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.