I know the year’s not over yet, but 2017 has been a good year for me. I started slowly, since I was recovering from a concussion, but my mileage (kilmeterage?) slowly increased as the year went on. I thought I’d post some of my favourite photos from the year:
First, a bit of history: I started cycling in the 1990s as a mountain biker (discounting rides around the neighbourhood as a kid). I used to ride once a week in Dundas Valley before mountain biking was popular. When I joined the Waterloo Cycling Club in 2002, I bought a used road bike and joined the group rides, although my passion was still on the trails. Continue reading
Our society has advanced to the point where we are separated from the effect that we’re having on the world around us. For example, we turn on the tap in our kitchen sink and we get a seemingly endless supply of clean, fresh water. Do we ever think of where it comes from, or the path it took to get from its source to the kitchen? Probably not, because we’re separated from the process.
Similarly, on a weekly basis, we put out a bag (or in my neighbour’s case five bags) of garbage on the curb in front of our house. A truck comes by and takes it away and it’s quickly erased from our mind. There’s no thought to where it goes, how it gets there, and what happens to it because we’re separated from the process. The same can be said for the food we eat. Or the technology we use and the clothes we wear.
On a similar note, when we’re in a car, we’re separated from the world around us. Car advertisements promote a “quiet” ride, meaning we can’t hear the world outside our car. They’ll also promote a 12-speaker stereo system, bluetooth connection to our smartphone, satellite radio, and now smart cars – all features that continue to separate us from any interaction from the outside world. Windows are rolled up so air conditioning can run in summer and the heater can be turned on in winter. Everything about cars serves to separate us more from the outside world.
This is one of the main reasons motorists feel a sense of entitlement when driving out on the roads. Anything that interrupts their “driving experience” is a nuisance. And it’s this driving experience that is promoted and accepted in our society. Driving a car is more than a convenience; it’s part of our way of life.
I don’t think many people will argue against the benefits of walking, cycling or public transit or other non-car-related modes of transportation. However, if you were to take away their free parking in the city, there would be an uproar.
In order create a fundamental change in someone’s habits, there needs to be an incentive. So: How do we get people out of their cars and onto their bikes? Here are my suggestions:
- Employers can offer incentives for employees who take public transit, cycle, walk or even car-pool to work. This type of program would not only benefit the employees, but the employer would benefit by having healthier staff. A study in the Netherlands showed that biggest motivators for people to ride to work were (1) cash, and (2) social or peer group motivation. There’s even an app called Biko, where sponsors have aligned with Biko to offer deals at restaurants, coffee shops, breweries. Biko started in South America but is now available in Toronto and Vancouver.
- Disincentivize driving by charging more for parking at malls, offices etc. while offering safe (lockers), free parking for bicycles. For example, there’s currently no financial incentive for people to take public transit to the University of Waterloo because monthly parking is cheaper than a bus pass. Stores will resist this, stating that their business will drop, but at the same time, cycling and pedestrian traffic will increase. In Waterloo, the new LRT construction on King Street has taken years and millions of dollars. However, cycling was not part of this huge overhaul in infrastructure. On-street parking on King Street took precedence over bike lanes. Construction is still taking place, so I’ll reserve final judgment for now.
- Connected, protected bike lanes and trails so cyclists will feel safe from motorized traffic. Check out this before/after shot of bike lanes in London:
- Bike share programs. KW has started a program here.
It can be done but it will require a shift in the way we think about things and it will require a government that is willing to make drastic changes.
When I write these blog entries, I usually assume that I’m preaching to the choir. Most readers are likely people who actively ride bicycles. And that’s great! When I started this blog, my hope was to encourage more people to cycle but also to get cyclists to cycle more. Whether or not that’s happening, I can’t say, but I’m always interested in discovering what motivates people to get on a bike.
2017 marks the third year that I’ve signed up for the Share the Road ride (Greg’s Ride). Each year in September SharetheRoad.ca organizes a charity ride to raise money to support their cause. I have previously blogged about the history of Share the Road here. Founder Eleanor McMahon has created an amazing program to support cycling awareness and infrastructure across Ontario.
I’ve been at my current day job for about six years, and when I started in 2011, the commute was a short 9-10 km distance that I didn’t cycle enough. I even had the luxury of secure bike storage, a shower, and the Grand River Trail. In March of this year, my employer moved to Guelph, and my commute jumped to about 22 km. Strangely, I’ve commuted by bike this year a lot more than in previous years when I had a shorter commute.
With the month of June upon us, cycling season is in full swing and despite the rainy May that we had, the weather has been good to get out on the bike. On this first weekend in June, I was able to add two new rides to my nearly-complete “50 memorable rides in my 50th year” quest: Ride 47: 70 km of city trails in Kitchener-Waterloo, and Ride 48: 2017 Ride for Heart in Toronto.
As the end of May approaches, I thought I’d blog about my week in cycling, my continued recovery and some other thoughts. After a nice long weekend camping at Killbear (and riding to Norse Brewery), I decided to take a few days off cycling to let my head rest. As such, I didn’t commute to work last week.
According to Strava, May 11 (last Thursday) was Global Bike to Work Day(since it’s on Strava, it must be true). So I thought this would be a good day to ride to work (and back).
When faced with something new, we tend to react in one of two ways: we can embrace the change in a curious manner and learn about it, or we can turn our back on it and rationalize our fear of something we don’t understand.