March 13, 2018

Why I'm Running for Cycle Toronto's Board

Cycle Toronto’s Annual General Meeting is next Thursday, which also marks their 10th anniversary when they started as the Toronto Cyclists Union. This year’s AGM will give members the opportunity to elect four candidates to Cycle Toronto’s board of directors, reflect on the past year’s accomplishments (Hello, Bloor bike lanes!), and socialize (of course). I am pleased to announce I, Robert Zaichkowski, will be running for a board position along with nine other candidates (click here for bios). Not only would I like to explain why I am running, but also give you the chance to ask me questions on this blog, Twitter, or the Biking Toronto Facebook group.
Here's a brief profile I sent to Cycle Toronto.

Ward: 14 (Parkdale-High Park)
Occupation: Accounting Manager at Grafton Apparel
Cyclist: Well rounded (e.g. commuting, errands, long distance touring)
Skill: Finance/Accounting
Bio: Originally from Moncton, New Brunswick, I have been passionate about bicycles, numbers, and civic engagement since childhood. I am a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CMA) with almost ten years of accounting experience. I volunteered with Cycle Toronto for over five years and write the Two Wheeled Politics bike blog (http://twowheelpoli.blogspot.ca).
Why I want to join the Cycle Toronto Board of Directors: I strongly believe successful board candidates need to be connected with grassroots advocates. My experience as a former Ward 14 Co-Captain and current service to the Advocacy Committee can be that connection. I want to continue Cycle Toronto’s suburban outreach and actions on issues beyond bike lanes such as budgets and design guidelines.
Skills & Experience: My accounting experience has been used within Cycle Toronto by helping advocates get involved in Toronto’s budget process and calling for increased cycling funding. I formerly served on a not-for-profit board for two years as a treasurer. Finally, I have a proven record in establishing partnerships with like minded organizations and effective use of social media.

Regarding the grassroots, I heard from many Cycle Toronto volunteers over the years about some board members not being visible at Cycle Toronto’s events or other advocacy functions. Yes, Cycle Toronto requires their board members to sit on at least one committee – a common practice for corporate and not-for-profit boards – and attend at one event per year. However, having regular grassroots experience (e.g. ward advocacy, working groups, bike valet, get lit) gives board members a feel for the thoughts of other advocates and the public, which helps improve their ability to do the primary task of ensuring effective governance and holding staff accountable. One thing I call on all board candidates – successful or not – if they aren’t already doing so is to get involved in Cycle Toronto in any capacity they can. Especially with the provincial and municipal elections happening later this year.
Building partnerships is part of Cycle Toronto’s mission, vision, and values. Since I started volunteering with Cycle Toronto, I have been exposed to many other grassroots organizations. These include election campaigns (and elected representatives) at all three levels of government, resident associations, business improvement areas, special causes (e.g. No Jets TO, TTCriders), and other cycling organizations (e.g. Share the Road, Canada Bikes, Durham Region Cycling Coalition). I also had the opportunity to attend conferences such as last year’s Winter Cycling Congress in Montréal, which brought together over 400 cycling advocates and experts from around the world. Finally, my blog covered a wide variety of perspectives including pedestrian and accessibility advocates, road violence survivors, bike couriers, lawyers, and cycling in different places.

These kinds of partnerships will come in handy when it comes to fundraising, membership recruitment, factoring in new perspectives for bikeway design, and expanding Cycle Toronto’s suburban outreach. The latter is critical given last month's Reimagining Yonge setback.

Here is what you can do to support my candidacy:
1. Get a Cycle Toronto membership if you are not a member or your membership expired! Base memberships start at $30 per year, which gets you discounts at various bike shops and other places, as well as supports advocacy efforts across the city. If you join in March, you have the chance to win a bike. :) 
2. Attend the AGM on Thursday, March 22 (7 PM) at the Garrison (Dundas & Ossington). Only members can attend, though you can join at the door.
3. You can arrange for proxy votes if you cannot attend. Click here to get your proxy form, which needs to be filled out and sent to proxy@cycleto.ca by 6 PM on Tuesday, March 20.
4. Feel free to ask me any questions you have.

I look forward to seeing you on March 22 and wish the other candidates the best of luck.

Cheers! 
Rob Z (e-mail

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