north side bikelife

This is why a pack of cyclists went for a ride through traffic on the Gardiner Expressway

If you happened to be driving on the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto on Halloween evening, then you may have encountered a large pack of cyclists riding through traffic. 

Photos of the group of cyclists riding across three lanes on the Gardiner have since emerged on social media, and some have been wondering who these people are and why they did what they did. 

As it turns out, the stunt was organized and carried out by North Side Bikelife, a group of young cyclists in the city who aim to promote a sense of community and belonging for those who may feel isolated or alone.

The group is made up of cyclists, but also students, photographers, content creators and artists. 

"We are a collective who donate their time and hard work to use our social media presence to create a community for the younger generation; to have an escape from the stress and difficulties they may face in today's society," a spokesperson for North Side Bikelife, who asked to remain anonymous since the group would like to be represented as a collective, told blogTO. 

The spokesperson said the Gardiner ride was a marketing ploy to get the group's name out and to let people in the city know they exist, and clearly it had the intended effect. 

"People are so wrapped up in the news lately, so we used it for our advantage and proved that this outlet and type of marketing worked," they said.

North Side Bikelife says they are part of the Bikes Up, Guns Down movement, which encourages young people to take up biking instead of getting involved with gangs and gun violence. 

The movement has been growing in popularity around North America, and the spokesperson said this has become increasingly important as rates of gun violence have been rapidly rising in Toronto. 

The goal, they added, is therefore to "promote a sense of community and belonging in such a divided society."

Still, some residents and drivers reacted negatively to Saturday's publicity stunt, but the spokesperson believes that it was only due to a lack of context. 

"We caused a traffic jam for a short moment just like any road accident or geese on the road would," they said, adding that they had safety precautions in place for different scenarios, such as emergency vehicles passing through and just the general potential dangers of riding a bike on the expressway.

But despite some criticism, the group representative said there was plenty of positive reaction — just as they intended. 

"Many stopped and took photos and videos while smiling," the spokesperson said. "We were respectful in a way and did our thing, then then got out of the way."

Lead photo by

North Side Bikelife/Nick Scolaro

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