New cycling mural at Dupont and Dundas

If you haven't been through the railway underpass next to the Dundas St. West and Dupont St. intersection on the west side of our neighbourhood recently, you have been missing out on some incredible changes! The streetscape has evolved tremendously in the past couple of months: The West Toronto Railpath linear park and trail is now open, there are bicycle lanes on Dupont St., and a brand new mural dedicated to bicycle culture has been painted along the entire 400 foot south wall.

Talk about a major transformation! Standing next to the railway bridges, you can see all these sights come together into a single place where a formerly desolate and bike- and pedestrian-unfriendly area has been completely transformed. Just stand there and look at the bright colours, watch people walk by above you on the Railpath, watch cyclists stream by on the Dupont St. bike lanes, and listen to people as they talk about the new mural. Beautiful!

The mural, titled Strength in Numbers, was installed by a group of artists from Art Starts, an organization that helps build Toronto communities by using the arts. Funding for these murals came from the City of Toronto's Graffiti Transformation Investment Program, as well as the Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council. Lead artists Joshua Barndt and Jamie Bradbury, along with five youth artists painted the murals over four weeks in July and August 2009.

I interviewed lead artist Jamie Bradbury, who provided some insight about the mural:

Why did you choose to do a cycling-themed mural? Why this location?

The cycling theme was chosen as a starting point for the mural initially as we started the mural due to two main reasons. The west Toronto bike path being built above, we felt that biking as an issue was an umbrella for many other issues such as sustainability, eco-friendly cities, green space, alternative transportation. An artist and avid cyclist named Galen was also killed 5 years ago right at this location, and it was somewhat of an homage to him.

How many artists are involved in designing and painting the mural?

In total 7 artists were involved, Josh Barndt and myself Jamie Bradbury were the two lead artists / Facilitators on this job, and we hired 5 youth. Everyone worked together to hatch out a conceptual mockette that we used as a general guide.

It seems like there are several different styles and themes in these murals. What inspired them?

The various styles and themes are an amalgamation of all of the different artists' styles coming together. We had a Graffiti artist, an illustration student, I am more of a realist painter, Josh does realism and a variety of other styles, and some of the artists had limited experience.

What's your favourite part of the mural?

I think one of the most successful parts of the mural is the trains painted as line work that run throughout the mural. They are very simple but seem to take up a lot of space. Josh and Myself also spent quite a lot of time under the bridge creating the riders with movement and the tires which ground and make the eye rest.

What types of reactions have you been getting from passers-by while you were out painting?

Almost everybody that we encountered on the street absolutely loved the work. I think a lot of them were able to take pride in the painting and by default in the area where they live. We only had one negative incident with someone actually vandalizing the piece.

Have you been involved in other mural projects in the city, and do you have any others planned?

I have personally been involved in a few other projects in the city. One last year with Artstarts, the same organization that we were contracted through this year. I have also completed a welcome mat in Parkdale for the Parkdale B.I.A, during the doors open festival. It was a coat of Arms that represented Parkdale. I am currently about to begin a new mural project this month, and have a potential mural project in mid September booked.

When I step back and see the new Dupont St. bike lanes, the Railpath overhead, and this mural, it feels like suddenly this once ugly and hostile corner of my neighbourhood has become much more welcoming in just a few short months. How do you feel when you see all of this coming together?

I think that this project is something that people in the area can take pride in. Hopefully this area will become a bit of a success story. I think this is a typical example of how art can really effect an area, possibly help create change. We have had a lot of interest from local businesses who also want murals painted. It would amazing to see paintings all along the Railpath where possible. Make it a scenic journey.

Are you and the other artists cyclists or involved in any other forms of cycling advocacy?

I must admit, I am not an avid cyclist. I mainly rely on public transit. I must say though that this experience has really opened up my eyes to how important these bike lanes are. Since beginning this project I have had three friends seriously injured riding in the city. Whether it be being hit by a HUMMER, breaking their arm due to having a wheel get caught in the streetcar tracks, or being doored by a driver not paying attention when exiting their parked vehicle. Other major cities have bike lanes posted on the public transit web page. The TTC does not.

Now that the mural is complete, Art Starts has organized an opening celebration on Tuesday August 25th from 6pm – 8pm, on the West Toronto Railpath at the Dupont-Dundas intersection. "The event will feature musical performances and snacks. The artists will be on hand to answer questions and provide insights into the mural." More information about the mural and the opening celebration can be found in the attached press release.

More photos by Vic Gedris:

Some additional photos from Martin Reis:

And just for fun, here's a photo from 1923 of this area, before the railway underpass was dug out.

This article was cross-posted to I Bike T.O.

Bike Mural Launch_media advisory.pdf64.04 KB


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Life is generally unfair and hard but there's always hope

Blame developers who follow hipsters and artists around when they start looking for new areas in the city to redevelop. Remember, artists get priced out of low rents AFTER they move into an area too.

There's a big economic difference between those MAKING art and the people who BUY art. The artists I know do not BUY art for their ever growing collection that will someday be donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario. They barter or trade their works between each other. As an art major myself, I can tell you I barely made a living making art work, I had a day job to help pay the rent when I tried and the operative word here is TRIED to stay an artist, it wasn't easy.

Art making has its place in society. It can be very political and can give a voice to the voiceless. Most artists will NEVER end up having their work shown in the AGO and yet there's something in them that keeps them creating more. I admire that. Not all art made is created for home decorating consumption, although all designers will find inspiration wherever they can.

Issues of poverty, high rents and high property taxes go way beyond a few murals and some bike lanes being funded. There's corporate welfare, institutionalized and systemic racism, foreign degrees not being recognized, the barriers to upgrading a foreign degrees, etc...Then there are issues of mental illness and substance abuse that keep some people living in poverty.

The world is unfair -- luck, circumstances and opportunities -- and it's hard to fight all those issues. We can only do the best we can to remind developers to build more affordable housing, remind politicians NOT to favour corporate interests over the general public and remind other voters that there is a world that exists made up of people who are not as lucky.


Hey Ramos,

I share some of your thoughts on this matter with you, cuz like you I grew up here. We were immigrants. Both parents worked in Factories - up until 3yrs ago I believe and we came here 82'. I've pretty much kept my mouth shut on this, because things change there is no fighting it - see the posts on Dump Sites for an example (its an uphill battle).

The Mural as it stands looks good, I like it, I guess - better then the concrete. Would I have like to see something different? maybe, but that would mean I would have to take part in the process, didn't know it was happening.

All in all things change, even neighborhoods. Some loose their identity some gain a new one. This neighborhood is defintely changing. I see it on the streets daily. For the better or worse? Depends on how people see it or who you ask. Older residences may see it's differently. My view: yes, it's changing. For the better? yes and no. The yes: less crime and prosititution, evident at Lansdowne and Bloor. The no: people I grew up with are no longer around. Less of a community feeling as there is turnover with neighbors who you were around for decades. People are aging in this community and are moving out. It will take time to get that same feeling back I guess. Until then I'll just keep watching my Prop Taxes rise - pure bush!


I too grew up here and have

I too grew up here and have watched this neighbourhood go down hill, about 15 years ago, and now it is on the up curve. Some of my neighbours have lived here all their lives and some moved in a month ago and we try to talk to everyone. It is true that people do not stay in a neighbourhood their whole lives like they
used to but that is the same for most communities now a days. I know people who by a house and say "I will probably stay here for about 5 years". By meeting our neighbours, young and old, we can steer away from the bedroom community. What I don't like is the people who scowl when someone new moves in. These are your neighbours and if something should happen, like it did 11 days ago in Vaughan, your neighbours will be the ones who will help you.

When did bicycles become the

When did bicycles become the enemy ? Everyday I see hundreds of people on the railpath of all types and incomes from all over the area. People meeting new people and being active. Hello, this is a good thing and not part of some kind of class war. Before Portuguese and Italians there were Ukrainians and before them Irish and Scots and that history lives on in street names and many other ways and one thing is for sure, all neighborhoods change over time and there nothing you can do about it. Communities can also look forward too and why shouldn't this community (as most western societies are doing) promote activity that is comparatively cheap, green, and healthy? Bicycles, if you look it up at the West Toronto Historical Society, were the original mass transit for the working person in this area.

Bicycles in the 'hood

You only have to go as far as this website (courtesy of the City of Toronto archives) to see a photo from 1920 when bicycles outnumbered automobiles around Perth Square Park:

Cyclist at Davenport and Uxbridge, 1914:

Cyclist at Davenport and Wiltshire, 1923:

H.A. Lozier & Co. opened a bicycle manufacturing plant in The Junction in 1895. This was merged into CCM (Canadian Cycle and Motor Co.) in 1899. Massey-Harris and Gendron Bicycles also moved some bike manufacturing to The Junction in the HA Lozier factory. In 1917, this was moved farther away to a CCM plant in Weston.

