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Bike Month Calendar

I’m continuing an overview of all Bikeology does to support an emergent bicycle culture in Edmonton. In addition to our classic one-day and “days of the bikey week” events, the following are projects that we co-create. I believe they could continue to grow in the hands of larger networks.

Edmonton’s Bike Month
Since 2002, Bikeology Festival has helped to keep bicycles on Edmonton’s transportation map by putting them in the public eye as many times as possible – in June. We were delighted when the City inaugurated Edmonton’s Bike Month in June 2004. Our Bikeology Festival website calendar became a semi-official Edmonton Bike Month reference, and we use it to cross-promote all forms of bicycle events.

Commuter Challenge
Bicycles compete with other modes to see which is the most energy efficient as they cross the river and head downtown in the early morning commuter rush. Bagel Units allow comparisons between food calories, gasoline and electricity over distance. I have stated that it may be getting awkward for a bicycle society to host a competition we win every year, and perhaps 2014′s lack of sign-ups confirms this. On a larger scale, I see that Albertans were number two in signups for the Canadian Commuter Challenge this year!

Local Bike Store Day
We have a special, long-term relationship with Edmonton’s independent bike stores. They donate sensational swag to fill our prize bags each year. They are an irreplaceable part of Edmonton’s expert cycling communities. June is the busiest time for local bike store staff, and we have had little luck inducing them to display at our events. In 2012, we decided to bring Bikeology to them. We created a day on the Bike Month calendar to inspire folks to go into their local bike store, where they receive in-store specials and customer appreciation.

Bike Movie Film Festival
I’m super proud of our unique, annual Bikeology: Movie Mondays and Bike-in Movie events. From time to time, we have sponsored screenings of bike-lectic short movie compilations out of Edmonton, Vancouver and Portland. But then there’s the high-profile glamour of a whole weekend devoted to the latest, international blockbusters, such as New York’s Bicycle Film Festival. One day I hope it tours through Edmonton.

Bikeology Future

It’s no surprise there is a growing demand for bicycle celebrations, well beyond the capabilities of our little not-for-profit society. Right now, VELO is discussing the following:

Can we inspire other individuals or organizations to host bicycle events in their communities? We have always shared the benefits of our experience informally through our networks. An authorized “Guide to Bike Month Event Planning” has a nice ring to it.

Another concept that is very twenty-tens engages the social networking movement – virtual events. If we encouraged Edmonton cyclists to independently ride to any theatre on “Movie Monday” or any restaurant on “Foodie Friday,” would they then Tweet, FB or blog about it? With no experience in social networking myself, I wonder if the incentives are inherent or we should we dip into our prize bag.

Next time I will address how a month for bicycles promotes more transport options year round, but for now…

Bike Month Awaiting

My bicycle seems okay after years of neglect, but I don’t want to ride too far until it’s been checked over and the chain has been cleaned and oiled. I’ve missed (again!) all the free bike check opportunities we provide during Bike Month. The shoemaker’s child has never been so barefoot.

I’m confident I can do the chain myself. I’ve seen this done enough times, and I found an easy guide on wikiHow… However… on further reflection, washing dust off my bike in the back plaza is one thing, but I’m not feeling good about setting up to do maintenance anywhere on the property. Hmmm…

Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society provides workspace, tools, parts and expert instruction for nominal fees in two locations. A website search tells me that Edmonton Transit System has installed bike racks on all city buses this year! I could bus my bike there. Estimate for DIY option is $25.00 and four hours. I practiced putting my bike on the bus rack at Bikeology Festival Day… once… many years ago…

I gave my local bike store a call. I could walk my bike there in 20 minutes. Total will be about $200.00 for a check, tune-up and replacement of the missing parts. It’s their busy time. Turnaround is ten days…

This article is part of a series in honour of the tremendous changes that have happened while I’ve studied and helped to promote Bikeology from 2001 to the present. We (VELO) are redefining our vision and mission for the future. I present part one of an outline of all Bikeology does to support an emergent bicycle culture in Edmonton.

Bikeology Festival Day

This one-day showcase of bicycles, music and family fun used to contain a “Sustainable Future Fair,” the only annual eco-fair outside of Earth Day. In 2010, with both bike and eco- events growing in number, we decided to make the day totally bike focused. In 2013, we moved to Churchill Square and continue to highlight the arts and culture aspects of cycling. (Thanks Beaver Hills House Park for 11 years of bike-ecological fun!)

Bikeology: Days of the Bikey Week

I think of these staple events as the tread that keeps Edmonton’s Bike Month on track. We used to run each of them two or four times per month, with the idea there would be something bikey to do every day in June. In 2014 we cut back to one of each as the gaps in the Bike Month calendar are filling with events organized by others.

Bikeology: Movie Monday at Metro Cinema
This evening of bicycle-themed films, prizes and presentations was also the only venue for locally made “bike shorts” – pre-YouTube.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays: salons and workshops
Salons are informal cafe gatherings with a guest speaker to share stories about touring and other adventures. Workshops are technology or craft, hands-on, learning opportunities with expert instructors. Lately, “BikeWriting Circles” provide an Edmonton contribution to a gloriously growing, international bicycle literary scene.

Bikeology: Mocktails on the Bridge
This is a casual, outdoor cyclist “happy hour,” where folks whip up their own pedal-powered smoothies and generally hang out. Although usually on a Thursday, we had to reschedule twice due to rain this year.

Bikeology: Bikey Breakfast
On Fridays we set up outside on major routes and greet Edmonton’s commuter cyclists – after a long, hard winter – with carbs, coffee and free bike checks. Sometimes we partner with a host cafe and provide free “bike fuel” to anyone who arrives on a bicycle.

