By Kira Judge
Hot Drinks Outside is evolving. Due to the pandemic, many of us are working from home or otherwise adjusting to new realities. Our Hot Drinks Outside meetups at various locations on Friday mornings were awesome: It was great to see regulars and new participants each week, as we celebrated the beauty of mornings, community, and winter cycling.
We don’t know what things will look like when we are through the pandemic. But for now, we are shifting this weekly event to Saturday afternoons from 2 pm to 4 pm — starting this week (Saturday, March 20th). Our new host for the next while will be Life Outside Gear Exchange, one of our new Friends of Cycling sponsors. You will be able to enjoy their store offerings, a fire pit, and some fun for your kids. Revolve Café (also located in the old farmers market location) will be offering hot chocolate for sale, if you forget (or decide not) to bring your own hot drink.
Our decision to move to Saturdays was based on some things we’ve learned from collaborating with other cycling advocates around the world — people like Melissa Wenzel from Saint Paul, Minnesota. Her inspiring story and her community advocacy success shows that when we focus on cycling infrastructure that is family friendly, we are more likely to succeed.
Melissa is a community builder in her city; she volunteers for many projects. She is also a Leukemia survivor and she shared with me some tips on overcoming obstacles faced by professional women who want to live car-free. Winter need not be an obstacle to cycling, says Melissa: All you need to change is your clothing and your attitude. She motivated me by pointing out that being seen on a bike is enough to inspire others — especially if you are a woman. Cycling in nature and community heals you, as you learn to overcome some of the obstacles you’ve constructed in your own mind, such as weather (it’s too cold), time (cycling takes too long), and appearance (I won’t look professional).
Melissa points out that inclusive cycling infrastructure is about economical and racial diversity and inclusion, social and environmental justice, and the lots of savings that one can spend on other fun things. Her conservative estimate is that she save about US$7,000 a year by cycling everywhere.
2020 was a year of cycling in Saint Paul, according to Melissa. Due to unprecedented demand for outdoor experiences, bikes were sold out and many families found cycling a great way to get around and learn about their community.
Melissa suggests that if a person feels uncomfortable starting to ride on their own, they should find a Bike Buddy to show them the ropes. Saskatoon Cycles will be offering Bike Buddies to new riders as part of the Bike to Work week events that we have planned. Stay tuned for more details.