Scarborough bike hub fills in transportation gaps

The Green Line team visited Golfdale-Cedarbrae-Woburn to learn how one local bike hub is filling in transportation gaps.

By Aneesa Bhanji, Amanda Seraphina, and Anita Li of The Green Line

A local group is working to bring bicycle culture to Scarborough.

Scarborough Cycles is a bike hub in Golfdale-Cedarbrae-Woburn run by community health centre Access Alliance, and funded by the City of Toronto. It lends out bikes and fixes them up for locals who need a ride.

The hub uses a sustainable model by taking bikes that are bound for landfills, and repairing them for the community, which fills a much-needed gap in the neighbourhood.

A garage filled with donated bikes from the local community. (Scarborough Cycles)

“In Scarborough, there’s a transport equity problem. We know that it’s hard to get around,” says Marvin Macaraig, Scarborough Cycles coordinator and a health promoter with Access Alliance. “There’s transportation deserts, the Scarborough RT no longer works and people are always looking for different ways to get around, trying to save some money.”

Douglas Yardley, a long-time volunteer at Scarborough Cycles, got rid of his car in 1991 and now only uses his bike to get around. Safety is a big concern for him on Scarborough roads.

Douglas Yardley, volunteer at Scarborough Cycles stands in front of a work station at the Lawrence-Orton bike repair hub. (Aneesa Bhanji/The Green Line)

“On suburban streets, we tend to get higher speeds. We don’t have as many bike lanes in Scarborough, and it can be dangerous sometimes” Yardley explains. “We have fewer cyclists; some of them are afraid to ride on the road. We don’t have a full bike network yet; we’re working on it.”

“Even though the need is greater, even though there are many households without cars here, some people are still not being encouraged to use bikes for transportation.”

Scarborough Cycles volunteers repair a bike in the Lawrence-Orton bike hub. (Aneesa Bhanji/The Green Line)

Raktim Mitra, director and associate professor at Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning, supports a full bike network in Scarborough.

“If we just build a bicycle lane on a street, that may or may not be successful depending on how it is connected to the overall network of bicycling. It’s the same as public transportation, right?” he explains. “So, you have to have a stronger core, which we are now beginning to have. And then from the core, we have to start branching out into other communities.”

For his part, Macaraig wants Scarborough Cycles’ bike hub model to be brought to as many Toronto suburbs as possible, so biking beyond downtown will become the norm.

Although there are many bike hubs downtown, Macaraig says there are very few in Toronto’s suburbs. Scarborough Cycles is the only hub in Scarborough.

“So this model is really important. It really, really achieves our long-term sustainability goals. It really makes our communities more resilient and stronger, and it gives people something to rally around,” Macaraig adds.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today