I’ve been trying lately to ride my bike as often as I can to work.
There was a time when I rode every day, but a while ago I took a nasty spill coming off the Arlington Street bridge when a car cut in front of me. There’s nothing quite as painful as road rash, and grinding street grit under your skin. It takes weeks for it to heal.
So now I pick and choose the days I ride. I also ride a lot slower, usually pedaling a pre-WW II CCM Cleveland single-speed coaster bike. I leave the mountain bike at home.
I also ride a lot on the sidewalk, even though I’m not supposed to.
I do it because riding on the street on what few bike lanes there are and against the curb is just too dangerous, especially during rush hour. Narrow lanes, pot holes, cracked sewer grates and chunks of broken concrete create their own life-threatening hazards.
A couple of days ago I was hugging the inside lane of the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge, coasting into the North End, when a dog leaned out the back window of a passing car and barked at me. It was so close I felt the dog’s warm breath and its spit against the skin of my arm.
I now ride on the sidewalk, not only across the bridge, but anywhere else I can.
How do you make Winnipeg streets more bike friendly?
Only if more of us ride.
Until that happens, Winnipeg will stay a car town. And I’ll stick to the sidewalks.
The video embedded here was made in New York, but it could easily be here.
On a slightly more positive note, Winnipeg’s "Bike to Work Day" is Friday, June 24. Go to www.biketoworkdaywinnipeg.org to register.
The city says this year, Bike to Work Day will cater to the rider and to feature new commuter paths.
Now, nearly 20 "Bike Pit Stop" locations in the city will welcome cyclists at the start of their commute to work from 6:30 to 9 a.m. Coffee from Tim Hortons and snacks courtesy of Stella’s Café & Bakery will be provided for the first 30 people at each "Pit Stop". Prizes and Bike to Work Day T-shirts will also be available on a first come first serve basis at all locations. The largest pit stop, co-hosted by Manitoba Lotteries and Citytv, will be at the Manitoba Legislature and Assiniboine Avenue with a live broadcast of Breakfast Television.
In the afternoon, there will be a Manitoba Lotteries BBQ from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Forks offering free hot dogs, veggie dogs or burgers for the first 300 cyclists. There will also be a prize draw, which includes the chance for registrants to win a new bike, a complete bike makeover care of Natural Cycle or new active living gear and cycling swag.
If you spot me meandering on the sidewalk, tip your bike hat and say "Hi."