December 22, 2023

Two Wheeled Politics 2023 Reflection

With 2023 coming to a close, this means another annual reflection is in order. From bike lane fights on Midtown Yonge and Bloor West to Olivia Chow’s mayoral by-election win to some nice long distance trail riding, this year has been pretty crazy! Let’s get started, shall we?

The 4th Annual Cycling Good Cheer ride

In January, the Yonge4All campaign was successful in making the Midtown Yonge Complete Street Pilot permanent! Over 8,500 people signed the petition, while 84 people spoke at the Infrastructure & Environment Committee meeting on January 30 including over 60 who spoke in favour. Despite Mayor John Tory pressuring councillors to extend the pilot – who also called for a shortening of the pilot last year – the majority of council rejected his deferral and forced his hand to make it permanent.

A Yonge4All media event ahead of the January 30 IEC meeting

Tory dropped a bombshell resignation in February over his affair with a staffer, but not before seeing through the passing of an irresponsible budget which begged other governments to bail Toronto out of its shortfall, hiked the police budget by $48 million, and cut TTC service while raising fares. February also saw public consultations for the eglintonTOday project, but the timing remains uncertain as Metrolinx still refuses to commit to an opening date for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

eglintonTOday public consultation in February

I marked the 10th anniversary of the Two Wheeled Politics blog in March with a reflection on how far cycling in Toronto had come since then, while Bike Share Toronto presented a new pricing structure. Some people criticized the plan for charging higher fees for e-bikes which was also done in Montréal and Vancouver. Speaking of which, Bike Share Toronto recently announced a low-cost membership for Toronto Community Housing tenants at $5/year for unlimited 30-minute rides while ODSP recipients can get free e-bike rides with their annual membership.

Bike share pricing was a hot topic in March

April saw two important west end consultations on the High Park Movement Strategy and the Bloor West Complete Street Extension, while public spaces such as Ontario Place and the Ontario Science Centre are under attack by Premier Doug Ford. The month officially kicked off the by-election to replace Mayor Tory which saw some bikelash rhetoric coming from former police chief Mark Saunders and Anthony Furey.

Bloor Street at Royal York before it became a complete street this summer

The month of May saw a close call on Brimley Road – which had bike lanes removed in 2020 four months after installation – where a cyclist was initially reported as killed on that street (but fortunately was not the case). It served as a reminder of the consequences of neglecting safe streets; something also noted with the annual Ride of Silence that month. For some good news, the High Park Movement Strategy passed City Council which made the weekend closures permanent, permanently closed a couple of roads to cars, and set the stage for a car-free High Park in the long term.

West Road in High Park is now permanently closed to motor vehicles

June saw the Bloor West Complete Street Extension get debated at IEC and City Council. Despite some stiff opposition from some residents in The Kingsway, the project was easily approved with only one councillor opposed (Guess who? 😉) and Mississauga advocates also got their win on Bloor! The good news kept on coming with bike riding Olivia Chow winning the mayoral by-election. However, plans to pedestrianize Kensington Market were gutted due to local opposition and the wildfire smoke caused me to postpone some long-distance riding. At one point, Toronto’s air quality was among the worst in the world which drives the climate crisis home.

Mayor Olivia Chow thanking supporters at a volunteer appreciation event in July

In July, I finally got a break from the wildfire smoke and did my longest ride yet; a 115-kilometre trek from Kitchener to Hamilton using some rail trails. Aside from a short gap on Courtland in Kitchener, safe infrastructure can be found all along including some nice rail trails (e.g. Cambridge to Paris, Kitchener to Brantford) and some decent riding in Hamilton.

The ride I did from Kitchener to Hamilton included the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail

In lieu of an out-of-country trip, we went to Killarney and Sudbury for a week at the end of July for some camping and hiking (which Mozzie loves). The Chikinashing Trail in Killarney Provincial Park was a good hike.

