A cycling chat with Brian Pincott from Velo Canada Bikes

By Kira Judge, Co-Chair, Saskatoon Cycles

Later this week, I’ll be participating in an online version of the Winter Cycling Congress. I’m very exciting, as this event is a great way to connect with others around the world who are working toward more inclusive city infrastructure.

And speaking of infrastructure…a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Pincott, the Executive Director of Velo Canada Bike (VCB). VCB’s focus is on a national strategy for cycling infrastructure. Brian is a former Calgary city councillor and was instrumental in building that city’s cycling network. It cost Calgary less than $4 million dollars in 2014. The largest expense was special traffic lights, but even these were a relatively nominal cost. Brian believes everyone has a right to be safe while biking. He has some great stats on the sizeable ROI (return on investment) from the walking, cycling, and trees that are all part of great active transportation infrastructure.

I asked Brian a variety of questions about how to grow our cycling community. Here are some highlights of our conversation…

How do we increase awareness of the joys of winter cycling?

It is a matter of choice he says. It should not be expensive. The hardest decision to make is what to wear to be comfortable on your entire commute. Brian says it’s better to dress so you’re a little cold during the first 5 minutes — when your body’s furnace isn’t yet pumping out much heat — because then you can enjoy the rest of the commute unencumbered by bulky outer layers. Good cycling infrastructure is one of the keys to getting more people to choose the bicycle as a transportation option. On average, there are only about 10 days each year when you can’t bike in Canada either because of hailstorms or snowstorms.

How do we encourage others to embrace winter?

Some people use winter as an excuse not to go outside. We need to recognize that we are a winter city. We have to celebrate that we have six months of cold and start to embrace winter through events like Winter Shines. Some artists in Winnipeg have even made musical instruments out of ice — you can’t do that without colder temperatures!

How do we help kids adopt cycling as lifelong, lifestyle habit?

We need to design our city spaces for everyone, from 8-year-olds to 88-year-olds…so kids, parents, and grandparents. It is the parents who worry about their kids safety we need to convince about the benefits. Kids themselves are happy to go outside, explore nature, and have fun. Unfortunately, many parents believe it is safer to drive their kids to school than to have them ride their bike.

Watch my full conversation with Brian here…

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