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


“Bike lanes are essential” Letter response to anti-bike lane article in Guelph Tribune


Image result for college avenue bike lanes guelphNot sure if everyone got to see this letter. It was posted in the Guelph MercuryTribune, August 22, 2016, but not re-posted on the internet. Since it was written by Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation, not why post it here?

      This letter is in response to “Why all the disruption for the minority?”,  August 18, 2016. Thank you very much for opening a discussion on bike lanes.
      Cities around the world, including Canada and the U.S., have recently been focussing on  healthy transportation infrastructure in order to increase the physical, financial and overall wellbeing of its citizens. Locally, cities increasing their cycling networks include Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, London, Georgetown, Toronto, as well as many others.
      In the letter, College Avenue West was described as a road that lost parking due to bike lanes.  Most sections of arterial roads such as College Avenue, as well as Gordon, Edinburgh, Speedvale, Woodlawn etc. have never had parking because they are meant to deliver traffic from collector roads to highways or expressways. Bike lanes have not impeded any parking on College Avenue West, at least between Gordon and the Hanlon, because there was never any there in the first place.
     Furthermore, College Avenue West is a great location for bike lanes.  With two high schools on one  end, and the University at the other, what better place to invite people to cycle than in an area with those least likely to own cars?. Hopefully in the future, separated or protected bike lanes will be included in key locations around the city to make cycling even safer.
     The letter also stated that “road diets” are not good for the neighbourhood. However, studies show that road diets actually reduce all types of crashes, including those for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists, so they are safer for neighbourhoods than four lane roads. Moreover, they do not impede traffic flow unless daily traffic volumes exceed 20,000 vehicles per day. College Avenue West does not even come close to this threshold.
      Cities that offer comprehensive cycling networks for their citizens do get more people on bikes for daily activities such as commuting to work or running errands. More people cycle in Guelph than before the cycling program was put in place, and is expected to continue to grow as the network gets completed. We need to encourage this economical, healthy, non-polluting transportation option.  Better education and enforcement for cyclists and motorists, as well as cooperation and goodwill between all road users can go a long way in making everyone comfortable with this newer addition to city streets.
Yvette Tendick
Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation


Myra loves her cargo bike and being car free!


I ran into Myra and her family on the Royal River Trail. You don’t often see someone riding a cargo bike with baby on board in Guelph.  I had to learn more, so I stopped her and asked her if I could interview her. She graciously accepted 🙂

How did you come into biking as a means of transportation?

As a kid I started off like anyone but I continued to ride a bike in high school. My bus route was long since I lived on a farm in Marden. It was quicker for me to bike to school than to take the bus. That continued into university because I still didn’t have a car.

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

I ride a Bakfiet.NL long – a two wheeled family cargo bike from the Netherlands.

We had a car when my partner Scott and I went on a trip to Barcelona. Scott spent 10 years of his life in Spain, and during his last 7 years there, he was a bike messenger. While we were there on vacation, he showed me his stomping grounds and we explored Barcelona by bike. They have a bike share there and ever-growing cycling infrastructure. It was a wonderful trip.
I returned to Canada before him. When I got back to the Park ‘n’ Fly, the car wouldn’t start. I jumped the battery and off I went. Meanwhile, the trip struck with me over the next couple of months.  I had a hard time seeing the car sitting in the driveway, draining our bank account and rarely being used (Scott doesn’t have his driving license). Then we got a huge cold snap in January 2014, and it froze the battery. I walked down the road,  got on the bus,and decided, I don’t want to scrape the windshield anymore or maintain the car. So we sold it February 1.

When I became pregnant with Lucy we decided we needed some other way to get around other than walking or the bus.  There is no way (that I know of) to transport a newborn except in a cargo bike. A cargo bike also holds up to 175 pounds and has a toddler seat and it will grow with her. There is an attachment for a car seat now. It was a large purchase so we held off and bought it in April. Lucy rode it for the first time at 4 months.

I was intimidated at first by the size of it; it is 8 feet long. I was concerned that  people would stare.

However, when the weather turned nice and I took it out, I got used to people staring at us.  Anyone who sees it loves it and asks questions. It’s great. I don’t have too many limitations; I can pretty much go anywhere that I need to. It can be difficult to go up hills, but it has 8 gears.  It just takes longer.  I can’t imagine our lives without it now.

IMG_20160726_151256How has cycling improved your life?

By not having a car, I feel more relaxed. I like that it takes longer to do things.  I don’t have a big metal box around me that keeps me from relating to my community. Financially it helps enormously and allows us spend our money differently. Also, having a bike and not having a car allows me to feel like I have fewer obligations. When having a car, you are expected to be everywhere and there are no boundaries. We don’t go out needlessly; we batch our trips. Location is also key, and we were drawn to the ward to be able to live car free.

Where do you go on the bike?

Pretty much everywhere but I would say the radius is around downtown.  With the cargo bike I don’t really go south of the Boathouse or west of Edinburgh or east of Watson. We try to follow the river trails when we can because they’re flatter, provide more shade, and are more scenic. When I don’t have my daughter, I go further afield.

When do you use the car?

We go to Costco with my mother in law once a month so that we can stock up on bulky items.  We might rent a car for a vacation. We also travel with family members and friends, if say, we have a wedding or event out of town. But 90% or our trips are by bike and bus.

