Cycling in Ontario

Cycling is a core part of Ontario’s transportation system and is integral to fostering healthier and more prosperous communities. Increasing cycling opportunities in Ontario offers many benefits, including improved well-being, lower rates of chronic conditions and reduced health care costs as a result of active living, reduced traffic congestion in urban areas, a cleaner environment and increased tourism opportunities across the province.

To promote cycling and cycling safety in Ontario, the provincial government released #CycleON: Ontario’s Cycling Strategy in 2013. #CycleON is a 20-year vision to have cycling recognized as a respected and valued mode of transportation within Ontario. It includes five strategic directions to guide action by the government and partners across Ontario:

  1. Design healthy, active and prosperous communities
  2. Improve cycling infrastructure
  3. Make highways and streets safer
  4. Promote cycling awareness and behavioural shifts
  5. Increase cycling tourism opportunities

#CycleON is being implemented through a series of multi-year action plans, rolled out every five years. #CycleON Action Plan 1.0, released in 2014, was the first in the series. Action Plan 2.0 will be implemented between 2018 and 2023.

$150-225 million – Investment identified in Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan to accelerate and enhance implementation of Ontario’s Cycling Strategy and Action Plans

Progress to date

Action Plan 1.0 outlined a plan to work toward the goals set out in #CycleON: Ontario’s Cycling Strategy. The initiatives completed under Action Plan 1.0 include:

  • Launching the $10 million Ontario Municipal Cycling Infrastructure Program, an initiative to help build municipal cycling infrastructure across Ontario
  • Investing $15 million in provincial cycling infrastructure
  • Releasing Ontario Traffic Manual Book 18: Cycling Facilities to provide guidelines for developing municipal cycling facilities
  • Releasing the Bikeways Design Manual to provide guidelines for developing provincial cycling facilities
  • Engaging stakeholders and communities across the province to identify a draft province-wide cycling network
  • Introducing legislative and regulatory amendments to promote cyclist safety. The new laws that came into effect September 1, 2015 include, but are not limited to:
    • Requirement that drivers of motor vehicles maintain a minimum distance of one metre, where practicable, when passing cyclists
    • Permitted contra-flow bicycle lanes on one-way highways
    • Increased fine range for “dooring” from $60-$500 to $300-$1,000 and increased demerit points from two to three
  • Building the Pan/Parapan American Games Velodrome
  • Investing more than $3.5 million in trails as part of Ontario’s celebration and legacy of the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games
  • Launching the Cycling Tourism Plan: Tour by Bike, to support and promote cycling as a tourism draw in Ontario communities
  • Providing stakeholder partners with close to $380,000 of new funding from 2015-2016 to develop, enhance or deliver cycling skills training programs, through the Cycling Training Fund
  • Looking for opportunities to support cycling in reviews of the Greenbelt Plan and Growth Plan. The new Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe that came into effect on July 1, 2017 includes strengthened active transportation policies.

Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, released in 2016, included a commitment to accelerate and enhance implementation of Ontario’s Cycling Strategy and Action Plan through an investment of $150 million to $225 million from cap and trade proceeds. So far, proceeds have been directed to:

  • Providing 62 municipalities from across Ontario with over $400,000 in early 2018 to deliver safe cycling education initiatives and promote cycling as a healthy mode of transportation for all purposes through the Safe Cycling Education Fund
  • The Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling program, which provided $94 million in direct funding to 118 municipalities to support the development of commuter cycling infrastructure
  • Starting to add cycling infrastructure to provincial highways and bridges
  • Installing 112 bike lockers at 14 commuter parking lots
  • An investment of $1 million to install bike parking and storage at tourism and cultural attractions.

Over 90% - Share of Ontario’s population living in a municipality that participated in the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling program in 2017/18

#CycleON Action Plan 2.0

Action Plan 2.0 sets out the second wave of initiatives to help achieve the vision of #CycleON: Ontario’s Cycling Strategy. It will be implemented by ministries and agencies across the government of Ontario.

To inform the development of Action Plan 2.0, a Ministers’ Advisory Panel on Cycling was convened with expert stakeholders. Through a series of consultations, members of the Advisory Panel provided strategic advice and recommendations on the design and development of #CycleON Action Plan 2.0. A complete list of members of the Ministers’ Advisory Panel on Cycling can be found below.

