Dear Members of the Toronto Cyclists Union,

2011 was an amazing year for our organization. Through our shared efforts, we were able to double our membership from 1,018 to over 2,100 since our last AGM. In the meantime we’ve worked as a group to refer new members, both through word of mouth and our Refer-A-Rider Campaign. We’ve found amazing local business partners who now reward our membership through the Member Discount Program, giving us new inroads to the business community. We’ve continued to advocate for the changes Toronto must make to ensure that cyclists are treated as equals on the road, leading the charge to Save Jarvis while continuing to push for expanded Complete Streets infrastructure across the city. We helped keep cyclists safe through our Get Lit campaign and, along with our volunteers, spoke with thousands of Torontonians about our mission and cause. Truly we have many reasons to celebrate.

But we also must be vigilant. Toronto actually reduced the total number of painted bike lanes over the past year. We continue to be, as a group, treated as an insignificant minority in many areas of politics and media coverage. The City continues to find ways to delay improving the safety of our roads and the implementation of its own Bike Plan, now over 10 years old. In short, Toronto has not shown the will to respect us as taxpayers, as road users, and as valuable citizens.

All of these things taken together – the increasing success of our organization, the current malaise and inaction on road improvements from City Hall, and the ever-growing number of cyclists sharing our roads – enable an incredible opportunity. We feel that 2012 can truly be the Year of the Bike. We believe that 10,000 members is within reach, with your continued help and support, and we want to pedal hard for huge growth this year.

Over a two-day session in January, 80 members came together with members of our Board and our incredible staff to plan our strategy for 2012. The outcome of this session is a strategy that focuses on increasing ridership among school age children, on having a large scale ride to bring cyclists together, continuing our advocacy work to protect the little infrastructure currently available for bikes, and on educating Torontonians as to why more space for bikes makes for a better city. These are big goals that reach both outwards and upwards in our advocacy.

Over the past years, we have run into unexpected pockets of resistance when applying for grants as well as in recruiting business members and individual donors. There is a large group of cyclists in Toronto that don’t feel connected to our organization, and they have often expressed that our current name is largely responsible for that disconnect. Considering all of the positive impacts that we want to have as an organization, the Board of Directors does not want our name to prevent a single cyclist from joining our organization. Our strategy and trajectory demands that we be accessible and essential for everyone who rides in Toronto, and we feel that now – as we are poised for record growth – is the time to address this issue.

In the next few weeks, you’ll be receiving the agenda for our AGM, scheduled for May 2, 2012. The board requests your support in changing our name, not as a change of direction, but as a step towards better alignment with our current strategy and in an effort to ensure we are able to reach as many of our fellow riders, and other street users, as possible. We feel that the future of this organization is much brighter, and the possibilities greater, with a new moniker: Cycle Toronto.

At the AGM, we would like your support when we a vote to accept the new name. According to our bylaws, a two-thirds majority of member voters at the AGM will carry the name change. .

Our organization has always, and will continue to, belong to our members. This proposed change in name doesn’t mean any reduction in our work or advocacy. In fact, we feel strongly as a Board that we are defined more by our actions than by our name. For this reason we hope you will support this change and also commit with us to re-doubling our collective efforts in order to make Toronto the greatest place to ride a bike anywhere. We have a great strategy, a strong staff, and an amazing group of cyclists here who contribute to a unique and vibrant cycling culture. Please join us in ensuring that everyone who pedals through Toronto feels welcome to help in this mission. This is the Year of the Bike. Let’s Cycle Toronto.

We welcome and encourage your input on this topic and ask that you email with any thoughts on this decision as we work towards our AGM.

Thank you for your time.

Your Toronto Cyclists Union Board of Directors,

Heather McDonald, President            Bob Brent

Nick Cluley, Vice-President              Jayme Dunlop

Mark Franklin, Secretary                  Carolina G’ala

Leehe Lev, Treasurer                        Gary Pluim

Deb Adams                                     Simon Strauss

Patrick Brown                                  Nick Wright