Magnificent Magnolia Ride, Saturday May 6, 1pm

Come join The Guelph Hiking Club on Saturday May 6 for a free, casual bike ride to kick off Spring and enjoy the Magnificent Magnolia trees in blossom. Starting at 1pm, we will ride about 12km and visit several Magnolia trees and other spring blossoms in and around Downtown Guelph.  We will be riding mainly on quiet residential streets and trails. Make sure you pack your camera and get some beautiful shots!

This year, an artist will make a cameo appearance, painting under a magnolia tree. We will also have a poetry reading or two while enjoying some lemonade.

For added fun, we’re having a costume contest to brighten the day.  There will be prizes for: The Best Dressed Cyclist, The Most Outlandish Ensemble, and The Best Spring Bonnet, so get your best outfit ready!

The trip will begin at Speed River Bicycle at 135 Wyndham St. N. at 1pm and end at Arthur Street N., for a free garden party where refreshments will be served. Spaces are limited, so please RSVP at

Helmets are encouraged.

Prizes and refreshments courtesy of Speed River Bicycle, Wike, Goldie Sherman Pottery and Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation.

For more information, please contact,, or

Volunteers needed to conduct cycling surveys in Guelph

Help make Guelph a better place for cyclists!

Volunteers are needed to help with a cycling research collaboration between the Traffic Research Industry Foundation,, the City of Guelph and Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation.

From April 22-May 5, surveys will be conducted at 5 locations around Guelph. The team is looking for volunteers to administer a brief survey to people riding bicycles through the 5 locations around Guelph.

Volunteers are required to attend a brief half hour training session at City Hall the week of April 10 to facilitate proper administration of the surveys.

If you would like to help gather data, please RSVP by    April 6 to The training date will be set via doodle poll for all interested volunteers.

For more information on this survey, contact


Building Emotional Resilience Through Outdoor Exercise

Sunday March 26th 2017 at 7pm – 8:30pm
Red Papaya Bar and Grill – 55 Wyndham St N, Guelph, ON

Hosted by The Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation and Kelly Legge from Speed River Bicycle

Be inspired! As part of Transition Guelph and the Resilience festival, learn how exercising outdoors helps make you more resilient to daily emotional pressures. Share your own experience in how biking, running, hiking, walking, skiing, etc in the fresh air has elevated your mood.

Kelly Legge, from Speed River Bicycle along with Yvette Tendick from Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation will give brief examples of how outdoor exercise (biking, walking, running, etc) has improved their mood and their lives in general. Both women wish to encourage others to take advantage of infrastructure in the community to get out there, be active, and feel better about themselves. Community members who have already seen the benefits of healthy outdoor exercise in improving their quality of life are welcome to share their experiences.

Food and drink are available for purchase at Red Papaya.

Scott Butler of Ontario Good Roads wants Guelph to be More Friendly to Cyclists

Scott Butler, Ontario Good Roads Association, is working toward making streets better for all road users

scott butlerI ran into Scott Butler, Head of Public Policy of Government relations for Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA.) He manages of policy and research, which involves advocating for capital investment, fiscal reform and public policy that advances municipal infrastructure. I thought Scott had a unique perspective of what it is like to cycle in Guelph, and was interested in his thoughts on how to improve infrastructure for those who are interested in alternative forms of transportation.

I case you are curious, OGRA came about in the 1870 as  a social justice union of farmers and cyclists. Farmers had access to surplus harvest. They couldn’t get it to market and were looking for roads to be improved. Cyclists needed roads as well; they were advocating for hard surfaces.  These two groups were instrumental in getting the Ontario Good Roads Association  founded in 1894.

Today 432 out of 444 Ontario municipalities are members.

Why is riding a bike important to you?

On the most basic level it’s enjoyable. There is something carefree about it compared to others forms of transportation. It can be quick and leisurely at the same time. I grew up where there was no public transportation, no taxis, so biking was a form of freedom for me.

