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Bike for Kids at the 2011 Ontario Bike SummitBuilding a cycling future means getting kids on bikes early and oftern.
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Bike Shop Owners and Kids with BikesLocal bike shops donated new and used bikes to get kids riding.
The 2011 Ontario Bike Summit on June 27 and 28 was informative and inspiring. It was also a great place to connect with all kinds of interesting and motivated people from across the province, the country and beyond who are working to make their communities more bicycle friendly.
Each of the speakers made all kinds of interesting and practical points, but one of the key messages I was really pleased to hear is that everyone is our cities and rural communities will enjoy better health if we get more kids on bikes and more parents including cycling in their regular routines.
Ontario's Minister of Transportation, Kathleen Wynne, who lived in the Netherlands and rode her bike while she was pregnant and had a little one in a bike seat, said that she chose to ride instead of drive when she lived in the Netherlands because it was the easiest way to get to the local bakery. When cycling is quick, easy, convenient and safe, more families will ride -- because who doesn't want more time in their lives!
We heard that recycling really took off when it was introduced to children at school who then brought the message home to their parents. Phil Darnton, of the Bicycle Association of Great Britain said that including cycling education in school and making cycling education available to parents is another way of growing the number of people who regularly cycle. I'm sure I don't have to remind parents how persistant children can be with their messages.
Great bike lanes and fantastic, kid-friendly bike education in schools are important ways to increase the number of family cyclists. But Eleanor McMahon, the CEO and founder of Share the Road Ontario, who organized the entire amazing 2011 Ontario Bike Summit understands that first of all, kids need bikes.
In partnership with the YMCA After School Program, the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada and several local bike stores, Eleanor was able to make a suprise gift of 15 bikes for the 15 kids at the Summit.
Ron Kunstadt of Ottawa's Kunstadt Sports donated 10 bikes to the children. "We sell new and used bikes, so when I heard we could donate used bikes, we were able to up our donation from 3 bikes to 10 bikes." Later in the conference, Ron was awarded the Wheels of Change Award for being an outstanding supporter of Share the Road's many initiatives.
Colleen Mooney manager of Ottawa's Mountain Equipment Co-op store asked me at the ceremony if I recognized the MEC Dash that my daughter has been gear testing among the bikes being given away. I sure did and was so pleased to tell Anna Sierra that evening that the bike she's been having so much fun trying out now belongs to a girl her age who didn't have a bike.
The first thing Bob Laughton of Bushtukah said to me when I thanked him for donating bike accessories to the kids was, "You're in the neighbourhood, if you ever need anything for a community or school event, come on in to the store and ask for me." I know that local bike shops get asked for community donations frequently, sometimes even daily, so I was impressed with Bob's generosity. Later in the conference, Bob and his store were awarded the Bicycling with Heart Award for all that they do to support community events.
The bike giveaway was a heart warming moment at the conference. I was wiping away tears when the kids received their very own bikes. And I wiped away a few more while talking to the bike store owners and managers who were so humble and gracious and just so pleased to be getting more kids on bikes. Because that's what the Summit was all about -- expanding the opportunities for more people to bike more often.
I'd love to hear your family biking stories. You can reach me at: familiesonbikes[AT]momentumplanetDOTcom.