December 14, 2015

Twelve Days of Bicycles - Three Book Rides

For Toronto’s cyclists, there is no shortage of group rides to choose from; ranging from Bells on Bloor rallies with 1500 cyclists to smaller food rides. There is one group ride which stands out and combines my two favourite activities – cycling and reading – which is called The Reading Line.
Ribbon cutting at Book City
The Reading Line was a joint idea by two Cycle Toronto advocates and Penguin Random House co-workers – Janet Joy Wilson and Amanda Lewis – whose efforts lead to two rides so far and a third in the works. Not only do they feature various authors and representatives of community groups, but there is an underlying message about city building at each ride.
Riders gathering at the Green Line
The inaugural ride took place on October 4, 2014, which started at the Book City store in Bloor West Village with a ribbon cutting and a reading by Catherine Bush from her book “Accusation”. The ride proceeded to the Green Line; a linear park under development from Earlscourt Park to Spadina Road inspired by New York City’s High Line using a hydro corridor. Jake Tobin Garrett and David Harvey from Park People provided riders a brief summary about the project and how it would improve neighbourhoods currently lacking in parkland. Five authors ranging from Shawn Micallef (author of “The Trouble With Brunch” and editor of Spacing) to poet Tanya Neumeyer provided readings at different parts of the Green Line, with the last stop being at Frankel Lambert Park and Community Garden (near Dupont and Christie). Books could be purchased on site from Laurie Featherstone’s cargo bike, while cookies, sandwiches, and non-alcoholic beer were also available.
Books on Bloor arriving at High Park
 Since bike lanes on Bloor became a top priority for Cycle Toronto’s ward advocacy groups along that street, the second Reading Line took place on May 30, 2015 along that street and was called “Books on Bloor”. It started at the Six Points Intersection at Kipling, which is not bike friendly and is the proposed terminus for the Bloor bike lanes in the draft bike plan. The emphasis on city building was apparent when Ken Greenberg – one of Toronto’s leading architects – kicked off the ride with a reading from his book “Walking Home” and provided comments on Toronto's current urban planning challenges. The ride then stopped at High Park for Yvonne Bambrick (Cycle Toronto’s founding executive director) and her book “The Urban Cycling Survival Guide”, Christie Pits, and Spadina. The ride eventually went to Castle Frank Station before the Bloor Viaduct, though heavy rain at Spadina prompted many riders (myself included) to leave early. Charlie’s Freewheels also made an appearance at Christie Pits to talk about their build a bike program for youth in Moss Park and Regent Park.
Yvonne Bambrick doing a reading at High Park
Both of these rides saw elected representatives from all three levels of Ward 13 – Councillor Sarah Doucette, MPP Cheri DiNovo, and former MP Peggy Nash – attend, while former Etobicoke Lakeshore MP Bernard Trottier greeted the Books on Bloor Ride at Six Points in his riding. Full lists of participant authors and their bios can be found on their website.

The third Reading Line is expected to take place along Bathurst on May 28, 2016; starting 3 PM at the Fort York Library. (thanks Janet Joy for the heads up) You will want to stay tuned for updates via their website, Facebook, and Twitter as the event gets closer. And get some books added to your reading list for the New Year, of course!

Read Away!
Rob Z (e-mail)

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