April 17, 2021

ColdBikeCBY SCOTT DIETRICH

On the coldest day of winter, most people stay indoors with a warm drink sitting by the fire.

The Kitchener cycling advisory committee (KCAC) researched what is statistically the coldest day in the region and planned a bike trip on that day.

On Feb. 7 cycling enthusiasts gathered at Kitchener city hall to share stories about cycling in the city, and to share in some hot chocolate before they would attempt to ride 10 km around the city.

While the temperature wasn’t statistically the coldest of this winter, the -14 C weather wasn’t exactly desirable either.

For the second year, KCAC members, together with approximately 12 other brave cyclists, rode to test their endurance against the harshest winter elements.

The event was modeled after one that takes place in Toronto, and the KCAC plans to keep attempting the frigid ride every year.

The ride is supposed to be a fun activity, a sort of gut check for cyclists who would normally commute by other means in the winter.

It gives them a chance to see what it would be like if they kept cycling after the snow fell.

Peter Dides, the chair of the Kitchener cycling advisory committee, said biking in the winter is not that much of a hassle if cyclists just make a few minor adjustments to their bike.

New tires and some weather guards for the seat and handlebars should put anyone in good shape to handle the city’s roads and bike trails.

Dides said most people who would normally commute on their bike are discouraged because the city has been less than stellar this winter with their upkeep of bike trails and lanes in Kitchener.

“It’s a way to raise awareness about the situation the winter cyclists face,” Dides said.

“There are so many bike lanes that are not at all maintained so the roads get narrow and tight and it keeps people off the roads.

People who normally would ride in the winter are not willing to ride on the roads.

There are also bike trails that are labeled as class one bike trails that receive no maintenance in the winter.”

Class one trails are bike trails that are meant to be used year-round as major routes for those who commute by bike. So far, the trails have only been usable for half of the year.

Krista Roubos said there is more that could be done to accommodate the growing number of cyclists in the tri-cities, but said that the city has still come a long way.

“I think the cycling master plan has taken the city leaps and bounds above other cities in Ontario, but there is always room for improvement,” Roubos said. “Starting with maintaining bicycle lanes in the winter.

If you want to encourage cycling then you have to make a safe environment for cyclists.”

Those who commute to Conestoga College on a regular basis should know that Dides listed Lower Doon as one of the most dangerous spots in the city for cyclists, and said the city could make major changes to improve safety in the area.

“We know for sure that Doon has some serious connectivity issues especially coming into the city (from Doon),”

Dides said. Doon is definitely a priority area that needs addressing.

There is also a sort of black hole in terms of connectivity on Homer Watson at Block Line Road.”

Among the youngest of those in attendance was Lila Dudek, 2, who was there with her parents Peter and Kate.

The young married couple said they would probably not be able to finish the ride.

It all depended on what time during their journey their young passenger would start to complain.

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