Damage to bridge looked deliberate

Trail span allegedly cut from the bottom so it would collapse when crossed

Cyclists who ride in the Don Valley are being told to be extra cautious after a wooden bridge was seemingly sabotaged, posing a direct danger to riders.

The homemade bridge, spanning a small gully near Thorncliffe, is frequently used by mountain bikers who ride the dirt trails of the Don Valley.

The bridge has since been repaired after the damage was discovered on Nov. 20. Tim Charles, vice-president of the Toronto Off-Road Biking Association, believes the bridge was sabotaged by someone with the intent to harm cyclists. He fixed the bridge himself.

“The bridge had been cut through the centre of its span, upward from the bottom, so that from the surface, it looked like a normal bridge, but if you put too much weight on it, it would collapse,” Charles said. “It was cut in a fashion that looks deliberate.”

Although the incident occurred late in the year, Charles says the trails are used by riders year-round, almost on a daily basis. He describes the mountain bikers of the Don Valley as a close-knit and “hardy bunch”.

News of the incident quickly spread through Toronto’s biking community after notices were posted on several local biking websites.

Around the same time last year a similar incident occurred at the exact same bridge, according to Charles.

“This one bridge had been sabotaged last year,” Charles said. “In the area around this bridge we’ve been having problems for three seasons now.”

While he says it is not uncommon for vandals to target these kind of makeshift bridges, he has not seen one vandalized in this manner before.

“In that area we’ve seen, if you count individual bridges, I would say maybe half a dozen, maybe 10 different incidents of vandalism over the last few years,” Charles said. “All to much lesser degrees than this one.

“This one’s the first one where it looked like a deliberate attempt to injure someone.”

Charles urges bikers to be cautious when riding on the trails. The majority of these bridges have been constructed by cyclists themselves and are not sanctioned city structures, so riders are reminded that they use the trails and bridges at their own risk.

The Toronto Off-Road Biking Association maintains an informal relationship with the city and often organizes community trail-building days and teach the importance of trail stewardship. They also advocate safe riding.

“We want people to ride their bikes and have a good time, but then always be aware of their surroundings and always check structures before using them,” Charles said.

About this article:

By: Tristan Carter
Posted: Jan 20 2011 2:39 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto