Schools used to teach auto shop. Maybe it’s time to start teaching bike
Recently, as part of a series of lessons about “community helpers,” in
which parents talk about their vocations, my son’s preschool teacher asked
me to come in and tell the kids what I do.
“What do you do, anyway?” she asked, looking me up and down.
“I write about bicycles,” I replied. No doubt relieved that my job was far
less sordid than my slovenly appearance might suggest, she penciled me in
for an appearance between the doctors and librarians and other upstanding
members of society.
On the appointed day, I arrived with my props. Writing is a fairly abstract
concept for three year-olds to grasp, so my presentation was heavy on the
bikes. I had pictures of people racing, commuting, and just plain having
fun on two wheels. I also let everyone take a spin on my son’s balance
bike, and I even showed them how a Brompton works, because kids love things
that make loud noises and can sever a digit.
All in all, it went pretty well. Nobody wound up stuck in the Brompton like
a thief in the stocks, and nobody soiled themselves. As for lessons
learned, I can’t speak for the kids, but for me the balance bike test ride
in particular was nothing short of a revelation.
Very young children have boundless energy and relentless curiosity. While
these qualities may make sitting near them in restaurants or on airplanes a
living hell, when harnessed and directed, it’s a wonder to behold. Such was
the case when the kids in the class finally got the green light to get out
of their seats and hop on the balance bike. As a middle-aged cyclist
psychically scarred from decades of anti-bike acrimony, the guileless
enthusiasm and delight with which each child took to that little bike
filled me with a dopey kind of joy. I felt like that bear pressing the
clean shirt to his face in the fabric-softener commercial.
Of course nothing pure remains untainted forever, and sooner or later that
childlike joy of discovery succumbs to cynicism, apathy, or any number of
the contaminants that are a by-product of age. Reading becomes onerous,
math becomes a source of anxiety. Then there’s the bicycle, which most of
us simply forget.
When I asked the kids, “Who has a bicycle?” everyone raised a hand. Alas, I
can pretty much guarantee it will be a much different story in ten years. A
bike may still be de rigeur for the toddler set, but the relationship is
fraught from the very start. “Not without your helmet!” screams the parent
in the playground as the child attempts to straddle the Lightning McQueen
bike from Toys ‘R Us, so instead the kid walks away from it in favor of the
monkey bars. (For some reason, we’re comfortable with the possibility of
kids falling from a great height without safety gear, but not with them
puttering around helmet-less on a 10-inch bike with training wheels.) Then
the bike goes home in the trunk.
Since there’s no compelling reason to ride beyond recreation (we’ve pretty
much killed the idea of riding to school and to visit friends), and since
we’ve effectively stigmatized that recreation with our safety gear
fixation, by adolescence the only kids still on bikes are the ones who were
born with the burning desire to ride coursing through their veins and who
have a high-risk tolerance. The rest just ride in the Hyundai until they
pass their driving tests.
Fortunately, more and more people are finding their way back to bikes as
grown-ups. Maybe they’re looking for a new form of recreation or maybe a
new bike lane in their city inspires them to try riding to work.
Unfortunately, many of these people have a gaping hole in their riding
experience due to those lost cycling years between early childhood and
adulthood. This is one reason why American cycling can look a bit, well,
silly. After all, if you didn’t come of age riding a bike, how are you
supposed to know what you’re doing?
The result of this experience gap is unsteady riders going against traffic,
or else over-kitted dilettantes with more equipment than sense. Years ago
when I was young and arrogant, my impulse was to mock them, but now I just
want to hug them. “It’s not your fault,” I want to say to them as they rest
their ill-fitting helmets on my shoulder. “Your best cycling years were
taken from you!”
The delight kids feel when presented with a bicycle is near-universal and
knows no gender. What if we fostered that delight by making bikes an
ongoing part of their education? In Washington, D.C., second graders are
learning to ride in school
*“This a lifelong skill,” said Miriam Kenyon, director of health and
physical education for D.C. Public Schools. “It’s a way students can get to
school and it’s also a way they can exercise with their family. It promotes
independence, and it’s a good way to get around.”*
Why not do this everywhere?