More broadly, however,  there is a social responsibility aspect. The most socially progressive cities are those that most warmly embrace and use active transportation. Show me the things that a community doesn’t make money on, such as libraries, parks and bike paths, and I’ll show how successful that city is.  How you choose to get around in the city and how the city accommodates different forms of transportation is a barometer of your city’s quality of life.

Where do you go on the bike?

Downtown. I also tend to lead a blossoming caudry of neighbourhood kids that are becoming bicycling vigilantees that ride in the bike lane and on city streets.

As a family, we bike downtown and to the farmers market. As long as it’s mildly temperate, we cycle wherever we go. It takes about as long as driving when going downtown, when taking parking into account.

When do you use the car?

To and from work and when shepherding kids to and from their activities.

What is the hardest thing about using the bike for transportation?

It’s the entitled jackasses in cars and on bikes. It’s that lack of mutual respect. Canadians are able to accommodate everything else but for a lot us when we are suddenly put in car or on a bike, it is like our brains are magically transported back to the tribalism of 19th century Europe.

Furthermore, there is a cultural norm that the typical cyclist is a “MAMIL” (middle aged men in lycra). That stereotype is predicated on gender. The idea that cyclists are male is a real problem. The idea that cyclists ride a $5000 bike, decked out in racing gear as if getting ready for next tile trial at the Tour de France is problematic, especially since most people are just looking to get to work or meeting friends for a beer.

This kind of image is a deterrent for getting more people on bikes. If we want to get more bums in saddles – and that should be a goal of our local governments – we have to make sure that the norm is going from A to B, doing ordinary activities like going shopping, while wearing regular clothes, and not needing a racing bike.

What do you say when people say that driving is safer than biking?

If you look at it from an actuarial point of view it is not more dangerous or safer than other forms of transportation. On its own cycling is about as safe as walking. A study from out of Denmark found that a typical Dane would have to bike for 2800 years before suffering a head injury.

Do you find yourself trying to convert non-cyclists or recreational cyclists to everyday cycling?

Yes. as a form of public policy.

When I started at OGRA, we scanned what sort of legislation we were going to get involved with. The first time there was a private member’s bill (to encourage building cycling infrastructure) seven years ago, I thought that we should comment on it and say that we will pursue it. The board of directors was surprised that I brought it forward. I kept giving reasons that it was a good idea. Seven years later, the board of directors now have that ex-smoker mindset, where they are the most ardent champions of what they once opposed.

The communities that would have been resistant years ago are now the ones that put the capital into trail networks, etc., and have recognized a benefit. Now the other communities are getting on board.

When we get to a point where someone becomes dogmatic about the need to maintain the status quo, we remind them streets are made to move people for one place to another, not one modality over the other.

Rob Ford made it into a left/right issue at the same time that Boris Johnson, right wing mayor of London, was putting in miles of bike lanes. Luckily the new mayor, Sadiq Khan is also investing in billions worth of cycling infrastructure.

It’s just a cultural shift. Look at Calgary and Edmonton. They have councils from the 21st century and effective leaders. They are doing what they should be doing for their constituents. You don’t think of them as being socially conscious but they are. They are aiming generational investments in public facilities (libraries, active transportation infrastructure) and making massive investments in transit.

Here in Guelph, it is just rhetoric.

What needs to happen in Canada to make the culture, and eventually the roads, more bike friendly?

Money. Lots of it.

You also need more people in roles of leadership in the bureaucratic as well as elected pushing to make investments widespread.

What is the best part of your commute?

Old University area as well as the University campus, including walkways and plazas. It’s enjoyable to ride there because there are no cars there.

What infrastructure change would make your commute better?

Better infrastructure at intersections can help. Putting in properly redesigned roadways, usually called Complete Streets.

Streets are designed to take into account vehicular traffic, active transportation, pedestrians, mother nature. Currently, we get 2 or 2 ½ of these requirements, but not all 4. If you have a row of trees it delineates where everyone belongs.

