Monday, 16 March 2015

A Day of Family Cycling

Of the last few leisure demonstration rides I've planned, I haven't succeeded in picking a meeting location that isn't confusing, nor have I been able to be on time. Try as I may, it seems lazy Sunday morning tempo is our everyday tempo. For the most part, we've adjusted our schedule and expectations to accommodate our lifestyle... for the most part!

Hastily, I changed out of my pjs and into my uniform: leggings, a tank top and a long sleeve T-shirt. I found my cowl and my trustee pink hoodie and rushed my kids down the stairs. For a person who woke up a tad before dawn, you'd think I wouldn't be late to an 11:30am meet-up! I spotted a friend cycling past our home, but since JahJ was riding, we weren't able to catch up with them before getting to the Gorge Vale Automotive parking lot.

While Kat and I exchanged pleasantries, we established that our spouses took our kids to a mutual friends' birthday party. Both sets of kids were feeling outgoing and got out of their family bikes to catch up, as best pals would. About a dozen parents had said they were coming on the demonstration family ride to promote the need for a safer Tillicum road. I was holding my breath for at least three bikes when Ashley sent me a text saying she was on her way. My new expectation was four.

One by one, friends arrived by the tire pump where we were congregating. Each parent was well prepared for a typical Victoria weather day, expecting a drizzle of rain, a cool breeze from the Gorge and some sun rays poking out of the clouds. After a "Bikes Belong!" chant and picture, a total of eight passengers and nine people pedaling took the lane from Craigflower Road to just past Burnside Road. One child kept shouting "Bikes Belong!", Nae-J waved her balloons and JahJ asked me to exclaim "Bikes Away!" as a superhero would before taking off.

Along the way we picked up two more pedalers, each carrying two passengers. We made quite the procession to Hampton Park. It was a breeze to bike on the bridge, taking the lane without being intimidated by the cars that slowed down to gawk at us. When we got to the park, we parked our vehicles and all the kids jumped on to the playground. Sometimes they would ask for snacks or a drink, and then it was time for others to be on their way. I encouraged Nathan to take his kids to the next appointment by bike, assuring him that his errands were all just a block off from the Galloping Goose. Wendy and Trish left together, heading back along the quieter side streets. Lyndze and I bit the bullet and rode on Tillicum together. It's amazing how much more confident I feel with another person riding with me on the treacherous bridge!

I went back to Hampton Park on my own to spend the rest of the afternoon hanging out with friends. After some soccer playing, frisbee throwing, and general tuckering out of the children, five of us loaded our bikes and headed to the "ice cream store". On these community bike rides, it's not uncommon to try to fit as many bikes as possible into one parking spot. Today was no different- five bikes carrying twelve people in one stall!

The group split and headed home, via another "ice cream store". Hilary and I took the newly renovated Craigflower Bridge for the first time since it opened to motor-vehicle traffic. It was such a pleasure! Engineers, take note and please replicate and/or improve on this design! The bike line merges bikes into an elevated separate section of the bridge for about 400 meters. Though the bike lane is not decidedly separated from the walking lane, there is ample room for both modes of transportation without one feeling more vulnerable than the other.


We rode to Banfield park on the newly paved and open-for-use E & N Trail. Since it was nearing the end of the day, the trail was quiet as we enjoyed the view of the lighthouse at Fort Rodd Hill and the cranes on the ship yard. We spent a good hour playing superheroes and royalty before parting ways to head home, for real.

 All in all, it was a fantastic day of family cycling. Having spent my day off biking with other parents and kids, I feel as though today was a kick-off of the year's cycling season. Slow-hasty start to the day, and slow riding with JahJ reminded me of how much fun simple things like traveling on my bicycle from A to B to C to A can be.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Demonstration Family Ride 2 - We Are Safe

Just a quick note to remind you that we are still on for the second Demonstration Family Ride on Monday, March 16 at 11:30. We are meeting in the parking lot of Gorge Vale Automotive and riding on Tillicum Rd to Hampton Park.

The purpose of this ride is multi-fold. First, I want to show onlookers that biking with kids is possible, safe and fun. Second, I want to show politicians and engineers that Tillicum Rd needs a make over. This road isn't easy to bike on without a crowd that takes the lane. Ideally, there would be bike lanes with a physical separation from motor-vehicle traffic. Third, I want to bike with friends, and chat about other road treatments that can be done. Too many adults bike on the sidewalk along the more uneasy stretched of the road. Many more people would hop on their bike to the corner store, to the neighbourhood pub, to the nature playgrounds nearby if there were a more pleasant route to take. Fourth, I want to chill at the playground to catch up with new friends and old while our kids burn some energy running around.

If you aren't able to ride with us, please consider joining up at Hampton Park at noon. I'm hoping the sun will come out and we can enjoy the afternoon together outside.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Winter Bike to Work Day

Somewhere in North America it is the dead of winter, the ground is covered in feet of snow, roads are filled with dirty slush splashing around. There's probably a blizzard preventing an airplane from taking off on time. Parents are encouraging their kids to pee one last time before bundling their precious cargo up for the trek to school. Some people have the luxury of pressing a button to preheat their car and defrost their windows. I know that I don't control the weather, and it seems silly to brag about it. But that doesn't stop me! Friday's forecast in Victoria calls for a high of 12 degrees Celcius with a high probability of rain. I trust the sun will peek out and ensure that my ride to work is dry. I'll be sure to wear my contact lenses and a brimmed helmet to prevent a second face shower. Really, though, I'll take a bit of wet over what my Mainland counterparts are weathering.

Friday February 13 was my first Winter Bike to Work Day and I'm thrilled that it looked a lot like many other Bike to Work Days! Since I don't work the 9 to 5 daily grind, I didn't get to enjoy the coffee and treats offered by the Bike to Work Week Society. I'll be sure to stop by a Celebration Station in the spring, though, since I like getting credit for daily bike rides, and a chance to win prizes.

What I thought was snow was soap bubbles. I guess a neighbour was washing her car.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Demonstration Family Ride - We Are Safe

Most of the time, I get smiles and jovial conversations when strangers see me and my kids on our bike. Riding with them has become so normal to me, that I don't even think twice about strapping their helmets on and unlocking my bike for a quick ride around the block or a for a school pick-up.

Unfortunately, some people don't know it's safe. Yesterday, while biking her kids across town to karate class, my friend, Amanda, had an encounter with such a person. Mrs. Wrong* thought that Amanda was putting her three kids in danger by having them on her Edgerunner, a bicycle built for carrying kids and other cargo. She even called the police to let them know. I'm not sure what the cops told her, nor do I know what actions they will take to follow up. What I do know is that Amanda is a researched parent who has looked into cycling for transportation and recreation extensively. She has weighed her options and has chosen to bicycle whenever she wants to with her kids.

In support of this choice, I would like to invite you to come ride with us. It is clear to me that there aren't enough parents riding with children in Victoria for it to be considered normal. We need to show our neighbours and strangers that this is safe, normal and usually a lot of fun. On Thursday, February 5, 2015 we will ride with Amanda's kids to karate class. We will meet at Sir James Douglas Elementary School at 4:00 and leave at 4:15 to  head over to James Bay Community School.

Here are some quick stats regarding road safety from the Insurance Corporation of BC:
  • On what's involved in a crash
  • Road safety report for Vancouver Island. I like the blurb on the side of the page "... safer drivers and roads makes for fewer crashes, injuries and deaths." So let's contact our regional road safety coordinator to get safer roads for all users!
P.S.: Are any of you magicians with digital pictures? I need a license plate picture decoded. Cheers!

*Her name has been changed to protect her identity. But now we all know what car she drives...