History

Community Bicycle Network mural (1997, artist unknown)

Community Bicycle Network mural (1997, artist unknown)

Established in 1993, the Community Bicycle Network (CBN) was inspired by the success of the Cabbagetown Bike Club, a bicycle repair and recycling drop-in which operated in the basement of TCRC’s Regent Park community centre.

Since its inception, CBN has initiated or supported many sustainable transportation programs, everything from Clean Air Cargo to the award-winning BikeShare, and from Women’s Bike Works to the current Wenches with Wrenches. In celebrating 20 years of Community Bicycle Network, we look back at some of the many highlights and successes over CBN’s 20-year history.

Toronto Recycled Art Society (TRASh), (est. 1989, founding member of CBN)

This group brought together artists who love the bicycle in the production of bicycle art and cultural events, including an annual auction of bicycles transformed into rideable works of art. TRASh raised money to support community bike projects in southern countries, and (since the establishment of the CBN) was a regular supporter of local bike clubs.

Cabbagetown Bicycle Club

The Cabbagetown Bicycle Club (CBC) was a founding member of CBN. Unfortunately, CBC wound down in 2002. CBC provided an awesome service to the marginalized community there for years, and we hope that things can be up and running there again as soon as possible. All help to getting it started again is gratefully accepted.

Re-Cycle Clubs (est. 1993)

CBN initiated Toronto’s first bicycle recycling program in 1993, in conjunction with several neighbourhood bike clubs. Collecting used bikes that would otherwise be discarded, CBN channeled them to member clubs such as the Cabbagetown, Bleeker Street, Brahms, and West End Bike Clubs. Currently, only the West End Bike Club is still operating.

West End Bike Club (est. 1994)

Open only from May to October of each year. Volunteer-run drop-in bicycle repair and recycling club at Dufferin Mall (900 Dufferin St.) Located in the underground parking – look for post P2 8H. Thursdays 6:30 – 8:30 pm. The West End Bike Club collects used bikes from the public that would otherwise be discarded and then uses them to learn and teach bike repair. In the process of recycling old bike parts, volunteers at this club develop new skills, receive free help with bike repair, access to used parts, and earn their own “set of two wheels” with their volunteer labour.

Women’s Bike Works (est. 1994)

Bike recycling workshops by and for women. These workshop aimed to help low income women gain access to bikes for transportation, and to support women in gaining the skills and confidence in mechanics and city cycling. The group activity branched out into the Open Roads Project.

Bicycle Skills for Change/Open Roads (est. 1995)

This group (an offspring of the Women’s Bike Works) organized bike recycling and riding skills workshops with and for women and children at emergency shelters in Toronto. In 1995, project activities included staff end residents from Stop 86, Humewood House, Jessie’s and Redwood shelters.

Detour’s UrbanSource (est. 1995)

Detour’s UrbanSource is a non-profit on-line catalogue specializing in sustainable transportation books. It operated out of CBN Intersection as Detour Publications for several years during it’s start-up and provides discounts on its books to CBN members.

In 1996, Community Bicycle Network was involved in the publication of:

Delivering the Goods by Bike

      Nick Gamble, ed., Detour Publications/Community Bicycle Network, 1996

 

      Shows, in a user-friendly question and answer format, why bicycle delivery is an economically sensible option for businesses. Includes case studies and examples of almost 20 companies that successfully use pedal power to deliver products from magazines to meals on wheels from flowers to furniture.

Bike Delivery Factsheets
Luke Wintjes, Community Bicycle Network, 1996
A series of four factsheets on aspects of bike delivery:
‘Put Bikes to Work for Your Business’; ‘The Bottom Line on Bike Delivery’; ‘Starting a Bicycle Delivery Service – A Sample Business Plan’; and ‘Resources for Starting a Bicycle Delivery Business’.

Latin American Bike Club (est. 1995)

The club ran “learn to ride” workshops and community rides. With no permanent location, the group used facilities of the West End Bike Club, Intersection and Latin American community groups for events.

Learn-to-ride Club (est. 1996)

This club sprung off from 1995 events organized by the BicycleShare and Bicycle Skills for Change Groups. With staff support for 1996, weekly learn to ride sessions were being organized.

Bicycles Crossing Borders (Bicicletas Cruzando Fronteras) (est. 1998)

Bicycles Crossing Borders collects unused bicycles from the waste stream in Canada and ships them to Cuba. BCB set up a bicycle shop in Cuba that repairs and refurbishes the used bicycles from Canada and sells them to the Cuban public at an affordable price. BCB also trains Cubans the skills of bicycle mechanics. BCB was originally a CBN project and in 2002 it successfully spun off as an independent organization. For more information, email BCB directly.

Youth Services Canada Mentoring Cycle (February to August 1999)

A community-based program, it operated in partnership with Human Resources Development Canada – HRDC. The mentoring program used bicycle-oriented programming as a tool to enhance and support personal achievement, and to build self directed learning skills. This program worked with fifteen “at risk” youth to help them improve life skills and employment opportunities.

BikeShare (2001-2006)

BikeShare was an innovative community bicycle-lending program in downtown Toronto developed by CBN that worked like a library system, provided its members with access to a fleet of bright yellow bikes.

Mayor Miller using BikeShare during Bike Week 2004

Mayor David Miller using BikeShare during Bike Week 2004 (Photo: biketoronto.ca)

BikeShare registered over 1500 annual members in five years from and visible part of Toronto’s cycling culture from 2001 to 2006. For more information about the program, visit the BikeShare page.

