Municipal Election 2014

Riding Bikes for Fun (Candidate Submission)

If only we could all just remember what it was like to be a carefree ten-year-old riding a bike around town or somewhere far off in the woods.

By Marc Risdale
Published October 02, 2014

Hamilton loves to politicize cycling. Even I made a big deal out of submitting my nomination papers to City Hall by bike. True, there have been some major wins like the Cannon Street cycle track and the new Hamilton Bike Share.

But for every one of those, we still have letters to the editor espousing non-starters like special licenses and taxes for cyclists.

If only we could all just remember what it was like to be a carefree ten-year-old riding a bike around town or somewhere far off in the woods.

I entered the "field" of politicized cycling after a lifetime of riding bikes for fun. In fact, the very reason I got political in the first place was because I wanted to have even more fun.

Via social media, a large group of mountain bikers from across Hamilton wanted to build some sanctioned single track trails somewhere inside the city limits. There are several kilometers of fantastic multi-use paths in Hamilton but all of our mountain bike trails up to then had been what we call "rogue" builds.

We joined together and started lobbying any organization that owned a sufficiently large chunk of land. I managed our advocacy efforts and took it upon myself to start attending Cycling Committee meetings as a citizen.

That was about six years ago and here I am now, Vice-Chair of the Cycling Committee, having built nearly ten kilometers of trails at Christie Lake Conservation Area and I'm running for a seat on Council to represent Ward 13 (Dundas). You never know where a simple bike ride might take you.

Yet, I remain a staunch advocate of riding your bike for fun. I just need to be reminded of it from time to time.

I recently took a Friday afternoon off of canvassing to go for a much-needed bike ride. I left Dundas along the rail trail, crossed the 403 and made my way to Cannon along Dundurn, Herkimer and Hess. I rode the new cycle track all the way to Tim Horton's Field and back to the new James North GO station. Finally, I looped back home along the Waterfront Trail, through Westdale and Mac. It was great way to experience the city and I arrived home completely reinvigorated.

Soon after that, I was canvassing a quiet little court not far from my house. I ran into a gentleman unloading a car in a driveway. Anyone who has ever done a little bit of canvassing can tell you that you never know what you are going to get when you strike up a conversation on the campaign trail.

Things were going well. The man was a retired teacher for the Catholic board and moved to Dundas a few years ago from Hamilton. We were having a great conversation when all of a sudden, he asked, "Have you ever thought about building a skatepark in Dundas?" Though I had something of a hard time picturing him on a skateboard, I responded, "Of course!"

He excitedly dragged his son out of the basement and made a quick introduction. The young man's eyes lit up at the possibility. I had made a connection. It's worth noting that the two nearest skateparks to Dundas are in Waterdown and Beasley - not exactly ideal for kids in Dundas.

I remember sitting near the bandshell in the Driving Park on Canada Day, the day I committed to run for Council, and turning to my wife to say, "Dundas needs a skatepark." I figured that while this was a great idea, there was no way to make it a platform plank. It's not the sort of thing you can promise unilaterally.

At this point, you might be asking what a skatepark has to do with riding your bike. The answer is everything! The great thing about skateparks is that they do double-duty as bike parks, and properly located and managed, they can be hubs for youth in the neighbourhood.

Getting kids outdoors, active and involved is very important to me because it leads to a lifetime of happiness and achievement.

With that in mind, I hereby pledge to do everything I can to bring a skatepark to Dundas. Now, get out there and go for a bike ride!


Raise the Hammer has an open call to candidates for the upcoming municipal election to submit opinion articles for publication. We will publish any submission that meets our submission guidelines.

Marc Risdale is a candidate for Ward 13 (Dundas) in the October 29, 2014 municipal election.

26 Comments

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 02, 2014 at 10:14:00

As a person who rides a bike for transportation, this is exactly how I feel. I try to tell people: Remember that glorious feeling you had as a kid riding a bike? That doesn't go away when you become a grownup.

Incidentally, this is consistently reflected in commuter surveys: the happiest commuters are people on foot and on bike, followed by people on rail transit (ahem), followed by people in cars, followed by people on bus transit.

I can never understand drivers who simultaneously a) complain about how much they hate driving and b) oppose efforts to make alternatives to driving more widely available.

According to StatsCan a third of employed Hamiltonians live less than five kilometres from work. (Another 23 percent live between five and ten kilometres from work.)

The average adult can maintain a biking speed of 15 km/h by working about as hard as it takes to walk at a moderate pace. In other words, almost 100,000 Hamiltonians could theoretically ride to work in less than 20 minutes of easy cycling.

