The trip to and from school is an important part of the day for children and youth. It can be a chance to be outside, to spend time with parents or caregivers and friends, and eventually to develop a sense of independence. Active modes of transportation – walking, biking, scootering and more – confer the most benefits. But since 1985, in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, the number of students being driven to school has doubled to over 30%, while the number traveling by active modes has fallen to under 40%.
CultureLink has become involved in the growing movement to reverse this worrying trend, through our award-winning cycling program developed with Cycle Toronto. We work directly with students, teachers and parents to nurture a bike culture in schools across our city. Our achievements:
- Contributing to the successful campaigns for protected bike lanes on Bloor Street and Danforth, and others, through the Families and Educators for Safe Cycling Project supported by the Metcalf Foundation (2018-2020)
- Successfully advocating with the Toronto District School Board to adopt the TDSB Charter for Active, Safe and Sustainable Transportation, to declare their first-ever Bike to School Day in May 2014, and to establish a standard for bicycle parking on school property
- Reaching over 45,000 Toronto elementary and secondary school students with cycling education programs
- Coordinating Bike to School Week, as an annual campaign which has involved over 130,000 students
- Supporting 13 secondary schools with a Comprehensive Cycling Program, providing each school with equipment, special events and support for bike clubs
From 2018 to 2020, CultureLink worked with Cycle Toronto and the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank to engage school communities in campaigns for safe cycling. This guide distills our learning and experience into four steps to help families, educators, city staff and cycling advocates ensure that the voices of children, parents and educators are heard.
From April 2016 – March 2019, our work was supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Our program model, accomplishments and plans for future are described in this project report.
Getting in touch
TDSB schools can also purchase programs from us on a fee-for-service basis; we have an active partnership with TDSB and all our staff have filed Vulnerable Sector Screenings with the Board and have completed Emergency First Aid and CAN-BIKE training. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for rates and details.
Parents and administrators at schools near our Bike Hub at 15 Tobermory Drive may request free Ready to Ride and ABC Bike Safety Check workshops. Multiple free cycling resources will be provided. Contact CultureLink’s Bike Hub at email@example.com.
For other inquiries or new partnership ideas, please contact Kristin Schwartz at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 416-420-3664.
Partners and funders
Since 2008, CultureLink has been involved in a partnership with Cycle Toronto, to encourage newcomers to cycle in and around Toronto because cycling is affordable, healthy, and convenient. More and more people are choosing to travel/commute by bicycle every year. Many newcomers are coming from countries where cycling is even more established as a mode of transportation, and we have encouraged newcomers to retain and share that habit in Toronto.
The Bike to School Project – a collaboration between CultureLink, Cycle Toronto and the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank – received a Grow Grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2019. The Metcalf Foundation supports the Families and Educators for Safe Cycling Project, from August 1, 2018 through July 31, 2019. Cycling Education Programs are supported by the Toronto District School Board and individual schools.
Past funders have included the Toronto Foundation, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation Cycling Training Fund, and the Toronto Bicycling Network.
Our innovative partnership has been recognized with five awards: including the 2016 Wheels of Change Advocacy Award from Share the Road Cycling Coalition, the 2010 Excellence in Sustainable Transportation award from the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association, and the Alliance for Biking and Walking 2010 Advocacy Innovation of the Year Award.