Furthermore, the desire to ride is always there, and it’s going to manifest
itself one way or another. For example, all over the country, kids are
participating in “ride outs <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRD47TgfYqA>.”
The media likes to portray them
as the end of civilization as we know it, but an alternate view is that
civilization ended when we surrendered our streets to cars and the next
generation reclaiming them is merely the natural order of things.
Wheelies aside, the bicycle can play a role in nearly every phase of your
life. Casting it aside is like thinking you’ll never use math. Sooner or
later you’re going to regret it.
On *March 27th, 2018* The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ & Green Action Centre
*FROM A TO B: EMPLOYEE WELLNESS & OUR ENVIRONMENT
featuring keynote speaker
*DR. LARRY FRANK*
Author of *Health and Community Design* and *Urban Sprawl and Public
Health,* and Professor and Bombardier Chair in Sustainable Transportation
and Health (University of British Columbia).
for an informative afternoon at the Alt Hotel in Downtown Winnipeg. You'll
hear from various guest speakers and organizations who are working to
create healthier workplaces and communities. Following the keynote,
attendees will attend three break-out sessions for a short presentation
followed by group discussion.
Break-out topics will be: Healthy and Sustainable Workplaces, Workplace
Transportation 101, and Connecting Workplace Health to Our Environment.
*$50 tickets ON SALE NOW
is included in price.*
Contact gohappy(a)greenactioncentre.ca with any questions.
Dr. Frank is a Professor in Sustainable Transportation and Public Health at
the University of British Columbia and President of Urban Design 4 health,
Inc. which builds software tools and documents health impacts of
transportation and land development actions. He specializes in the
interaction between land use, travel behavior, air quality; and health; and
in the energy use, and climate change impacts of urban form policies. He
coined the term “walkability” in the early – mid ’90s; his work led to
WalkScore and has been cited over 24,000 times making him one of the 2 most
cited planning academics. Thompson and Reuters lists him in the top 1%
globally as a highly cited researcher. Dr. Frank has published over 150
peer reviewed articles and reports and co-authored two of the leading books
– *Heath and Community Design* and *Urban Sprawl and Public Health* on
which helped to map out the field emerging at the nexus between built,
natural, and social environments and health. Dr. Frank works directly with
local, regional, provincial or state, and federal agencies and developers
to help translate results from leading edge research into practice based
*Heather Mitchell *
Green Action Centre <http://www.greenactioncentre.ca/> | 3rd floor, 303
(204) 925-3777 ext:107
Green Action Centre is your green living hub.
Support our work by becoming a member
<http://greenactioncentre.ca/support/become-a-member/>. Donate at
*Angle parking in Exchange to be permanent, expanded *
ANGLED parking, once the domain of towns with one street light, is making a
comeback in Winnipeg.
An administrative report to next week’s public works committee meeting
recommends backed-in, angle parking on one side of Bannatyne Avenue in the
Exchange District be made permanent, and that angle parking be expanded to
“The new back-in, angled parking on Bannatyne is a better fit for residents,
businesses, and visitors alike, and we would like to thank the businesses
and residents of the Exchange District for their patience, participation
and feedback as this recent pilot helped us to improve parking in the
area,” Coun. Mike Pagtakhan said.
Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) said the return to angled parking creates more
onstreet parking spaces, which is important as the popularity of the
Exchange District as a shopping, dining and entertainment destination
continues to grow.
City hall has been testing back-in, angled parking on the south side of
Bannatyne Avenue from Rorie Street to Waterfront Drive since July 2017.
Changing the parallel parking stalls to back-in, angled parking, meant 10
additional cars could park in that section of Bannatyne.
To facilitate the change, that stretch of Bannatyne was converted into a
An administrative report to the Feb. 27 meeting states public reaction to
the new/old-style parking has been generally positive, with little effect on
The public works department is recommending Mc Dermot Avenue from
Waterfront Drive to Rorie Street be converted into a one-way eastbound
street with back-in, angled parking this year.
