Canada’s Cycling: Roots + Shoots

Sarah Ripplinger IconSarah Ripplinger portrait by Terry Sunderland

By Sarah Ripplinger

Happy Canada Day Momentumites! As we celebrate our country’s 142nd birthday, now is a good time to reflect on how far we’ve pedalled as a nation. For starters, Canada has been home to bikes since confederation, with many notable trailblazers leading the way to our modern, cycle-friendly cities.

A June 1895 account describes one “Lady Bicyclist” whose forward-thinking landed her in Newfoundland’s Daily News. She was cycling on a foggy day in St. John’s beside a young male companion when a reporter asked about the “propriety of the sport.” Her response: She believes in “woman suffrage and all the other privileges which the advanced woman says unjust laws deprive her of.” Her female contemporaries in Victoria might have agreed, as they cycled along the myriad of bike paths running across the city.

Today, women cyclists are as free to roam streets and pathways as their male counterparts. British Columbians have also extended our bike paths to stretch from one end of the province to the other. The Trans Canada Trail winds from Victoria, through the Cowichan Valley, over to the mainland (with the help of a floating conveyance of course), and all the way to the Alberta border. But, getting to where we are today hasn’t been a cakewalk. It has taken foresight, commitment, and cooperation both on the part of individuals and their broader communities.

In this issue of Momentum BC, we take a look at the inventive and innovative ways that British Columbians have adapted cycling to fit their unique needs. We hear from one Roberts Creek resident who has increased his profit margin by strapping a flour-mill to his front wheel. A Vancouver-based couple finds the answer to their commuting woes by souping-up an old bike. We also hear from Chris Johnson, who used his keen environmental sense and entrepreneurial spirit to spearhead a groundbreaking composting business. Likewise, an island-grown coffee shop owner takes on a business ethic with the planet in mind. We also learn how to capture candid moments from the back of a bike, get the scoop on cycle-centred political news in the province, hear from our legal expert, David Hay, on why it’s important to keep an eye on the speedometer, plus get the low-down on cycling events in your neck of the woods.

Slap on that sunscreen and keep those spokes spinning BC!

Sarah Ripplinger, BC Editor

Originally published in the July/ August 2009 issue of Momentum Magazine and on

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