Take Gordon Street in the south end, for example. Narrow the lanes. The narrower the lane  the slower the people drive, and the safer it is. Move both of those lanes to one side of the street and segregate them. And can we do it so that it is not ugly?

Name the top 5 five things you think people get out of everyday cycling?

  • Physical fitness. We all know that we are supposed to be active during the day.
  • Convenience.  It’s easy to hop on and off a bike, not having to worry about parking.
  • Fun. Its evocative of being young and free.
  • The more people are out of cars the greater impact on Co2 emissions, as well as durability on lifestyle performance on the road. The bike has no wear and tear on roads so it is important to make those investments. They pay for themselves over time.
  • Congestion has become a real problem in our cities and bicycles can help reduce it.

What do you think you and your kids get out of riding as a family?

The much needed physical activity. Also, it helps instill a bit of independence that they can get around on their own.

How did you come to your current bike set-up? How does it work?

I ride an Evo Men’s High Life Crusier. It is black with 32 inch allow wheel. It is absolutely massive and looks like something you would see in Amsterdam. I got it new at Backpeddling. In fact, I bought the second one ever sold in Canada.

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What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?

Keep doing it! Keep alert. I would tell them to organize the way CAA is organized. We need a strong cohesive voice to move that forward. We should be far enough in civilization in the 21st century to take all modalities into account.


Come to GCAT’s first AGM and After Party!

agm 2Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation invites the public to celebrate GCAT’s incorporation at it first Annual General Meeting and After Party on Feb.16!

You will hear about the accomplishments and goals of GCAT to make Guelph one of the best places in Ontario for cycling and walking. Our guest speaker will be Jennifer Juste, Program Manager of Transportation Demand Management from the City of Guelph. She will address “The Present and Future of Cycling in Guelph.”

Location: Red Papaya Thai Grill, Quebec Street Mall

Time: 7-8pm for AGM*, and 8-10 for after party!

Come to one or both!


Free apps and great door prizes! Thank you Guelph Solar (see below) and other sponsors!

We are actively taking memberships online, at the Farmer’s Market on Feb. 11, as well as at the AGM. Membership costs are $10 for adults, $5 for students, and $15 for family.  Please see for more details. *Only GCAT members can vote for the board members at the AGM

Please let us know if you are interested in coming by sending an e-mail to


Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 7.20.02 AMDoor prize from Guelph Solar!

Guelph’s “Bread Bandit” runs a successful business by bike!

IMG_20161228_150153Ryan Ritskes, the Bread Bandit

I first heard about Ryan from an article in Guelph Today, about a man who delivers artisan bread by bike. Naturally, I thought it was a great combo and promptly signed up our household for a weekly bread drop in our mailbox. I have not been disappointed (the bread is definitely yummy,) and neither have his other customers, as his business is booming. And he delivers all 140 loaves to households and businesses by bike! (To inquire about getting your own loaves, you can contact him at

I thought Ryan would be a resident expert about cycling in Guelph, since he regularly cycles in Guelph for business, transportation, and pleasure. Here are Ryan’s thoughts on cycling in Guelph.

Hi Ryan, how is it that you can deliver 140 loaves of bread by bike?

The way that Guelph is built certainly helps. I have my bakery downtown, and all of my customers are within a 10-15 minute radius of downtown. So I can get to my customers really fast.

Do you bike in the winter as well?

Yes. Since I’m originally from Victoria, BC, I am used to biking year round, especially in the rain! When I moved to Guelph six years ago, I just continued cycling in the winter. This year, however, I did buy some studded tires, especially after our first bout with freezing rain.

Why is riding a bike important to you?

On a personal level it keeps me active and healthy. On a social level I think cars ruin our culture. You don’t get to interact with people .You value getting from A to B over relationships and your immediate environment. It’s all about speed.

Where do you go on the bike?