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


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

Driving is definitely more dangerous, especially when you factor in the detrimental effects caused by emissions. I believe that the benefits of cycling outweigh any risks.

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

Separated bike lanes would be very nice.  Education and more cyclists on the road would help too. We all pay taxes and the road work is primarily geared toward the car.

Name the top four things you think people get out of utilitarian cycling?

Good health, enjoying and engaging with surroundings, saving money,  getting to where you are going faster sometimes, and with more pleasure.

I also have a blog that I hope will encourage people to look at transportation alternatives.

Describe your commute.

I use a cyclocross bike to go to work. I’ll take the Royal River Trail or York Road (now that it will have bike lanes), go up Morris to Elizabeth to Arthur N and go through Goldie Mill and follow the TransCanada trail, to Dufferin and then to Woolwich to the Cemetery.

What is the best part of your commute?

The trail, by far.

What is the worst part of your commute?

Crossing Eramosa at Arthur Street.

What infrastructure change would make your commute better?

Lights at Eramosa and Arthur (a pedestrian crossing). Alternatively, one where the trail crosses Eramosa, at the railway tracks.

IMG_20160802_180714What do you think Lucy  gets out of riding as a family?

I think that it gives Lucy a sense of exhilaration because we often take the long way and enjoy the sights and stops along the way. Every trip is an adventure.

What is challenging about riding with kids?

Having to go slower.

Tell a story about a special moment related to riding with Lucy.

I find the best part so far is seeing her smile and react to the world around her at a faster pace than I can walk with her. She faces me and I get to see her reactions and interact with her.  She likes it when we ride as a family so she can see the other parent on the bike in her view.

Have you ever felt judged by those who think you are irresponsible for transporting your kids by bike?

Someone asked me if she is allowed on the road. I think the overriding feeling  I get though, is how cool the bike is and what freedom we have with an infant.

What do you suppose Lucy is learning from this part of your lifestyle?

That it is totally possible and fun to go by bike.

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

That there is a really great feeling of being self sufficient. It feels great to get where you want to go by using your own energy. It is empowering.

A Community Celebration of Active Transportation!

IMG_20150715_181418A Parade to Celebrate Active Transportation in our Community
On Wednesday, July 13 at 5:30 pm, Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation, in partnership with the Junction Neighbourhood Group and the weekly Community potluck at 47 Meadowview Avenue, is hosting a Community Celebration of Active Transportation. Our mission is to increase the quantity, quality, safety, and fun of Active Transportation in Guelph.

Cyclists, walkers, even rollerbladers are welcome to join in our third annual  Active Transportation Parade.”  We will wind our way through the streets in the Junction neighbourhood.  Families are welcome to attend.

Celebrate your creativity by decorating your bikes and wearing costumes to celebrate your joy of community and Active Transportation!
Prizes will be awarded to the best decorated bicycle, as well as the best costume.
There will be a potluck meal after the event for those who wish to participate.

All are welcome. Children under 18 must wear helmets if cycling or rollerblading. All participants must sign a waiver in order to participate.

For more information, please contact GCAT at


Rain could not deter our cycling tour of Riverside Gardens….and a pint!!

On June 5, GCAT and 2Rivers Festival hosted a Cycling tour of Riverside Gardens…and a Pint.

IMG_20160605_141048 We knew rain might be a problem, but we sure weren’t expecting the deluge of rain 15 minutes before the event started! The decision to proceed was made by Stan Kozak, 2Rivers Festival organizer, who is definitely one not to be deterred by “a bit of weather.”

Co-organized by 2Rivers Festival sponsored by Wellington Water Watchers and GCAT, this event brings people together to celebrate their love of Guelph Rivers, gardens, and community.  Plenty of all three were to be had, with a group of 17 who came to enjoy conversation and camaraderie despite the threatening weather.


The first stop was at Leigh Taylor’s garden, whose small plot of land hosts several varieties of fruits, veggies, hydroponic agriculture, and even aquaculture. No one had seen that many species of edible food grown in such a small space.Leigh’s project is truly the future of urban agriculture. We were able to have a good view before the rains came, and then luckily, stopped. The sun came out at that point and stayed with us for the rest of our voyage.




IMG_20160605_150957We continued our tour along the Royal River Trail, down Neeve Street, and up Arthur Street.  Here we enjoyed Stan and Leanne’s beautiful backyard river garden, complete with a gorgeous pond and a large variety of beautiful pollinating flowers. The participants were enjoying it so much that we eventually had to encourage them to keep moving as there were other gardens to see.

IMG_20160605_155903Our last stop was a very large vegetable garden that is visible along the Trans Canada Trail beside the Speed River. This labour of love by the Swantek family is arguably the biggest urban garden in Guelph. The family has worked tirelessly to get the land ready and now produces a mountain of seasonal vegetables every year.

During the whole event, there were many opportunities for casual conversation. It became obvious with each kilometre ridden that all participants had a passion for cycling, urban farming and meeting new people.

Our last stop was the Woolwich Arms, or the Wooly. Here, we hoisted a pint and some kombucha and talked about the great day. Thanks Stan for not cancelling the event because of rain.. We would have missed out on all that fun!

Now, what should we do for an encore?