The report states this would add nine parking spaces.
The department is considering expanding the back-in, angled parking to
other Exchange District streets, the report states, to compensate for the
loss of on-street parking that resulted from the construction of protected
bicycle lanes along Mc Dermot and Bannatyne avenues during 2017.
With the construction of protected bike lanes along Mc Dermot and Bannatyne
avenues this summer as part of the West Alexander to East Exchange Corridor
project, and other bike lane projects in the vicinity, the public service
is also looking at adding back-in, angled parking in a number of other
locations throughout the Exchange to offset some loss of parking spots due
to these projects.
Recognizing that climate change is a serious global environmental problem,
the City of Winnipeg is moving forward to formulate a community climate
action plan, an initiative called the Winnipeg Climate Action Plan:
Planning for Climate Change. Acting for People.
In November 2017, stakeholders were invited to provide input into the
development of the Plan. The intent of the initial phase was to create a
climate vision for the City, introduce target-setting, and begin talking
about climate actions. We are now inviting the public to an evening
workshop where we will discuss and provide input on the draft climate
actions that we have developed to date. Your participation will help to
prioritize actions the City and the community partners to help reduce GHG
Please see the official news release below and the attached event postcard
for more detail.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Office of Sustainability
* * * * *
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
*Public invited to help shape Winnipeg's Climate Action Plan*
Winnipeg, MB - The City of Winnipeg is inviting residents to a public
workshop to help provide input on actions being proposed as part of
Winnipeg's Climate Action Plan: Planning for Climate Change. Acting for
People. The purpose of this process is to develop strategies that will lead
to a community-wide climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG)
In November 2017, the City launched the project with a public kick-off
event at The University of Winnipeg. Over 70 residents attended, and
provided ideas and input into Winnipeg's climate vision and targets. A
follow up Facebook Live event aimed to gather more specific input about
climate actions related to buildings, land use, transportation and waste in
"The feedback we have received from the public and our Climate Action
Advisory Committee has been used to draft climate targets and actions. We
have undertaken additional analysis to help prioritize these actions. Now
it's time for the public to tell us if we have got it right," said Lindsay
Mierau, Environmental Coordinator with the City's Office of Sustainability.
Residents are invited to a public engagement session on February 27, 2018
at 6 p.m. which will allow citizens to review and provide feedback about
the draft Action Plan. This will be the final opportunity for residents to
participate in the process before it goes to Council for consideration in
* Public Engagement Session:*
* Date: Tuesday, February 27, 2018
* Time: Doors open at 5:45 p.m.; session runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
* Location: North Centennial Community Centre, 90 Sinclair Street
Please RSVP by February 23, 2018 at climateactionreview.eventbrite.ca<
http://www.climateactionreview.eventbrite.ca> or call 204-986-6978 to
The Plan is funded by a Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green
Municipal Fund grant totalling $94,875. For more information on the
project, please visit winnipeg.ca/climateaction<http://www.winnipeg.ca/
Media inquiries should be directed to the City of Winnipeg Media Inquiry
Line at 204-986-6000 or via email at City-MediaInquiry(a)winnipeg.ca
Follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/cityofwinnipeg
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/cityofwinnipeg
Montreal wants to make full stops optional for cyclists
Other proposed Highway Safety Code updates include stiffer penalties for
You might have heard this before: Montreal wants stiffer penalties for
dooring, and it wants cyclists to be permitted to merely slow down at stop
Those were among the recommendations the city unveiled as part of its brief
to Quebec’s transportation ministry as it goes through the process of
reforming the province’s Highway Safety Code.
Marianne Giguère, who is charged with the active transportation file
(biking, walking, skateboarding) for Mayor Valérie Plante’s administration,
said it is time for the code to reflect the reality that already exists on
the city’s streets.
She said cyclists now rarely make full stops at intersections, and doing so
can be considered dangerous at certain times.
