Riding around downtown Victoria, it's hard not to notice Shane Devereaux and his bicycle.
Devereaux has two Dutch bikes that he brought back from Amsterdam roughly eight years ago that he rides around the city, the first of which is a classic Dutch bike made for casual city riding.
Its high seat and handle bars force the rider to sit upright with a straight back.
The second is a classic 1945 black omafiets grandma bike equipped with a lightweight steel frame, large wheels, a sturdy chain case and a sturdy rear rack with elastic straps that you can hold “a case of beer or your girlfriend,” laughed Devereaux.
“The style of bike is very much unique. No one else had that bike at the time,” said Devereaux, the owner of Habit Coffee and Oakland resident. “It's a piece of history. It's a simple bike but it's got some style and character, and it's a hell of a bike to ride.”
Devereaux, a Saskatoon-native, has been riding since he was five years old. After completing high school in Cowichan, he slowly stopped riding his bike.
It wasn't until he moved back to Victoria in 2003 after a stint in Europe that he came to realize how important riding a bike can be physically and mentally.
“Peter Zambri talked about the stress of your day and what a bike allowed you to do was to have that 10-15 minutes of peace. You ride your bike home, clear your thoughts, see the environment and see the world,” he said. “Peter's comments always stuck with me . . . that was the catalyst for me getting back on the bike.”
Now, Devereaux rides his bike every day to and from work and everywhere in between.
He is part of a generation that is learning ride bikes rather than drive cars.
Edward Pullman, president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, said younger generations are more aware of the environmental impacts of owning a car.
“I think my generation are concerned about climate change, global warming and those broader societal questions related to automobile usage. Things like congestion, air pollution, noise,” said Pullman. “Everyone really benefits when individuals make that choice to ride their bikes, whether it's to the store, the school, work, the rec centre.”
Devereaux and Pullman are also encouraging people to participating in Bike to Work Week which kicks off Monday.
Theresa Gulliver, executive director of the Greater Victoria Bike to Work Society, said there are 550 teams registered so far, 18 celebration stations, a 50/50 raffle an online auction and $30,000 in prizes.
In conjunction with Bike to Work Week, the City of Victoria is hosting an on-street open house on the future of the proposed protected bike lanes along Pandora Avenue and Johnson Street on Tuesday, May 26 at City Hall.
The city has dedicated $7.75 million over the next five years for the installation of more bike lanes for cyclists of all ages and abilities.
To register for Bike to Work Week, visit Biketowork.ca/victoria.