What is your commute like?
20-25 minutes (10-12 km). A bit of everything: minor roads in my area, multi-use trails across the river, and Jasper Ave. downtown. With the valley in between, my commute is literally uphill both ways.
What are some of your favourite things about Edmonton?
Edmonton is a city on the rise. There are so many opportunities here, not just for jobs and careers, but for helping shape a city on the edge of greatness, and for creative people who want to make a name for themselves who would otherwise be swallowed up as unknowns in any larger cities.
We are finally getting over the self-loathing and self-deprecating attitude that we allowed to define us for so many decades, and we are thriving as a result. Being a part of that gives me an indescribable pride and energy.
How long have you been cycling? What got you started?
I’ve been using a bike for as long as I can remember. In particular, though, after I turned 16 and started taking driver’s ed, I decided I hated driving and wanted nothing to do with it. Everyone told me I was crazy, you NEED a car especially getting around St. Albert (where I grew up) and Edmonton. I have done just fine with my bike and public transit, thankyouverymuch.
I started commuting regularly in 2005, when I lived in Athlone and took a job in the downtown core. I don’t recall specifically why I decided to start commuting by bike, but it probably had to do with annoyances waiting for a crowded bus.
What do you like about biking in Edmonton?
For recreational riding, the river valley and connecting trails, obviously. Riding through the various trails you often forget you’re often still in the heart of the city, and some of the terrain and micro-climates make you forget you’re even in Edmonton.
For commuting, Edmonton’s roads are shockingly over-engineered, many having more and wider lanes than is really necessary. This benefits cyclists greatly as it gives us plenty of room to ride and gives drivers plenty of room to safely pass.
What’s your favourite place to ride for fun?
Anywhere in the valley, really, but specifically I love Mill Creek Ravine, along RVR and MacKinnon Ravine, below the Mayfair and Hawrelak Park, south of Fort Edmonton Park, and Terwilligar Park.
What challenges do you face as a cyclist in Edmonton?
This city is often still run with a car-first mentality, particularly from the Transportation department which always seem to operate on a different wavelength than council. Trying to help push for alternative transportation improvements is a constant uphill battle.
There is also still a huge mindset among citizens that Edmonton is and can only ever be a car city, and that investing in alternative transportation – even LRT – is a waste of money. I’m not sure how anyone can think this city can continue to grow at the rate it is and remain so dependent on cars for transportation without traffic woes getting exponentially worse over time.
Lastly, there are drivers who still hold a grudge against all cyclists, even those who follow the rules, lumping us all together based on the actions of a few who do stupid things. Stories of aggressive drivers and threats are relatively rare, but enough to scare many people off of riding their bikes altogether. We’re not at war here, we’re all just people, trying to get to where we want to go.
What would you like to see for bike infrastructure in Edmonton?
Segregated bike paths have done wonderful things for cities all over the world, I think Edmonton would be wise to ignore the naysayers and NIMBYs and invest in these if it is truly serious about alternative transportation. I would like to see more bike lanes where roads and lanes are wide enough to warrant them, but where segregated paths are not feasible.
Most of all, I’d like the city’s Transportation department to get in line with council’s vision and direction, and build real bike infrastructure, not more compromises that benefit only the movement of car traffic and still just make everyone unhappy in the end.
How safe do you feel on your commute?
Very safe, even riding in traffic without bike lanes; the vast majority of drivers are just fine and courteous with cyclists, especially those who ride predictably and with regard to the same traffic laws as everyone else.