We actually have some pretty good examples of bike usage and history around here.

Dear Hipster

Wow John.... your psychoanalysis of me from the one post I had made is truly breathtaking. Did you major in psych at your university?

Do you think I'm wrong for thinking there should have been a montage for the people who developed that neighbourhood instead of cyclists? For the people who actually took up residence there, when no one else would, because it wasn't cool enough?

You really think my post was fear? If you really do, then your naivete is even more apparent. Fear is experienced when you're getting beat up while your bike is stolen from you. Fear is when you freeze when you see someone pull a gun out in front of you. Fear is sweating bricks when you have someone say to you, "its been too long since I beat the shit out of someone" while you're walking by their house. That John... is fear. Not a fucking montage to cyclists.

If you were raised in a real Toronto low-income working class hood, you might have experienced this "fear", John. But I highly doubt it. I have my degree as well (crazy eh? that someone raised in this hood has one, right?), and I also work in the Social Services and God knows, we might have even crossed paths. So who knows, maybe a value village clothes wearing hipster on his road bike might make headway in the Pelham Park housing projects full of immigrants and visible minorities. You would fit right in! Or will you be safe in your social services office, processing paperwork? or in your apartment south of Dupont or in the junction right beside 11 division?

Do I consider them nobler than you? No comment, you might be a cool person, you do work in social services. But when you have hipsters who complain about not receiving enough art funding from the government when you have entire families living in cockroach infested social housing, and still working 40 hrs/week at minimum wage and barely surviving, you can't help but understand my contempt. Money for social housing? or for the arts? Hmmm.

For someone who works in the social services, I'm pretty upset by your condescending words about gathering my neighbours, who work hard all week and barely earn enough to pay their bills and feed their families, and get them to contribute to buying up land to keep the condo developments at bay, so their property taxes don't rise over what they can afford. Because believe it or not, we don't want to move to Jane and Finch either. But, out of sight, out of mind right John? No way we can bother you then.

Some background

The Railpath is a project encompassing the entire west end from Strachan hopefully up to Weston one day. It has been in the works for over 10 years and was partially initiated by residents who lived here then. The Railpath is a product of this community.

The bike lanes on Dupont are part of a way behind schedule plan that is City wide and and has been supported by residents who live in our community many years. You can find them on cycling websites and blogs. Bike lanes on Dupont is not an idea that came up recently.

One of the main artists on the Dupont mural grew up in this community and community members were talked to for ideas. ArtStarts like DigIN (which is very local) is about residents contributing to and beautifying communities. A very ground level up approach to community building. ArtStarts has done other projects in the community and its director lives in this community.

These projects are all ones that germinated here in this community over quite a few years. Sneering at them and calling them gentrification and using divisive words like "hipsters" (whatever that means) is an insult to this community. Have your opinion but at least get the history and origin of these projects correct.

Also a social service worker, WELL SAID RAMOS

I don't understand why John had to be so nasty to Ramos. Boy John, so we have some angry issues or maybe we touched a little nerve. I totally understand were Ramos is coming from, there are many people in this community who might feel the same as Ramos. Just remember when we speak about community and what that means. There are many in this community who have history and are very much part of this community and we should be sensitive to them. I have a few clients here, who were once upon a time involved and who grew there children here, and worked very hard to achive this, individuals who are now retired and are barley making it and wish they can be part of the discussion. But still hope they can be represented some how. My mother still lives here are she told me about this web site from others who told her. I read a bit, boy this does not feel like a community. People like Kevin Putman, Scott, John and a few others also those who left there names out, chill out.

I must reek hipster

What I hear from such rants about "hipsters", "cyclists" and "not my neighbourhood" comments is fear. Fear of change. Change that may feel out of one's control rather then see the positive aspects of change. As the old saying goes, change is a part of life.

As a new resident-cycling-renter, you've made it perfectly clear that MY KIND is not wanted. My parents' working class background that raised me to have the opportunity to get a university degree, with a full time social services job kind of person is not wanted in this neighbourhood. Why? Because I am considered a hipster displacing the former working class residents that are more nobler than my Value Village clothing clad newbie body.

