In the fall of 2014 I made a conscious decision to become a cyclist, and the wheels were set in motion. I wanted a stress-free, convenient and reliable way to get to work and cycling was the answer!
By Liz Enriquez
Published October 06, 2015
My journey to becoming a daily cyclist began in the fall of 2014 while living near Gage Park. I was working downtown and did not want to start my mornings on an overcrowded bus full of gossiping students on their way to school.
For five solid years previously, I was a daily bus rider as I commuted to McMaster, and I was done with having to wait in the cold and rain, only to have a full bus pass me.
With some global road cycling experience under my belt, I was ready to take on the streets of Hamilton. I'd had a taste of road cycling as I spent some time living in Vancouver where a bike culture is strong, and Critical Mass bike movements are prevalent.
In addition to my Vancouver experiences, on my travels around the world I always took advantage of bike-share systems to see a city and save money. After biking and standing my ground against cars in London, Paris and Rome, I knew that I could handle the roads and drivers of the Hammer.
Riding a bike in San Francisco
Signing out a Vélib' in Paris
Around September 2014, I convinced my roommate to buy a bike with me. After shopping around, we bought some simple mountain bikes at New Hope Community Bikes.
I got my bike equipped with a basket for aesthetics and practicality and installed the required bell and lights for safety. The next day, we bought our helmets and locks, and we committed to cycling.
Though we had a car available to us, we didn't want to sit in traffic driving toward downtown and also didn't want to pay for parking. And so we set our alarm clocks 10 minutes earlier than usual, geared up and rode the Cannon bike lane westbound.
I was quite slow at first, and cyclists with slim, expensive-looking bikes constantly passed me and showed gracious bike etiquette by yelling "on your left" as they passed.
Our bike commute was faster than the bus, and I felt refreshed and relaxed when I made it to work.
After a few weeks of carrying my helmet and basket into the office, my co-workers were aware of my new social status of a cyclist. Other cyclists in the office helped me adjust my helmet straps and provided tips and stories of being 'doored' or hit by cars. These anecdotes were not meant to scare me, but to remind me of the importance of being vigilant and respectful of road signs.
When winter rolled around, I stopped cycling and appreciated the warm albeit crowded bus ride into work.
By 2015, I had moved into a new house by Bayfront Park and started a new job in the same building downtown as my previous job. My walk to work was a solid 20 minutes, though I am a notoriously slow-walker so another walker with an average pace and longer legs could probably walk that distance in 12 minutes.
During my first week of work, my co-worker - also a cyclist - informed me that our workplace would pay for my Hamilton Bike Share membership should I wish to cycle into work. I was thrilled, and I immediately initiated the purchase and cut my commute time by half.
Hamilton Bike Share bike
I was really pleased with the SoBi system, especially with their outstanding customer service and the convenience of the bikes!
Currently, I alternate between my bike and a SoBi bike, depending on whether I have time to go out of my way to unlock the SoBi. My partner rides a SoBi and says he's done more cycling this year than in the last ten years of his life. We have a car, but we bike to destinations less than 10km away or with limited parking.
As an environmentalist, slow-walker, lover of Hamilton, and a person who despises waiting in traffic, cycling is a no-brainer. I never worry about where I am going to park, or scramble for change to pay the meter.
I don't worry about parking tickets, and because my bike is not top-of-the-line, I don't worry about theft. I figure there are way nicer bikes a thief would prefer.
Biking to me is stress-free. It's convenient and walking just seems 'so last year'. Sometimes I wonder how I lived without riding my bike. It's a part of my routine, and I want to encourage everyone to give cycling a try!
I didn't become a cyclist overnight. The first time I rode my bike on the street was over six years ago, and only last year I became a daily commuter (and only during weather above freezing). Maybe next year, I will be a year-round cyclist and become a biking Viking!
You must be logged in to comment.
There are no upcoming events right now.
Why not post one?