Celebrating local bike culture

With the summer months approaching, people are starting to get out of their cars and onto their bikes.

This month, the townships have come together to promote National Bike Month in the region.

National Bike Month is dedicated to promoting and celebrating cycling in Canadian cities.

Photo by Will Huang

Photo by Will Huang

“It celebrates the fact that cycling brings a lot of benefits to the communities, improves their quality, less traffic congestion, helps the economy and social fabric of communities,”explained Josh Joseph, transportation demand management coordinator for the City of Kitchener.

“It is really just a positive thing, and that’s what bike month is all about,”

Pat Fisher, transportation demand management planner at the Region of Waterloo expanded on this, explaining that National Bike Month initially began with smaller events, like Bike to Work Day and Clean Air Day. Now the townships are simply working to promote cycling on a more mass scale.

Thumbs Up Waterloo Region is the road safety campaign the region has taken on for the month of June. It advocates safe driving on the roads and promotes positive interaction between cyclists and motorists.

“The slogan really is giving thumbs up. We are all in this together. Let’s all get there safely,” Joseph said. “We have to have respect. We have to give thumbs up and be courteous.”

The campaign was initiated by the cities of Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo, Waterloo Cycling Club, Grand River Transit, the Ministry of Transportation, Waterloo Regional Police Service and the Region of Waterloo.

“I think the more exposure that cycling can get in the media is always a good thing in terms of sharing the roads with motorists and other vehicles for the safety of all riders,” said Malcolm Steven, core organizer and one of the partners at Cycle Waterloo.

Cycling is continuing to become more prevalent in the K-W community. Fisher explained that the number of people riding bikes during the major commuting times is three to five per cent.

“It’s higher when you get in downtown areas and it doesn’t include recreational centres,” he continued.

According to Steven, the increase in cycling may have to do with the aging population.

“I think the baby boomers have more money to spend, so they are buying nicer bikes and taking advantage of all the equipment they actually need,” he said.

There are a number of events happening in the region throughout the month in order to promote cycling. This includes daily events like bike fix-it demos, community bike picnics, bicycle safety check-overs, summer bike socials and public art bike tours.

Cycle Waterloo is also holding a couple events in order to participate in National Bike Month, such as the K-W classic that took place June 8, and the Tour de Waterloo that will be held on June 22.

There are also many places in Waterloo to cycle. Joseph suggested the Hydro Cut Corridor, Iron Horse Trail and Grand River Trail as some of the best routes, while cyclists can also have fun biking on the main streets and through parks.

“I think this region is taking on a real leadership role provincially to help further cycling,” Steven concluded.

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