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Should marathons and cycling events be moved off city roads?

JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL/jennifer roberts The Globe and Mail

If you live in a Canadian city, chances are it's happened to you.

You're out driving on a summer day only to find yourself stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, delays and detours all because major roadways have been closed for a marathon or some other charity event.

These events may help bring thousands of people to a city and raise millions for various causes, but some politicians in Toronto would like to see them moved to parks or other venues.

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This past weekend, the city hosted the annual Becel Heart and Stroke Ride for the Heart. The cycling fundraiser closed sections of the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway, two of the city's main thoroughfares. More than 13, 000 people participated in the event, which raised $3.9 million.

Of course, some people complain when roads are closed for such events, and the city should look for alternatives, councillor Doug Ford told The Star on Monday.

"I'm a big supporter of these charitable organizations. They do a great job," he said. "On the other hand, you get a few phone calls from constituents that aren't too happy that the roads are blocked up. Do I agree there's always a better way of doing things? Yes."

Ford then suggested that cycling events such as the Ride for the Heart could be moved off the roads and on to the city's bike paths. He also said that events with fewer than 1, 000 participants could be moved in to parks.

Last year, during what would prove to be his successful mayoral campaign, Rob Ford (Doug's brother) also came out against holding charity events on city roadways. He said marathons could be moved to large parks in the city, because everyone who runs marathons will be keen to do lap after lap after lap of a park crammed next to other runners on narrow pathways rather than go spend their time and money someplace else.

When Rob Ford made those comments, his main rival in the mayoral race responded with scorn for the idea. "Can you imagine the mayor of Boston saying 'Gosh almighty we have to get that damn marathon off our streets, it's causing too much tourism," George Smitherman said.

Race directors and runners have also heaped scorn on the idea of moving events in to parks or other venues. But drivers probably feel a lot differently.

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Should charity events be moved off roads?

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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