While she said cyclists will still have to yield for pedestrians, she wants
to remove the obligation to stop and she wants the province to allow
cyclists to also turn right on red lights.
“This is already recognized in many cities around the world for drivers,”
Giguère said. “In Montreal, we have chosen not to do this, for good
reasons. But for cyclists, we should also give them the rights that are
more appropriate for their way of getting around, while still making sure
they respect the most vulnerable (which are pedestrians).”
Giguère said the law must be amended to protect the most vulnerable, but it
must also recognize that cars are a much greater risk than bicycles on the
road. Giguère said the city also wants cyclists injured by an opening car
door to be eligible to apply for compensation from the province’s licence
To do that, the law has to be changed to classify dooring incidents as
accidents. Currently, only those injured by moving vehicles are eligible
for compensation from the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec.
The Plante administration detailed other changes it would like to see in
the code to make streets safer, including forcing all trucks in the
province to be equipped with side skirts, which could prevent pedestrians
or cyclists from falling under trucks if they are in a collision, a measure
for which safety advocates have been advocating for many years.
The measures announced Wednesday were similar to those announced by former
mayor Denis Coderre’s administration in September of 2015.
The province has been considering changes to its Highway Safety Code for
nearly four years. Reacting to a rash of cyclists killed or injured in
collisions with cars
July of 2014, then transport minister Robert Poëti put in place a round
table comprised of cycling- and road-safety advocates including former
racer and cycling-safety advocate Louis Garneau. Poëti promised the changes
would be in place by the end of 2015.
Three transport ministers and four years later, the only change to the code
has been to implement a rule that cars must give one metre of room when
passing cyclists, or 1.5 metres when the speed limit is higher than 50
kilometres per hour. The province also increased the maximum fine for
opening a door into a cyclist to $300 from $30.
Late last year, the province introduced Bill 165
which imposes stiffer fines for distracted driving, and also puts in place
more restrictions for new drivers and those with learner’s permits. The
province has called for input about the law, and the city responded with a
brief unveiled Wednesday
Among the other measures requested by the city are:
• to allow children to ride their bikes on sidewalks.
• to increase the fines for cyclists, with stiffer fines reserved for the
most dangerous infractions.
• redefine the types of vehicles that can use bike paths to include other
types of active transportation, like skateboards.
• make it illegal to cycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
• revise the definition of a bicycle to allow front baskets and rear
• revisit the rules to allow the SAAQ to cover collisions involving
For drivers of motorized vehicles, the city is asking the province:
• to review the rules surrounding dynamic signs on the sides of roads to
• to add reading and eating to the list of tasks that are considered to be
• to impose strict fines and clear conditions for people driving under the
influence of marijuana.
• to allow the city to deploy automated technology to manage traffic.
The city also wishes for the province to allow for the adoption of pilot
projects to test automated cars on the streets.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday afternoon, Plante said she’d like to see
the province adopt rules that better reflect the reality of living in
Montreal, and perhaps adopt different rules for both urban and rural
settings. She said doing so will improve the lives of cyclists, pedestrians
“Montreal is a cycling city and we’re recognized around the world for
that,” Plante said. “We are proposing accommodations to facilitate fluidity
and security. We’ll see how that will be seen by Quebec.”
Active transportation path a winter walkway
Even during the winter, it’s a popular way to get across town.
The Fisher Avenue active transportation pathway that was completed last
summer continues to see strong usage even during the dead of winter.
“It’s been a decent winter for us and pretty easy to maintain,” says Brian
Taylor, City of Portage's manager of public works. “We use a skid-steer to
do the clearing. We’ll use a bucket if it’s drifted in but if it’s just a
mist or light dusting we can put a broom attachment on to clear it off.”
Just one employee oversees the care of the walking path, which is cleared
as required, along with the outdoor rinks the city is in charge of. Bikers
and runners alike can be seen taking advantage of the path that runs
parallel to the tracks across much of town.
“I use little grippers under my runners but the path is in such awesome
shape I probably don’t need them, you can even see asphalt in most spots,”
says Glory Waldner, who makes use of the path almost daily. “I’ve actually
been running and had the plow come up behind me to pass, so the city is out
when they’re needed. I’m just so happy they’re keeping it clean for us that
use it as often as we do.”
The Fisher Avenue active transportation pathway is completely paved from
18th Street NW to 6th Street NE and was completed in July 2017.
*Lacklustre snow removal most common concern raised*
* Attention to bike lane lacking, cyclists say *
IT’S been almost four years since the City of Winnipeg installed its first
protected bike lane on Sherbrook Street, yet drivers continue to park in
its midst, blocking theway for cyclists.
Regular snow clearing of the lane has also been lacklustre, according to
cyclists, even though the adjacent street is designated Priority 1 on the
Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) says she noticed four cars
parked in the Sherbrook bike lane just this week.
“There’s no clear barrier, like a cement barricade, to make sure that cars
don’t park in the lane,” Gerbasi said Wednesday.
“It’s harder to see in the winter visually, especially if the snow isn’t
plowed very well.”
The councillor said city staff saw her tweet about the incident Monday and
are now looking into the matter. She suggested the city might consider
installing a barrier to alert drivers they shouldn’t park directly next to
Signage in the area is fairly clear. A graphic image of a car designates
drivers can park for free for two hours between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday
to Saturday; a cyclist logo next to the car image indicates there’s a black
diamond lane for bikes on the right.
At least one driver was parked in the bike lane Wednesday morning, causing
cyclist Grace Mac Ewan to swerve closer to traffic.
Mac Ewan said she bikes the stretch daily and although vehicles are
sometimes obstacles, the snowclearing — or lack thereof — is worse.
The vehicle she avoided belonged to Lewis Rackham, a retired resident of
Whyte Ridge who told the Free Press he parked there for a 10-minute errand
because he didn’t know any better.
“I didn’t see anything — oh, shoot,” he said, noticing one of the signs. “I
was thinking, ‘Well, there’s nobody here.’” Mark Cohoe, director of
advocacy group Bike Winnipeg, said most cyclists’ issue with the Sherbrook
Street protected lane isn’t dodging parked cars, though delivery vans and
taxis are usually the guilty culprits parking there from what he’s seen and
Poor and irregular snow clearing of the bike lane is more controversial, he
“Ninety-five per cent of the time, I don’t have a problem with vehicles in
there,” Cohoe said. “The snow clearing has definitely been an issue, moreso
on the Maryland (Street bike lane) side than the Sherbrook side.”
Driving by the aforementioned spots Tuesday and Wednesday, Cohoe’s
assertion rang true. The Sherbrook bike lane was slushy in spots and
Maryland’s lane was snow-covered and hard to spot at all.
Cheryl Anderson, the city’s acting director of street maintenance, said the
bike lanes were scheduled to be plowed Wednesday afternoon.
Anderson called the snow-clearing process for active transportation trails
“a bit confusing, because if the active transportation is right on the
roadway, it would be (plowed) similar to a roadway.”
But if the trail is removed from the road, such as a sidewalk or the
Sherbrook protected lane is, it could take longer to plow since it would
require different (namely smaller) equipment.
If the city wants to encourage active transportation, including all-season
cycling, Cohoe said clearing bike lanes and pathways needs to be a top
priority. Otherwise, the mushy or slippery lanes can become a safety hazard.
“It causes problems, obviously, to not have (the Sherbrook and Maryland
bike lanes) available in winter. There’s a lot of use with people going to
Health Sciences Centre and the University of Winnipeg, who do try to make
use of that. It’s a pretty important connection,” he said.
Gerbasi said driver awareness of bike lanes such as on Sherbrook Street “is
kind of a cultural change that needs to happen.”
“I think it is happening, but it’s happening a little bit slowly in some
cases,” she said. “But the more we put in this kind of infrastructure,
themore it will become the norm and people will get used to it.”