Published May 02, 2017 17:45
For our latest blog post, we met up with Adil Dhalla last week in the heart of downtown Toronto. Adil met us at his workplace, CSI Regent Park, and we chatted about his daily commute on the Bloor Street bike lanes, and what he loves about the cycling community in Toronto.
Adil with his favourite piece of gear, outside his workplace. Photo by Danielle Griscti
Tell us about yourself.
I self identify as a civic entrepreneur and community organizer who absolutely loves my city (Toronto), but believes that it has a lot of room for growth and change. I channel my desire to be a part of this growth and change through my work at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) where I have the privilege of being the Executive Director and through Chairing the Board of the StopGap Foundation and Co-Chairing Camp Reset.
When and why did you start cycling?
I had a few starts and stops growing up but I really picked up cycling about 5 years ago when I was getting a business off the ground here in Toronto and I found cycling was the most affordable way for me to get around. One of my best friends Eric gave me his old bike so I really want to honour him for helping me overcome the financial barrier I faced at the time around buying a bike and for coaching me to get out into the streets.
What style of bike do you ride?
I rock a KHS Urban Soul, which is “one-gear city spinner” purchased at local legend Bateman’s Bicycle Company.
Tell us about some of the things you ride your bike for.
I take my bike pretty much everywhere and especially find it useful for work as it enables me to get to meetings at different locations (CSI has 4 buildings!) in a predictable fashion. I’m also motivated to tap into the health benefits that cycling provides, especially as it relates to mental health and happiness.
Photo by Danielle Griscti
Any favourite bike routes? What do you like about them?
I’m partial to anywhere there are bike lanes due to the enhanced safety and due the positive feelings I get simply knowing things are safer. This is why I’m really hopeful that the city decides to keep the bike lanes on Bloor Street as it’s a big part of my daily commute. Of course, I understand that there’s always complexity to these decisions and I hope the community and businesses along Bloor can be properly engaged in the discussion before decisions are made.
What would you say is the greatest benefit you get from cycling?
Feeling a sense of belonging to a community of people who share my values as it relates to cycling.
What's your most essential piece of cycling gear?
My bright orange helmet!
How will you be celebrating Bike Month this year?
My mom recently got a bike but hasn’t biked in decades so I’m hoping to spend some time with her and her bike as she reintegrates cycling back into her life.
What is your favourite thing about riding a bike in Toronto?
I’m really appreciating that there is a lot of momentum around cycling in the city and want to say thanks to Cycle Toronto, folks over at the city and the many volunteers for their work around this. I know this may not be the most traditional “favourite thing”, but I’m just very conscious that a lot of people are putting in a lot of work so the rest of us can ride safely and I think about this every time I get on my bike.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to try bike commuting?
Always remember that the streets are meant to be shared.
Adil, his bike and the cherry blossoms. Photo by Danielle Griscti