Public input from GCAT public meeting, Oct. 14

GCAT - Open Meeting - 2015There was good attendance at the public meeting on Oct. 14.  The group was diverse, from high school age to seniors.  All were interested in getting around the city using healthy transportation.

Xander Huggins, an engineering student at University of Guelph, welcomed the audience and thanked Planet Bean for the use of their space.  He then gave the audience in introduction of Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation. He spoke about some of our goals.

  • Establishing partnerships with local organizations and residents
  • Organizing community events and engagement via social media
  • Increasing cycling modal split to 6% by 2022
  • Advocacy for increased on and off road connections in the city, with the Cycling Master plan and the Active Transportation Network plan as our guide.

Yvette Tendick, president of GCAT, spoke about has happened in the last two years with GCAT. She spoke about the events we hosted or sponsored, such as

  • The Magnolia Ride,
  • Riverside Cycling and a Pint,
  • Two Active Transportation parades,
  • Discussion of the movies “Bike City, Great City,” “The Human Scale”, and “Bikes vs. Cars”.
  • “Happy City” book club
  • Santa Claus parade entry “You can do anything on a bike

She also spoke some advocacy that took place this year.

  • bike lanes re-instated on Downey Road,
  • Speedvale reconstruction
  • underpass under Speedvale Bridge
  • a Woodlawn Multi-use path
  • Active Transportation network study.

Justin Hall from the City of Guelph spoke about the Active Transportation Network Study and other city initiatives.

Bryan McPherson rounded off the evening about future directions of the group.

  • GCAT to become incorporated in 2016.  This will help us in 3 ways:  give us credibility, increase our profile, and allow us to apply for community grants related to GCAT initiatives
  • Will continue representing a community voice at City delegations and meetings with City staff
  • Increase GCAT profile & build our volunteer base
  • Will continue organizing bike rides, movie nights, book talks and other AT events.
  • Revisit our strategic plan – establish priority areas for AT infrastructure improvements.  Improve our understanding of the municipal process in decision making, work with likeminded organizations to represent a unified community voice to better facilitate AT priorities.
  • Facilitate a ‘pop up’ installation related to AT design *
  • Promote the reinstatement of GotBike
  • Website & blog, facebook, twitter enhancements – continue posting media related to local, national & international AT initiatives).  Potential for interactive mapping application.

Public input:  Here were some comments from the public:

  • Need for education in high schools about benefits of cycling.. So far, the only focus in from CELP and HEADWATERS programs, need a wider focus. We need to get off of environmental focus and relay that cycling = Freedom!
    • peer role models from university would help with this
  • Motorist education also needed so that they realize that bikes belong on the road
  • Flags on the side of the bike are a great way to remind motorists about new 1 metre law
  • Guelph should consider modeling a program after Wisconsin to stem the bike thefts happening in Guelph, where bait bikes with GPS are put out to catch criminals.  GCAT has been in contact with Guelph police over this initiative
  • We need more workplace support-showers, bike racks
  • Parking Study currently done by city of Guelph.  Contact Transportation Demand manager to let them know that there is a demand for more cycle parking in Guelph
    • City hall employees should be encouraged to cycle rather than park.  A financial incentive would be best.
    • incentivize businesses to get employees to come to work by bike
  • Active Transportation Network Study-will be at Farmer’s Market on Oct. 31 –looking for input on what kinds of network is preferable
  • We need better traffic signs and education. Examples include priority crossing, bike boxes, etc..

So that’s it, folks!  What else would you like to see happening with Active Transportation in Guelph?

Santa parade shows what you can do on a bike!


“You can do anything on a bike!”

Welcome to Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation’s (GCAT) theme for this year’s Guelph Community Santa Claus parade, taking place on Sunday, November 15.  We are adopting the same theme as last year’s parade because we didn’t want to mess with a good thing.

We must have done something right last year, because GCAT won the “Best Overall Walking Entry” award. Not bad for our first try.

