Story by Sarah Greene and photos by Yvonne Bambrick, Martin Reis, Steve Sharland and Emily Sutlic
At this year’s Bicycle Friendly Business Awards on October 11 at the Horseshoe the Toronto Centre For Active Transportation (TCAT) offered its fourth annual Active Transportation Champion award to not one, but two cycling advocates: Patrick Brown and Albert Koehl.
Both lawyers are pivotal members of the cycling advocacy community. Brown is director of the Ontario Safety League, and a founding member and board member of Cycle Toronto; he also organizes the Bike Helmets on Kids initiative. He has lobbied on behalf of road users without auto insurance, and provided legal advice to cyclists. Koehl has written for the Globe and Mail and dandyhorse, among other publications, helps make Bells On Bloor happen, and has worked on progressive bike policy for the Annex Residents Association, where he is a director.
Patrick Brown at the "top of the world" photo by Steve Sharland
Albert Koehl at Cycle and Sole by Martin Reis
Both men were nominated for the award for their leadership work initiating and providing expert counsel for the Chief Coroner’s recent review on cycling and pedestrian deaths, which listed 129 accidental cycling deaths in Ontario between 2006 and 2010 (read the complete “Cycling Death Review” from the Chief Coroner here).
“These coroner reviews are incredibly important to legitimize and fast-track the requirements we need to improve the safety of our most vulnerable road users,” says TCAT Director Nancy Smith Lea, “[recommendations] include building complete streets, lowering speed limits and installing side guards on trucks.”
Koehl is grateful for the award from TCAT, and says, “It was a particular honour receiving an award from TCAT – an organization that does such excellent research and advocacy work.”
Brown adds that it is good to be able to celebrate making changes that can hopefully make a positive difference in cyclist and pedestrian safety:
“In my line of work most of the awards that we deal with are the ones that are granted by the courts or insurance companies to pedestrians and cyclists who have been struck down and horribly injured or killed. It was truly special for me to stand next to Albert, a person I respect so much, and be granted an award that recognizes the effort to prevent these tragic events from happening, as opposed to picking up the pieces after.”
The Coroner’s report made a number of recommendations, including the adoption of a “complete streets” approach, a commitment to infrastructure to support cycling in Ontario, increased cycling safety public awareness and education, mandatory side-guards for trucks (which cycling advocates have been suggesting for years) and, more controversially, mandatory helmet legislation for cyclists of all ages.
At the Bike Awards by Yvonne Bambrick
Other winners of the night:
Props went to Intelliware Development Inc. (in High Park and downtown), which won Best Bike Parking for its indoor bike parking – the parking areas have been in use by employees for over a decade and no bikes have been stolen.
Patagonia, which boasts an employee Drive-less program, took the award for Best Commute (the company pays employees $2 per bike trip!).
Not Far From The Tree – who will come pick your fruit tree for you and share the bounty with charity – won Best Small Business. They cart their equipment using cargo bicycles.
Speaking of Evergreen, Evergreen Bike Works, the community bike space at Evergreen Brick Works won the award for Best Skills Development.
The award for Best Overall went to Energy@Work, a company that shares BIXI memberships with staff.
The award for Bicycle Friendliest-Suburban Business went un-awarded. Hopefully there will be some good contenders in that category next year.
For more information on Bicycle Friendly Business Awards winners, see the City’s page here.
Thanks to the Grid also for posting about this: http://www.thegridto.com/city/local-news/torontos-most-valuable-pedalers/
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