Unanimous support for safer streets for Active Transportation during COVID 19!


A victory for active transportation supporters! (and for everyone else who wants safe, vibrant cities)

On Monday May 16, Guelph City Council unanimously adopted two safer streets motions,  Behind the scenes, GCAT was hard at work helping to move these initiatives forward

Before the council meeting, we wrote to Wellington-Dufferin Guelph Public Health to get clarity on its position on physical distancing, and how distancing relates to public spaces.

Public Health wrote back. Its letter (at the bottom of this GCAT blog post) supported our request. This letter moved the needle for many councillors, and we are grateful for the support.


Many of you also contacted your councillors to encourage them to support the motion. Nothing happens without community involvement, so to everyone who acted – thank you!

Thanks, too, to Mayor Cam Guthrie who after the vote produced this excellent video to give people a “heads up” of the upcoming changes!

If you are happy about this, please pass on your thanks…to the mayor and your councillors. Supportive emails or social media posts of encouragement are appreciated and go a long way!

Next Up!

Learn more about the ever growing Quiet Street movement, a low-cost initiative in which barriers are used to slow cars and give notice that pedestrians and cyclists have priority.  Here’s what is happening in Toronto.

Please write us at info@gcat.ca with your thoughts on what you would like to see happen in the city of Guelph. What should happen to our public spaces that would encourage people to get physical activity and to support people to get out of their cars? We are compiling a list over the next few weeks, and we want to know what you think.

And remember, we are loudest when we speak collectively! Consider becoming a GCAT member today (only $10!) and help make Guelph a great life-sized city that works for everyone!

Two cycling events coming your way in June!

and there will be more!
June 9, and June 28-July 26 
Read below about both of them!  

(Virtual) 2Rivers on 2Wheels and a Cold Brew Too 

June 9, at 6:45pm

RSVP to get the link to join the event. If you can not make the live event, your will be sent a recording afterwards

Join Dr. Laura Brown from Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation for this online adventure as we explore Guelph’s river systems under pedal power. Floodplains, underground streams, ancient riverbanks, waterfalls, the confluence of Guelph’s two Rivers, a bit of history and a lot of geographic insight. We are creating a virtual tour with video clips and photos. We will also share a route map that can be uploaded to your phone with the stops of the virtual tour marked so that you could take your own tour at social distance.


Tour de Guelph
June 26-July 28

Register today and complete a ride or walk any time starting June 28th until July 26th!
Register today and have it your way!You choose when to ride, any time starting Sunday, June 28th to Sunday, July 26th, 2020.You can choose any route you’d like, choose any route from our website, or make up your own route!You can even choose to walk or do your ride on your indoor bike trainer.
And thanks to Harvey’s Restaurants of Guelph, when you register to participate in this year’s Tour de Guelph, you’ll receive a coupon for a FREE Harvey’s burger to enjoy the way you like it, and any time you want following the event period!

There is no registration fee to participate this year!
We only ask for a minimum $25 fundraising commitment. When you register, an online fundraising page will be automatically created for you to safely collect donations online.

While the minimum fundraising commitment is $25, you can choose to raise as much as you like and qualify for our milestone and top fundraiser prizes!
Raise $300 and receive a FREE Tour de Guelph JerseyRaise $500 and also receive a FREE Tour de Guelph sweat towelRaise $1000 and also receive a FREE Tour de Guelph cycling jacketPlus, when you raise $1000 or more, you’ll be entered to win one of our top fundraiser prizes. Youth fundraisers will also be entered to win top youth fundraiser prizes when they raise $300 or more.
Last year was our biggest year with over 750 riders, but let’s make 2020 our best and biggest ride yet!

The Tour de Guelph Planning Committee,
The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital,
The Rotary Clubs of Guelph South and Guelph Trillium

Walk or bike to enjoy the Magnificent Magnolia tour May 15-now extended to Sunday May 24

*changed from  May 11 start date due to weather conditions

Spring is bringing welcome relief from indoor confinement and social isolation during the COVID-19 crisis. From May 15-May 23, there is an opportunity get out for a (socially distanced) bike ride or walk in your neighbourhood to check out the beautiful magnolia trees!

 For the past five years, Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation has sponsored a “Magnificent Magnolia” bicycle ride to enjoy trees in bloom in several Guelph neighbourhoods. This year, due to COVID 19, they are still offering an opportunity to visit the trees while socially distancing.

 GCAT is partnering with Michael House Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services, (MHPPSS) a local charity that is struggling to make ends meet due to having to cancel regular fundraising events.  Participants in the tour will be invited to walk or bike to magnolia tree locations, invited to take a photo and then hashtag #guelphmagnolia on social media, and to make online donations to MHPPSS.  www.michaelhouse.ca 

The Magnificent Magnolia Tour will be spread out over the period of May 15 to 23, rather than being on one day, in order to permit as many people as possible to view the wonderful trees. People are reminded, that when walking or biking, to not travel in groups, and to maintain social distance from other participants as they stop on the sidewalk to take pictures. 

Please join in! A list of magnolia tree locations will be made available for participants.

