Justin LaFontaine and the Bike Train Wins!

I Bike TO AwardJustin LaFontaine loading the Bike Train
Justin LaFontaine has won the I Bike T.O. First Annual Award for his tireless work in organizing the hugely popular Bike Train.

Last Friday at Critical Mass, the I Bike T.O. crew presented the award to Justin's colleague Briana Illingworth of Moving the Economy, as Justin was off traveling in California - loading his bike on the Amtrak train, reportedly.

Our runner-up was Hamish Wilson, a long term cycling activist, and Honourable mention goes to the popular Bike Pirates. All the winners will be getting some gear from Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Justin was in a large part responsible for getting the Bike Train off the ground. From the Bike Train website:

Justin Lafontaine conceptualized the idea for the Toronto-Niagara Bike Train Initiative during a trip to the Niagara Region in April 2006. On that trip, he accompanied the Waterfront Regeneration Trust and several others from the region on their annual Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail cycle tour from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Grimsby. Impressed with the many trails, diverse landscapes, towns, cities and attractions, he was quick to begin planning another trip to the region.

When discussing the opportunities for cycle tourism with a fellow rider, Justin discovered that there was no convenient transportation option with bike transport capacity to the Niagara Region for cyclists without access to a car (currently, this train route does not have any baggage capacity, and the bus services often require bikes to be boxed prior to loading). This led him to VIA Rail Canada and other partners to discuss the potential to introduce a Bike Train service – a concept that quickly garnered support from government contacts, tourism organizations, small businesses, media and the public.

A project proposal was subsequently developed for the Ontario Ministry of Tourism - Investment Development Office and funding for the Pilot Year of the Toronto-Niagara Bike Train Initiative was announced in January 2007.

Thank you Justin!

Hamish has been a tireless force for cyclists. He has been working tirelessly for DECADES lobbying and fighting for cyclists rights and transportation sanity in Carrupt Toronto. He has written innumerable letters and articles to newspaper editors, often times published to the benefit of us all and even when they are not, they are surely raising the collective awareness of the press. Hamish has spent countless hours in meetings and making deputations to council. He has always been there when the work needed to be done that no on else wanted to do or could do. Staying on top of the Front Street Extension stuff, for instance, when most of us have forgotten about it, or put it on a back burner. He is an inspiration and has single-handedly held the powers that be accountable. He has been instrumental in the formation and ongoing development of such successful movements as Take the Tooker and Bells on Bloor. Thank you Hamish!

The Bike Pirates are a popular new Do-It-Yourself bike mechanics group. We voted them for Honourable Mention for their youthful energy and fresh ideas, and for the fact that they have seamlessly included women in everything they do, without making any kind of issue out of it. They are organically an equal opportunity organization. The Bike Pirates have a storefront on Bathurst, across from the Beer Store, south of College. It's sure to have brought some attention to cycling in Toronto. Thank you Pirates!

And as we said on Friday, Honourable Mention also goes out to all of you cyclists! Thank you, you are our heroes!

Comments

At the presentation ceremony ...

I Bike T.O. Award 2007I Bike T.O. Award 2007

(click for a larger version)

-dj

Sincere thanks for your recognition of my work on the Bike Train Initiative this year. I was really excited and honoured when I found out and wished I could have been there!

That Friday, I was indeed travelling with my bike up the North San Diego County coast on the Amtrak Surfliner when I heard the great news! (Highly recommended touring by the way!)

Stay tuned to www.biketrain.ca for information and updates for 2008...

Cheers,
Justin