Bike to work, with or without the heated lanes


Kathleen Lowe, of the Brockville cycling advisory committee, places her bicycle by one of the bike parking rings placed on King Street to lure more cyclists downtown.Among the things I didn't get a chance to report this week: the first week in June will be Bike to Work Week.

Now, I'd be more than glad to bike to work, especially since in my case it would be more a matter of blocks than kilometres.

The trouble is, if I am suddenly called to cover a fire in, say, Athens, it would be a pretty long haul on a bicycle, toting the camera bags and notepads, and I'd be sure to bust the deadline before getting back to the newsroom.

For people in more predictable professions, though, biking to work sounds like a worthy idea.

As does the ongoing initiative to promote bicycle parking downtown.

It's easy to enumerate the benefits of cycling. It's good for your health. It pumps fewer pollutants into the atmosphere. It frees up more downtown parking spots for cars. It gives the downtown-goer a more immediate connection to the street.

And Brockville is an ideal little city to turn into a bike-friendly location in its ongoing bid to lure more tourists. As noted by Alan Medcalf in the story, pretty much everything within the quadrant formed by the municipal boundaries is within cycling distance from everything else.

(The longest trek within that zone, adds Medcalf, is from the Brockville Country Club in the southwest to Procter and Gamble in the northeast, which he figures is about six kilometres.)

The members of the city's cycling advisory committee figure the more prevalent mindset, which sees cycling as strictly a mode of recreation, is slowly merging with another mindset, which sees it as a mode of transportation.

Other countries are further ahead than North America when it comes to using bikes instead of cars as a matter of course.

In fact, I recall a report a few months ago on Public Radio International about a Dutch company wanting to heat that country's cycling lanes during the winter by installing pipes under the asphalt.

(The initiative drew a derisory remark from one Finn, who referred to “tenderfeet mid-Europeans.”)

We're a long way from heated bike lanes in Brockville. Medcalf and his pals are already a long way further than other Canadian communities, I suspect, with the gains they've made, which include the rerouting of Brockville's portion of the Ontario Waterfront Trail to avoid cyclist-pedestrian collisions and the downtown bike rings and racks.

And North American cities may not be arranged, generally speaking, in as cycle-friendly a way as cities in The Netherlands.

Still, biking and Brockville do go well together, a fact we should all celebrate.