By Meaghan Bury and Molly Little
BELLEVILLE — Many people are trading in their car keys for bicycle helmets in support of Belleville’s first Bike Month which aims to promote cycling in the city.
The month-long event kicked off May 31 with the Commuter Challenge, which encouraged employees to leave their cars at home.
Tanya Hill, health promoter for Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health, is excited about this chance to help make Belleville more bike-friendly.
“One of our goals is to change the culture to help shift people away from our car-centric culture to a more bike-centric culture.”
Hill believes the city is on the right path and that the events this month will bring out a greater awareness of what needs to be done in the future to make the roads safe for all travelers.
In response to safety concerns from the biking community, councilor Egerton Boyce says that bike lanes are first on the agenda, with Yeomans St. already underway.
Boyce gave up his vehicle for local commutes for the month to better understand the needs of cyclists in Belleville.
Boyce says he is enjoying his experience and it is giving him a better perspective of ways to make biking more accessible.
“I’ve gone to places that haven’t got bike racks and they’ve been willing to go out and purchase [them] for the biking community,”
He hopes changes like more bike lanes and more bike racks will inspire more people to get active and experience the benefits that cycling has to offer.
“I encourage many people to enjoy it…not just for the health but for slowing down and enjoying the journey to the destination.”
Boyce speaks highly of the local bike shops and their willingness to help. He says staff are very passionate about cycling.
Adam Tilley, who works at Ideal Bike in the city’s downtown says Bike Month is just the beginning for Belleville.
“The cycling community that we see in the shop, it’s grown pretty rapidly.”
Ideal Bike hosted a “Shop and Mingle” on June 6 which included a ride and talks about the future of cycling infrastructure.
Tilley gave up his car five years ago and thinks Belleville’s smaller size is a good foundation to build a cycling town on.
Bike Month will continue until the end of June and includes upcoming events like the Glow Ride and Pedal Palooza Bike Festival.