Cy­cling events help build com­mu­nity

The Hamilton Spectator - - COM­MENT - JO­HANNA BLEECKER Jo­hanna Bleecker is the Vice-Chair of Cy­cle Hamil­ton.

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.

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