Bike raves, lanes and by-laws

A glimpse inside the world of Winnipeg cyclists

Daniel Crump
Daniel Crump

The city of Winnipeg has recently been trying to improve its relationship with local cyclists – a passionate bunch to say the least. The Uniter sat down with some this week to get the scoop on the positives and negatives of cycling in the city.

“I think it’s a good move forward,” Mark Cohoe from Bike Winnipeg says of the city’s first buffered bike lanes that were created earlier this year.

“Pembina is multi-laned with high volume traffic. Certainly when I go down there I feel that it’s improved my ride and I’ve heard from other people that feel the same.”

While the city has made strides, many still feel there’s more to be done.

“We’re definitely pushing for more bike lanes. We’d like to see some built from St. Matthews to the University, and along Sherbrook and Maryland,” Cohoe explains. “We think there’s an opportunity there to put a bike lane the width of the road lane, between parked cars and traffic. It would be well protected and clear room for pedestrians. It would also create a really fantastic connection with the university.”

Creating more bike lanes would give greater incentive for people to take their bikes out on a regular occasion – it’s good for the environment and the health of Winnipeg people.

A recent thought on many cyclists’ minds is a proposed by-law which states that a group of ten or more cyclists would be required to obtain a parade permit to ride.

Addressing any possible misinterpretation, city councillor John Orkilow (Fort Gary/River Heights) clarifies the by-law:

“If you want to ride abreast, with ten people taking up the whole street, you’re going to need a parade permit. If you want to ride 400 of you, row by row, behind each other, go right ahead. It’s only abreast when you’re blocking traffic.”

This by-law will also enable cyclists to form parades if they wish, which wasn’t even possible before. “Right now, if you want to have a bike parade, you can’t do it. We don’t have a category for bike parades, so that’s why the by-law was proposed”, he explains.

Both Orlikow and a local bike-polo player, identified only as “Bike Tyson”, trace the origin of the by-law to a rowdy bike jam – or, a “street rave on bicycles” – that occurred earlier this year.

“Every now and again there’s a big bike party. It’s sort of like alley-cat races. There are impromptu races that never seem to be a problem. But I guess this year it just got really big.”

Tyson sees why there could be a need for a parade permit in this type of instance. “The chopper came out, there were like ten squad cars. But when you look back, there were literally 1,000 people on the street. It was like yeah, I can see why this is a problem, why maybe you have to give cops a bit of muscle.”

The bottom line is, cyclists love to ride – both individually and in groups – and with Winnipeg’s beautiful neighborhoods, there’s potential for that contagious love to spread.

Published in Volume 68, Number 5 of The Uniter (October 2, 2013)

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