Calgary festival offers cyclists a voice
Maybe it’s because of the economy, or maybe it’s for the health benefits, but one thing is for certain: more and more people are getting involved with cycling in Calgary.
With June being Bike Month, many commuters, racers, enthusiasts, and slow-riders are banding together to initiate a change of attitudes towards cycling with the general public and the political sector.
Various events and festivals around the city aim to show the average motorist that bicycling is a legitimate form of transportation and that it’s here to stay.
Cyclepalooza, Calgary’s first and only festival dedicated solely to cycling, runs from June 17-26 with events occurring in the Beltline area and all over the city.
Sean Carter, owner of local bike shop BikeBike and organizer of Cyclepalooza, started the festival in an effort to create a united community of bicycle riders, and to be a resource for all events associated with cycling in the city. “Other cities have groups that work together, but here in Calgary no one talks to each other,” explains Carter.
Separate bike “tribes” like the racers, downtown commuters, or the younger riders, have become segregated within the city, making communal events nearly impossible. “It was troubling to me that the only way forward was to create some culture that wasn’t focused on racing; Cyclepalooza is instead focused on having a good time with your bike,” says Carter.Modeled after Portland’s Pedalalooza and Vancouver’s Velapalooza, the festival requires support and events organized by individuals, businesses and groups in order to be successful.
“The most important thing about Cyclepalooza is that it opens the bicycle community in a very democratic way so anyone can participate in any way they see fit,”
The more people who participate and set up an event will make all the difference in the festival, he says.
City council members are slated to release a cycling strategy on June 10, which is aiming to make Calgary a more bike-friendly place for everyone.In September of last year, the City of Calgary conducted a telephone and online survey in which participants were asked to outline the barriers or difficulties they had when cycling and what safety measures could be taken to increase the amount of cyclers.
Over 72% of all respondents said they did not feel safe while riding their bike in traffic, and 62% said they would like to ride their bicycle more often. “The roads need to be safer for people to cycle on,” says Carter.
“Conflicts with motorists who don’t view cycling as a legitimate form of transportation are some of the biggest dangers on the roads.”
Cyclists riding their bicycle are recognized as a vehicle, and if required, they are entitled to using an entire lane for travel like anyone else.Even though Calgary has over 500 kilometers of intricate pathways, some changes need to be made on the street level to ensure the safety of everyone, regardless of what form of transportation they use.
“Taking away parking and narrowing lane widths will force people to go slower and it is better on the roadway, safer for families, better for communities,” explained the cycling enthusiast.
“We are talking about the cheap stuff- signs and paint to be a more bike friendly city.”And while it is still uncertain how the June 10 cycling strategy will change the bicycling environment within Calgary, Carter still encourages everyone to get involved in order for progress to be made.
“If people want to be part of the solution, they simply need to ride”To find more information about Cyclepalooza and to register an event, visit cyclepalooza.ca For more information on cycling within Calgary visit BikeCalgary