GCAT’s mission is to increase the quantity, quality, safety and fun of Active Transportation in Guelph.  We promote cycling and walking through advocacy and fun events, such as neighbourhood parades and cycle rides that end with food and drink. We also encourage City Council to improve biking and walking infrastructure in the city in order to provide residents with a wider variety of healthy transportation options.

You may be wondering why we decided on the theme “You can do anything on a bike” for last year’s Santa parade. Well, partly, it was just for fun.  We just wanted to see what kind of costumes the participants would come up with.  Sure enough, people showed up in a variety of imaginative costumes.   I cycled in a wedding dress, and others showed up in dapper suits.  One guy cycled with a canoe on his head. (From now on, Ned Coates will be affectionately known as Mr. Canoehead!)  Another participant transported skis by bike, while another dressed as a chef, carrying a large mixing bowl in his hand the whole time! One woman cycled in a robe with a towel wrapped around her hair as if she had just stepped out of the shower.  A French woman came wearing a beret, and cycled with a baguette and cheese in her wicker picnic basket.  The crowd was delighted, and so were we.

The theme “You can do anything on a bike” was also chosen because it addresses the important issue of mobility in a fun way.  Many people feel that riding a bike limits their ability to do things….like carrying objects, getting from A to B without looking a mess or needing a shower. GCAT is working to convey the message that while there are barriers to everyday cycling, with a little imagination, many of these barriers can be addressed.

I really enjoy riding my bike, so I am fortunate to be able to choose my bike for transportation about 95% of the time, including my daily commute to work. By exercising in the fresh air, I’m able to burn off excess nervous energy which in turn makes me calmer and more reflective. My husband and I use the car when we go on long trips (such as when visiting family at Thanksgiving), and when we do our bi-monthly grocery trips for bulk items.  But generally I’m pretty good at choosing the bike, even when I have a load to carry.

I use panniers on my bike for weekly grocery shopping, for work, and for picking up odds and ends. These panniers are a game changer in my effort to use the bike for more than just an object for recreation.

Other times, I have to be creative when transporting more challenging items.

I remember making a lasagna dish for a potluck a few months ago. However, I had no idea how I would transport the large dish on my bike.  The shape of the pan meant that I would have to carry it on its side in a pannier, which would make the lasagna spill out.  I considered transporting the lasagna by car for this reason.  But then I thought, do I really need a 2 ton vehicle just to carry a lasagna 4 kms away? Other people have figured out how to transport their young children by bike; surely I can transport a lasagna dish. Finally, I managed it with the help of my bicycle back rack, a box and bungee cords.  There.  Job done.

When I was in Holland a couple of years ago, I saw people carry all sorts of things with their bikes.  They hauled their friends, large guitars, athletic equipment, luggage, you name it, all while riding their bikes.  Of course it is safer to ride there, as they have protected bike lanes and sturdier bikes, but it still opens up the possibilities of what can be done with some will and imagination.

Now it’s your turn. Maybe you want to show the parade audience that “you can do anything on a bike” as well.  If so, grab a costume and come join GCAT on November 15.  It will be great fun! Please contact for rules of entry and for further information.  If you can’t join, please come out and enjoy the Guelph Community Santa Claus parade. Maybe you’ll get some ideas of what you can do on a bike!


GCAT Open Meeting, Wednesday Oct. 14 at 7pm

GCAT - Open Meeting - 2015Are you interested in helping to make Guelph safer and more inviting for cyclists, pedestrians and all forms of active transportation?

Concerned about climate change?  Tired of driving a car everywhere?  Want to get in good shape?  Then come and learn about the Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation (GCAT)!

GCAT has a vision for the city. We want to increase the quantity, quality and safety of active transportation in Guelph.

GCAT is looking for public input!

Please come to our second community meeting to share your ideas about how to create a safe, active, healthy, and sustainable city! We’ll share our successes, setbacks, and plans for the future, and look forward to your input on how to make this vision a reality.
When:  Oct. 14, 2015 at 7pm
Where: Planet Bean, 2 Wyndham Street North