On several occasions this year, I did some site checks of some new bike infrastructure. In August, I checked out some new contraflow bikeways in Cabbagetown, the bi-directional cycle track along Douro-Wellington, and the College Street upgrades. College was one of the worst bike lanes in the City per Community Bikeways’ 2021 bikeway report card with bike lanes in the door zone, but the stretch from Manning to Spadina Avenues is now one of Toronto’s best with a raised (and wide) cycle track! I also did some interviews with Jennifer Alexander about organizing in Etobicoke and Nancy Smith Lea about her 30 years of advocacy and active transportation research.

College Street upgrades under construction during the summer

I did two long rides in September: those being the Lake to Lake Route in York Region and Oshawa to Toronto along the Waterfront and Highland Creek Trails. While Lake to Lake was cut short by a flat tire just before Steeles Avenue, the boardwalk trail disappeared in Pickering. Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden did his Safety Ride from Ottawa to Toronto to promote Bill 40 (Moving Ontarians Safely Act) which I joined for the final stretch from Scarborough to Queen’s Park. The Bloor bike lanes in Etobicoke were getting built, contractors such as Sanscon needed to be held accountable for delayed projects, and I featured Community Bicycle Network’s Adrian Currie in a post.

MPP Joel Harden riding along Danforth Avenue

October saw public consultations on the Portland-Dan Leckie bikeway – a much needed Waterfront connection – and the Avenue Road Study. I did a few site visits along the Finch West LRT this year with October’s marking the first time I felt safe riding under Highway 400 in the area! I interviewed Marvin Macaraig for a Scarborough perspective on cycling, while the interview with Madeleine Bonsma-Fisher about data science and cycling in Ottawa was by far the most read post this year.

The Finch West LRT project included this nice new multi-use path under Highway 400

November was all about Queen’s Park. Ontario Premier Doug Ford called for the Bloor bike lanes in Etobicoke to be removed because he claimed he only saw one cyclist a year there, which prompted 250 to 300 people to rally and ride along the Bloor West Complete Street Extension. The Ford government also backed off an earlier request to subject the Mid-Humber Gap to an individual environmental assessment, though Community Bikeways still believes temporary bikeways along Lawrence and Weston are needed until the project is done. Unfortunately, MPP Harden’s Bill 40 was defeated at Queen’s Park.

Bikes as far as the eye can see along Bloor Street crossing the Humber River in November

Also in November, the City of Toronto held consultations on the 2025-27 Bike Plan, the 2024 Budget, and the Micromobility Strategy. The Finch West LRT continued to progress and Sanscon finished their Chesswood project only a week late. However, Midome – which is upgrading Bloor Street from Spadina to Avenue – is ahead of schedule with most of the westbound raised cycle track built. Last, but not least, I spoke with Councillor Amber Morley about her first year on council including the Bloor bike lanes.

New cycle track along Chesswood Drive

There were a couple of setbacks near the end of the year with Parthi Kandavel – who opposed the Danforth-Kingston Complete Street Extension – being elected in the Scarborough Southwest by-election on November 30 and an early December bike plan consultation was hijacked by some opponents in Etobicoke. To bring back some positive vibes, December was the 4th Annual Cycling Good Cheer ride which saw Councillor Lily Cheng ride all the way down Yonge, while I interviewed Ingrid Buday about noise pollution and fellow bike blogger Jun Nogami. You can read Jun's year end recap here.

Councillor Lily Cheng at the start of the Cycling Good Cheer ride with a bike rented from Happy Fiets

Next year will also have a lot happening with the 2025-27 Bike Plan being finalized, consultations on the Danforth-Kingston Complete Street Extension (and hopefully a favourable vote), and a decision on the eglintonTOday project. Transit watchers will be keen to find out whether both the Finch West and Eglinton Crosstown LRT lines will open that year. Finally, I look forward to doing some more long-distance rides in 2024.

Me at the Dundas Valley Trail Centre (near the end of the Kitchener to Hamilton ride)

To encourage Toronto to step it up in 2024, I will sign off with this great clip from Streetfilms on Paris’ rapid push to be come a bike friendly city.


  1. Great post, Rob! I haven't done a long-distance ride in quite some time but you're making me think I should plan for one this spring.

    1. Thanks, Kristin! :) Hope you and your loved ones have a Merry Christmas!