Further feedback on moving forward with #CycleON was provided by individuals, municipalities, cycling organizations, transportation organizations, public health units, and other groups through an online consultation.

Some of the initiatives included in Action Plan 2.0 have already begun or are in the planning stage. Others are new commitments that are not yet underway.

Action Plan 2.0 outlines actions across all five of #CycleON’s strategic directions, ensuring that we continue to take the comprehensive approach needed to advance cycling in Ontario. The action plan also guides efforts across ministries, strategies and initiatives to ensure we’re collaboratively working toward the vision and goals of #CycleON and that our actions are coordinated and complementary. Through this action plan, we will help to promote cycling as a great choice for commuting, active living, recreation and tourism, help people learn how to cycle and share the road, and help to plan and build communities, routes and dedicated infrastructure that support cycling

With Action Plan 2.0, we are building on the success of Action Plan 1.0 and shifting provincial initiatives – and cycling in Ontario – into a higher gear.

1.0 Design healthy, active and prosperous communities

1.1 Work with municipalities to ensure active transportation policies are included in their official plans — MMA

Continue to work with municipalities to ensure that active transportation and complete streets policies are included in their official plans.

1.2 Implement active transportation policies in Northern Ontario — MTO

Support cycling in Northern Ontario by encouraging planning for compact urban form that supports active transportation, connecting the province-wide cycling network, and partnering with municipalities and First Nation communities to improve cycling options.

1.3 Implement cycling elements in the 2041 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) for the GTHA and the GO Rail Station Access Plan —  Metrolinx

Cycling elements in the 2041 RTP include implementation of a Regional Cycling Network, first- and last-mile solutions, all-season maintenance, expanded bike-share, a regional approach to vision zero and complete streets, cycling-supportive community planning and more.

The GO Rail Station Access Plan includes implementation of safe and direct routes to stations, expanded bicycle parking including secure parking, wayfinding, and bike-share around stations.

1.4 Identify new opportunities to allow passengers to take bikes onto buses and trains — MTO, Metrolinx

Identify regulations and policies that could be modernized to create new opportunities for passengers to take their bikes with them when travelling by bus or train, as one of the ways to support cycling for the first and last part of a trip.

1.5 Collaborate on guidelines for use of e-bikes on cycling facilities — MTO

Work with stakeholders to investigate regulations surrounding e-bikes, including the categorization of e-bikes to differentiate between heavy scooters and pedal assisted bikes.

1.6 Support initiatives that promote and expand active school travel — EDU, Metrolinx

Provide project funding to support the establishment and operation of a province-wide service to facilitate and promote active and safe routes to schools.

This project and other complementary initiatives aim to bring together school and community stakeholders to improve children’s mobility and health through investing in active transportation.

1.7 Identify opportunities to encourage safe cycling near and around schools — MTO

As part of the review of Ontario Traffic Manual Book 18: Cycling Facilities, Ontario will work with municipalities to identify opportunities to improve guidelines for cycling infrastructure near and around schools, and promote safety and access for students that cycle to school.

1.8 Include cycling as a key example of how children and youth can achieve 60 minutes of physical activity connected to the school day — EDU

Where possible, explore opportunities to promote cycling as part of co-curricular activities before, during and after school. This could include developing cycling-related tools and materials to support educators and learners.

1.9 Support and celebrate Bike Month to promote cycling at the local, community and provincial levels — MTCS

Explore opportunities to build on existing local Bike Month programs and expand them province-wide.

$3.5 million – Funds being invested in the Ontario Active School Travel Project

2.0 Improve cycling infrastructure

2.1 Invest in new cycling infrastructure for commuting, active living and recreational purposes under the Climate Change Action Plan 2017-2021 - MTO

Invest funds from Ontario’s carbon market to create new cycling infrastructure at the municipal and provincial levels, which will provide Ontarians with new access and opportunities via cycling.

2.2 Invest in new parking for cycling - MTO

Invest in new bike parking infrastructure at a variety of locations, which will provide Ontarians with new access and opportunities for cycling.

2.3 Develop a long-term implementation plan to guide the construction, recognition, signage and branding of the province-wide cycling network — MTO

In consultation with stakeholders, develop an implementation plan for the province-wide cycling network.

2.4 Start to include cycling infrastructure in provincial highway construction projects using the province-wide cycling network as a foundation — MTO

For each highway that is part of the province-wide cycling network, Ontario will develop a plan to confirm the most appropriate cycling infrastructure for that corridor.

