Saanich families met up for a big family-friendly bike ride from Tillicum School to Wharf Street on Saturday morning.
The cyclists rode in a pack of bike-enthusiasts both big and small and met up with other cyclists who’d congregated outside the Janion Building to celebrate the new bike lanes on Wharf Street. The cool temperature was no match for the group of more than 20. They set out at 9:30 a.m. and despite a few stops along the way, arrived downtown by 11 a.m.
Elise Cote organized the ride as a means to celebrate her new bike rig setup which now includes a mounted seat for her kids and a trailer at the back. She also wanted to give others the chance to check out the various types of bikes that cyclists in Greater Victoria are using.
While mapping the route, Cote allotted time at the Cecilia Ravine Park for people to give each other tips, ask questions and test drive each other’s bikes while their children played. She called it a “bike petting zoo.”
Trying out bikes before you buy is helpful because many of them – especially the cargo bikes that seat several people – are very expensive and need to be ordered in from other parts of the world, she explained. Many of the top of the line cargo bikes are made in Europe and are imported in small numbers, she said gesturing to a $16,000 Bakfiets bike that one participant rode. Cote refers to the Bakfiets as the “Mercedes of bikes.”
Cote’s friend Charity Millar just orders a Bakfiets for her car-free family. Her husband was hit by a car while riding and they decided to invest the insurance money in a better bike for the family. Millar noted that not everyone can afford the high-end cargo bikes and that there’s currently no financing options, despite the prices being similar to the cost of a car.
The cyclists also like to share their routes and experiences on specific streets and paths to help keep each other safe. While the bike infrastructure in Saanich is growing, Cote and the other cyclists are still hoping for a network of protected lanes – like in downtown Victoria – rather than separate sections. She feels the more risk adverse people would be more apt to hop on a bike if it was safer.
North Park Bikes had also donated a free tune up in honour of the ride, so the winner of the wackiest rig contest earned the prize.
Corey Burger, President of Bike To Work Victoria and chair of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, noted that local cyclists come together for a number of family-friendly rides throughout the year. The next one, the Christmas lights ride, will take place on Dec. 14 after dark so that the lights can be seen in their full glory.