We all wish for gorgeous weather when we organize an event. For the winter bike parade, you want to have it reasonably cold, with lots of sunshine, but not too cold. You also want to have fresh snow 3-4 days before, for the beautiful pictures of cyclists frolicking in the snow.
For Fisher Heights Bike Day, or rather afternoon, end of May, the weather can be very unpredictable. This year I would say the beautiful weather worked against us. It was simply too nice, too warm, with temperatures soaring over 30C /86F . So warm in fact that we think some people stayed inside or found it too much to cycle.
But it was a good turn out after all. We had a bike decoration station with prizes, games, information from Safer Roads Ottawa and traffic rule instructions with some mini signs. Ever tried to explain to a kid the difference between stop and yield?
For the first time, we closed our street in front of the community centre, coincidentally also my street, so I had the pleasure of enjoying a pocket cyclovia in front of my own house. Who would have thought. The street closure allowed for a series of skill games, such as the slow ride, the zig zag around the pylons and for trying out the bakfiets, the tandem and the trike we borrowed from Rightbike in Hintonburg.
The bike mechanics from Rightbike were busy as usual, doing tune ups, mostly brakes, some gear and chain adjustments and of course pumping up tires. It amazes me that people cycle with half empty tires and rusty chains. It takes so much extra energy.
I am not sure if it is a sign of the times, or the attention we pay to cycling in our neighbourhood or both, but we do see more and more kids and adults cycling by. We are not on any commuter route or even a short cut, but there is definitely an increased interest in cycling, from the elderly, to the boomers, to the students to the kids. I am seeing all types of people cruising by, even the odd recumbent cyclist. What a joy.
This year I took off the box from the cargo bike (bakfiets). Last year Karen noticed people were struggling with the weight and controlling the bike. It did give us some great photos though. The box weighs 22 pounds, more than some bikes weigh, so I replaced it with two old empty suitcases from my mother-in-law’s basement. That worked much better.
I had to pick up the trike in Hintonburg. Cycling on that vehicle definitely needs a bit of an brain adjustment. Because there are two wheels at the rear, you notice the existence of a crest in a road much more, similar to walking along the curb of an icy street in a way. Ideally you want to cycle in the middle of the road.
Turning a corner feels very counterintuitive; rather than having to hang somewhat into the corner, you have to hang out, like the sailors hanging outside of their yachts when they have strong winds. I was glad most of my ride was on the farm so that I could cycle in the middle of the road. The trike is a great bike for people with for example balance issues. It is a practical bike to use for running errands in the hood, like the library or the grocery as the big basket allows for stuff to bring along.
Don and Mary Martha brought their tandem to try. I have seen tandems my whole life but never tried one. It was easier than I thought, but you definitely need to call out what you are going to do as the captain. I thought it feels a bit like having a tailwind as you move basically one and a half bike with two people. The balancing wasn’t a problem at all, something I had expected to be hard.
Low cost concept
We have learned that a combination of education, bike tune ups, games and bikes people don’t usually have in the garage is a really neat low cost idea to make people familiar with cycling.
I am finishing this post with a 30 second clip of myself taking the trike for a grocery run: