One Peterborough Cyclist’s 2013 Year In Review

The year’s cycling highs and lows in and around the P-dot

2013 was a mixed bag for Peterborough cyclists. Generally, the weather was good through the summer months. And although this winter has come in early and ugly, the 2012-13 winter came late and left relatively early giving most folks a good riding season. Beyond the weather, which does affect cyclists a great deal, several events and actions in 2013 improved cycling and cycling culture in Peterborough. We did, however, have a few set-backs.

Another successful Workplace Shifting Gears

For most who cycle through the warmer months, the Workplace Shifting Gears Challenge, held through May, signals the start of the cycling season. The 2013 challenge was, again, a great success with fully one-third of Peterborough’s labour force working at organizations that participated officially in the challenge. Now, not everyone at those workplaces was participating, but the awareness created by so many participants is a positive thing and participation, and the profile of cycling in Peterborough, can only get better. Check out the great infographic included in the 2013 Challenge final report at the Peterborough Moves website.

Bike and Trails Fest and International Trails Day

The end of the Workplace Challenge was marked with “Bike and Trails Fest“, a celebration of all things bikey in Peterborough and a lead-in to the International Trails Day on June 1st. Trails Day featured eight events in and around Peterborough, highlighting the many great trails we have access to. Millennium Park and the Silver Bean Café was a busy place with booths from several different groups and organizations. Attendees could learn about alternate transportation, bike resources in Peterborough, trails organizations in and around the City and, courtesy of Wild Rock Outfitters and B!KE: the Peterborough Community Cycling Hub, get minor repairs done to their bike.

image from bikefest Bike and Trails Fest ~ Kick-off to International Trails DayCycling and trails enthusiasts learning about local bike routes and our local cycling club at the
The Peterborough Cycling Club booth at the 2013 Peterborough Bike and Trails Fest

Our regional trails network keeps on getting better

Prior to the Trails Day, our regional trails network took a great leap forward with the official opening of the Lang-Hastings Trans Canada Trail on May 2nd. The trail, which has been undergoing improvements for some time, runs from Hastings to just outside Peterborough. Walkers, runners and cyclists alike have been anticipating the opening of this great addition to our local trails and a key piece of the trans Canada trail through Central Ontario. Congratulations to all the hard-working volunteers and their supporters who made this possible (not to mention businesses who donated money, equipment and materials to make the improvements happen).

2013 Peterborough Cycling Summit a great success

Over the past few years, one of the highlights of the cycling season has to be the annual Cycling Summit. Now in its fourth year, the agenda expanded into the afternoon to accommodate both a session for professional planners (open to all) and one focusing on local area cycling improvements (including an interactive workshop where attendees could provide input on active transportation road design). The evening session featured a keynote presentation by Dr. Karen Lee of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The title theme for the 2013 summit was “Dollars and Sense: The health and economic benefits of a bicycle friendly community” and the common topic of discussion throughout the day was the clear and demonstrated connection between health and cycling and the resulting economic benefits of cycling. The day was just packed with examples of how cycling improves health and the quality of life in communities across Ontario and in New York City.

If you missed it, you can read the 2013 presentations and review a great report on the day by Evan Holt at the PTBOCanada website. We can only guess how good the 2014 summit will be.

City action on the Parkway a multiple threat to City cycling

The year ended on a low note for many cyclists in Peterborough as the City moved ahead to approve consultant proposals to build the Parkway right through the City over the next 20 years. Despite massive opposition, City Council approved the entire package, lock, stock and barrel at their November 21st meeting. This was followed up with Council allocating $4 million for Parkway construction out of the 2014 capital budget.

While fuller details of the opposition to the Parkway plans can be found at the “Parks Not Parkways” website, these proposals have two clear negative outcomes for City cyclists. First, is the loss of the priceless Parkway Trail and degradation of Jackson Park. These form critical components in Peterborough’s amazing off-road cycling network, a network that will be severely impacted by City plans. The second concern is that money allocated to the Parkway is being taken out of funding previously allocated to active transportation projects elsewhere in the City. These include complete streets makeovers to George Street south of the downtown and badly needed upgrades to Ashburham near Beavermead. Cyclists and pedestrians will continue to be put in danger while these projects stagnate.

