by Tyler Stewart (BikeBridge Cycling Association)
Just like a tough uphill climb, sometimes you have to focus on the struggle one pedal crank at a time. Here in Lethbridge, it’s been a slow and steady grind but it seems like we’re finally starting to gain traction.
Like most urban centres, the windy city of Lethbridge (population nearing 100,000) was designed around the motor vehicle, not the bicycle. But a small group of dedicated folks have pushed forward to ensure the velocipede isn’t completely forgotten in its role to build a healthy, happy community.
Jane's Ride 2016
BikeBridge Cycling Association came together in 2010, when the City of Lethbridge had proposed a new cycling bylaw that included mandatory helmet regulations, and lumped in cyclists with all other “personal conveyance devices” such as rollerblades, skateboards and wheeled skis (does anyone still use those things?!). The proposed bylaw was dumped, but it’s taken many years to make progress on the bigger issues finally addressed in the recent Cycling Master Plan. Though far from perfect, it outlines an infrastructure network that will encourage safer cycling throughout the city to be developed over the next 20 years.
Bike in Film Night
While the lengthy timeline is frustrating (as is the lack of focus on education and awareness), BikeBridge has remained focused on developing the cycling community through a variety of events and initiatives to bring cyclists together. During the 2016 Tour of Alberta stage hosted in Lethbridge, a number of events like bike rodeos, cycle concerts and a bike-in film night helped promote the social aspect of cycling within the community. In 2017 we hosted a winter cycling film screening and held our second annual Jane’s Ride, a fun and informative historical cycling tour around town. We were also thrilled to participate in the BikeMaps.org initiative to gather more data around cycling hazards and incidents, which will hopefully lead to better designs around the upcoming infrastructure developments.
This year, we’re looking to step it up a notch after receiving funding to host Lethbridge’s first-ever Bike Week program of events and activities. With group rides, workshops, another bike-in film festival and more fun ways to get out and ride, we’re hoping to foster more riders into getting out to “put some fun between their legs” this year in Lethbridge. In addition to reducing pollution and congestion on the roads, and being a great way to keep fit and have fun, BikeBridge is focused on the positive social role of cycling in our community.
Getting neighbours out beyond their front door to cycle together and learn from each other’s differences will hopefully create a more inclusive and welcoming city – one revolution at a time.
Second annual Jane's Ride (2017)