As the number of daylight hours dwindles, Toronto cyclists are being reminded to use extra caution on the road. Installing bike lights and wearing reflective gear helps cyclists stay visible before dawn and after dusk. Many Toronto cyclists, however, continue to risk their lives.
On October 6, members of cycling advocacy group Cycle Toronto waited at the corner of Beverley and Dundas West, part of a popular bike route downtown. Within the first two hours, roughly 200 cyclists were stopped for not using lights.
“What we found is that about 50 per cent of cyclists ride without lights. That’s too high,” says Cycle Toronto’s executive director Jared Kolb. “We want to ensure that going forth, more cyclists – and eventually all cyclists – will ride with lights and reflective gear on their bikes at night.”
To promote cycle safety after dark, Cycle Toronto has partnered with Toronto Police and McLeish Orlando, a critical injury law firm, to launch the Get Lit! campaign this month. Once a week for the rest of the month, Kolb and his team will set up along one of the city’s major bike routes to stop unlit cyclists.
“In exchange for listening to us talk about the importance of staying visible, we’re giving them a free set of bike lights and installing them right there,” Kolb says. “Some people have a working front light but not a back light. Some have a back but not a front. We’re trying to help support the cycling community and do a bit of education in a positive way.”
In addition to safety risks, cycling without lights can result in a hefty fine. Recently, the Ministry of Transportation increased the fine from $20 to $110. Cyclists must have a front white light and rear red light when on the road in the dark.
In addition to running the Get Lit! campaign, Cycle Toronto is organizing a fundraising ride on Bloor and Danforth later this month. The mass cycling event takes place October 24 in support of the Bloor Loves Bikes Campaign, which promotes biking infrastructure along east-west corridor. The group hopes to raise $50,000.
“That will go directly to our advocacy work, everything from organizing work, supplies we purchase, and a pop-up bike lane on Bloor Street a few weeks ago,” Kolb explains. “We have all sorts of activities that we’re working on for 2016, but the money will go directly to supporting our advocacy work.”
Bloor Street businesses that support the bike lane are promoted on Cycle Toronto’s website. In addition, an online pledge supporting a pilot project for improving Bloor Street’s biking infrastructure in 2016 has already collected nearly 4,000 signatures.
Cycle Toronto’s Get Lit! campaign will be at the following locations until 9 pm:
- October 13: Boulton Drive Parkette, Boulton, near Poplar Plains
- October 20: Toronto Public Library, College and Shaw
- October 27: Prince Edward Viaduct Parkette, across from Castle Frank Subway Station