Everywhere. I use it for errands or getting to friends places, even going to Kitchener, or for a pleasure ride.

When do you use the car? What are the factors involved in deciding which to use?

I use the car for longer trips. Something that would take longer than an hour on a bike. I also use it when I pick up 500 pounds of flour. Otherwise, I use the car when I’m feeling lazy.

What is the hardest thing about using the bike for transportation?

It’s the getting started. Sometimes the anticipation of working hard when I’m tired makes me reluctant to get on the bike. But once I’m on it I love it.

Do you find yourself trying to convert other people to using bikes as a means of transportation?

I hope I can influence others by example. I hope that I set the example that you can have a business based around the bicycle. If my friends are going somewhere I suggest the bike, but I’m not the preachy type.

How did you come to your current bike set-up? How does it work?

I actually have 7 bikes. I have one for every purpose and every season. My “Bread Bandit” bike is a road bike with a straight bar and a steel frame with a trailer attached. I got that bike for 80 dollars. Of my other bikes, I raced in university but I don’t ride them much now. I prefer my “Bread Bandit” bike.


How would you respond to people who feel a car is just safer?

On a personal level I would say that the car is safer than a bicycle. However, if everyone biked, then riding bikes around the city would be safer.

I’ve had the misfortune of being hit by a car 5 years ago. I was t-boned by a car turning left at the intersection of Woolwich and Oxford by the main library, while I was in the bike lane and got seriously injured. When you are on the bike you have no protection. I have since recovered but it is always in the back of my mind.

What needs to happen in Canada to make the culture, and eventually the roads, more bike friendly?

I was in Ottawa last month and noticed that they did something simple on Wellington street. Instead of bike lanes they painted bicycles in the middle of the road. Bicycles don’t need to be pushed aside. In Ottawa, the bicycle symbols are on a two lane road with low speeds where cars can’t get around you.

In Montreal, last winter, I saw that they have separated bike lanes. I’m not a huge fan of Guelph’s bike lanes (partly because I got hit in one.) Cars don’t expect me to be out of the bike lane. In Vancouver they have parallel streets that are bike friendly, and those streets are great. Imagine living on one of those streets; it would be a great place to raise children.

Name the top 5 five things you think people get out of transportation cycling.

  • Regular exercise
  • Interactions with people (All the time, people say kind words to me when I’m on my bike. Often they are curious about what I’m carrying!)
  • Stronger sense of place in the community
  • Get to enjoy the weather, be excited by it.
  • Inspire people. I find that little kids are fascinated by people who come regularly to their door. Kids are super fascinated by me, since I come on the bike. I hope I can inspire them, that it’s not about the bread, it’s about the bicycle.

Describe a typical delivery route.
I do a neighbourhood at a time. I do 50 houses. Most places are within a block or 2 of each other. It takes me about 1-2 hours. I deliver 3 days a week. It’s a full time 40-50 hour a week job, of which delivery would be about 5 hours. It takes longer by car. (I tried last winter, and I had to find a parking spot, so I was doing a lot of walking.)

What is the best part of your commute?

The best part is taking little tricks to get to certain spots. From The Guelph Music Centre across the Norfolk bridge, or skirting up a one way street quickly.

I also love it when the sun is shining!

What is the worst part of your commute?

Busy roads with lots of cars, such as Edinburgh, sometimes Woolwich and Norfolk, and Speedvale. Speedvale and Edinburgh are the worst.

What infrastructure change would make your commute better?

Whether separated bike lanes or sharrows, either would be good. And if car drivers weren’t as impatient.

I feel lucky with my trailer, I take up more space than when on a regular bike so people respect me more.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?

I usually tell people to not be scared of your right to the road. Make yourself visible.

Tweed and Bikes were a Perfect Combo!

Guelph’s first ever Tweed Ride, held Oct.1, was a great success! Despite the threat of rain, 30 very dapper and mostly tweed clad individuals came out to cycle, enjoy the fall colours, and enjoy a drink and conversation at the brewery.


