Cycle Toronto’s annual “Coldest Day of the Year Ride” took place on Saturday, but the weather didn’t quite match the name. With temperatures reaching a mild 7°C in the afternoon, far above the expected 10-12°C and well beyond the usual -1.7°C daytime average for this time of year. The unseasonable warmth continued as Toronto saw record-breaking temperatures on Friday, hitting 15.7°C, the warmest February 9th in 86 years according to Environment Canada. Despite the unexpected warmth, the event celebrated winter cycling in the city and the recent extension of bike lanes on Bloor Street West. These are the same lanes that Ontario premier, Doug Ford, wanted scrapped.
What a great turnout for today’s “Coldest Day of the Year” Ride by @CycleToronto! Hundreds of people were out on a balmy day (over 10’C) and we rode from Tom Riley Park to Christie Pits Park. #BikeTO #TOpoli #VisionZero #Etobicoke (1/4) 🚲🧵 pic.twitter.com/PvgRwjB4ET
— Robert Zaichkowski (rzaichkowski.bsky.social) (@RZaichkowski) February 10, 2024
“We were able to ride eight kilometres from Etobicoke to the edge of downtown all on safe bike lanes. That’s really something to celebrate,” Cycle Toronto’s executive director Michael Longfield told said in an interview with the Toronto Star.”More people are discovering that even in the middle of February, riding a bike can be practical and enjoyable across the city.”
— jnyyz 🚲 (@jnyyz) February 10, 2024
Hundreds of cyclists attended Saturday’s event, which isn’t unusual for their rides, but the warm temperatures may have encouraged even more to show up.
Longfield highlighted the increase in protected bike lanes in Toronto this winter. He sees the mild weather as both positive and negative, potentially encouraging more biking but also underlining the urgency of climate action. He noted a renewed interest in walkable and bike-friendly streets since the pandemic’s onset. Cycle Toronto aims to use warm February days, labeled as the “coldest day of the year,” to emphasize the urgency of addressing the climate crisis.
“The city has made historic progress under a mayor who rides a bike herself,” Longfield said, referring to the new Mayor Olivia Chow.
Chow was elected in June of 2023, after a by-election held on June 26, succeeding former Mayor John Tory, who resigned amidst controversy…