Cycling advocates may have traditionally spun their wheels in North York but they now want to take advantage of changes transforming the community, a cycling enthusiast says.
“So much money is being spent on infrastructure in North York. It’s not just government,” said Michael Black, pointing to a range of developments such as the federal government’s Downsview Park and the recent expansion of Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
“It’s big bucks. It’s just dwarfing what is happening downtown.”
Black is a member of Cycle Toronto, which next week will host the first North York Regional Cycle Toronto meeting, with the support of the North York Cycling and Pedestrian Committee.
A number of North York-specific issues are expected to be discussed at the meeting, including safety concerns crossing at Hwy. 401 at Dufferin and Yonge streets, continuity issues related to the Finch hydro corridor trail, minimizing development and enhancing bike trails at Downsview Park, making the neighbourhood around Yorkdale Mall Shopping Centre more bike-friendly, including cycling infrastructure in the future redevelopment of Allen Road, encouraging more cycling on trails in the Don Mills area, building a sense of community for cyclists who live and/or ride in North York and emphasizing the need for more off-road trails.
“You get all that connected and North York would be a really great place for cycling. I’m committed to seeing that happen,” said Black, also a member of the North York Cycling and Pedestrian Committee.
“I feel North York has potential for a network of trails linked together.”
In addition, a number of general topics could be raised at the meeting, such as challenges facing suburban cyclists, cyclist and driver education and developing strategies for local cycling advocacy.
People are also welcome to raise other cycling issues at the meeting, said Black, who lives in the area of Yonge Street and Davisville Avenue but enjoys cycling in North York.
Traditionally, it has been more difficult for cycling to catch on in suburbs such as North York than in the downtown area, Black said.
Even Cycle Toronto has focused its efforts downtown, he said, adding he has pushed to change that approach.
“I said to Cycle Toronto ‘You have to show more interest and devote more interest to the suburbs. It’s just ridiculous’,” he said.
Jared Kolb, Cycle Toronto’s director of campaigns and membership, said the organization represents cycling issues across the city and is looking to gain more of a presence in suburban communities.
But he acknowledged more high-profile issues such as the Jarvis bike lanes have centred on the downtown area and the majority of the organization’s members come from downtown and midtown.
Kolb said he’s excited about the North York meeting.
Black said is hoping all kinds of different cyclists, from casual riders to students to racing and road cyclists, will attend the meeting.
“We’re definitely soliciting ideas from them,” he said.
“What we want is people really eager to address (cycling issues) and fix things up and (who) want to get involved and volunteer.”
The meeting takes place Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in committee Room 3 of the North York Civic Centre at 5100 Yonge St. north of Sheppard Avenue.