A Critical Mass bike event saw around 40 participants ride through downtown Williams Lake on Oct. 14 as part of Go By Bike Weeks.
There were cyclists -and one longboarder- of all ages, from under seven to over seventy, some coming in costume.
Critical Mass bike rides are a form of direct action where people on bikes participate in a group ride on city streets.
An event which originated in San Francisco in the 90s and then became a worldwide phenomenon, the rides are meant to create a safe environment for people to ride their bikes on city streets and draw attention to the need for safe cycling infrastructure.
By participating in a group ride, riders feel a sense of safety and visibility while they might not otherwise feel comfortable riding on city streets alone.
The Williams Lake event was the finale for the local organizers of GoByBikeBC events, which ran from Oct. 3-16 and included a number of events throughout the community to engage, educate and increase opportunities for people to get out on bikes, scooters or on foot to actively get around in the community.
Participants in the Critical Mass ride went from Spirit Square around through some of downtown and then up to Boitanio Park, where the group paused briefly for a dance break and then continued on for a photo op at city hall and then down to Mr. Mike’s to hand out prizes and for some to socialize after the ride.
“I loved it, I felt energized,” said Denise Deschene, one of the organizers.
“I felt like it was a real demonstration of bike power in Williams Lake.”
Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson rode his bike with the group.
“It was an amazing event —great to see so many people active and promoting this active means of transportation,” he said after.
While the event was the finale for local organizers of Go By Bike Weeks Williams Lake, there had been a number of things hosted over the two weeks.
A pilot program at Cataline Elementary School saw two groups of students engage in “bike bus” rides, where volunteers ride with students on a designated route to school and then back home at the end of the day. Meant to provide safety in numbers for greater visibility, the group rides were well-received by students and parents.
Throughout the two weeks, Mary Forbes and her Feral Bike Recycling Program also visited schools in the area.
Forbes brings recovered unusable bikes to schools where students help recycle usable parts and return some parts for recycling by dismantling the bikes.
She also spent two days over the weekend of Oct. 8 and 9 hosting a Bike Swap at the Potato House in downtown Williams Lake where she would take in bikes outgrown or unused for repurposing or recycling and give away bikes for free.
Forbes said she gave away 25 bikes over the two days.
The Active Transportation Williams Lake and Go By Bike Williams Lake also hosted a Seniors on Wheels event at the Seniors Recreation Centre to engage with seniors about cycling.
Volunteers met with seniors to talk about cycling, what barriers might prevent some of them from cycling and then hosted an e-bike demo ride opportunity, with a couple of volunteers bringing bikes of their own and Spectra Power Sports bringing some of the e-bike models they have in stock.
Over the two weeks, 122 people registered online to participate in Go By Bike Williams Lake and collectively, logged over 4,528 km in 611 trips which resulted in an estimated savings of 982 kilograms in greenhouse gas emissions.