Last year, GreenUP published a series of seven articles exploring the ways that bikes can help communities overcome challenges, such as road safety, climate change, and boosting businesses in the downtown.
The articles were based on Share the Road’s document Bikes Can Do That. We had no idea at the time that 2020 would present an eighth challenge to communities: navigating life in a pandemic.
With what we are hearing from the community, it appears that bikes can do that too.
Bikes are filling a number of gaps for people this spring as they navigate the changes brought by COVID-19. People are riding bikes for short trips to work or groceries more now that transit use and carpooling are limited due to physical distancing rules. They are riding bikes to build in physical activity while gyms and sports centres remain closed. Families are finding that a bike ride is a great solution when the kids are craving a little entertainment.
Bike sales are off the charts, and repair shops are overwhelmed by the number of bikes being pulled out of basements and sheds. During Shifting Gears in May, people shared many stories with us of jumping on bikes for the first time in years.
There are many different reasons people are biking more during COVID-19, but one of our Shifting Gears participants expressed his feelings in a way that suggests an underlying motivation shared by many people.
“I wanted to feel free is the simple answer,” says Jay. “Being in quarantine for months felt like the walls in my room were closing in on me. I needed to get out. So I thought riding a bike would give me the ability to roam, discover new places in Peterborough, and connect with mother nature.”
“At least with riding a bike I would have some control of the direction of my life particularly during these COVID times that have left most of us on unfamiliar ground. Riding my bike is a form of detachment. I can pedal away anxieties, scary statistics, hand sanitizers, and the harshness of reality. It offers me a bit of hope.”
This new or renewed interest in bikes is actually coming at a perfect time of year. Spring is the season that people often jump back on bikes, which is why June is also known as Bike Month. As a part of Bike Month this year, GreenUP, together with partners at B!KE and the City of Peterborough, is hosting a number of educational and fun activities.
Visit peterboroughmoves.com to find fun on two wheels for the whole family. We are also working to build a more bike-friendly Peterborough by promoting the city’s new interactive cycling master plan survey.
GreenUP and B!KE are sharing their popular school-based cycling education program online this year. Pedal Power From Home is rolling out through the month of June with new activities being released each week. The activities cover topics that aim to get you and your bike ready for riding on the road. From equipment checks and bike handling drills, to learning the rules of the road, the activities offer new learning to all ages.
“When we visit schools for Pedal Power we often get just as many questions from the teachers and parents as we do from the students,” says Jaime Akiyama, transportation program coordinator at GreenUP. “We all want to feel confident in our knowledge and abilities when we head out on our roads and trails, and the Pedal Power activities help with that. Plus, the activities are fun, and this year we’ve added in the chance to win prizes.”
If you are planning a bike trip around town, whether it’s to run an errand, for a little exercise, or both, Peterborough Moves is sharing information about local trails and bike routes throughout June.
This past Saturday (June 6) was International Trails Day and we celebrated by releasing the Peterborough Trails Scavenger Hunt. The hunt highlights special places around town that you can access by trail. To play along, simply download the map, colour in the places you visit, and email a photo of your map to email@example.com for a chance to win prizes.
Our extensive connected trail system helps make the city more bike friendly, and recent news of upcoming trail improvements is encouraging. However, if we want to ensure that all ages and abilities have confidence to ride bikes in Peterborough, our local bike network will need to include a variety of supportive infrastructure. With so many more cyclists on our city’s streets, it’s the perfect time to think about how we can create a more bike-friendly Peterborough.
The City of Peterborough is creating a cycling master plan and want input from community members on the types of riding you do, or want to do, and the areas you ride, or want to ride. Currently, an online survey and interactive map are available at connectptbo.ca/cycling.
What kinds of bike infrastructure do we need in Peterborough? Which areas around town could use improvements? Whether you ride for transportation or for recreation, you are welcome to take part in the City of Peterborough’s latest community consultation on this topic.
“We are in the information-gathering stage and eager to hear from the whole community,” explains Sue Sauve, transportation demand management planner with the City of Peterborough. “It’s important to us that we hear from people from all walks of life, and with varied interest in bike riding.”
“Of course we want to hear from those who already use their bikes to move around town, but we also want to hear from those who don’t use bikes. What would it take to make riding a bike more appealing?”
“The online engagement tools are already receiving good response, but we realize the tools might not be accessible to everyone,” Sue adds. “If people would like to provide comments in a different way, please contact me directly by phone at City Hall. My number is 705-742-7777 extension 1485.”
If you haven’t already done so, jump on your bike this Bike Month.
Check out the resources at peterboroughmoves.com to get started. Use what you learn to provide input into the city’s new cycling master plan, and enjoy a healthy and active start to the summer.