If you don't already know, I'm a huge fan of bicycles. Not only are they fun to ride but, bicycle riding is great, low impact exercise almost everyone can participate in. Bicycle riding is also an emission-free mode of transport. Riding bikes helps fight climate change by offsetting vehicles on the road. Bicycle riding conserves space, thereby reducing the need for more concrete (parking) and asphalt (roads) and making way for more park area in urban settings and less highway impact in rural areas. Bicycle riding is not noisy either reducing noise pollution to almost nothing.
I make a point of talking about 'bike riding' instead of 'cycling'. Many people believe that cycling is a sport reserved for athletes and that you must have a special bike, wear special cycling shorts and only ride during the summer. I believe bike riding is for everyone. You don't need a fancy carbon bike or to wear a racing kit. Any bike will do and you can wear anything you like (weather appropriate of course). Skirts and sandals are just fine as long as you're comfortable. The most important thing about riding a bicycle is to enjoy it.
As an eco shop owner, I'm always searching for ways to reduce my impact on the environment and take climate action. Transportation is one of the largest sources of toxic emissions and riding bicycles is one the best alternatives. It's faster than walking, you can still carry lots of stuff and you won't need an expensive gym membership. Infrastructure for bike riding is much cheaper to build and maintain compared to roads. That's why I volunteer for the West Kootenay Cycling Coalition (WKCC). Last fall, I was elected to the board and this year, I'm doing my best to advocate for safe active transport throughout the West Kootenays.
I have been working with a team of members with the WKCC to create a protected pathway for commuting and recreation linking Nelson to Castlegar. Our project is part of an even larger vision to build a multi-modal, active transport network throughout the West Kootenays connecting all pedestrians and bike riders in our communities to bus, passenger rail and recreational sites. I am excited to announce that West Kootenay Climate Hub is hosting a lunchtime webinar with me, representing the WKCC, as a guest. Learn about our team, our vision and how we plan to implement it at this noon hour webinar on March 18th. Everyone is welcome to listen, and there will be plenty of opportunities for engagement during the webinar. Sign up for the webinar >> here <<.
And, if you love riding bikes as much as I do, you won't want to miss the Bike Rave for Earth Hour that I am organizing for Saturday, March 26th. Join this family friendly, rolling dance party. Come in costume, brings lights, enjoy dance music and ride in our bicycle parade through Nelson. There will be a PRIZE for Best Costume & Best Bike Lights. We’re making a music playlist based on your requests. For more details about this event click >> here <<.
Every year, at 8:30 pm on the last Saturday of March, supporters in over 190 countries and territories unite, taking action on and raising awareness of the issues facing our one home. But Earth Hour is more than just an hour for Earth - it's a movement for our own futures, for the benefit of people and planet. And it's not only a symbol of solidarity - it's a catalyst for change, harnessing the power of the crowd.Currently, we do not have connected network of safe separated pathways to make active transport a practical way of commuting. But, with community support we can build one. Owning and operating a vehicle is expensive and many residents struggle to find affordable ways to travel around our region. By building an active transport network not only are we taking climate action but we are making our communities more accessible for everyone. And it's good for business.
Besides attending this week's webinar and participating in local group bike riding events, here are other ways you can help advocate for active transport:
• become a member of the West Kootenay Cycling Coalition,
• become a member of the BC Cycling Coalition,
• become a member of Vélo Canada Bikes,
• Read the 100% Renewable Energy Plan by the West Kootenay Eco Society (there is an entire section dedicated to transportation),
• Sign the petition for a 100% Renewable Kootenay,
• Write a letter to Rob Morrison, the MP for this riding, and explain to him that you support passenger rail here. (This was one of his campaign promises in the last federal election. Let's hold him to it),
• Write a letter to your NDP MLA in support of Clean BC which includes investment in active transport,
• Try taking the bus or riding your bike instead of driving one day a week,
• Make an effort to walk or ride your bike for all shorter trips,
• Join the West Kootenay Climate Hub monthly meetups to find out what's going on and staying connected in your community.