Suburban residents face many barriers to cycling for travel. While a lack of safe and connected bicycle infrastructure is often highlighted, limited access to bicycles unfamiliarity with cycling routes, lack of confidence to ride on the streets can all be hurdles.
These barriers mask the significant potential for suburban cycling. While work commutes are often longer than downtown trips, many everyday trips for other purposes such as grocery runs, park visits, as well as trips to transit hubs, are shorter than 5km and could be easily cycled.
A Ryerson/TCAT report found that one-third of all trips in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area that are currently driven could be cycled. In York Region, 53% of residents aged 12 and over are physically inactive and 50% of adults are overweight or obese. Cycling for transportation is a fun and convenient way to stay fit and healthy.
With support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, TCAT will expand the programs offered at the existing Markham Cycles Community Bicycle Hub, establish a new community bicycle hub in Newmarket, and host programs at satellite sites in York Region.
The Town of Newmarket’s Active Transportation Implementation Plan (2018) aims to decrease the Town’s reliance on automobiles and make progress towards the provision of walking and cycling trails and transit facilities. During the Plan’s community engagement phase, residents expressed a need for greater promotion and education around active transportation. Community feedback also highlighted the need for amenities such as bicycle parking and repair stations throughout the Town to encourage more active transportation users. Currently, Newmarket has a well-used and well-maintained trail system, however, single occupancy vehicle use remains the primary travel mode.
In launching community bicycle hubs in York Region’s suburban communities, TCAT is providing programs designed for people to start and continue cycling, share knowledge with other practitioners, and increase avenues for resource sharing across the region.
TCAT’s first step towards building a community bicycle hub in Newmarket is establishing connections with local organizations whose missions align with co-benefits of cycling to help guide the development and delivery of programming, including the Newmarket Public Library, local advocacy group Cycle Newmarket and transportation planning staff at the Town. Through these discussions, we have identified gaps in providing cycling education, amenities, and community connections. TCAT will work to address these gaps as we have done previously in Peel Region, Scarborough, and currently Markham.
At our community bike hubs, we offer a suite of programming including DIY repair, access to bikes, bike mentorship, earn your bike programs, guided rides, and workshops. As more people bike and support for cycling grows, local champions can work together with city staff and decision-makers to constructively address infrastructure gaps.
While we work to establish community connections in Newmarket to design a new hub, we have partnered with the Newmarket Public Library to host a virtual cycling education series. Be sure to catch the second workshop in the series:
Fixing on the Fly – August 4th, 7 pm: Don’t let a broken bike strand you on the side of the road. In this workshop, learn how to fix common problems you may encounter on rides and tips to prevent problems from occurring on future rides. Register here.