Join Us Sunday May 5 For A Magnificent Magnolia Ride!

Come join The Guelph Hiking Club on Sunday, May 5 for a free, casual bike ride to kick off Spring and enjoy the Magnificent Magnolia trees getting ready to bloom. We will ride about 12km on mainly quiet residential streets and trails around some of the quaint neighbourhoods of Guelph.  Make sure you pack your cell phone and get some beautiful shots of these beautiful trees getting ready to bloom!

For added fun, we’re having a costume contest to brighten the day. There will be prizes for: The Best Dressed Cyclist, The Most Outlandish Ensemble, and The Best Spring Bonnet, so get your best outfit ready!

In addition, we are honoured to be joined by mixed media artist Rosanne Morris, who will be busy painting under one of the magnificent magnolia trees. Rosanne’s current work blends photo-based digital images with acrylic paints and pastels.

The trip will begin at Speed River Bicycle at 135 Wyndham St. N. at 1pm  and end at Arthur Street N., for a free garden party where refreshments will be served.  Spaces are limited, so you must register at in order to participate.

Helmets are encouraged.

Prizes and refreshments courtesy of Speed River BicycleThe Wike Bicycle Company, and Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation.

For more information, please contact,, or


GCAT is leading bike rides for Doors Open Guelph, April 27, 2019

New Doors Open Guelph Event!!

Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation is leading  bicycle tours in this year’s Doors Open Guelph Event.  We will be leading tours to Spring Mill Distillery, Greenbriar, The Victory School and Aberdeen House.  Join us!

Spaces are limited. Please register at
Optional stop at end of ride at either Spring Mill Distillery or another nearby pub.

When: Saturday April 27, 2019
Time: There are 2 rides of 15 people each.
They both start at 11am and end around 4 pm.
Bring helmet, water and snacks!
Start and Ending location:  Spring Mill Distillery, 43 Arthur Street South
Distance:  10km
Signed waiver required to participate in event.
For more information, contact

Highlights of the GCAT Annual General Meeting Feb. 21, 2019

Over 70 people attended the AGM this year, with guest speaker Jamie Stuckless, Executive Director of Share the Road Cycling Coalition. Lots of great information was shared!

The evening began with the usual AGM stuff…call to order, financial statements, etc. It was followed by a brief presentation by Yvette Tendick, GCAT president, presenting some of the highlights of 2018, such as the Ride the Ward Rides with your Municipal candidate, and partnering with the Guelphpolice to encourage people to register their bikes with project 529.

Our big projects in 2019 will be encouraging the city to install a minimum grid of protected bike lanes (as was recently approved in the Kitchener capital budget), as well as beginning a pilot program for Bikes for Refugees, including a mentoring program.

Jamie Stuckless from Share the Road spoke next. The focus of her talk was the Share the Road’s new campaign, entitled #BikesCanDoThat.

On a local level, she let us know that Guelph will maintain it’s Silver Status with Bike Friendly Communities, which is a Share the Road program that monitors cycling progress in cities across Ontario.

According to Share the Road, our strong points are:

  • Achieved 3% target for cycling modal share
  • Growing network of cycling infrastructure, including focus onaddressing “pinch points” and trail crossings
  • Strong partnerships with stakeholders like GCAT and police services to support programs

What we need to work on:

  • Identify and work towards a higher modal share target
  • Conduct a gap analysis to build a minimum grid
  • Investigate bike share
  • Adopt a Vision Zero Policy
  • Encourage businesses to become Ontario by Bike certified

On the subject of #BikesCanDoThat, many graphics were offered to make the point that:

  1. 2 way protected bike lanes have a capacity of 2,000-3,000 persons per hour per direction, while cars only have 700-1,100
  2. 32 % of Ontarions want to cycle to work
  3. Separated bike lanes make roads safer for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

As well, the new board of directors for GCAT is now formed.  The members are:

Ted Bangay, Laura Brown, Mike Darmon, Suzanne Gates, Jordan Richard, Yvette Tendick and Luke Weiler. Congratulations to all!

Come to GCAT’s Annual General Meeting and After Party!

Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation invites the public to GCAT’s  Annual General Meeting and after party on Feb. 21!

