For some desperately-needed good news, we are pleased to announce the wait is over and the biggest indoor bike parking room UHN has ever built is now a reality! Twas a twinkle in the eye back in May 2020 with the pandemic biking bump, then open for business on December 9, 2021. This project not only provides sustainable, GHG-free transportation for staff, but also a safe, COVID-19-friendly way to commute to work. Climate and COVID relief … a great 2-for-1 special!

So what did we build? Toronto General Hospital is now home to 126 new secure indoor bike parking spots at the southeast corner of Gerrard Street and University Avenue. Why here? It’s the closest corner to multiple UHN sites, making it easy for staff from Princess Margaret, Toronto Rehab and other UHN sites to use it too. Just swipe your UHN ID to access the space, no messing around with keys, no fees, just clean and safe commuting.

The entrance is conveniently and safely located by the crosswalk, the biggest hurdle of the project. That space was once a very solid wall. The previous entrance to the space was inside a car parking garage. It was much further from other sites, and forced an unhealthy mix of bikes and cars. Luckily, fire code says you need 2 exits, so blasting through this wall was not such a crazy idea.

No Door. Door! (have fun with the slide)
Opening the door (and the wall) to great bike parking inside! This raw semi-basement space became home to 126 secure and indoors bike parking spots. (have fun with the slide)
Setting up hoarding to create the new entrance.

Once inside, this space had a few challenges. It was raw. So raw, there was no service to it. No air, no lights, no electrical, no water, no drainage, no sprinklers, just a slab-on-grade foundation. Adding all of these things, plus stairs, bike rails, fencing, door openers, card readers, outlets to charge e-bikes, panic button, security cameras and lets not forget, a whole lotta bike racks, takes time, planning, permits and more.

Raw space. The ultimate “Before” picture. You can see the temporary lights strung up.

Construction during COVID meant that we had to schedule only one trade at a time. What would normally be parallel processes done simultaneously stretched out sequentially, just one at a time. Certain items had the ubiquitous COVID problem of supply chain so we had to wait and wait for the doors. Doors are pretty key for secure bike parking :). These issues have wafted throughout the construction industry, so if you’ve wondered why that condo project has taken so long, or why there’s only a few workers scattered on a big job site, now you know.

Complete! The first bikes make their way in, despite the cold of December.

To get to the “why” we built this in the first place, it’s a tale of three crises, COVID-19, Congestion and Climate Change. Normally, most of our staff would commute via public transportation, but the pandemic meant fewer staff felt comfortable on the TTC. They started driving more and cycling more, a lot more. Both car parking and bike parking became jammed.

It’s extremely expensive to expand parking for cars, and a lot more bikes can fit into the same space. Traffic congestion would be bananas if everyone switched to driving. And since the Climate Crisis is caused and worsened by us humans burning fossil fuels, more people driving is not a great idea (psst, if you do drive, we love EVs). So we focused on the things that help staff make a sustainable switch … give them good, safe, secure bike parking, and make it the easiest, most convenient and cost-effective choice. Bike parking is free and the only fuel you need is your morning bagel or yogurt smoothie (or last night’s pizza, we don’t judge). And who needs a gym when your commute is mobile spin class?

So here we are, with a brand new bike parking palace. Since ribbon-cutting ceremonies and pandemics don’t mix, but we’ve started a virtual collage of some of the first to bring their bikes into the space. Send your to us at UHNCycling@UHN.ca and we’d be happy to add to this here:

Now that it’s here, we need a name!

Help us name this great place! You can vote on names here, or suggest your own. No “Bikey McBikeFace” please, though I did love someone’s suggestion of “Bike to the Future”.

For those at other UHN sites, have no fear, we did not forget you. This project was just one of many bike parking upgrades across UHN, including:

  • A newly refurbished outdoor bike cage at Toronto Western Hospital (TWH), located on Leonard Street, across from the Krembil Discovery Tower. TWH already has secure, indoor bike parking in the Krembil Discovery Tower, just north of the Leonard Street entrance. Both of these can be accessed by any UHN ID. 
  • A new bike cage at Toronto Rehab right between Lyndhurst Centre and Rumsey Centre
  • New bike racks (covered by security cameras) at TR’s Bickle Centre, close to the main entrance.
  • New bike racks at Michener.
  • No bike? No worries! We have a $40 discount on Bike Share Toronto for an annual membership!

Big thanks FM-PRO’s Greg Brady for his excellent project managing here! Kudos to the leadership team for green lighting and overseeing this, including Ron Swail, Ian McDermott, Vera Kan, Ed Rubinstein, Harshita Jagadeesh, Ramya Kumareswaran and Soo-Min Kim. Also thanks to our UHN Bicycle User Group (BUG) for providing guidance and weighing in along the way. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It takes a village to raise a sustainable transportation system.

To learn more about cycling at UHN, or join the BUG, email us at UHNCycling@uhn.ca.

P.S. It may seem counter-intuitive, but building cycling infrastructure like bike lanes and bike parking actually makes the roads better for drivers (yes, drivers of cars). Not convinced? Check out this video by Not Just Bikes to see what it’s like to drive in car-centric Canada versus bike-friendly Netherlands …

Ride on!