#OBS18: Share the Road recognizes cycling leaders with Wheels of Change Awards
by John Scott, Chair of the Board, Share the Road Cycling Coalition
The positive energy surrounding cycling was evident at our 10th Annual Ontario Bike Summit. It’s the type of energy that is created when passionate and talented people come together in the same place to connect with peers and celebrate what they love — in this case, cycling.
Share the Road had the privilege of recognizing several of the people who have been instrumental in building this positive energy for cycling with our 2018 Wheels of Change Awards. Below is a brief outline of the 7 awards we that were presented as part of our Awards Dinner on Tuesday, April 16th. We would also like to offer a heartfelt congratulations to everyone who was nominated for an award.
Community Collaboration — City of Toronto, WSP Canada, Cycle Toronto, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation and Bells on Bloor
The Bloor Street Bike Lanes are the culmination of over 30 years of advocacy, partnership building and research to show that the demand for cycling in Toronto justified a significant change to one of Toronto’s most iconic thoroughfares.
The story of the Bloor Bike Lanes has many actors. The long-term local advocacy efforts of Bells on Bloor and the positive Bloor Loves Bikes Campaign by Cycle Toronto. The forward thinking Toronto City Staff who advanced, installed and evaluated the project and the talented design team at WSP Canada who supported staff in designing an innovative solution to both improve safety and maintain parking on-street to respond to local business concerns. And the team at the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, who produced sound research on economic impact that helped to illustrate the value of the project.
All of these actors played a role in the process that ultimately led to City Council saying yes to this transformative project. With a resounding vote of 36–6, the Bloor Street Bike Lanes were made permanent in late 2017.
Community Builder — Peter Topalovic
Peter is the Transportation Demand Management Manager for the City of Hamilton, and he truly embodies the Community Builder Title. Peter is hard working, passionate and responsible for bringing the SoBi bike share system to Hamilton. After identifying a gap in first and last mile connectivity to transit, Peter strongly made the case for bike share in Hamilton. Peter creatively overcame financial and logistical barriers to launch a viable bike share system that has over 20,000 active members who have logged 1 million rides and have collectively travelled more than 2 million km by bike. The technology embedded inside the bike share bikes also allows for collection of informative ridership data that can be leveraged to build a safer more connected city of people who bike. Peter is truly helping to build a more vibrant and accessible Hamilton.
Beyond bike share, Peter also teaches a course in sustainability at McMaster University, supports community-partnerships like Bike Month and Winter Bike to Work Day and works to connect and empower community partners all over Hamilton through events like the City’s Transportation Summit.
Health Promoter of the Year — Lisa Gallant
Lisa Gallant is a Health Promoter and works for Niagara Region Public Health. If you work on active travel anywhere in Niagara Region, you will know who Lisa is because she is intimately involved in supporting a number of crucial local projects. As part of her role she acts as a resource for School Travel Planning initiatives, assists municipalities in Niagara Region in completing Bicycle Friendly Community applications, reviews policies related to active transportation with an eye towards building live-able and bike-able communities, and supports local leaders who run impactful events and programs like Heart Niagara’s Cycling Safety Education Project and the Broken Spoke’s bike repair co-op program at Port Colborne High School.
Lisa has also served as a member of the Ontario Bike Summit Planning Committee and we appreciate her thoughtful feedback and meaningful support.
Professional of the Year — Shawn Smith
Shawn is the Program Manager for Active and Sustainable Transportation at York Region. Shawn has been instrumental as a leader in advancing the state of active transportation in York Region and has played a key role in innovative projects such as the York Region Youth Bike Summit, the Making Tracks education program, the Highway 7 protected bike lane pilot project and the launch of Ontario’s first Bicycle Yearbook, which assessed the state of cycling across the region. Shawn lives and breathes Active Transportation, and it shows in his work. He comes up with creative ways to encourage York Region’s residents to ride, presents cycling in a new light and has contributed to significant change in the culture of York Region, helping to get more people cycling more often. He even gets his family involved, bringing his 3 children along on the Discovery Rides he launched in the region.
Shawn is also engaged in promoting cycling and active transportation beyond York Region. He is one of the founders and the current chair of the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals.
Advocate of the Year — Teresa Di Felice
Teresa Di Felice is the Assistant Vice President of Government and Community Relations at the Canadian Automobile Association’s South Central Ontario division. This “advocate of the year” award could just as easily be “advocate of the decade” and she has been a crucial long-term partner and voice for cycling in Ontario.
As a leader in a club for motorists, Teresa sees the big road safety picture. She knows that people who drive and people who bike are largely the same, and saw an opportunity to increase the safety of CAA members on the road by supporting safe cycling advocacy. An early partner on the Bicycle Friendly Community Awards program, Teresa’s vision has encouraged hundreds of elected officials across this province to take action in support of cycling. As part of the Minister’s Advisory Panel on Cycling, Teresa played a crucial role in developing CycleON: Ontario’s Cycling Strategy, advocating for the 1m safe passing law and for expanded penalties for distracted and careless driving cause death.
When CAA first came to the table a decade ago, it was often accompanied by questions as to why they were interested in supporting cycling advocacy. After Teresa’s tireless efforts both within her organization and in the larger community, her unwavering support has been monumental in eliminating the “us vs them” mentality that often pervaded the cycling conversation.
Retailer with Heart — Andrew Hibma
New Hope Community Bikes represents one of a growing number of bike shops in Ontario that are much more than just a place to buy a bike and get it repaired. It is a space where youth can learn new skills that they can apply later in life, a place where members of vulnerable populations go to spend time building skills and building value within their community, and a place where the bicycle is seen not just as a tool for recreation and travel, but as a means to expand transportation choice and to reduce dependency on less affordable transportation options for all residents. The shop creates inclusive spaces for women and LGBTQ customers who want to learn about cycling, engages in community outreach to schools and community groups, and works to spread the love of cycling far and wide in Hamilton and beyond.
And when we say beyond, we mean way, way beyond Hamilton. 1419 km away from their Hamilton location, New Hope is spreading the joy of cycling in Pikangikum, Ontario. In early 2018, Staff and volunteers at New Hope created a bike shop in a shipping container, and they shipped it to the Pikangikum first nation in North western Ontario. This bike shop in a box is being used to train youth on how to build and maintain bikes in a community where cycling is growing quickly as both a recreational activity and transportation choice. New Hope staff and board members have travelled to Pikangikum to train students and teachers on bike repair, to help build new mountain bike trails and to delivery cycling education in a joyous way in the school in town.
Educating the Next Generation — Tegan Moss
Tegan Moss is the Executive Director of B!KE Peterborough, Peterborough’s Community Cycling Hub. Having served in this role for 7 years, Tegan has helped to breath new life into more than 11,000 bikes across Peterborough! At the shop, local residents participate in bike maintenance courses and Earn-a-Bike programs while hundreds more have honed their skills in the supervised workshop space.
Alongside Peterborough GreenUP, Tegan has helped to launch a Pedal Power revolution in the City with the target of having every grade 5 student participate in a cycling education course. To date, over 1,000 students have participated and Tegan has played a crucial role in informing the program standards work currently being undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
Tegan works with the City of Peterborough to deliver programs such as this year’s Winter Wheels program and it was her initiative that resulted in 4 public bike fix-it stations installed in the City. Tegan believes that the bicycle can be a tool for personal empowerment, social justice and a more joyful way of life. She is also a Board member with Canada Bikes.
Thank you to our event photographer David Keogh for providing all of the photos.
Want to learn more about Share the Road and our work? Sign up for our monthly newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/55d6d0eed564/strnewslettersignup