The event was organized by the Guelph Hiking Club, Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation, and Ned Coates, a Guelph citizen who is passionate about trees, tweed, and cycling.

We started off at the Arboretum, and despite the threat of rain, the participants kept on joining in. We even had a couple of families from Kitchener, one with their Dutch cargo bike.


Along the way, we had a tour at the University of Guelph’s Bike Centre, where anyone can go and repair their bike along with the volunteers on hand.  We had some yummy apple cider and treats and then kept moving.

We felt, for a while, while going down Gordon Street and some side streets, that we were “King of the Road,” for a change.

img_20161001_144946img_20161001_142309img_20161001_145207We ended the tour at Royal City Brew Co. where there was plenty of time for a brewery tour and conversation.  Here we handed out prizes, to the best dressed male and female, as well as best Vintage Bike.

Thanks to Royal City Brew Co., Speed River Bicycle, Speed River Paddling, and Wike for your generous prizes.

Can’t wait for next year!

Join us on Guelph’s first Tweed Bike Ride, Saturday, October 1!

The Guelph Hiking Trail Club wants you to be part of a worldwide phenomenom! Get your finest Tweed outfit dusted off for Guelph’s first ever Tweed Ride, taking place on Saturday Oct. 1, 1-3pm.  Come dressed in your tweeds or old-timey clothes! We’ll take a leisurely 7km bike ride through some of the city’s finest locations and trails. Admission is free!
      Tweed Rides are a worldwide sensation that started in London in the fall of 2009. The organizers thought that it would be fun to have a slower paced “cosmopolitan ride with a bit of style.” So they dressed in tweeds and rode their bikes through London streets.  Now Tweed Rides exist from Tokyo to Finland!
      For our ride, we’ll meet at the Arboretum and bike toward the University of Guelph Campus, enjoying the beautiful fall colours.  We’ll stop at the University Bike Centre for refreshments, then ride through University Village on the way to the beautiful Royal River Trail. We’ll finish the ride at the Royal City Brewing Company, where we’ll celebrate the “spirit of a bygone era”, where cycling was more than just for sport.
      Participants will have the opportunity to win prizes, such as those for the best dressed male and female as well as the coolest bike.  While all bicycles are acceptable, vintage bicycles are encouraged. Sponsors included Speed River Bicycle, Speed River Paddling, Wike, Royal City Brewing Co. and Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation.
      Please meet at the Arboretum Centre, College Avenue East, at 12:45pm for registration and to sign a waiver.  Ample bike and vehicle parking is available across from the Arboretum Information Centre.
      For more information, please contact or



Getting kids healthy through Active Transportation

By Hilary Caldwell

Getting your 60 minutes a day: using active transportation to help kids meet physical activity guidelines.

Canadian kids earned a D- in physical activity in the most recent Report Card on the Physical Activity of Children, published by ParticipACTION. The results from the past 10 report cards have been equally impressive, ranging from D to F. Whatever reason used to justify these low numbers, it’s obvious that change is needed. We have to look to our families, schools, and communities for ideas on ways to enable and support kids to be be more active. When physical activity becomes the norm- the easy, accessible choice- participation will increase.

Active transportation is a great way to help increase kids’ daily physical activity. Active transportation is a key behaviour that contributes to a child’s daily physical activity (in addition to decreasing sedentary/screen time, increasing active play and increasing organized sport and physical activity participation). By walking, biking, or wheeling to school and other locations in their communities, kids will engage in more physical activity every day. Recent research showed that only a quarter of Canadian schoolchildren reported using active modes of transportation to travel to and from school. From 2000 to 2010, the percentage of kids using active modes decreased and the percentage using inactive modes increased.

Benefits of active transportation:

* Kids who use active transportation to travel to school are more active throughout the entire day than kids who are driven to and from school, adding as much as 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity to a child’s day.

o The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for school-age kids recommends kids take part in 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day, and active transportation can easily help kids meet this guideline.