 For more information, contact Karen Kamphuis at  Karen@michaelhouse.ca or call 519-766-7675, #105 or, visit www.michaelhouse.ca

Also, a special thank you to Ned Coates, who began the Magnificent Magnolia Ride 5 years ago!

Endorsement from WDG Public Health to reallocate road space for active transportation


Hello all,

As you may or may not know, at this Monday May 11 Guelph City Council meeting, the issue of reallocation of public space, including street space, to make more room for active transportation is coming up in two motions. One motion is by councillor Cathy Downer, and another by councillor James Gordon.

 In a previous email to members and supporters, as well as on our GCAT blog, we have asked for people to support James Gordon’s motion in this regard.  (Councillor Downer had not yet made her motion at that time.) 

In the meantime,  GCAT reached out WDG public health for clarity on their position regarding reallocating street  space for active transportation, and the need to physically distance in areas where sidewalk space is constrained.

WDG Public Health responded. At the bottom of the page, you will see their response.

Since then, councillor Cathy Downer made a motion.

Motion from Councillor Downer 

“That staff be directed to prepare a plan and associated funding sources for physical distancing in outdoor public spaces, where possible, that is informed by public health safety guidelines and advice in order to ready the community for a phased return to pre-COVID-19 activities and that staff report back to Council via the monthly COVID-19 update meetings.”

And Councillor Gordon amended his motion to read:

“That staff be directed to examine methods to adhere to physical distancing guidelines and public health advice through the implementation of active transportation options to support the health and wellbeing of our citizens during our collective fight against COVID-19. And that the identified funding source be reallocated as one-time use from the 2020 approved Mayor and Council training and conference budget – account 702-0000-24 and account 701-0000-34 up to $45,000. And that staff prioritize existing owned city infrastructure or materials to accomplish the separation of vehicular and pedestrian/cyclists. And that any changes to areas be clearly communicated in advance to the public. And that Council acknowledge that these actions will be temporary and on a trial basis where staff will monitor and make adjustments as necessary. And that such initiatives will be implemented as soon as possible.”

Please let your ward councillors know that you support both motions, and want to get out and walk and bike, for essentials and for physical and mental health. And that you want the space to be safe while doing so! 

Feel free to contact info@gcat.ca for more information. 

Reallocating Public Space during Covid 19-call to action


Hello active transportation supporters,

Our community, as well as the rest of the world, has undergone many changes due to the emergence of a new coronavirus. The only weapon we have to slow the spread of this virus is physical distancing.  Health officials say that it’s crucial to maintain physical distancing likely for many months, if not longer, until a vaccine is developed and then administered.

I’m sure you’ve been getting outside for some fresh spring air and going for a walk or for a bike ride. However, even though there are fewer cars on the road, maintaining the recommended two-meter distance from your neighbours is difficult without stepping onto the road and essentially into traffic. Public transport isn’t much of an option with reduced runs and reduced capacity.

Some municipalities are adopting measures to expand cycling and walking spaces into roadways by reducing car capacity https://www.tcat.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Example-street-re-balancing-in-Canada.pdf

Don’t you want Guelph to be one of those municipalities? We are in a unique position to make this happen because this motion will be presented at the May 11th City Council meeting:

Recommendation: That staff be directed to prioritize work to close traffic lanes during the COVID-19 public health emergency to support social distancing by creating special separated active transportation routes in strategic locations with funding of up to $50,000 reallocated from capital project New Sidewalk Construction (RD0283). 

By contacting our City Councillors (their email addresses are provided below) or clerks@guelph.ca you can let them know that you support this motion.  If you want to write a letter to appear as part of public record or you want to delegate, please sign up before 10 am on Friday May 8.

Here is what we would like to see:

Increase road share given to active transportation users. Public health directs us to give at least 2 metres of space between strangers to support “social distancing” (more for joggers and cyclists) but without more public road space allocated to walkers and bikers the city as configured does not allow residents to follow this directive.

 In many parts of the city, people are walking on the road or the city-owned boulevards to give each other the required space. This is not possible in certain places, namely at bridges  with busy streets, narrow sidewalks, and an absence of green space. 

Some such places have high active transportation traffic volumes and we are asking the city to temporarily repurpose vehicle lanes to give other road users the space they need.

 We have specifically identified the following:

(a) Wyndham Street through the downtown core, 

(b) Several bridge pinch points that are badly in need of more space for social distancing and which have multiple traffic lanes, such as

  1. Speedvale Avenue Bridge over the Speed River, and 
  2. Eramosa Road Bridge, and Macdonell Street Bridge over the Speed River as being areas that are badly in need of more space for social distancing and which have multiple traffic lanes. 

It is our opinion that these suggestions could be implemented quickly and with a minimum of staffing requirements, and constitute an “easy win” in the initial fight against the spread of COVID-19. This is not a time for business-as-usual thinking, and we hope these proposals are well received. 

Please let your councillors know that you would like to see these changes, and add others that are important to you. Thank you.For more information, contact activeguelph@gmail.com or info@gcat.ca