Cycling events help build community
The weather is getting warmer, and that means that bikes are popping up around town like springtime flowers. It also means we’re on the cusp of the season for cycling events. If that just calls to mind an expensive charity race featuring too much spandex, think again! In recent years Hamilton has experienced an explosion of cycling events aimed at all levels and styles of bike riding.
Personally, as a longtime cyclist, I appreciate and look forward to these events because, while I love riding my bike, it is largely a solitary activity and I enjoy the opportunity to make it more social.
Especially for those who don’t ride a bike or are new to riding, events like group rides and safety workshops can help build confidence and solidarity within the cycling community. Worried about cycling on the road being dangerous? It makes sense to feel that way, but studies have shown that the increased health benefits from cycling outweigh the individual risks of traffic accidents. A new study showed that people who cycle to work had half the risk of heart disease or cancer than stationary commuters. Hamilton has a growing network of bike lanes and the more people who ride a bike in the city, the more encouragement there is for the city to continue improving its infrastructure.
Whether you’re someone who cycles for fun and fitness or a hardcore year-round commuter, these events are a great way to meet your neighbours, pick up cycling skills and tips, discover safer routes, and just have a great time. There are far too many events going on this summer to list here, but here are some popular ones and some resources for finding more.
• Glowride: Picture a huge parade of cyclists adorned with glowsticks and colourful lights, blasting party music and ringing their bells. The Glowride, occurring monthly throughout the summer, has the stated mission “to spread good cycling vibes” and that they certainly do. I’ve brought very new riders to Glowrides and they’re always blown away by the excited energy in the air. The first ride is May 27, 9 p.m. at Durand Park. More info at glowriders.ca.
• Bike to Work Day Celebration at City Hall: Whether you’re a regular commuter or interested in trying cycle commuting, this morning celebration makes a great stop on your way to work. There will be free coffee and treats, music, booths and local vendors, free tune-ups, and appearances from the mayor and other local politicians. Whether you’re attending the event or not, if you’re biking to work that day register at http://bikemonth.ca/biketoworkday to be entered to a prize draw (and for a free T-shirt if you do attend the celebration)!
• Steel City Bike Festival: Organized by New Hope Community Bikes, this festival will host a huge variety of events over the month of June. Events include the huge Ride for the Masses group ride, an Instagram Scavenger Hunt, bike repair workshops, a Pump Track Party in Gage park, a bike art crafting night, and much more — there’s something for everyone and anyone who rides (or wants to ride!) a bike. Full listing at steelcitybikefest.ca.
• Bike Like a Boss Workshops: If you’re interested in doing more cycling on the streets but are nervous around cars, this series of workshops will give you the skill you need to own the road. Scheduled dates include Friday May 26, either 12-1 p.m. or 5-6 p.m. at City Hall room 192, or June 3 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Bayfront Park SoBi station. Free SoBi rentals are available for those who don’t have their own bike.
• Freewheel Group Rides: Freewheel Cycle in Dundas is offering an expanded range of rides this season. From women-only mountain bike rides to road riding and casual social rides, these are good options for cyclists looking to get out regularly with a group in the Dundas area. Times and dates vary, check freewheelcycle.com.
This season try giving your transportation or fitness routine a new spin by attending some of these events. And if you see me on my hot pink Steve Bauer bike, come over and say hi!
The more people who ride a bike in the city, the more encouragement there is for the city to continue improving its infrastructure.