Although Bike to Work Week has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cycle Alberni is still offering support for new cyclists in the Alberni Valley.
With fewer cars on the road due to COVID-19 closures, Cycle Alberni’s Sarah Thomas says that more people are feeling comfortable taking their bikes out on the street. “More people than ever are out cycling,” Thomas said.
Cycle Alberni will be holding a two-day bike count this year in order to collect data about how many people in Port Alberni are cycling.
“The bike count came about around four years ago, with the idea that having regular data is important to understand if there are changes happening,” explained Thomas. “We look at where intersections are working, where they’re not working and how many people are riding.”
The data is used by the City of Port Alberni in applications for grant funding, like the B.C. Active Transportation Infrastructure grants.
In 2019, a total of 366 bicycles were counted in more than eight areas across the city.
The count takes place over two different days, during a morning and evening time slot. This year’s count will take place on Wednesday, May 20 and Saturday, May 23.
“We figure that’s the most likely time to collect people going to and from work,” explained Thomas.
The count will be following social distancing guidelines, with only one person counting at each corner. Volunteer training will also take place virtually.
But the Bike Count isn’t the only thing Cycle Alberni is doing to recognize Bike to Work and School Week. Originally scheduled for May 25-31, Bike to Work week has been postponed across the province, but Cycle Alberni is still offering supports for new riders who are hoping to learn bike skills.
An event called “Get Ready to Zoom on Your Bicycle” will take place on Sunday, May 24 from 1-4 p.m. This is a beginner-friendly bike-riding class that will be hosted on Zoom. Cycle Alberni members will offer different tips and tricks around bike maintenance, turn signals, helmets, rules of the road and more.
“Then at 3 p.m., we’ll send people out on a ride,” said Thomas. “At 4 p.m., they can come back [on Zoom] and talk about how it went.”
The event is free, but participants are asked to RSVP at http://bitly.ws/8uQ9. All participants will be entered to win a gift certificate for the Jumping Slug Community Cyclery.
Over the past few months, Cycle Alberni has been fundraising to purchase a set of class bikes for EJ Dunn Elementary School, similar to the cycling pilot project for Wood Elementary School.
“We’re hoping to do all the fundraising this summer so we have bikes when school starts up again in September,” said Thomas.
Cycle Alberni has already raised $7,500, but organizers are hoping to raise $3,000 more.
If you’re interested in donating or learning more, send an email to email@example.com.