In search of Regina’s cycling culture

Historically Saskatoon and Regina have had a pseudo-feud going on… I say pseudo because I have never really seen it or experienced it, but have gotten the impression that we tend to compare ourselves a lot (i.e. the recent comparison of how well each city dealt with the dumping of snow).  I think overall, that comparisons can be a good thing, especially if we as citizens maintain solidarity and take inspiration from eachother rather than seeing it as a “my dad is tougher than your dad” type of situation.

Last Friday, I met with Gord Androsoff from Road Map 2020, a group from Saskatoon.  They will be organizing Saskatoon’s first Jane’s Walk this year and he wanted to chat about my experience organizing it in Regina last year.  We had a great conversation about much more than Jane’s Walks though, and shared lots of thoughts about our two prairie cities.

After leaving our conversation, I felt inspired but also my first little twinge of jealousy or comparison with Saskatoon.  I get the impression that over the last few months, Saskatoon has developed a very active cycling community.  This is not to say that Saskatoon is not just as car-centric as Regina, but it seems as though their cyclists have bonded.

The I Heart Bikelanes movement last September was pretty amazing.  After city administration provided new bike lanes in Saskatoon, a few organizers brought together 375 cyclists for a group ride as a big “thank you” to the City administration and Counsel.  What a great way to acknowledge such a positive step for the City’s future!  They are still organizing new events and Gord seemed to think that they want to take the I Heart Bikelanes project to other cities – Regina?  Let’s hope!

And, just this week, I got this message:

Artists are invited to submit sketches to a competition being held by Road Map Saskatoon, We Are Many (WAM), and the City of Saskatoon. Here is more information provided by these organizations:

The competition’s goal is to provide attractive and functional bicycle parking that will bring cyclists into commercial districts and contribute to people-friendly spaces. We intend to install bike racks throughout three communities in Saskatoon and hope that these bike racks can provide a visual symbol of Saskatoon’s commitment to becoming a sustainable, vibrant, and creative city. In order to make this happen we need input from our local artists, sculptors, and designers.

The goal is to commission five to ten designs that will be used to create at least 15 bike racks. More bike racks may be commissioned pending increased funding from the City of Saskatoon.

Sketches will be chosen by a panel composed of members of the art community as well as the Saskatoon Cycling Advisory Group. Each chosen design will be commissioned from the artist at a price of $400. Designs will be chosen based both on artistic merit as well as the functionality of the design as a bike rack.

Sketches will be accepted until March 6, 2010. Please contact us to obtain an information package with more details about this project and how to submit a sketch. We encourage you to distribute this invitation to other local artists who would be interested in this project.

For more information contact Amber Jones with Road Map Saskatoon at ajones@meewasin.com or 665-6887.

….. cool right?  It makes me think of these fantastic bike racks in New York designed by the epic David Byrne (New York decided to keep them after their initial installation… though no public project is complete without just a little bit of controversy).

These Saskatoon initiatives got me wondering about Regina’s cyclists.  I know they exist!  I’ve  seen them – even out in the cold!  But, does Regina have a cycling community?  People who promote and advocate for better services and infrastructure for our cyclists?  Again,  I know those people exist, but it seems like a lot of groups doing their small part and not one cohesive group.  We need some common rallying point to all come together.  Regina’s Derailleurs appear to be defunct, with the second last post on their facebook group stating “2 people showed up for last month’s Critical Mass!”….. really, that’s it?

However, I imagine that our cycling community is just hybernating at the moment as it appears that the last Critical Mass was September 2009.  So, I suppose I should just hold my horses and hope that Regina’s cyclists come together in the spring.

In the meantime – someone really should pick up the Derailleurs blog, connect with the Saskatoon folks and start building that bi-city solidarity I mentioned!  Cyclists unite!

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In search of Regina’s cycling culture

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