New Group Fo­cuses on Safety and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion

Pedal Magazine - - Contents - BY RON JOHN­SON

Peo­ple like cy­cling in Ni­a­gara. There are folksy fruit stands and idyl­lic vine­yards, farm-to-ta­ble restau­rants, cof­fee shops and enough path­ways and coun­try roads to sat­isfy even the most am­bi­tious rid­ers.

Yet in re­cent years, many of the two-wheeled set in Ni­a­gara Re­gion were feel­ing un­easy about bi­cy­cle safety in the area.

Wally Tykoliz, pres­i­dent of the ven­er­a­ble St. Catharines Cy­cling Club and co-founder of the newly minted Ni­a­gara Cy­cling Club Al­liance (NCCA), knew there was strength in num­bers. But when he tried to track down the other clubs in the area to deal with the is­sue, he re­al­ized there was some­thing miss­ing.

Soon there­after, the grand poobahs of seven Ni­a­gara cy­cling clubs sat down at the White Oaks Re­sort in Ni­a­gara-on-the-Lake, Ont. in what was the first step that would re­sult in the for­ma­tion of the NCCA.

“It was the first time ever that all the cy­cling clubs have ever met to­gether to dis­cuss anything,” Tykoliz says. “And it quickly be­came ap­par­ent that this was the greatest tool. The ini­tial pur­pose was that we have to ed­u­cate. First and fore­most, it is about safety. In 2015 and 2016, there was a rash of cy­clists killed [in] many ac­ci­dents.”

Just how this pub­lic out­reach will hap­pen has yet to be fi­nal­ized, but the group fore­sees the po­ten­tial of de­vel­op­ing a re­la­tion­ship with lo­cal bike shops. And if that first point of con­tact means more mem­bers for the clubs, then all the bet­ter.

To­gether, the Al­liance al­ready boasts more than 1,000 ath­letes, and has ef­fec­tively es­tab­lished it­self as an author­ity on cy­cling in the Ni­a­gara re­gion.

The NCCA in­cludes the Amici per la Vita Ni­a­gara Cy­cling Club, which spe­cial­izes in des­ti­na­tion trips for its mem­bers; Ni­a­gara Free­wheel­ers Bi­cy­cle Touring Club, with its open, friendly and ac­ces­si­ble man­date; and Forza Ni­a­gara Cy­cling Club, which con­cen­trates on struc­tured rides with an eye to skills devel­op­ment; if it’s moun­tain bik­ing and off-road rac­ing, it’s all about En­ergy Cy­cling Club; Bik­e­fit Sun­flow­ers Cy­cling Club is also a moun­tain-bik­ing club, but one that is ex­clu­sively for women; the Short Hills Cy­cling Club is a pi­o­neer moun­tain-bik­ing club that is also ac­tive in the trail-build­ing scene, so bring a rake or shovel; and the old­est club in Ni­a­gara, the St. Catharines Cy­cling Club, spe­cial­izes in rac­ing.

“Ul­ti­mately, we want to make the pub­lic aware that there are seven clubs of­fer­ing all dif­fer­ent kinds of rides to the gen­eral pub­lic,” Tykoliz says.

The most im­por­tant ser­vice the group may pro­vide is to di­rect the many would-be lo­cal cy­clists to a club that is right for their needs and abil­i­ties.

The NCCA is also or­ga­niz­ing its first joint ven­ture: Canada’s 150 Birth­day Ride. Sched­uled for July 2, the ride is open to all lev­els, with a scenic and wind­ing road route through the vine­yards and or­chards around the town of Pel­ham. In ad­di­tion, a new moun­tain-bike route has also been added. And, of course, a BBQ and huge birth­day cake will fol­low. There will be a nom­i­nal fee when reg­is­tra­tion opens on the Canada’s 150 Birth­day Ride web­site, to be an­nounced soon.

“The group over­whelm­ingly sup­ported the idea,” Tykoliz says. “This is the most fun, en­er­getic group of vol­un­teers I’ve ever been associated with.”

Al­though NCCA al­ready has a full agenda in its first year of op­er­a­tion, other ini­tia­tives on the hori­zon in­clude or­ga­niz­ing a vol­un­teer brigade for the 2021 Canada Games if St. Catharines wins the bid, as well as fo­cus­ing on youth devel­op­ment and im­ple­ment­ing a pass­port sys­tem that would al­low mem­bers from one club to sam­ple rides from other clubs. For in­for­ma­tion on each club, visit its re­spec­tive web site; for NCAA, please con­tact Wally Tykoliz at 905-933-8077; wal­ly­tykoliz@co­

The new Al­liance al­ready boasts more than 1,000 cy­clists.

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