Even if only ten percent of that fraction of Hamiltonians who live less than 5 km from work were to choose cycling, that would take almost 10,000 cars off our streets every day. That would reduce congestion, reduce air pollution, lengthen the life of the roadway, improve public health and increase the aggregate happiness of commuters.

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By Vote Larry Storm Ward 5 (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2014 at 18:05:10 in reply to Comment 105145

I do not think taxing or licensing bicycles makes sense. It will cost so much more to police cycling than the revenue would generate. The goal is to get more people on bicycles and create a 12 month cycling mentality,like in the Netherlands here. And Hamilton is a great place to start! My bike rides are generally to work along the Waterfront trail to my workplace in Burlington, but I've also picked my 18 month son up from daycare near Parkdale and Barton. Cycling should be encouraged! Taxing or licensing, in my opinion would deter many to take up two wheel transit!

We should be making it easier and better to live in Hamilton, not more expensive!

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By Wakeup (anonymous) | Posted October 02, 2014 at 10:58:09

Frankly, I believe people who choose to drive instead of walk or bike when it is perfectly realistic to do so will burn in hell for contributing to the destruction of our enviornment. No understatement.

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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted October 02, 2014 at 12:18:36 in reply to Comment 105149

Any chance you can share some other examples of your humbling omniscience? (Never mind being the Lord of Hyperbole)

Care to make any other judgements based on Heightened Damnation?

Perhaps I should re-phrase my question: Could you tell us who's NOT on your Eternal Sh%te List? Because, given your stridency, this litany would probably be much, much shorter.

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By Wakeup (anonymous) | Posted October 02, 2014 at 13:29:01 in reply to Comment 105156

Did I hurt your feelings? Truth be told. I don't care. Bad behaviour needs to be called out. Participate in ruining our already suffering enviornment by selfish, unthoughtful choices, then you can go to hell.

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By TheDude (registered) | Posted October 07, 2014 at 20:57:16 in reply to Comment 105161

Did I hurt your feelings? Truth be told. I don't care. Bad behaviour needs to be called out.

Sounds a bit like the pot calling the kettle black!

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 02, 2014 at 15:23:24 in reply to Comment 105161

Not to mention that motorists kill 94 people in Hamilton every year with their lethal cancer poison attacks. With children and the elderly being most vulnerable to these lethal poisons.

In my opinion, a special circle of deepest Hell is earned by the sort of violent, dangerous, child abusing criminal that launches a lethal cancer poison attack upon innocent children.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted October 02, 2014 at 11:11:10

"It's worth noting that the two nearest skateparks to Dundas are in Waterdown and Beasley - not exactly ideal for kids in Dundas."

No kidding! Glad to see that candidates are thinking about recreational facilities that communities will use. Especially youth.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 02, 2014 at 12:25:18 in reply to Comment 105150

The city tried to get a skate park built in Churchill Park in Westdale. You can imagine how that went over with the neighborhood busybodies.

That said, there is a private facility in Dundas called Inflow. My son went to a birthday party there and was absolutely giddy about it.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-10-02 12:26:36

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By Kevin Browne (anonymous) | Posted October 02, 2014 at 11:47:41

I'm not much of a cyclist myself, but if you want to "ride bikes for fun" as an adult, I recommend checking out the Hamilton Glowriders. They put glowsticks on their bicycles and do a group ride around the city, and it's as fun as it sounds. You can find them on Twitter: @theglowriders

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted October 02, 2014 at 12:01:50

If only we could all just remember what it was like to be a carefree ten-year-old riding a bike around town or somewhere far off in the woods.

As a thank-you present to my mother-in-law, I recently had her not-ridden-in-25-years CCM Elan (more or less like this) tuned up and spruced up. We went for a test ride down the block and her very words were "I'm ten years old again!".

Comment edited by moylek on 2014-10-02 12:02:29

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted October 02, 2014 at 12:41:37 in reply to Comment 105155

That's a beautiful bike!

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 02, 2014 at 15:26:46

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By TheDude (registered) | Posted October 06, 2014 at 05:27:38 in reply to Comment 105165

That's a great looking bike. How does it handle, and if you're willing to post it here, what did it cost? If you aren't comfortable posting here I'll stop by the store on my way home from work sometime this week.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted October 02, 2014 at 16:01:17 in reply to Comment 105165

By chance did you get it at urkai on Guelph Line in Burlington? That place is a cyclist's dream come true. So glad they picked this part of the world to set up their shop.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 02, 2014 at 21:17:38 in reply to Comment 105167

No, I got it at Curbside Cycle in Toronto five years ago.

