A continuation from Laura Robinson’s previous guest post, where she shared her thoughts about the On the move in the community! conference and told us she that would be riding in the Tour la Nuit.
Laura Robinson: What could be more fun then over 9,000 cyclists taking over downtown Montreal on a Friday evening? I met our gracious hosts from Velo Quebec at the most amazing Velo Maison, a Victorian rambling house that has been added to and added to as this non-profit organization continues to grow. Now with 80 full-time staff and another 30 temporary to help with the organization of un Tour la Nuit and Tour de I’ile on the first weekend of June the house vibrates with the energy of people who love to ride, and/or are simply committed to a culture where bicycles count.
I arrived around 5:30 on Friday evening after a short tour up Mount Royale and a “negotiated” ride on Montreal’s cycling lanes. The lanes are fashioned in a way that has the coming and going cyclists on the same side of the street on a somewhat narrow lane, with a yellow line between them. The success of Montreal’s cycling campaign is obvious as hundreds of cyclists going in different directions vie for a narrow slice of the pavement. But I made it along rue Rachel to find hundreds more cyclists already preparing for a ride that started three hours later.
Velo Maison offers a store and cafe downstairs so after a tour of the travel office and the place which is the heart of cycling in Quebec–which includes the ever expanding second and third stories, as well as the new patio off to the side, we settled into fabulous fresh food and conversation. Journalists from New York, Toronto and Seattle attended, along with CEO of Cycle New York. I think the Americans decided to move to Montreal by the time the outdoor cafe meal had ended and we were all straddling our saddles.
The start of the festival was a blast. Volunteers had dressed up in all kinds of great get-ups, music blasted, cyclists had decorated bikes like we were all ten years old again and bike cops and motorcycle cops led the way.
Riding through the neighbourhoods of Montreal as the sun sets behind Mount Royale and neighbourhoods come out to cheer us on is an experience never to be forgotten. Before I knew it the 20 km were over and I rode back to my hotel, dodging through festive summer streets as only Montreal can deliver.
Tundra Books: That’s not all, Laura Robinson celebrated the launch of Cyclist BikeList with Octopus Books two days later! Here are some event photos, posted with permission and courtesy of Tim Bouma:
Phoenix, Laura Robison, Yannick, and Noah!
Noah on his unicycle reading Cyclist BikeList! Now that takes skills! Sarah and her daughter Breanna are sharing a joke in the background. Breanna is a member of the Anishinaabe Racers that Laura Robinson coaches.
Sarah (Breanna’s mother) juggling.
Many thanks to Steve and his great team at Octopus Books! They were up against dark skies, rain clouds, and cold temperatures, but the kids who came had a fun time.
You can also follow our daring bloggers on twitter! We will be using the hashtag #AlisonDare
Not only do we have a blog tour, we are also running a contest! We double-dog dare you toenter. You could win an Alison Dare prize pack! What’s in the prize pack? Signed copies of the Alison Dare graphic novels, a limited edition button, a sticker, a bookmark, and membership to a very daring club!
Want more? Come back tomorrow for more tour stops!
Welcome to Day 1 of The Double Blog Dare Tour. The bloggers have been working hard helping Alison Dare go on adventures. We are so excited that this week has finally arrived, so please, sit back and enjoy the photos:
Laura Robinson, author of Cyclist BikeList: The Book for Every Rider, attended On the move in the community! in Montreal. Here are some of her thoughts after the conference.
Laura Robinson: Imagine a place where all planning decisions put the right of children to live in a safe place where it was easy to ride their bikes, run around or skateboard first. Where doing business was not more important than having fun. Impossible? Traffic engineer Leah Bisutti from Burlington, Ontario says that is how we must design planning guidelines. Bisutti was speaking at a panel entitled, “Safe Routes to School—Canada’s Best Practices” along with her colleague Jennifer Jenkins, who is a public health nurse with the City of Burlington, at the “On the Move in the Community” conference in Montreal on June 3, 2010.
Velo Quebec organized the conference. They are an amazing non-profit cycling advocacy organization that employs 80 full-time staff and another 30 building up to this conference and their spectacular Tour la Nuit, which I am riding in tonight, and the legendary Tour de l’ille, which happens on Saturday, June 5 when tens of thousands of cyclists will converge on the city and ride to their heart’s delight.
Tour de l’Ille started in 1985 with 3,500 cyclists braving cool, rainy weather. In 2009, when they celebrated their 25th anniversary, 35,000 came out! Tour la Nuit was initiated in 1999. Last year they had 13,000. Of course because this is Montreal, a festival is a real festival. I will report on what the start and finish areas are like, but I know one thing for sure—this isn’t a race—but a super fun time on a bike.
Things were a little more serious yesterday when experts like Leah Bisutti and Jennifer Jenkins talked about what it takes to get kids out of their parent’s cars and onto bikes or sidewalks. The weird thing is, every survey of kids shows that they LOVE riding their bikes. It is decisions by adults—parents and politicians—who decide life outside of the confines of the automobile is just too dangerous. How ironic given that it is the automobile that makes going to school far more dangerous than it has to be for children. Experts from across Canada and Europe showed how much safer the environment is, not to mention cleaner, when parents DO NOT DRIVE THEIR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL. Instead, parents and Safe Routes to School advocates, along with kids do a “walkabout” in their neighbourhood and decide what needs to be fixed (more signs that say kids are around, more crossing guards, signage that shows kids where the least car infested streets are, lower speed limits and traffic calming devices), and then they plan their walking school bus. Everyone has a blast and arrives at school ready to learn. Every study completed recently shows that kids learn better after engaging in cardio-respiratory exercise. But even if this does happen, riding a bike is a blast, and so is walking to school with friends and that is reason enough to do either activity.
The Leah and Jennifer team are going to work on getting kids on bikes for transportation to school for next year. So leave the car at home whether you are ensuring a child gets to school or if you are on your way too work or play. Get your running shoes out or your bike or both and have a blast.