Ontario will also start including cycling infrastructure in upcoming construction projects on provincial highways using the province-wide cycling network as a basis.

2.5 Develop a program to support municipal implementation of the province-wide cycling network — MTO

Explore options to help municipalities build and maintain portions of the province-wide cycling network that fall under municipal jurisdiction.

2.6 Work with municipalities to update Ontario Traffic Manual Book 18: Cycling Facilities — MTO

Work with the Ontario Traffic Council and stakeholders/ municipalities to update Book 18, drawing on best practices from around the world (e.g., improving trail crossing standards specifically in relation to cyclists).

2.7 Support the development of municipal minimum maintenance standards for cycling infrastructure — MTO

Work with municipalities and stakeholders to establish minimum maintenance standards for municipal cycling infrastructure.

Over 9,800 kilometres – Length of cycling routes identified in the province-wide cycling network

3.0 Make highways and streets safer

3.1 Develop a recognition program for cycling safety champions — MTO

Look into methods to recognize cycling safety champions for the contributions they make to improving cycling safety across Ontario.

3.2 Launch a public education campaign on cyclist rights and responsibilities — MTO

Identify opportunities to improve cycling safety and improve motor vehicle/cyclist interactions through education and awareness for all road users.

3.3 Improve content about motorist-cyclist interactions in Beginner Driver Education — MTO

Identify opportunities to improve motor-vehicle/cyclist interactions through improved educational material.

3.4 Continue to reach out to road safety experts (safety organizations, enforcement, municipal and provincial partners) — MTO

Make Ontario’s roads safer by engaging road safety groups and community members across the province to work together to promote road and cycling safety.

3.5 Continue to promote local cycling safety campaigns as part of MTO’s Road Safety Challenge and promote cycling safety at events across the province — MTO

Continue supporting road safety partners across Ontario in the development of local awareness and public education campaigns and activities on various road safety topics, including cycling, through the ministry’s Road Safety Challenge.

3.6 Continue to promote safety for all ages through the Cycling Skills Guide and Young Cyclist’s Guide — MTO

Increase road safety for cyclists by distributing current and relevant educational materials that inform the public about proper equipment, rules of the road, signage, etc.

3.7 Work to improve awareness of cycling rules and procedures — MTO

Work with police services and other partners to improve awareness of cycling rules and procedures, including identifying strategies to reduce bicycle theft.

Over 315,000 – Number of Cycling Skills Guides and Young Cyclist’s Guides distributed in the last 5 years

4.0 Promote cycling awareness and behavioural shifts 

4.1 Develop a comprehensive cycling education program that will provide program standards for cycling curriculum, instructional development and certification, and province-wide course delivery — MTCS

Leverage international best practices and build partnerships with municipalities, not-for-profit and private sector organizations to deliver cycling education programs.

Ontario’s cycling education program will use provincially endorsed standards delivered by certified instructors.

4.2 Develop a distinct brand for Ontario’s cycling education program and instructor certification that will be used for marketing and promoting cycling education — MTCS

Promote the benefits of cycling and make it a visible and attractive choice for Ontario’s diverse populations by:

Branding cycling education programming and instructor certification to demonstrate provincial endorsement Developing multi-channel instructional materials including online modules, and Creating materials to engage new Canadians and people of diverse backgrounds. 4.3

4.3 Develop an Integrated multi-channel marketing and awareness campaign — MTO, MTCS

Working with stakeholders, Ontario will promote the benefits of cycling and “nudge” Ontarians to change their behaviour to cycle more often and cycle safely.

4.4 Build on the Pan/ParaPan American Games legacy to leverage the Velodrome to support cycling for all purposes — MTCS

Build on the legacy of the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games to advance cycling in Ontario.

The province will continue to work with municipalities and sector partners to build momentum and enthusiasm for cycling by promoting, showcasing and leveraging this world-class multi-purpose facility.

4.5 Create an Ontario Cycling Coordination Committee — MTCS

Establish an ongoing coordinating committee of government and stakeholders to support the implementation of #CycleON.

4.6 Monitor and track progress on attitudinal and behavioural changes related to cycling, as well as cycling program outputs and outcomes — MTO, MTCS

Develop a performance measurement framework for Action Plan 2.0 and report at program and population levels to demonstrate progress on outputs and outcomes.

