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Dec 31, 2013

Top Bike Stories for Calgary in 2013

2013 was another great year for cycling in Calgary.  The city has continued to see more people choosing to cycle more often, even in winter.  Although many wish the pace of bicycle infrastructure installation would move faster, myself included, we should consider 2013 another great leap forward for a more healthy, safe, and connected Calgary.

I have asked the #YYCBIKE Twitteratti to weigh in on their bike story moments from the last year - here are the responses and a few of ours (in no particular order):

1. The Calgary Parking Authority is planning on adding more bike parking spaces in the parkades they operate downtown.  This is welcomed news as there are not enough secure public bike parking spots downtown. 

2.  3 years old?  What?!  Wow!  This festival continues to grow, evolve, and enlight all who enjoy it.  CANNOT wait for 2014!

3.  The floods in June devastated the entire city and disrupted the lives, and livelihoods, of thousands of Calgarians.  Not only were roads and transit affected, the city's beloved pathway system took a very big hit.  3 bridges along the Elbow River as well as all the main bridges in Fish Creek Park were washed away making access by bicycle very difficult, or impossible, for thousands of Calgarians.

At this writing, all of the Elbow bridges are still out.  The bridges in Fish Creek have also yet to be repaired.

4.  I was watching the final stage of the Tour de Alberta late at night, on a sofa in Amsterdam, stoked on the fact that the race went down the Crowbomb!  How cool is that?! Chapeau to all the Albertans that made the event so successful!

5.  A fabulous event, well attended by the fashionable, irreproachable, and otherwise jaunty folk astride bicycles.  Bravo Josh!

6.  There is something about a fun ride through the city, with a huge group of strangers, that just never gets old.  Many of the rides this year saw groups of 70+ - astonishing for us to contemplate.  Exciting to see so many new faces on bikes!

7.  Nenshi on a bike!  On the newly announced 1 St SE cycletrack no less :)

8.  The rise of fatbikes, or more importantly, the rise of winter cycling in Calgary.  More people are choosing to ride deeper into the colder months than ever before.  Winter cycling products are becoming more available and innovative.  New bike designs too, like fatbikes, are making winter cycling more accessible - and fun - than ever before.  And more safe bike infrastructure, like the 7 St cycletrack, encourage more people to keep on pedaling.

Raise your hand if you've seen a huge increase in the number of people winter cycling in your area over the last few years.  

9. Calgary's very first physically separated cycletrack opened on 7 St SW.  While the usual "bikelash" type complaints were levelled against the new infrastructure, its hard to argue with the numbers of people who use it - 4x more than the city expected.  Here is a short video I took of the cycletrack on opening day.

10.  Which brings us to this - if bike lanes are so bad, where is the "bikelash"?  Besides the Calgary Sun ranting and raving that bikes are going to take away your liberty, force you to sell your car, and generally ruin your life, there has been veryu little negative blowback in Calgary regarding new bike lanes.  Personally, I think most Calgarians are reasonable people and as such, understand that making it easier for people to ride bikes in this city is nothing but a good thing.

Dec 30, 2013

Multimodel Fatbiking

With no car of my own, and none available to easily borrow I decided it was time to fire up the multimodel experience and head down to Fish Creek Park for some fatbiking on trails that, at least in summer, are super fun to explore.

With the West LRT line passing close by my house and the Ctrain network extending all the way down to Fish Creek I figured it would be an easy, relatively fast, and warm! option for getting down there and back without a car.

All aboard the fatbike express!

Temperatures when I was at the station waiting were around -11c with it forecast to drop a little throughout the day.  Total time to get from my front door to Canyon Meadows station (start of the ride) was a reasonable 45 minutes.

Fish Creek Park was also damaged in the June floods and as a result many of the designated mountain bike trails were impassable or simply gone altogether.  Navigating through the park to find the good trails was a little bit of guessing, remembering past rides, and blind luck.

Perfect conditions.

At one point I found myself out on Fish Creek itself, riding along in a ski/snowshoe trough that seemed to have followed the entire length of the creek through the park - cool!  That was pretty unique but I wanted to find my way back into the forest singletracks that meander throughout the valley bottom so I veered off into the forest at my earliest opportunity.

I might like these trails better than West Bragg Creek!
I was able to find my way onto some great trails that had been snowshoed and walked on making for some very sweet ups and downs through the forest, plenty of open side slopes with amazing views, and even some deer sightings.

The trail network in the park is amazing!  I know people love riding the West Bragg Creek trails (45 min. drive west of Calgary) but I'd suggest giving Fish Creek a try if you haven't yet.  With trails running everywhere you could play in there for hours and have a blast, all within the city limits.  How cool is that?

2 hours later I was back on the train for the ride back to my little corner of the city.  By the time I was done the temperature had dropped a few degrees, I was completely soaked from the effort and glad to be relaxing for the ride home.

My only hiccup was on the trip back - I wish I had brought a fresh sweater to throw on under my jacket to keep the damp, chilliness away.  Nothing serious but I'll definitely remember for next time.

Dec 19, 2013

Winter Cycling Wear - Sean's Fatbike Commute

Perhaps the most asked questions and concerns from people when you tell them you cycle in the winter are -

"How do you stay warm?"
"What do you wear?"
"Are you nuts?!"

Edworthy Park, Calgary 

Staying warm is not as big a deal as many might think.  While riding in temperatures below -20c present bigger challenges, anything warmer than that doesn't require much in the way of special preparations.

For 0c down to about -15c most people will find that simply adding another layer to what they normally wear in cold weather is enough.  It goes without saying that good gloves, a scarf or neckwarmer, and warm headwear are mandatory in the wintertime.  It's very possible to be very comfortable in cold conditions - in fact, the biggest challenge is often over heating.

