last 2 months, car traffic is way down but unfortunately speeding is up, meaning safety is way down for everyone just when we need to share the streets. Cities around the world are taking big steps to create safe and slow road space, as people look to commute and exercise at a distance (and avoid transit). In the last few weeks, Toronto has added some weekend road closures through its #ActiveTO program, including nearby River-to-Bayview. And finally (!) on May 28 City Council made an extraordinary move to add 25km of new bike lanes – including from River/Gerrard north up Bayview to connect with the existing lane up to Pottery road.
I hope everyone stays healthy through all this, and gets to bike around the city more often this year.
Kevin McLaughlin moved to the neighbourhood more than 20 years ago, and has recently launched an online e-bike subscription service, Zygg.