* Published studies show that says kids who bike to school have better fitness levels than kids who are driven to and from school.

* 40% of 9-to-12 year olds in Toronto would prefer to bike to school, but only 2-3% of these kids actually do it.

* Reduces green house gas emission and pollutants.

* More cost-effective than driving.

There are often concerns about safety when kids engage in active transportation which are most often related to the built environment (including sidewalks, traffic lights, etc.). There is also a risk of increased bullying during active transportation because it is usually an unsupervised time for older kids.

Strategies to increase active transportation:

* Lead by example- if kids see adults engaging in safe, regular active transportation, they’re more likely to want to try it too.

* Stay comfortable by wearing proper shoes, a comfortable backpack and appropriate clothing for the weather.

* Pledge to use active transportation for short trips- leave the cars, strollers and

wagons at home.

* Promote schools and business to install bike racks.

* Add traffic calming measures near schools and other places kids go, such as: speed bumps, narrower intersections, lower speed limits, increased signage and adding more crossing guards.

* Initiate bullying prevention strategies at home and at school, such as having kids walk in groups, or supervised by older siblings, students or parents. It is also important to remind students to report bullying to teachers and parents.

* Organize a walking school bus. For rural areas where active transportation isn’t feasible, the bus could stop a few blocks from school and the kids could walk the rest of the way together. The walking school bus could be as casual as meeting at a corner to walk together, or more organized with a schedule and multiple stops.

With a bit of extra preparation and effort, engaging in more active transportation is a great way to help kids meet the recommended 60 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Meeting physical activity guidelines is related to many health benefits, and more physical activity provides even more health benefits. Parents, schools, communities and municipalities all play a role to help kids increase active transportation, and together can move to make active transportation the easy, safe choice in our communities.


Cozma I, Kukaswadia A, Janssen I, Craig W & Pickett W. (2015) Active transportation and bullying in Canadian schoolchildren: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 15(99): 1-7.

Janssen I & LeBlanc AG. (2010). Systematic review of he health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and youth. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, 7(40):1-16.

LaRouche R, Stone M, Builung RN & Faulker G. “I’d rather bike to school!”: Profiling children who would prefer to cycle to school. Journal of Transport and School, In Press.

ParticipACTION. Are Canadian kids too tired to move?The 2016 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Toronto: ParticipACTION; 2016.

ParticipACTION. The Biggest Risk is Keeping Kids Indoors. The 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Toronto: ParticipACTION; 2015.

Hilary Caldwell holds a Master of Science in Kinesiology and conducts research in this area related to physical  activity, fitness and physical literacy in preschool and school-age children.

Bike lanes improve quality of life for everyone

This letter also appeared in the print copy of the  Guelph Mercury Tribune in praise of bicycle infrastructure. However, it was not posted online, so here it is!

In response to Lane Sutherland’s letter to the editor entitled “Why all the disruption for the minority” (Guelph Tribune – August 18) I say, Mr. Sutherland, why all the disruption for anything? To improve the quality of life in our community for everyone, that’s why. The city does not exist to provide free parking spaces for privately owned homes. A bike lane on the other hand, provides a safe route for anyone who wishes to use a bicycle (which we are all entitled to), where previously there may not have been one. The benefits of cycling are numerous, including improved mental and physical health, greater affordability, and less environmental damage. You seem to imply that parking spaces for your personal visitors is more important. I politely but firmly disagree.

Cities around North America are quickly adapting their transportation policies to allow for increased access to non-motorized transportation options. Road diets in particular have been proven to improve safety and reduce delay for all road-users while yielding more space for active transportation options.

Mr. Sutherland, in your letter you said of Guelph’s councillors, “they seem to be in a world of their own.” I applaud Guelph’s councillors and staff for moving Guelph forward and making it a better, more equitable place to live. I hope one day you’ll do the same.

 Jordan Richard