The Bike Train Initiative introduces bike racks onboard select passenger rail trains to destinations across Ontario, making cycling holidays easy and accessible. The initiative is a project of Transportation Options, a non-profit organization dedicated to stimulating sustainable systems of transportation.
Originally developed by Toronto cyclist Justin Lafontaine and launched in partnership with VIA Rail Canada between Toronto and Niagara in 2007, the Bike Train has proven to be a fun, economic and environmentally friendly way to enjoy a cycling getaway. Getting to the destination is made easy as passengers travel in comfort while their bicycles are safely secured in a baggage car with bike racks. In 2008 the Bike Train Initiative won two Ontario Tourism Awards: Best Tourism Marketing Partnership and Excellence Award for Tourism Innovation, and in 2009 was selected as a Finalist for the Deloitte Tourism Innovator of the Year TIAC Award.
In 2011, we are proud to report that Bike Train service is now being provided by our passenger rail partners on the Windsor-Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Niagara routes. Having achieved our #1 objective which was to introduce and improve transportation options for cycle tourists in Ontario, our focus is now on marketing and promotion, along with destination development projects.
"The Bike Train is a unique and remarkable success story within the tourism industry," said the Honourable Monique Smith, Minister of Tourism. "By expanding the bike train service to select parts of the province, this initiative is helping revitalize local tourism and is positioning Ontario as a go-to destination for cycling holidays." (May 20, 2009)
With over 2,500 passengers to date and new routes that span the province, the Bike Train Initiative is putting Ontario on the map as a leading cycle tourism destination in North America.
Partners and Supporters
The Bike Train Initiative was developed in partnership with:
- The Ontario Trillium Foundation
- Government of Ontario
- Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
- Transportation Options
- Waterfront Regeneration Trust
- Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce
- City of Toronto
- Ontario Northland
- VIA Rail Canada
- GO Transit
- Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership
- NOW Magazine
- Ontario Wine Council
- Pedal Magazine
...and with support from over 50 organizations including Tourism Toronto, Tourism Niagara, St. Catharines Tourism, Niagara Regional Bicycling Committee, Niagara Freewheelers, City of North Bay, Discovery Routes, Northumberland Tourism, Tourism Kingston, Rideau Heritage Route, Brockville Chamber of Commerce, St. Lawrence Parks Commission, Cornwall Tourism, and Tourism Windsor, Essex County and Pelee Island.
Justin Lafontaine, Project Founder and Director, conceptualized the idea for the Toronto-Niagara Bike Train Initiative during a trip to the Niagara Region in April 2006. On that trip, he accompanied the Waterfront Regeneration Trust and several others from the region on their annual Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail cycle tour from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Grimsby. Impressed with the many trails, diverse landscapes, towns, cities and attractions, he was quick to begin planning another trip to the region.
When discussing the opportunities for cycle tourism with a fellow rider, Justin discovered that there was no convenient transportation option for cyclists between Toronto and the Niagara Region (the existing train service does not provide baggage capacity, and buses usually require bikes to be boxed prior to loading). This led him to VIA Rail Canada and other partners to discuss the potential to introduce a Bike Train service – a concept that quickly garnered support from government contacts, tourism organizations, small businesses, media and the public.
A project proposal was subsequently developed for the Ontario Ministry of Tourism - Investment Development Office and funding for the Pilot Year of the Toronto-Niagara Bike Train Initiative was announced in January 2007.
The Bike Train Initiative is a project of Transportation Options, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering sustainable mobility and tourism solutions across Ontario. We do so by engaging in projects that research, develop and promote new transportation and tourism choices, with a focus on those that are integrated, environmentally sound, healthy, service-oriented, and improve the experience of users.
Past projects include:
New Mobility HUBs Program, Moving the Economy, Ontario Cycle Tourism Forum 2009
Other projects include:
Park Bus, Welcome Cycle Tourist Ontario Partnership, Welcome Cyclists Network, Ontario Welcome Cyclists Partnership
Transportation Options' Team
Projects Director, Transportation Options
lmursell (at) tranpsortationoptions (dot) org
Louisa has been working on sustainable, green and new tourism initiatives for a number years. Her current position as Projects Director with Transportation Options has her overseeing a number of innovative projects and programs fullfilling the organizations' mandate of fostering sustainable mobility and tourism solutions across Ontario.
Having worked for Transportation Options since 2008, Louisa has been responsible for launching the Welcome Cyclist Network with an extensive workshops series and support program. She has also worked as the Greenbelt Express and Operations Manager for the Bike Train Initiative and as Assistant Coordinator of the 2009 Ontario Cycle Tourism Forum. A keen cyclists and outdoors enthusiast, she holds much knowledge of the cycle tourism and outdoor adventure sectors in Ontario – and is always keen to get out there to learn more.
Welcome Cyclists Project Coordinator, Transportation Options
information (at) welcomecyclists (dot) ca
Caroline brings a passion for cycling combined with landscape architecture, graphic design, and communications experience to this role. Working with the tourism community and on-line resources Is a natural extension of her extensive public consultation and outreach background. Formerly with the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, she is dedicated to promoting sustainable transportation, especially biking for getting around and fun. Caroline enjoys the barn watching that is part of Ontario countryside bike rides.
Manager, Finance and Administration, Transportation Options
jhurley (at) tranpsortationoptions (dot) org
Joanne joined Transportation Options in January 2011 to work on our financial management and improve the organizations operational capacity. Bringing many skills to the organization the role that keeps her most busy is completing accounting and ensuring financial accountability for our growing number of projects, with a variety of funding sources. She is happy working with Transportation Options because she is committed to sustainable tourism, to getting more bikes on the road (including her own) and hanging onto the coat-tails of the innovative team that makes these projects work.