Double sundog rainbow man! Whoa dude!
So without further adieu, below is what I was wearing on my "long way to work" fatbike ride today.  My ride took about 1-1/2 hrs and the temperature was a nippy -23c with not much wind.  I was chilly for about 5 minutes (Protip: this is what you want to aim for) but quickly warmed up.

Winter cyclechic, 'Berta style!

Starting at the bottom and working up - 

- 45nrth Fasterkatt winter cycling boots
- Hot Chilly's knee high wool ski socks
- cycling bibshorts
- Levis Commuter 511 jeans
- Ibex Woolies 150 long johns
- Mission Workshop Sanction Backpack
- Ibex Woolies 150 Long sleeve tshirt
- BikeBike mid-weight lond sleeve wool jersey
- Ibex WoolAire Jacket
- Louis Garneau Lobster style gloves
- Buff "poler" neck warmer
- Ibex wool beanie
- Lazer helmet

After arriving at work I simply peeled off the wool long john's and changed into my work shirt and shoes. 

What do you find is the key to enjoyable winter cycling for you?

Oct 18, 2013

Ped Shaming?

Well, my tweet this morning complaining that the Calgary Police Service seems to be blaming the victims in a series of hit-and-runs over the last few days has got more than a few knickers bunched.

All in all, great to see so many people engaged in the conversation but still saddened that a few folks still don't see the real issue here - streets designed to move cars at all costs, including the cost to human life and human communities.

Here is the link to the CBC article in question as well as a link here to the other reports of pedestrian deaths this month.

See below...

1 new Interaction
  1. Perhaps the drivers should "be aware" too...? Message comes across one-sided.
  2. so you two can continue walking first looking second, and we won't have this conversation anymore. Hashtag toughguy
  3. not talking about the one incident here, talking about the whole picture. You dumb fuck
  4. : are you coming on the last full moon ride of the year??, it's this Saturday....”
  5. ...and at least cbc didn't quote you saying anything like "*drivers* need to be extra-vigilant...etc".
  6. Not what I said, don't put words in my mouth.

  7. It did sound like victim blaming & rarely are these types of comments directed at drivers.
  8. So 2 cars were stopped the guy started walking, then one came around and hit him, totally his fault

  9. Thanks for tuning up my bike! It's a smooth, quieter ride :D
  10. Read it thanks. Give me a break, victim blaming is a trendy social justice catch phrase.It's called a safety warning.

  11. Maybe we need a new term? Ped shaming?
  12. How much "attention" can a pedestrian pay when someone swerves around a car and blows through a crosswalk?
  13. Except that now, like when I lived in YYC there's little making drivers responsible for their actions
  14. Do Calgary Police have any tips for drivers yielding to pedestrians when crossing with the ROW? I didn't see any tips for them.
  15. Dan you dumb fuck one car had already stopped, the other car behind him then swerved into the xwalk and hit him
  16. The point is general comments on blame worthiness are not appropriate in relation to this article.
  17. Their job is to stop pedestrians from getting run over in crosswalks, read the article they blame pedestrians
  18. 46m
     retweeted some Tweets you were mentioned in
    pedestrians need to keep a head up, but these are hit and runs for pete's sake. Drivers not paying attention
  19. can't engineer away every some point personal responsibilty must kick in
  20. 49m
     favorited a Tweet you were mentioned in
    Seriously? You call a SAFETY WARNING "victim blaming"? Get stuffed. are doing their job, u just want publicity,
  21. 49m
     retweeted a Tweet you were mentioned in
    Seriously? You call a SAFETY WARNING "victim blaming"? Get stuffed. are doing their job, u just want publicity,
  22. Their job is to catch criminals; the people who hit pedestrians in crosswalks & drive drunk.
  23. "Warning! There's a murderer on the loose! Be careful" OMG VICTIM BLAMING!!111
  24. 1h
     retweeted a Tweet you were mentioned in
    reason the focus is on pedestrians is because cars outweigh people. Police are just saying be aware
  25. ": EVERYONE has a responsibility on the road including bikes and pedestrians."
  26. 1h
     favorited a Tweet you were mentioned in
    EVERYONE has a responsibility on the road including bikes and pedestrians.

  27. Seriously? You call a SAFETY WARNING "victim blaming"? Get stuffed. are doing their job, u just want publicity,
  28. 1h
     retweeted your Retweet
    Wow. why does your colleague think when 2 killed and 1 injured IN CROSSWALK, it's the pedestrians' fault?
  29. I said originally everyone needs to be aware. Drunk drivers deserve harsher punishments in my mind
  30. 1h
     favorited some Tweets you were mentioned in
    dunno circumstances but there's a ped flashing light @ that intersection. Use all the time, glad not last night.
  31. I'm not commenting on the article it's just a general comment. This driver was clearly at fault.
  32. No one questioning this. Only that this is not relevant here and ignores the bull in the china shop.
  33. Which did not happen here, so inappropriate to call out this. Clear driver distraction & drunkenness.
  34. cross walks and corners of streets where it's well lit and legal to cross. Small request saves ppl
  35. example being 2 am and someone running across the road in black clothes in the middle of the street
  36. police are just saying to use common sense... Don't jaywalk etc etc that's all. Simple message.
  37. These are GD hit and runs of people legally crossing the street. Hunt the drivers down and charge them!
  38. 2h
     retweeted you

  39. Also, if we are telling people to walk in crosswalks in fear of being run down, there is a bigger issue

  40. Cars may be bigger, but that only means operators have greater responsibility around vulnerable.
  41. 2h
    retweeted a Tweet you were mentioned in
    seems counterintuitive that I need to heighten my awareness to compensate for someone else's reduced awareness.