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Cycling week highlighted at City of Powell River meeting

qathet Regional Cycling Association urges residents to use active transportation
ENCOURAGES RIDING: qathet Regional Cycling Association active transportation director Chris Lightfoot appeared before City of Powell River’s committee of the whole to invite councillors to participate in Go by Bike Week in early June.

City of Powell River councillors were extended an invitation to participate in Go by Bike Week in early June.

At the May 14 committee of the whole meeting, Chris Lightfoot, active transportation director for qathet Regional Cycling Association (qRCA), said he was appearing before the committee to talk about cycling in the region.

He said qRCA’s vision is a vibrant community connected by cycling.

“We want to connect the mountains to people’s homes, to town, schools, wherever people would like to go by bicycle,” said Lightfoot.

He said there are some recent qRCA highlights to outline, including the association having 468 members. He added that the Mt. Mahony trail upgrades are in progress, adding new trails for young and old, and new cyclists. He said there is a history of cycling education in the community as well as community outreach.

He said he wanted to introduce councillors to an event coming up, which is Go by Bike Week in BC from June 3 to 9. Last spring in Powell River, 242 people registered, according to Lightfoot. He said he wanted to officially invite council members to participate in the week.

“We encourage everyone in Powell River to experience shifting the mode by replacing at least one car trip by riding a bicycle, walking, taking public transit or the Zunga Bus,” said Lightfoot. “We would like to invite mayor and council to participate in this wonderful event. If you could try to experience riding a bike, walking or taking public transit in exchange for one of your car trips, that would be fantastic.”

Lightfoot also urged councillors and the mayor to share a photo of themselves, riding, walking or taking transit.

“Finally, on June 7, the qRCA is hosting pizza and refreshments at Townsite Brewing in Townsite and we’d love it if council could join us to share your experiences walking or riding or taking transit around qathet,” said Lightfoot. “As a further enticement for Go by Bike Week, in cooperation with Suncoast Cycles and Taws Bike Garage, we have at least four demonstration e-bikes available for mayor and council to use for the week. Some of you may already have one. For those of you who require a little bit more power for hills, feel free to contact us to arrange an e-bike demo.”

Lightfoot said not everyone feels safe riding and trips by bike may require more time and planning than a typical car trip. He said, however, on the positive side, people will have a lot of fun doing so, getting exercise and fresh air.

“You’ll see Powell River from a different perspective,” said Lightfoot.

For Go by Bike Week, qRCA has several events around town. On the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, from 7:30 to 9:30 am, there will be a station at Magpie’s Diner; Wednesday at River City Coffee and 32 Lakes Café and Bakery is on the Thursday. Lightfoot said coffee and refreshments will be served, as well as a chance to enter a raffle.

Councillor Trina Isakson asked what the value of the e-bike loan to councillors would be because elected officials have to declare gifts of more than $250. Lightfoot said he would have to contact the bicycle shops to see if there is a rental rate for e-bikes.

Councillor Cindy Elliott asked if participants could register on the Go by Bike Week website and Lightfoot indicated that was the case. Elliott said she already has an e-bike and she rode it to the committee meeting.

Councillor Rob Southcott said he has been a cyclist his whole life and he cycled to the committee meeting. He said in past, when he was commuting to work in Vancouver on a bicycle, it was almost quicker than driving. He was wondering if qRCA has figured out how long it takes to ride, compared to the time it takes to drive to various locations, and make a chart.

“I found that it took me 12 or 15 minutes to drive from my place up to Wildwood and when I got an e-bike, it took me 21 minutes, so the difference in time was surprisingly little,” said Southcott.

Lightfoot said in his experience, what takes a lot of time driving is looking for parking. With a bicycle, he can often park by the front door.

“Travelling through town, I’m often surprised at the time it takes to ride,” said Lightfoot.

Mayor Ron Woznow said he was looking forward to participating. He said it has probably been 71 years since he started riding.

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