Unless long-time residents can start screening who moves into this area by building a wall around the neighbourhood and appointing a council of elders to run the place like a fiefdom, then o.k. this area will remain the same. OR all the long-time residents can start pooling their money together and start buying up former industrial sites for millions, keep them staffed yourselves and apply to the province of Ontario so that you can separate from the City of Toronto and become a self-contained village -- then I'm very sorry Ramos change happens. I'm sorry you are fearful of it.

Mixed income neighbourhoods tend to have many more benefits for all:

Economically Diverse Neighbourhoods Best for Early Childhood Development: UBC Study

“Our research suggests that both affluent and lower-income families benefit from each other’s presence,” says lead author Richard Carpiano of UBC’s Department of Sociology.

Researchers say this increased community socioeconomic diversity benefits the development of its young children because it increases the opportunity for a wider range of residents to invest in the community.

“These more diverse communities may have a wider variety of services and amenities than places with higher concentrations of either affluent or low-income families, and thus may be able to better serve the needs of a wider range of families and children,” Carpiano says.

The findings are published in the August issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine.


"The studies have demonstrated that mixed income communities can give low-income residents access to successful environments. Although a minority of better-off households may have negative views, most are either neutral or prefer mixed income communities."

This isn't my community

I grew up just north of that bridge, right beside the Pelham Park housing projects on Osler street, I went to St. Rita and had friends and rivalries with Carlton Village and St. Luigi and I personally feel that this montage is out of place. It in no way reflects the community that I grew up in. You were the lucky kid if you grew up having a bike that lasted you the year or if it wasn't stolen by the end of the year in that neighbourhood. So why would we embrace a montage to bikes? A montage to the Portuguese, Italian, Black and Latin communities who dominated the neighbourhood before the gentrification of the Junction and the arrival of the yuppies and hipsters would have been more relevant, in my opinion.

My community relied on the TTC and carpools in order to get our parents to work at the construction yards, factories, cleaning jobs, retail stores, and all those other low paying menial work that low-income and immigrant families usually end up doing. They did not rely on bikes and Dupont street was not a bike haven. I can go on and on about it, but there's not much I can do now, now that this mural is up and it says nothing about my community and its history. Wgich in my opinion is a real shame. Last time I checked, hipsters didn't live in my hood until about 2 years ago and yet it reeks of it now. Like with gentrification anywhere, it's "developing and cleaning up" the neighbourhood, but at what cost?

Communinty Coming Together

I think the whole thing is great and ArtStarts deserves all the credit it gets. And of course Railpath shows itself to be more than just a place to pass by but also a place to be.

Diversity of Bicycles

I was very happy to see the artists; and for the community to receive the mural.
I really like the mural and I think it's fantastic that the artists used the chance to say something positive. Cultural reactions to bicycles are interesting. On my bike I dance with cement trucks. My forehead is my crumple zone (luckily it's not protecting much.) If I'm chewing bubble gum I have an air bag, but it doesn't really deploy very well. When the bike path was put in there was a little turbulence over reducing the number of car lanes. I think it was a little overblown since cars generally took the corner from Annette in single file anyway. But a celebration of bicycles is well placed, well timed, and very much appreciated. The artists looked like they had enjoyed themselves and have done a great job.
Thank You!

Thank You Art Starts!

You guys have done something great for the community. You have taken a drab, sometimes-scary-looking part of the City and transformed it into something quite amazing. It is an awesome addition to the streetscape and our neighbourhood! Many, many thanks!

How many artists are involved

How many artists are involved in designing and painting the mural?

In total 7 artists were involved, Josh Barndt and myself Jamie Bradbury were the two lead artists / Facilitators on this job, and we hired 5 youth. Everyone worked together to hatch out a conceptual mockette that we used as a general guide.

Left out the main artist of all the photographer that they stole her beautiful bike photo's from flicker
They pretend they did not know.....Come on you mean you took all those images and did not even ask or think she would know. Were not stupid. This needs a better result then yes we have contacted gabi and apologized because we did not know there were copyright infringements. Even better did u think you might wanna get model release before painting someones
image in public.
Hey Gabi sorry but as a friend and photographer you deserve alot more respect.

link please

Flicker makes it very easy to link to an image.
If there is an infringement of a flicker image, please post a link.

Could you be more specific

Could you be more specific Glen ? Post a link or two. I am just interested.

mural images

The mural is great. But
They used someone else's images without even asking them. That is wrong and takes away from the good work.
I post on flickr too and would be very upset if that happened to me.
The remedial work done to the images is not enough to make up for what has been done.