Join us to hear about the accomplishments and goals of GCAT to make Guelph one of the best places in Ontario for cycling and walking. Our guest speaker will be Jamie Stuckless, Executive Director of Share the Road Cycling Coalition. Her topic is “How Bikes Make Cities Better”

Share the Road works to influence legislative change in Ontario, unite cycling organizations from across the province and work with and on behalf of municipalities to enhance their ability to make their communities more bicycle-friendly

Come out and get inspired!

Location: Red Papaya

Time: 7-8 pm for AGM*, Registration begins at 6:30pm 
8-10 pm for after party. Come to one or both!

Free apps and great door prizes!!!! (Thank you Guelph Solar and other sponsors!)

*We are actively taking memberships, online, at the Guelph Farmers’ Market on Jan. 26 and Feb. 9, as well as at the AGM. Please see for more details. All members of the public are invited to the AGM but only GCAT members can vote.

Please let us know in advance if you are interested in running as a board member for GCAT. We meet once a month, and participate in other GCAT related events.

Photo of Jamie Stuckless courtesy of Tyson Burger, Big Red Oak


2018 Year in Review

GCAT 2018 Year in Review


Ward 1 discussion after Ride the Ward ride.

Ride the Ward bike ride with Ward 5 candidates

2018 was a great year for Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation!  We worked hard to support and encourage citizens who want to bike and walk in Guelph. Here are some highlights of the work that we have done this year. Please support our membership drive for 2019 so that we can continue to work hard for Guelph citizens to make Guelph a leading city for Active Transportation!


  • formed a coalition with other stakeholder groups to get staff and city council to reverse decision on cancelling Speedvale Bridge Underpass project. Again!!! Helped to organize delegates (7!) and letter writers (50!) and petitioned (420 names!) to reach this end
  • Organized “Ride the Ward Rides” which encouraged municipal candidates to ride their wards with the general public. Very well attended in all 6 wards.
  • We asked all Municipal candidates to answer Questionnaire about how to get people moving around Guelph more actively. Well thought out responses by all participants.
  • City of Guelph’s Transportation Demand Coordinator, Benita Van Miltenburg to spoke about cycling in Guelph at our second Annual General Meeting
  • Hosted Book Launch at the E-Bar, Building a Cycling City, book by Chris and Melissa Bruntlett. Over 100 people attended.
  • Hosted discussion at the E-Bar after Why We Cycle movie at the Bookshelf, hosted by the city of Guelph. Very well attended. It reinforced our belief that  Guelph citizens are really interested in getting on bikes!
  • Supported City of Guelph’s initiative Bike to Work Day by leading 3 of the 5 rides to City Hall to celebrate importance of cycling in Guelph
  • Participated in panel discussion of Livable Cities to promote a vision for Guelph that is more walkable and bikeable that attracted 50+ people.
  • Participated in CBC panel discussion before provincial election to discuss issues that are important to people in Guelph
  • helped the Guelph Police promote project 529 , a volunteer bike registry program proven to reduce bike theft in several cities in Canada. Free registration sticker with GCAT membership!
  • participated in citizen run Southwestern Ontario Regional Bike Summit sponsored by Bike Windsor Essex to learn best practices from other advocacy groups in Southwestern Ontario
  • wrote this and this article in the Guelph Mercury Tribune to raise awareness of importance of trail connections and of cycling in Guelph.
  • facilitated at Bike & DIY sustainability to educate University of Guelph students on importance of alternative transportation options
  • had booths at several community events, such as the EcoMarket, Tour de Guelph, Hillside Festival

Bikes, Trees and a Pint… a celebration of Henry Kock

Fun Events to encourage a culture of cycling in Guelph

  • Magnolia Ride-ride through the Magnolia trees in Guelph, followed by a tea party
  • Trees, Bikes and a Pint -celebrated at 2Rivers Festival with a bike ride to honour Henry Kock, beloved arborist at the Arboretum. 65 people attended.
  • Love Your Bike Festival– celebrated with 2Rivers and St Andrews Church, and led families on a bike ride through Exhibition Park, and finished at Wooly’s pub for free hotdogs.
  • Tweed Ride– we dressed in old timey clothes and rode through the beautiful neighbourhoods of Guelph and celebrated with a pint at Royal City Brewery
  • Guelph Community Santa Parade-we all got dressed up and rode all kinds of bikes..please join us next year!