Cycling Groups continue on strong

Beyond the everyday and recreational cyclists, those involved in more active cycling had a great year. Judging by the regular stream of great reports over at PTBO Rides, the Peterborough Cycling Club had another active year, as did a variety of non-affiliated road riders, such as the Biker Babes.

The local MTB scene remains active over at Harold Town Conservation Area. Besides a constant and very active user base, there was a lot of trail improvement completed by group members, including a visit by the Trail Care Crew of the International Mountain Bicycling Association Canada. The Crew put on trail building workshop and everyone participated in actual trail improvements at Harold Town with great results.

B!ke continues to grow

B!ke: the Peterborough Community Cycling Hub had a very successful 2013. Membership continued to climb through the year. The relationship with the Trent University student body, already on a good footing with the B!ke@Trent workshop, was further solidified with the ratification of a designated Trent student representative on the B!ke Board at the year-end AGM. B!ke ran numerous courses through the year as well as a bike share program and a youth earn-a-bike program. B!ke also teamed up with GreenUp (see below) to offer cycling safety and skills courses to local students.

Advocacy groups working to improve cycling in the city

Despite the losses noted above related to the Parkway, advocacy and support groups are still out there working for all Peterborough cyclists. These groups are either dedicated to cycling, or support cycling as one means of achieving wider objectives.

Besides organizing the City Cycling Summit, the Peterborough Bicycle Advisory Committee (P-BAC) continued to enrich cycling culture in Peterborough through a number of goals especially lobbying for improved cycling infrastructure in the City and raising awareness about cycling in general.

Cycling is a key component in GreenUP’s plan to meet its broader mandate of environmental education, sustainability, and stewardship. Besides partnering with B!ke to organize cycling safety and skills courses to local students, they have provided critical support to P-BAC over the year, especially with the organization of the Annual Cycling Summit. They have also provided essential logistical support to the Shifting Gears Challenges. Cyclist will especially note the variety of great graphics and information products GreenUp produced over the year for the many projects it supports.

Providing people in the Peterborough area with information and tools to take up sustainable transportation, Peterborough Moves is a joint project between Peterborough Green-Up, City of Peterborough and the Peterborough County-City Health Unit. Peterborough Moves supports cycling in Peterborough through its sponsorship of several programs: the Shifting Gears Challenges, Active & Safe Routes to School and a series of printed and online maps supporting active transportation.

The past year saw continued collaboration between all of the above organizations as they worked to improve the status of cycling in the City.

Other wins and losses

In the win column, we saw a new and improved pedestrian walkway bridge alongside the CPR bridge over the Otonabee River. This was a long awaited replacement for a missing piece of the cycling and pedestrian network in Peterborough and a HUGE improvement to the non-vehicular transportation network in the City. While the City has faltered on many cycle-centric initiatives over the past year, they did hang in there on this one, approving several cost overruns.

We finally saw a curb cut in the East City Greenway Trail at Hunter Street. This was long overdue as cyclists were constantly using adjacent driveways to make their way up and down the trail.

After many years of reconstruction and some doubt from City Hall if they were going in at all, bike lanes were painted onto the Hunter Street Bridge. This, for the most part, addressed a long-standing nightmare for cyclists, many of whom would risk a fine riding on the sidewalk rather than take on the many lane-drifting cars navigating the roadway on the curving bridge deck.

In the loss column, we never did see the return of a second bike rack in front of Hot Belly Mama’s downtown on George Street. Why the old one never came back, we are not sure. According to a tweet from the Mayor, a new redesigned version was supposed to appear mid-summer. It never did. Why, again, we are not sure. Let’s see what we get for 2014.

aPTBOpeddler hits a hiatus at year-end

On a more introspective note, this website went into something of a hiatus in the last months of the year. As a volunteer, spare-time project it isn’t super active at the best of times, but through the end of the year, it’s main protagonist and its main contributors got involved in the struggle against the City’s Parkway proposals and there simply wasn’t any time left over for this blog. This should change in the New Year.

Do you have any highlights, good or bad, about cycling in Peterborough in 2013? Please, send us an e-mail about them if you do, or comment below (if comments are still open).

In the meantime, let’s all hope for an enjoyable and safe year ahead for cycling in and around Peterborough.

Happy New Year!