Nancy Smith Lea is the Director of the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation at the Clean Air Partnership. Prior to this she was a senior research officer at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto where she was employed between 1990 and 2009. In 2001 she achieved a M.A. in sociology and equity studies (thesis title Cycling Safety: Shifting from an Individual to a Social Responsibility Model).
Her articles include Colliding Modes of Transportation: Issues of Inequity and Unsustainability published in the peer-reviewed Environments Journal (2000), Toronto Cyclists Fight for Respect. in the Planners Network Journal (2002), Urban Cycling Safety: Individual or Social Responsibility? published in the National Center for Bicycling and Walking Forum (2003), Bike Lanes – Good for Us, Our City, and the Bottom Line in Harvey Kalles Collections Magazine Volume 5, Issue 3 (2009), Converting On-Street Parking to Active Transportation in Toronto: Two Studies of Merchant and Patron Preferences in the Walk21 conference proceedings (2010), and A (Transportation) Tale of Three Cities in Collections Magazine (2011).
Smith Lea has been actively involved in working towards improving cycling conditions in Toronto since 1993. She was a member of the Toronto City Cycling Network Planning Committee (1993-96), on the committee formed by the Regional Coroner of Toronto which met over a two-year period to prepare the research and analysis leading to the 1998 coroner’s report on Cycling Fatalities in Toronto, 1986-1996: Recommendations for Reducing Cycling Injuries and Death, provided input into the 2003 City of Toronto’s staff report: Toronto Bicycle/Motor-Vehicle Collision Study. In 2004 she was an expert witness in a court case in which a cyclist, injured by a parked car door opened suddenly in her path, won her lawsuit against the City of Toronto for failing to ensure that the roadway was safely designed for cyclists. In 2012 she was an advisor on the Toronto Public Health report: Improving Walking and Cycling in Toronto.
She was the TCAT representative from 2007 to 2012 on the University of British Columbia’s Bicyclists Injuries and the Cycling Environment research team. Between 2012 and 2014 she was a member of the steering committee of Dr. Beth Savan’s “Cycling for All: An Urban Cycling Think and Do Tank” at the University of Toronto Sustainability Office, and co-investigator with Dr. Paul Hess between 2013 and 2014 on the research project “Identifying and Overcoming Barriers to the Implementation of Active Transportation Policies“. Between 2014 and 2016 she was the project lead, collaborating with Dr. Raktim Mitra and Dr. Paul Hess, on “Understanding Complete Streets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe” and Complete Street Transformations in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Between 2015 and 2017 she is the project lead on “Scarborough Cycles: building bike culture beyond downtown” and “Bike Lane Impact Study in Toronto’s Bloor Annex and Korea Town Neighbourhoods.
Smith Lea was one of the co-founders of Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists (1996-2005), a past board director and treasurer of the Community Bicycle Network (2002-2005) and a founding member and board director of Cycle Toronto (formerly Toronto Cyclists Union) through its first year of operation (2008-2009).
In 2010, Nancy was awarded the Toronto Community Foundation’s prestigious Vital People grant for “Putting Active Transportation on the map”.