Book Launch, Building the Cycling City by Chris and Melissa Bruntlett, hosted by GCAT and held at the E-Bar

Please join us in 2019 on our journey to get more people to enjoy healthy transportation!  For only $10, your membership in GCAT will allow us to give a voice to more and more people who want to be healthy, fit, and contribute to the well being of the city.

Outcome of Council meeting for the Speedvale Underpass trail (Dec. 17)

photo credit: Guelph Today

With the Christmas season coming to a close, it’s time to talk about the outcome of the Dec. 17 council meeting and the Speedvale Underpass Trail.

The coverage in Guelph Today was a little sparse, and the Guelph Mercury didn’t even bother. Then again, council only began the discussion about it at 9pm, after the cannabis in retail stores vote. The actual speedvale underpass vote took place after 11:15 pm.

Here’s some background, in case you missed it:

The current bridge on Speedvale Avenue East (near Riverside Park) is nearing the end of its useful life. A new bridge will be installed in 2022. At the same time, $16 million in road improvements will be made to Speedvale Avenue.

GCAT and other community groups have recognized that the bridge reconstruction offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to build an underpass trail along the west side of the Speed River and make movement along our trail system so much safer and easier.

Last year, Mayor Guthrie and councillors unanimously supported moving forward on the project.. Twice. Especially since there was (and is) an enormous outpouring of public support for this trail.

However, since that council meeting, things didn’t turn out the way we had hoped.

At the Sept. 12 Open House for the Speedvale Underpass Trail,  instead of offering a trail on the North side of Speedvale, staff recommended an “Interim Solution.” This solution was basically to move the traffic light on Speedvale to the west, which may make it marginally safer to cross Speedvale Ave. After the city spends 16 million dollars to reduce congestion on Speedvale Ave, traffic will still be brought to a halt several times a day due to trail users crossing the road to go to Riverside Park or to downtown. It really doesn’t make much sense.

Staff did not actually say no to the underpass trail. They recommended, however, a wait of 10-20 years to construct a trail on the north side, when the retaining wall, which the trail will sit upon or beside, needs to be replaced. The cost? Over $5 million!!.

Fortunately, the staff consultant’s report determining a 10-20 year lifespan of the retaining wall was challenged by 2 delegations at the council meeting. Two engineers, Jack Tacoma, retired structural engineer and Harry Oussoren, geotechnical engineer, disputed the assessment. It turns out that the city consultant’s tentative estimation of 10-20 years is “based on the results of a visual inspection” (city’s report) of the retaining wall. Both Jack and Harry reckoned that the retaining wall could last another 50 years, or longer!  Tacoma emphasized that, with reasonable maintenance, many houses in Guelph have provided safe and comfortable homes for well over 100 years, and there is no reason to doubt, without conducting a more detailed assessment of the retaining wall, that it too will last and last.

If Tacoma and Ousorren are correct in their assessments, the city will be able to save the cost of an interim trail solution altogether and instead complete the entire section of trail as soon as the bridge is complete.

Another  bright spot did emerge that evening.  Staff did listen to our suggestions.

GCAT’s position, along with that of the Guelph Hiking Trail Club and the Guelph Wellington Seniors Association, was that the trail could be built in 2022 when the new bridge is installed. We asserted that, “There are perfectly workable and fiscally responsible ways to build the underpass and the trail. A simple variance to the zoning bylaw would allow an anchored boardwalk, attached to the retaining wall, next to a short section of steep slope.”

Well, it turns out that we were right on the mark. Before the council meeting, staff, after input from stakeholder groups, (as well as anticipating letters from the community 🙂 ) added amendments to their original recommendation to council. The amendments included exploring the feasibility of amending the policies and regulations that prevent structures from being built in floodplains, in consultation with the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA). This amendment, if favourable, would allow for them to design a trail on the west side. We are confident that the GRCA will support an anchored boardwalk to allow the project to proceed. These amendments, along with the original staff recommendation, were passed unanimously by council.

The only problem:  staff is tying the amendment of the zoning bylaw to allow a structure, with  a comprehensive City of Guelph Bylaw review that is expected to take 3 years. And how long do we have before they build the Speedvale Bridge? Three years.

That timing is being cut close. However we are optimistic that with continued pressure on staff and council, that we can still get the underpass trail built at the same time as the bridge in order to save costs.

The outpouring of public support has gotten us this far. It is very much appreciated, and has been absolutely crucial in getting this further amendment to the staff recommendation. We can’t thank the public enough for all they have done to help to keep this issue at the forefront.

Stay tuned; there will be more to come over the coming year.

10-20+ Years – Too Long To Wait for the Speedvale Underpass trail

It’s be beginning to feel like the movie “Groundhog Day” around here.

Just like last year around this time, I’m writing for public support in order  to get the Speedvale underpass trail built.

It sure looked like the trail under the new Speedvale Ave Bridge was going to be built, after going to council last November 2017. There were 12 delegations, 26 letters, and 800 people signing a petition to get an underpass trail. In other words, there was overwhelming community support.

Not only that, but Mayor Guthrie  and councillors unanimously supported its construction.

What could have gone wrong?  

Well, according to a recent open house presentation for the underpass  put on by City staff , the underpass will be built. When, you might ask? In 10 to 20+ years, when a new retaining wall is needed.(The retaining wall is part of what the underpass trail will sit upon on the west side of the Speed River.) A 20+ year delay for the underpass trail could also mean that it will never be built.

Before I get too far, I want to give you some background.

The current bridge on Speedvale Avenue East (near Riverside Park) is nearing the end of its useful life.  A new bridge will be installed in 2022. At the same time, $16 million in road improvements will be made to Speedvale Ave.

This bridge reconstruction is giving us a once in a lifetime opportunity to build an underpass trail  along the west side of the Speed River.

The benefits of an underpass trail are huge: A safe crossing alternative for Speedvale, an improvement to traffic efficiency and motorist safety on the newly built Speedvale Ave. as well as a direct trail link to the Evergreen Centre walkway. It also offers an opportunity for families with young children and/or those with mobility scooters to have safe, inviting passage to Riverside Park, and it will create  a more scenic and direct trail route to the TransCanada Trail. This trail will also link up with and the Guelph-to-Goderich Trailway just north of Guelph. Best of all, residents of all ages living north of Speedvale Ave will be able to use the trail to get all the way downtown without crossing any major streets.

No wonder we had no trouble garnering support from the public.

However, instead of offering the public an underpass, we were offered an “interim solution”  as a sort of a consolation prize:.

Trail users are being asked by City Staff, as a solution to the danger of crossing Speedvale Ave, to accept a recommendation to  move the crosswalk to the west by a few metres. The only problem is, that when Speedvale is completed, this crossing will become even more risky, given the additional turning lanes and the widening of existing lanes that will inevitably increase traffic speeds. Speedvale will likely be notorious for becoming a  “Speedway”, as evidenced by most newer 4 – 5 lane roads in the City.

The “Interim Solution” also subtracts from the City’s own $16 million investment in its road and bridge project. It will degrade traffic efficiency since the pedestrian activated stoplights will be activated  dozens of times a day.

So you might ask yourself, why staff is not pursuing the underpass trail?

The answer to this is, we’re not sure.  Stakeholder groups were supposed to be involved in the discussion process before the information was given to the public, but we were not. So we feel like we have been kept a bit in the dark.  But one thing that we do know: part of the problem could be the need for a zoning amendment, previously recommended by the consultants, to allow for a boardwalk along the retaining wall. Staff said they were not directed by council to pursue this possibility.

This boardwalk appears to be a key component to getting an underpass built.

A 38 metre central section of the retaining wall  will need a boardwalk to avoid the disturbance of the slope at a particularly steep section. Given the wording of the council motion and the zoning bylaw, boardwalks are not permitted in a one zone floodplain. The consultant’s report recommended that the city amend the zoning bylaw to allow a boardwalk in this small section.

The life of the retaining wall is the other piece of this predicament.

According to the latest consultant’s report, Staff says it is fiscally irresponsible to build an underpass trail now, but rather to  build it when the retaining wall is replaced in 10-20 years. The retaining wall is a very important piece of city owned infrastructure to protect the integrity of the slope where private property is built.  