4.7 Build capacity and provide tools for organizations and communities to be more bike-friendly — MTCS

Work with stakeholders to create capacity building supports and tools that will enable communities to be more bicycle-friendly.

Over $400,000 – Funds invested in 62 municipalities to deliver safe cycling education initiatives and promote cycling as a healthy mode of transportation for all purposes

5.0 Increase cycling tourism opportunities

5.1 Showcase Ontario as a premier cycling tourism destination through focused marketing, and highlight cultural and heritage sites along identified cycling routes — MTCS

Promote Ontario as a world class cycling tourism destination from the Great Lakes to the Greenbelt to the Great North through continued implementation of Tour by Bike, Ontario’s cycling tourism strategy.

5.2 Develop tools to make it easier for cycling tourists, including route mapping and an enhanced cycling portal — MTCS

Continue to work collaboratively with regional partners and stakeholders to explore cycling tourism information and products.

5.3 Build partnerships with the hospitality industry to be more bike-friendly — MTCS

Work with the tourism and hospitality sector to continue to leverage relationships and encourage collaboration between stakeholders to support healthy and economically prosperous destinations and communities.

5.4 Research and disseminate data on the impact of cycling as a tourist activity — MTCS

Encourage and promote sharing of research data and information among cycling and regional partners to promote awareness of the impacts of cycling tourism.

5.5 Develop a multi-day road cycling event across Ontario for both high performance and recreational cyclists — MTCS

Promote the province as a premier cycling tourism destination by hosting a multi-day road cycling event for both high performance and recreational cyclists.

5.6 Improve wayfinding for cyclists — MTCS

Work with key stakeholders and partners to explore and promote opportunities to improve wayfinding.

5.7 Establish a Cycling Recreation and Tourism Trails Infrastructure Fund — MTCS

Create an infrastructure fund to support rural and off-road trails.

5.8 Promote cycling tourism strategy with stakeholders — MTCS

Support regional partners and other stakeholders to align cycling tourism marketing and product development through continued implementation of Tour by Bike.

$497 million — The dollar amount generated by 1.7 million visitors to Ontario through cycling tourism in 2015

Members of the Ministers’ Advisory Panel on Cycling

Craig Reid, Senior Advisor, Association of Municipalities of Ontario

Teresa Di Felice, Assistant Vice President of Government and Community Relations, Canadian Automobile Association

Zlatko Krstulic, Senior Project Manager, City of Ottawa

Sue Sauvé, Transportation Demand Management Planner, City of Peterborough

Adam Krupper, Mobility Coordinator in the Engineering Division, City of Thunder Bay

Shawn Dillon, Manager of Cycling Infrastructure & Programs, City of Toronto

Jacquelyn Hayward-Gulati, Director of Transportation Infrastructure Management, City of Toronto

Jane Mustac, Manager of Transportation Planning and Development, County of Essex

Keagan Gartz, Director of Programs and Engagement, Cycle Toronto

Susan Murray, Vice President of Communications and Operations, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation

Leslie Woo, Chief Planning and Development Officer, Metrolinx

Louisa Mursell, Executive Director, Ontario By Bike / Transportation Options

Scott R Butler, Manager of Policy and Research, Ontario Good Roads Association

Sgt. Brett Carson, Coordinator of Provincial Offences and Devices, Highway Safety Division – Provincial Traffic Operations Traffic Safety and Operational Support, Ontario Provincial Police

Sue Shikaze, Health Promoter – Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, Ontario Public Health Association

Karen Cameron, CEO, Ontario Public Transit Association

Andrew Claerhout, Former Head of Infrastructure and Natural Resource, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

Marco D’Angelo, Executive Director, Ontario Traffic Council

Marco Beghetto, Vice President of Communications & New Media, Ontario Trucking Association

Cathy Denyer, CEO, Parks and Recreation Ontario

Jamie Stuckless, Executive Director, Share the Road Cycling Coalition

Nancy Smith Lea, Director, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation

Beth Potter, President and CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario

Richard Joy, Executive Director, ULI Toronto District Council

Marlaine Koehler, Executive Director, Waterfront Regeneration Trust

J. David McLaughlin, National Active Transportation Manager & Senior Project Manager of Planning and Advisory and Transportation, WSP Canada