West Toronto Railpath (2001-2009)

The Railpath community group was initiated by a committee of West Toronto residents, cyclists, politicians, activists and environmentalists with the goal of assisting the City in the creation and stewardship of this multipurpose linear park. The Railpath idea had been discussed at resident’s association meetings in Toronto’s West End for years. In 2001, a group of members of the Roncesvalles Macdonell Residents’ Association (RMRA), got together, formed a partnership with CBN and Evergreen, and began working actively towards making the project a reality.

In 2012, the West Toronto Railpath won the National Urban Design Award from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC).

Car Free Forum (2002)

2002 posterIn 2002, CBN took part in the Car Free Forum presented by Sierra Club Eastern Canada Chapter that addressed what Toronto and Torontonians were doing to reduce car dependancy in our city so we could all breathe a little easier.

Trailer Park (2002)

2002 posterCBN and the Toronto Public Space Committee brought together manufacturers, distributors, retailers, owners and potential customers of bike trailers for Trailer Park, an outdoor festival and trade show. Dozens of models were on display for people to see and for individuals or retailers to order.

Clean Air Cargo

A local economic development project that promotes the use of bicycle trailers and work bikes as an economic alternative to the automobile for deliveries of goods and services, with the aim of reducing C02 levels in Toronto’s downtown core and making downtown living more comfortable for all.

CBN still offers a cargo-carrying number of bike trailers for rent at very reasonable rates.

Wenches with Wrenches (2002 – Present)

CBN WenchesBuilding on the Women’s Bike Works program, CBN launched Wenches with Wrenches, a bicycle maintenance and repair program for women by women.

Wenches with Wrenches inspired a number of similar such gender-specific bicycle workshop programs across North America and beyond

Bicycle Friendly Business Award (2003)

The City of Toronto awards CBN a Bicycle Friendly Business Award in the category Best Skills Development Award.

Lisa McLean of CBN accepts the award from Councillor Jane Pitfield

Lisa McLean of CBN accepts the award from Councillor Jane Pitfield (Photo: toronto.ca)

Information Nights (2003)

CBN hosted a series of monthly information nights at C’est What Cafe. Presenters included then mayoral candidate and Councillor David Miller. The information nights involved into the CBN Speaker Series.

Speaker Series (2004 – Present)

Speaker SeriesHigh profile proponents of sustainable cities and cycling keynote CBN’s Speaker Series including Jack Layton, federal MP for Toronto-Danforth and the Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, former City of Toront Chief Planner Paul Bedford, Professor John Pucher of Rutgers University and Toronto-based architect and designer Ken Greenberg.

Poster Project (2004)

CBN 2004 Poster Project vernissageIn the spring of 2004 the Outreach Committee at CBN brought together eight artists to develop a series of art that captures the spirit of the BikeShare. Some artists focussed on a particular bike in the BikeShare fleet – every bicycle has a unique name and their origin varies widely. Other artists celebrated the BikeShare program as a whole and the role of cycling as a great means of getting around town. These works of art were reproduced into a limited number of movie-sized posters that can be viewed at CBN.

The CBN Poster Project has returned for 2013 as part of CBN’s 20 Year celebrations! In cooperation with our friends at Art Spin, CBN is holding a juried Call for Posters! See the Art Spin page for details.

Mechanic Workshops (2007 – Present)

2007 saw CBN introduce bike mechanic workshops for beginners. The Wednesday-night classes are taught by experienced mechanics and provide an intimate, focused, learning environment. Learning some basics about your bike saves you money in the long run when you can change your own tube or adjust your brakes.

Tales of a Yellow Bike (2008)

From the description for the 2008 Tina Hahn film, Tales of a Yellow Bike about CBN’s BikeShare program:

Tales of a Yellow Bike (2008)In a world of automobiles, can one woman on a yellow bike make a difference? Perhaps not. But maybe a fleet of bikes might create a new model for sustainable transportation.

Toronto’s Bike Share Program is at a crossroads. Internationally recognized, it cannot maintain funding for its yellow bike program without stepping on a new path. Maogosha Pyjor is the Manager of Bike Share. Now that the program is cancelled, she is searching for models that can work for the challenges faced in North America. Maogosha looks for bikes and finds visionaries in Europe, North America, Columbia and China. Models for bike loaning are many and have different purposes. Corporate, political and community leaders share their lessons and thoughts on how the successes and failures of their system. But can Maogosha find a model that her community needs: accessible use of bicycles for everyone?

Join us on a trip that takes us to Beijing, Amsterdam, Bogotá, New York, La Rochelle, Paris and back to Toronto. Models for bike loaning are many and have different purposes. Corporate, political and community leaders share their lessons and thoughts on the successes and failures of their systems.

CBN inspires DIY bike repair in Europe (2010)

Community Bicycle Network, along with pedalpower in Vancouver and the recyclistas in Victoria, are the inspiration for the opening of Bikekitchen, a non profit association established to foster and improve the culture of bicycling in Munich, Germany through the organization of events where one can learn how to maintenance one’s bike.

Toronto Vintage Bicycle Show (2012 – Present)

Toronto Bicycle Vintage Show

In 2012, CBN proudly presented the first annual Toronto Vintage Bicycle Show event, held in Trinity-Bellwoods Park.

Celebrating 20 Years (2013)

In 2013, CBN celebrated twenty years of service to the community, establishing partnerships with Heritage Toronto, ArtSpin, Toronto Bicycle Music Festival and Ride for Renewables for an exciting season of events!

Please help Community Bicycle Network continue its efforts to bring bicycles and cycling to the community. Donate today!

Thank you!

We Need Your Help!
As we celebrate 20 years, we're asking you to support Community Bicycle Network's award-winning programs, hands-on workshops, free events and store relocation. Please donate today!

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