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Biking it My Way 13

Some time ago, my friend – the filmmaker and fellow cycling advocate – Mike Rubbo asked me if I would like to engage in international collaboration on two videos that highlight women cyclists who – in Mike’s words – choose different bikes for different hikes.

So I set out to find a woman who would fit the profile – somebody who wears the lycra racing gear (and a helmet) on weekends, but rides a stylish sit-up bicycle during the week (sans helmet).

Yvonne Bambrick – the Executive Director for the Toronto Cyclists Union – put me in touch with the passionate Toronto cyclist Briana Illingworth.

Briana is a fascinating person and was a perfect match because her love for cycling extends not only on her commute to work – but in her job itself.

Briana is a Transportation Policy and Planning Advisor for Metrolinx – the provincial organization setup to “champion, develop and implement an integrated transportation system [in the Greater Toronto area] that enhances prosperity, sustainability and quality of life”.

Briana’s focus is on Active Transportation and her vision is a community where people have the option to get around on bicycles without any special clothing or equipment.

I took footage of Briana on a weekend in her racing gear and on a weekday in her regular clothes without a helmet.

Bicycle

In the film, Briana shows us that you don’t always need to be in a hunched down position on a racing bicycle. Taking it slow, on a sit-up bicycle is a more comfortable and safer way to get around the city.

Well ahead of me, Mike finished his film – Bike it or Not – featuring Jill Charlton. The focus of Mike’s film is Australia’s mono culture of sport cycling as opposed to the European slow, sit-up style cycling.

Speaking personally, I can say that getting out on my bike is the most refreshing part of my day. It clears my mind, provides me some exercise, gets me to my destination efficiently, and it damn near doesn’t cost a thing.

In North America, cycling is dominated by men – in the US there are at least 2 men for every woman cyclist. Compare that to the Netherlands, where 55% of riders are women.

An increase in the percentage of women cyclists is usually a sign that the conditions for cycling are improving.

If all men and women considered using a sit-up style bicycle in regular clothes like Briana, it would have a traffic-calming effect – making our neighbourhoods safer and more livable.

A truly successful cycling community is one where everybody rides bikes – men, women, children and the elderly.

If you know someone who has considered using their bicycle for transportation but was too intimidated in our car-dominated North American cities, then please send them these videos to help encourage them to join the slow cycling movement.

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com.

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