Story by Evan Morrison, Photos courtesy of Evan Morrison and Jun Nogami
The Reading Line
Dozens of cyclists took their two wheels to Bloor Street on Saturday, May 30, to take part in The Reading Line, a cycling event that combined peoples love of books and bikes to raise awareness about the need for bike infrastructure in Toronto.
Politicians, authors and cyclists all came out to take part in the event, and hear about future plans for bike infrastructure specifically bike lanes on Bloor and complete streets approach at Six Points; as well to hear the city from local authors at reading locations along Bloor including: Ken Greenberg, Yvonne Bambrick, Christine Fisher Guy and many more.
The event began in Etobicoke-Lakeshore and the convoy of cyclists continued all the way to Castle Frank station with a total of eight reading locations, finishing off with a trio of children’s authors and illustrators at Prince Edward Viaduct Parkette.
Here are some photos and interviews with people who took part in the reading line. Book lovers and cycling advocates who are working hard to improve the city of Toronto through their actions, one street and one book at a time.
Janet Joy Wilson - Co-founder of the Reading Line (seen below, far right:
Janet: “I love books. I’ve been in the [publishing] industry for over a quarter century and in the last two-and-a-half years I have been commuting to work using my bicycle. And when you start using two wheels to get through a city that’s locked in gridlock and you do it by choice (because I do own a car and I use transit) you really see the city from a new perspective and you get hooked on it. My colleague (Amanda) and I we are both cycling advocates because we love the lifestyle of it, but we see that [cycling] infrastructure in the city is sorely lacking. People say to me ‘You are so brave’ and I should be. To get in my car you wouldn’t say that but as soon as I get on my bike all of the sudden I’m some kind of warrior. We should all feel safe in our city, we should all have that choice to get somewhere quickly, cheaply and to have a healthy lifestyle. I ride my bike a minimum two hours everyday, I love it because I see and hear the city in a new way, I meet new people and I wanted to share that [experience]. So that’s what this book ride is about, [it's about] having an accessible event. [The book ride] is free, we’re not inconveniencing anybody and when you stop and smell the roses you get to hear and see things differently. Why do I care [about cycling infrastructure]? Because I care about my community, I care about a city I love and see a lot of potential for, and I care about people having choices especially healthy choices.”
Amanda Lewis - Co-founder of The Reading Line & editor at Penguin Random House Canada
“I am so happy to be an organizer for the Reading Line because it brings together two things I love; books and bikes. More importantly it raises awareness of the need for bike infrastructure, specifically bike lanes along Bloor. So today is wonderful. It brings together connections, community, literature, and bicycles. I’m so glad we have special guests from Charlie’s Free Wheels, they're a wonderful non-profit organization in the city and we support bike-based businesses.”
Heather Jackson & Pierre
“I love biking and I love books and I’m a writer so that’s why I’m here.”
“I run a bicycle delivery service called Greater Goods, we deliver natural products, shampoos, laundry detergent baby products to the city of Toronto.”
Jared Kolb - Executive Director Cycle Toronto
“Bloor street is a crucial corridor for cycling in the city of Toronto and it’s a natural for the future of our cycling network. It’s long, it’s uninterrupted, continuous, there’s no danger of streetcar tracks, and it’s a vibrant retail street. It’s a place and a link for many people in the city and for cycling it’s where we [at Cycle Toronto] imagine a key part of the network will go. All that said, why this event is so great is because it’s demonstrating the lifestyle that surrounds cycling.”
Ken Greenberg - Author of “Walking Home”
“I think this is a terrific event because we really need to change the way we think about the city and to see active transportation (people biking whether for recreation or getting to work everyday or to school) as not some unusual behaviour but as one of the most basic ways to get around for the reasons we all know; health, convenience, cost, and environment. We have huge changes to make and events like [The Reading Line] call attention to current issues regarding cycling infrastructure. We can see where the problems are and what needs to be done. So [even though] it’s just one event I think it’s a really important one.”
Carolyn and John
“We were listening to the radio in the car on the way home and heard Janet with an afternoon program talking about the High Park reading that’s going on and we both really like biking so we thought it would be a cool way to spend the day because we both like books and biking.”
Yvonne Bambrick - dandyhorse contributor & author of “The Urban Cycling Survival Guide”
“I was invited by Janet and Amanda to participate at the High Park stop to do a little reading from my book “The Urban Cycling Survival Guide” and to chat with folks. It’s a great event and I was here last year too."
Bernard Trottier - MP Etobicoke-Lakeshore
“Urban planning is a bit of my background. I studied in engineering, urban transportation and urban planning and it’s always been something I’ve had a certain passion for. So I’m always making sure that we get connected and that the community and their needs and priorities be heard and that we develop those democratic priorities into the urban plans. So I really salute what the Reading Line is doing, I think Bloor street is one of the biggest streets in Toronto and wouldn’t it be wonderful if we allow safe, enjoyable cycling from one end of the city to the next.”
Congratulations to everyone involved in The Reading Line. Hope to see you next year! Let's keep the books and bike love rolling!
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