I was in Urkai last month salivating over the Azor Pick Up bike. If only I had an extra couple of thousand dollars hanging around...

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted October 02, 2014 at 16:34:37 in reply to Comment 105167

By chance did you get it at urkai on Guelph Line in Burlington?

That's certainly where I got my new commuter/shopper/stationwagon bike ...

new ride

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By Nice. (anonymous) | Posted October 02, 2014 at 16:42:39 in reply to Comment 105168

Sweeet ride.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted October 02, 2014 at 16:00:12 in reply to Comment 105165

I cannot believe that I have not see that bike around town ... though I have seen one very like it belonging to someone else.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 02, 2014 at 21:22:01 in reply to Comment 105166

Yes, there is someone else that I have seen riding in Durand on a Pashley Roadster. I've said "hi" to him a few times whilst riding by.

The Pashley frame rusted out and they are replacing it at a reduced price. The frame's five-year warranty does not cover the paint, but I whinged...

So right now I'm riding my backup bike until the new frame comes in. A 1970's CCM bike. Made in Canada! Perhaps the steel was even made in Hamilton.

I've still got my very first "adult" bike. A 1975 Schwinn electro-forged in Chicago. But the frame is really too small for me, so it is my "guest" bike for visitors now.

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2014-10-02 21:23:53

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted October 03, 2014 at 13:50:09 in reply to Comment 105173

The Pashley frame rusted out and they are replacing it at a reduced price. The frame's five-year warranty does not cover the paint, but I whinged...

I've heard the same thing about Pashely's ... as much as I like the look and ride, that scared me off. The traditional Dutch brands (and many of the new Dutch brands) generally have powder-coated frames with lots of paint ... just the right thing for a damp, Dutch winter or snowy, Canadian winter.

My last - and stolen :\ - Dutch bike sat outside, rain and shine and sleet and snow, for more than four years and didn't have any rust on it at all. And because of the enclosed chain, it was still on its original chain, too.

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By Yup (anonymous) | Posted October 03, 2014 at 04:01:11

Pashley bikes are made in the same factories that all the other steel commuters are made in. Don't let the names on the down tube fool you.

But you can pay a premium for a name like Pashley....and if it's not for the frame quality, then what is it for?

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 03, 2014 at 22:03:58 in reply to Comment 105178

No. That's simply not true. See:

http://www.pashley.co.uk/about/our-facto...

The factory is in Stratford, England where the bicycles are designed and manufactured.

In a way that's the source of the problem. The Pashley Sovereign Roadster is an excellent design with an exquisite aesthetic and superbly practical for everyday use.

The problem is that it fully lives up to the British reputation for manufacturing reliability and quality. Rust is not the only quality problem that I've had. I've essentially rebuilt the entire bicycle so that now it looks good and is zero-maintenance like a Dutch bike.

At least it will be when my new frame comes!

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By Joshua (registered) | Posted October 03, 2014 at 11:30:58

Two things: currently on 89.5 FM CIUT, Green Majority Radio interviewed Claire from Campaign Fairness. A link is at http://www.campaignfairness.com. They are asking municipal candidates to refuse corporate and union donations. Also, in terms of sustainability, they are interviewing Chris at http://www.ontario-sea.org. Enjoy.

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By Yup (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2014 at 10:22:09

About Pashley, Yea Trek does the same thing. They show pictures and say that everything is produced in house.

Everyone who has worked in the industry knows that half of the frame production process or tubing is still produced Over seas in Asia regardless if they say made in England.

Rust is a problem for All steel bikes in Ontario or where salt is used on roads, including Dutch bikes. I have restored many Dutch bikes and it is a good idea to prep the inside of the frame with rust check.

I have never had a rust problem with any Canadian Hand Built Frame I have owned, as long as you treat it.

And unfortunately there is no bike that is zero maintenance. Every time I work on a dutch bike it needs more than the person thinks. Wheels go out of true, Chains need repair, cogs wear. Nothing lasts forever.

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By Danya Scime Dundas Councillor Candidate (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2014 at 07:55:02

Great writing Marc,

More needs to be done to ensure safe biking and walking through out our City.

Just thought I should let you know that we do have an indoor skateboard facility (which also allows trick bikes) in Dundas...it is called INFLO and it is located off of Hatt in the Industrial Park area.

My husband and I helped design the skateboard Park in Waterdown (outside) in Memorial Park.

Where there is a will, there is a way ~ to do more, to do better!

Have an awesome Thanksgiving everyone!

Danya Scime

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