This retaining wall that protects the slope behind the riverbank so as to enable development of private properties along Woolwich and Speedvale. Such concrete structures generally last 50 to 100 years, especially if it:  a)  has not been subject to vibration from traffic, b) has not been exposed to road salt, c) was constructed properly and still appears to be in good condition.

All these conditions apply. Yet the city forecasts that it will only last 10-20 years. The wall is in generally good condition, as stated by both the 2016 and  September 2018 engineering assessments of the wall,. However, maintenance does have to be done, such as removing trees from behind the wall that threaten the integrity from root pressure. Once these trees are removed, ongoing City inspection and maintenance of the wall to prolong its life will be easy.

In order to save costs, and build the Speedvale underpass at the same time as the Speedvale bridge,  a boardwalk zoning variance should be made, which would meet the requirements of the city. Voila. A trail in 4 years, instead of one that may never be built.

However, we once again need the public’s support to get this underpass built.

Our coalition’s  recommendations represent approximately 2% of the estimated $16 million cost of the Speedvale road and bridge project. (The minor repairs to the retaining wall must be done anyway to prolong the life of this major capital asset, and so are rightly not included in the cost of either project.)

So here is our ask of council, for the Dec. 17 council meeting: (Please sign up to delegate or write a letter to council for these asks:)

  • Amend the zoning bylaw by adding the word “unanchored” before “boardwalks” to resolve all planning policy issues;
  • Proceed with plans for detail design of the underpass, project to be completed following bridge construction in 2021, including construction of a c. 38 m, anchored boardwalk off the end of Gemmel Lane

Together, for the benefit of the city, we can get this underpass built.

* our Coalition for the underpass consists of: GCAT, 2Rivers Festival, GORBA, Guelph Wellington Seniors association, 

Join GCAT in this year’s Guelph Community Santa parade, Nov. 18!

Join us at Guelph’s Community Santa Claus Parade on Sun. Nov. 18!

This year’s theme: You can do anything on a bike!

We would love to have you join us!

Costumes are a must.

In past years, we’ve had a wedding dress, someone dressed as a banana, a chef with a large chef hat, and of course, Mr. Canoe Head! We had a 4 wheeled bike, a cargo bike, and lots of sporty kids on bikes!

This year, we are hoping to have a wider assortment of bikes: cargo bikes, vintage bikes, stroller bikes, and canoe trailers. Of course, regular bikes are welcome.

Use your imagination to show that you that cycling make the city a better place. Cycling isn’t just for those who are super athletic, it is for everyone!

Parade rules are that you must be over 9 years old, and that you must wear thematic costumes.

A waiver is required to participate.

Parade starts at 1:30 pm. We will gather at our spot along the parade route between    1-1:15 pm.

Who’s in? It will be lots of fun! Please RSVP at

Feedback from the “Ride the Ward ” rides!

This fall, GCAT took on a big task. We decided to do our best to engage all of the candidates in the 2018 municipal election to ride the wards that they were running in. We invited the public as well. We talked about the good, the bad and the ugly in each ward, with a promise to relay this information to the public, councillors, and city staff.  Here is what happened.

The results were phenomenal.

86 people came. 18 of them were candidates.

Please let us know in the comments what areas you find good, bad or ugly!

Ward 1 Ride,Sept. 29

Leader: Jordan Richard

Candidates present: Bob Bell, Dan Gibson, Barbara Mann, Charlene Downey

15 attendees

The good: Trail system that is already in place

To be improved:

-Wyndham Street should be safe for cyclists when reconstructed from 4 lanes to 2. No sharrows, but protected bike lanes would best as traffic will be angled parking that can back up on to cyclists.

-possibility of an underpass trail at MacDonnell and Arthur Street to remove pedestrians and cyclists from traffic at the intersection

-new trail should be put in the ward along Guelph Junction Railway track to Victoria Road. It is already being discussed by staff but will need to be in the Guelph Master Plan Update in order of it to come to pass. Will need to advocate for this!

-a suggestion of a concrete divider between road and boulevard for separated infrastructure on Grange Road. All agreed that there was plenty of room in the boulevard for a multi-use path.

Ward 2 ride, Oct. 14

Councillors present: Dorothe Fair, Rodrigo Goller, Jonathan Knowles

# of people in attendance: 20

The Good

-the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) cemetery connection was enjoyed by all. Peaceful and quiet.

