#irideYEG – Margaret Milner

Margaret_M_TCard What is your commute like?

10 km – Flat, short and mostly on MUPs.

What are some of your favourite things about Edmonton?

The bike trials, the river valley, and the amazing sense of community we have here. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

How long have you been cycling? What got you started?

I have been cycling all my life. I got my first bike, a tourquoise CCM that was a full sized bicycle when I was 6 years old. I don’t know when I could finally ride it sitting on the seat, but it was a few years. Back in those days, parents couldn’t afford to buy bikes that fit you – you just made do until you grew into it.

Years later when I was turning 17, my parents gave me a Peugeot 10 speed road bike, all the rage back in 1972. It was emerald green and I rode the wheels off it until I crashed it on the High Level Bridge in 1982. I bent the frame and I still miss that trusty steed. I have had a series of bikes since then, but none as special as that old Peugeot.

What do you like about biking in Edmonton?

The freedom! I love riding home when 104 avenue is backed up for miles and I can sail along without any hindrances. I have gone to Critical Mass on occasion with my children (I am certainly one of the oldest riders) and I LOVE taking over the High Level Bridge and listening to the sound of bicycle bells ringing in unison! Riding to Folk Fest in the summer is also a highlight – even though they moved the bike lock-up so far away from the hill.

What’s your favourite place to ride for fun?

Just cruising the streets in my neighbourhood or riding to Folk Fest where everyone on the trails is so happy to be alive!

What challenges do you face as a cyclist in Edmonton?

Not many. I try not to focus on the motorists that are in a hurry. Heavy snow in winter and delays in plowing the bike lanes holds me up on occasion, but for the most part, I have no complaints.

How safe do you feel on your commute?

Very safe but my commute is short. For the most part, I ride with gratitude, always waving at cars that stop for me. I have found that motorists and walkers alike will smile and wave back if you ride with enthusiasm and respect.

What would you like to see for bike infrastructure in Edmonton?

My daughter lived in Montreal for a couple of years and I loved the separated lanes they had there. Vancouver had the courage to close a lane on the Burrard Street bridge to accommodate cyclists – we could do that in our city too.

We need dedicated bike lanes to give cyclists of all abilities the confidence to get out and ride as an alternative form of transportation.

Does your family bike?

My husband and I have 5 children (we are a blend) and everyone rides. My oldest daughter and her husband are by far the most dedicated and most of us have fixies now. My kids love old vintage bikes and I recently found a beautiful Apollo that I bought at the EBC bike exchange in the fall that I gave to my son’s girlfriend in Calgary so they could pull a trailer with our new addition to the family, our granddaughter Wren.

What are your thoughts on winter biking?

I started cycling year round in 2004 while going to grad school at the U of A. I had a friend that rode all winter and I thought she was crazy. One late winter day in February, I missed my bus and was gong to be late for an exam. I jumped on my bike and rode down the Groat Road on a wall of ice – had a terrific sliding fall, but climbed back on and kept going. I made it to the class on time but nursed my bruised elbow and ego all the way through the exam. While my winter riding was sketchy after that, I persevered.

My daughter and her boyfriend (they are now married) started building fixed gear bikes in 2008. I thought they were crazy too but they convinced me to ride one for a week and I was hooked. I converted my Apollo road bide to a “fix” with their help that year and have been winter riding ever since without many falls. Riding a fixie is the only way to go in winter due to the continuous momentum and low maintenance required in this salty climate!

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