Bikeology Year Round

In 2014, VELO investigated possibilities for expanding Bikeology into other months of the year. We started by tweaking two of our existing celebrations:

Bikeology: Ride-in Movie – late summer/early fall
This lovely, late-evening event brings cyclists down to the Victoria Park Cricket Ground to watch bike movies outdoors. In 2014, we moved it from June to August. This was done partly as a tester for year-round Bikeology but mostly because of several rainout and near-rainout years in a row.

Get Ready for Bike Month Event – early springtime
In April 2014, we adapted our Edmonton Earth Day display. In addition to the usual promo and volunteer recruitment, we provided information resources for the aspiring summer transportation cyclist to get ready for festival season. I think this concept could be expanded, with the possibility of adding free bike checkups, gear swap and education.

There’s more, and I will continue in the next article. I have a second, but not secondary, mission…

To Love is to Wash, Pump & Oil

After receiving permission from our building manager to clean our bikes in the back plaza, my husband, Bob, and I went down and warily opened the bike shed doors. My trusty steed looked like she was rode hard and put away wet, as the cowgirls say.

We pulled our bikes out into the afternoon sunshine. I took the top layer of dust off mine with a dry cloth. Bob maintains his bike regularly, and so he was done pretty quick.

I then filled a bucket and washed my bike from top to bottom. Paint is badly scratched, one of the brake handles is broken, and the front headlight is missing. Like her rider, she’s slightly worse for wear. I dried and polished while Bob pumped the tires.

“I wonder if she’s rideable.” “Only one way to find out,” Bob answers. I jumped on and slowly rode around the plaza. I am instantly lighter. A soft breeze moves through my hair. I feel as though I’m taking flight.

Oh yeah! That’s the stuff.

Now, to clean and oil the chain…

BREAKFAST…yummy yummy breakfast, Friday, June 27, 7-9 a.m. at Winston Churchill Square… oh, the delight… a pleasurable ride, a bit of nosh, a bevvy, and then the final day of work for the week…

After which you can join us for Mocktails on the Bridge, a Critical Mass, and a Classic Show and Shine… send June out with a BANG….

Qu’elle drag! the weather is NOT participating… Sooooo, off we go, rescheduling the Mocktails on the Bridge to FRIDAY, JUNE 27… again, folks same hour, same location… new day… with a probability of precipitation of only 20%…

By way of catch-up…

Bikeology is a wondrous phenomenon that provides unique opportunities to try new things, such as “BikeWriting”. This article series is part of my transition from environmental media activist to writer. I want to share my experiences with upcoming generations as I retire. I wrote one last year and then had to quit, but Bike Month has cycled back…

Bikeological Musings

I began promoting the bicycle in 1996 because it showed promise as one solution for an ecologically sustainable, technologically advanced society. The more I studied the bicycle in relation to my new colleagues, the transportation cycling advocates, the more fascinated I became.

What is this relationship between the bicycle and a life infused with the best qualities for being a sustainable human?

I noted self-reliance, joy in conservation, appreciation for the environment (natural and built), inventiveness, generosity with knowledge, community involvement and adventurousness. More than this, I envied the glow, the physical confidence, as though in full occupation of one’s body, which typifies the experienced transportation cyclist.

With help from my cycling friends, I became a successful bicycle commuter for a couple of summers. My sister’s old mountain bike was kitted out with panniers, lights and a fender, and I rode from home to office to meetings and events. I scared myself a bit with unexpected daring and exhilarating speed as I raced past cars and negotiated the quickest routes. I’m a cautious person but riding in traffic causes an adrenaline rush that really gets one moving and feeling powerful indeed!

Unfortunately, that bike was stolen. As the 2000′s powered along, I got busier and busier providing environmental media services and, though a full-time eco-mobiler, did not reach that level of functionality on a bicycle again.

Last year, I had plans to renew the velo-love through a leisurely exploration of Bike Month as a participant and bike-writer. I wanted to catch that spirit again. Instead, my hopes turned out flatter than a couple of tires sitting neglected in the bike shed for two years.

Activism demands that one mobilize all available resources – even disappointment.

During the fall and winter, as the VELO board put our heads together to plan Bikeology Festival 2014, I mused about my failure to even get my bike out last year. I thought of the other busy moms and dads, retiring grandparents, and overloaded Albertans out there.

We believe there is a population that would ride if they could. We’re learning that switching transportation modes in the middle of a busy life is akin to making the attempt while driving 30 kph down the road. Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) teaches that small obstacles can add up to absolute barriers in such conditions, and all the information in the world accomplishes nothing. Locally adapted, practical assistance targeted at these obstacles, combined with culturally sensitive encouragement, is the trick.

VELO reconfirmed that attracting new and inexperienced cyclists is an important part of our mission. Our major partner the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society (EBC) has been providing practical assistance to this group for decades, and this year we began investigating how Bikeology can focus in and help.

Edmonton’s Earth Day Event in late April is a regular promo opportunity. This year we added an appeal to those fabulous folks who are interested in green living, but not yet cycling. We provided checklists and directions to local resources. “Get ready to ride for transportation and fun to one of Edmonton’s supreme summer cycling destinations!”

I’m really thinking, “Try it once and you will be hooked. Heh, heh, heh.”

Bikeology Festival Day 2014 was in its second year in our new location. Churchill Square is wide open with lots of walk-through traffic. There’s more room to expand the bicycle training, games and arts workshops. Although I miss the “backyard-party” feel of our old location in the park, I think this is a good move. We will reach more new people here.

Bike Month Adventures

I took the bus to Bikeology Festival Day to enjoy pedal-powered music and poetry, cool bikes and catching up with friends. As I relaxed into the beautiful, sunny afternoon, I was reassured that Mother Nature does love our festival.

Now… time to dust off my bike, pump the tires, and get riding!