Why I became an Eco-LeaderBy Dr. Tomislav Svoboda
I was interested and became involved in protecting the environment at an early age due to values instilled by my parents. I went into medicine with an interest in bringing health issues into community and global environmental protection efforts. I learned as a student activist that one can do more by being part of an organization of like minded individuals working toward similar goals. I supported CAPE early on, pleased that there was an organization of physicians with similar goals as myself, not knowing how I might, if ever, be more involved with them.
On November 13 2012, I joined an 18 month campaign by engaged citizens and city transportation activists to protect the 2 km Jarvis St. bike lane from being removed in Toronto. While other leading North American cities were adding dozens of km’s of bike lanes each year, Toronto was removing them, falling from ‘best cycling city’ on the continent to ‘bike collision capital of Canada’. Along other acts of peaceful civil disobedience, I sat on the lane, blocking its removal, until I was arrested and charged with mischief and interference with police. Colleagues joined me and signed onto a letter as individuals at a press conference we held on January 18 2013 at City Hall. More importantly, CAPE, as a staffed expert organization, representing hundreds of physicians, stood by us, joining our media conference panel. CAPE provided medical research and information material. Farrah Khan, one of CAPE’s staff campaigners, helped answer hard hitting questions by the press with medical evidence, when we discussed the merits of active transportation for global, individual and public health.
I’m very grateful to CAPE for helping me grow as an Eco-Leader, an expert, a resource, an advocate, and as such a better citizen and physician for my community.