They are taking to the roads, trails and old railway lines on their bikes to get a close up look of where you can use a bicycle comfortably.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 2, 2012  The Sustainable people are taking to the road with bicycles Sunday May 6th to let people get a clearer sense of what the city has to offer cyclists and point out where some of the problems in getting around on a bicycle are located.

The event will begin at the Central Library at 2:00 pm on the Sunday and wind their way from the Library to the Centennial Trail and pedal across to Spencer Smith Park and join up with the old Grand Truck – CN rail line and out to the canal and then back to Lakeshore Road where riders will cross to the North side of the street and take either Nelson or Brock and work their way up to Caroline and travel east to Brant and South to city hall.

Some might choose to take a break along the Spencer Smith part of the Sunday Sustainable bicycle ride. Starts at the Library - 2:00 pm

The event is Burlington’s first Jane’s Walk event which is held in hundreds of communities across Canada to celebrate the life of Jane Jacobs, one of the leading urban thinkers who made significant changes to the way urban development was done in Toronto before she passed away in 2006.

The event is being sponsored by the Sustainable Development Advisory Committee with help and support from the cycling committee.

The Jane’s Walk events started out in 2007 as walking tours of urban centres but quickly grew and with suburban communities getting on this band wagon the bicycle has become the mode of transportation for many communities.

Jane Jacobs was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. She had no formal training as a planner, and yet her 1961 treatise, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, introduced ground-breaking ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail that now seem like common sense to generations of architects, planners, politicians and activists.

Some of that common sense has yet to work its way to Burlington but there is hope.  If you are planning on taking part in the review and update of the city’s Official Plan you could certainly do much worse that reading what Jane Jacobs has written.

Jacobs saw cities as ecosystems that had their own logic and dynamism which would change over time according to how they were used. With a keen eye for detail, she wrote eloquently about sidewalks, parks, retail design and self-organization. She promoted higher density in cities, short blocks, local economies and mixed uses. Jacobs helped derail the car-centred approach to urban planning in both New York and Toronto, invigorating neighbourhood activism by helping stop the expansion of expressways and roads. She lived in Greenwich Village for decades, then moved to Toronto in 1968 where she continued her work and writing on urbanism, economies and social issues until her death in April 2006.

A firm believer in the importance of local residents having input on how their neighborhoods develop, Jacobs encouraged people to familiarize themselves with the places where they live, work and play.

On Sunday we get to play on the trails and paths in Burlington. Paul Toffoletti, Chair of the Sustainable Development Advisory Committee,  has no idea how many people are going to show up,  “maybe twenty” he said.  Surprise Paul and let’s get 100 people out there on bicycles.

Burlington has two other bicycle centric events during the summer months.

What we don’t have is that Olympic trials event that was going to see the streets of the city  and rural roadways used by cyclists wanting to qualify for the Olympics that will take place in London, England this summer

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