-rest of the TCT is also enjoyed.

To be improved

-signage so that we know the TCT cemetary connection exists

-we need the Speedvale Underpass trail to get people safely across Speedvale. Discussion as to whether or not an amendment to allow an anchored boardwalk to reduce costs of trail construction

-We need to get the connection between the TCT to Nicklin to get access to the Guelph to Goderich trail via the Woodlawn MUP

–the crossing of the Trans Canada trail at Eramosa is terrible. Even less safe than Speedvale.

–looking forward to the building of the Emma-Earl bridge as it offers some great east west connection. Some concern about the cost, others agree that more people crossing the bridge will mean that less opportunity for “tent” cities to be built along the rivers’ edge


Ward 3 ride , Sept. 9, 2018

Leader: Duncan McKenzie

Councillors/candidates present: June Hofland, Steve Petric

Mayor/Mayoral Candidate: Aggie Mlynarz

15 attendees

The good

The spur line trail is a very relaxing trail that gets people across some areas of ward 2

The curb cut on Exhibition Road for the Spur line trail

Bike lanes on Willow

To be improved:

Bicycle route symbols: not clear what they show, as there is no explanation

Bicycle route along London St: there are no bike lanes

Most people felt very unsafe on Speedvale: needs bicycle lanes or Multi-Use Path

Need trail from cemetery to Nicklin to connect TCT trail in Woodlawn Cemetery to the Woodlawn MUP.

Spur line trail should be extended south west beyond London Road.

Ward 4 Ride, Sept. 16

Leader: Yvette Tendick

Councillors/candidates present: Mike Salisbury, Matt Saunders

12 attendees

The good

Potential for Hanlon Underpass Trail that could give everyone, teenagers in particular, the ability to go to Skatepark, downtown

To be improved:

Wood chip trail to Margaret Greene Park to become stone dust trail

Trail through Margaret Green Park could go to corner of Hanlon and Paisley

Resident who is Car free in Ward 4 says we need more bike lanes as she is forced to use the sidewalk for safety when riding her bike.

Discussion: What is safer? A bike lane or a Multiuse path?

Ward 5 Ride, Sept. 23

Leader: Laura Brown

Candidates in attendance: Leanne Piper, Aggie Mlynarz. Cathy Downer hosted the after gathering.

15 attendees

The good:

Crushed gravel path very well maintained and appreciated! One rider commented that they prefer gravel over pavement as pavement eventually heaves, costing more money to replace. Comments can be made when the Guelph Trail Master Plan comes up for updating.

To be improved:

No direct way for high school age students to get to Stone Road mall other side of Edinburgh

-Edinburgh road has a huge boulevard…plenty of space for a dual pathway

-many of the University lands, including those around  OMAFRA building, east of Edinburgh should allow public access for bikes…instead areas are gated up (particularly behind the Public Health building (some found this ironic!!) so it makes it very difficult for people to avoid traffic when riding

-Trail behind Collegiate- no curb cuts

Stone and Gordon intersection:

-green lanes make it safer for left turns, but makes it more dangerous with right turning vehicles. We had a near miss with a vehicle that was turning right and did not see us going straight.

Ward 6 discussion only, Oct. 13

Attendance; Ishu Arora, Anshu Khurana, Dominique O’Rouke, Stacy Cooper, Mark McKinnon

Total # of people – 9

Things we need

-Need for active transportation

Environment; we need to be careful not to destroy our environment for future generations

-we need to allow children some autonomy with mobility

-there are many people who need to get around and need cars, so we need a balance

-we need an education piece with the parents so that they walk their kids to school rather than drive

-we need south end connections to the business park.

-We need to think holistically and provide subdivisions with amenities

-we need connectivity.

To be improved:

-Robin Rd. Park.  the bike infrastructure just ends

-Jansen Park trail needs boardwalk as it becomes swamped after it rains

-Gordon St. needs flexi posts to protect riders

-need better signage so that people can use trails effectively

-curb cuts are low hanging fruit to make it easier to ride

-education the community about bicycling as a means of transportation, particularly the parents

-bike rodeo needs to be reinstated

-immigrants need opportunities to stay active without spending lots of $$

-getting on the bike good for health and building warm neighbourhoods