Riding on two wheels can change your perspective,” says Marta Generoux, the store manager at Ziggy’s Cycle and Sport on King Street West in Kitchener.
“You have a different outlook on the world on a bicycle.”
Ziggy’s is donating bicycles to the City of Kitchener’s Bike2Work Challenge. Sixteen applicants have been chosen to receive a free bike and accessories, including a helmet and reflectors, if they agree to bike to work for the month of June and chronicle their journeys weekly on a City of Kitchener blog.
But this ain’t no free ride.
Each bicycle includes a small ‘computer’ that tallies mileage, and applicants must have someone from work sponsor them to make sure they are actually biking to work.
“We want to promote cycling in our community,” said Generoux. “It’s good for the very young to the very old, and it’s good for the environment.”
This is the second year the City has held the Bike2Work challenge with Ziggy’s. It’s just one part of the City of Kitchener’s BikeKitchener strategy, which promotes cycling.
Transportation Demand Management Coordinator Josh Joseph is in charge of organizing the BikeKitchener programs.
This year it will be kick-started with BikeFest on May 26 in front of Kitchener City Hall between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. BikeFest will feature free bicycle tune-ups, a scavenger hunt, bicycle polo tournament, food and live music, and cycling prizes and giveaways.
There will also be cycling skills workshops and a Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation BigBike team fundraiser, which promotes better cardiovascular health through physical activity such as cycling. Applicants selected for the Bike2Work Challenge will receive their bikes at BikeFest.
Joseph said he is hoping that two other parts of the BikeKitchener programs will be ready in time for BikeFest. One is the installation of ‘sharrows’ on King Street between Francis Street and Madison Avenue, which was recently approved by Kitchener City Council.
Sharrows are markings on the road that show a bicycle with two chevrons above it. It indicates to drivers and cyclists that they share the lane and cyclists will merge in with traffic. This is done because this section of King Street is not wide enough to add a bicycle lane, and cyclists who try to squeeze in beside traffic are in danger of being hit by doors of cars parked along King.
Also, traffic typically does not move as fast along this section of King Street, so accommodating cyclists in the lane is not difficult.
Sharrows also encourage cyclists to use the road instead of the sidewalks, which is safer for pedestrians. Joseph said they are also working on a bike map that they hope to have completed by BikeFest. The map is geared toward recreational riders who don’t know where bike lanes and trails are located in the city — those who might bike more often if they knew what was available.
Other plans include a cycling e-newsletter and more bike racks downtown.
To learn more about the City of Kitchener cycling initiatives visit www.bikekitchener.ca and follow the Bike2Work bloggers at www.bike2work2013.blogspot.ca.