CIVIC

“Politicians need to have a sense that people want this.”
– from a presenter at the 2018 Ontario Bike Summit

Aiming at the Summit

The Ontario Bike Summit 2018 awards gala began with a dance: Justin Jones, the emcee, moved to the side of the podium, shouted “ten years!” and literally jumped for joy. The crowd in the sold-out ballroom of the Hotel Intercontinental on Front street responded with matching glee. It was the tenth anniversary and they had come to celebrate.

Backtrack to a suburban kitchen in 2006, where Eleanor McMahon and her family set about to find meaning and purpose from the death of her husband in a collision “in Milton on a sunny June day” as he was enjoying a bike ride. McMahon, a formidable politician (President of the Treasury Board), did extensive groundwork before founding the Share the Road Cycling Coalition in 2008.

“Greg’s Law”, named after her late husband, brought into law severe penalties for people who drive with no insurance or with suspended licenses.

Parallel path

The bike summit “provides a forum for decision-makers”—politicians and civil servants—which makes it an interesting place for a writer on the consciousness beat. NHC “supports events and service providers related to creative energy, the healing arts and exploring consciousness”, and while bicycling is good for the soul, many attendees at OBS2018 seemed at a loss when conversation turned to “what’s New Human City?”

The parallels are easily made, though. Both NHC and the Share the Road Cycling Coalition find inspiration in the pleasure of movement—dancing and biking are quite similar in their effect on the soul; certainly many who attend conscious/meditative dance events love to bike. Both groups seek ways of making their passion easier for the general public to embrace, and for similar reasons. The joy of exploring on a bike or through consciousness in community is simple, human and something worth sharing.

Aspiration and defeat

The good feeling permeating the hundreds of OBS2018 attendees comes largely from being with like-minded people. The tribe of politicos dedicated to making cycling safer and to implementing routes and concepts like wayfinding is growing, but it meets many roadblocks. It takes a passionate soul to keep on that hard trail. Many in the consciousness community—therapists, for instance, facing new regulations about who can practice—face obstacles, too.

Pursuing the goal of growing one’s consciousness is relatively removed from the glare of public scrutiny, compared with what the Cycling Coalition is doing. Both of those collectives aspire to make society better (some of us really believe a new human city/way is possible) and we can learn from each other en route.

Defeat, however, has never been a greater threat for cycle-active decision-makers, given the current polls about the election that’s weeks away. Eleanor McMahon spoke most eloquently at the OBS awards dinner and took great pains to embrace members from opposition parties attending the summit (the Share the Road coalition is supported by the All-Party Cycling Caucus at Queen’s Park).

Defeat at the polls always looms, though. Society’s consciousness would suffer if new decision-makers kill the pro-bike momentum that’s taking hold across Ontario, thanks in no small part to the perseverance of Share the Road.

Meditate on that!


NHC joined OBS2018 on April 17. See videos at the nhc civic playlist on our YouTube channel.

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