My bike: I ride where it’s safe to learn

Korin Knight won't be long in Vancouver but will cycle while she's here

Name: Korin Knight

Age: 35

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Bike: Borrowed, rented or loaned

Favourite Vancouver bike route: Point Grey Road

Quote: "I hate relying on my car."

 

Korin is a friend and adventurer from the U.K. who has recently found herself spending some time in Vancouver. As someone who came to cycling in adulthood and isn’t tremendously confident on a bike, she has a great take on the provisions Vancouver makes for cyclists and how our city contrasts to the more limited infrastructure available in Britain.

It’s easy to take these things for granted when we use them every day. A fresh set of eyes is a good reminder of how lucky we are here.

Tell us a bit about your cycling (or not cycling) background.

Korin Knight: Well, I never learned to ride a bike as a child. I had a few group lessons when I hit my 30s, and got to the point where I could physically make a bike go, but I was wobbly and there was no way I was going anywhere near a road.

Do you have a favourite cycling experience?

KK: The Burning Man festival in Nevada last year. It's so big that you really need a bike, otherwise it would take forever to get from one side of the festival to the other. It was loads of fun, and the only traffic was lots of other bikes and very slow-moving vehicles dressed up as all sorts of amazing creations. I think I developed new muscles just cycling round looking at the art... 

Were there specific things that discouraged you from cycling in the U.K.?

KK: Definitely the traffic. I knew so many people who'd been knocked off their bikes by careless drivers — and they were skilled, solid cyclists. The thought of riding on roads alongside huge steel death machines, while I still found going in a straight line challenging, made me sick with nerves. If there'd been more cycle paths and routes that kept me away from traffic where I lived, I'm sure I'd have given it more of a go. I hated relying on my car, and sometimes it took so long to walk. But the dedicated bike routes were non-continuous, and often involved cycling on very busy roads.

As a newer cyclist, what aspects of cycling in Vancouver do you like?

KK: Vancouver seems much more bike-friendly than London and Sheffield. More thought and care seems to have been put into the bike infrastructure, and there seems to be a genuine attempt to encourage people to cycle. Cyclists are actually given space here, rather than having bike lanes carved out uncomfortably from existing, busy routes. The fact that you can cross the downtown area from end to end, separated from the traffic is amazing. 

Do you think investing in cycling infrastructure is a worthwhile?

KK: I think these investments are very worthwhile. There are definitely more cyclists on the road here than Sheffield, and I don't imagine that's a coincidence. And more bike use leads to less pollution, reduced road maintenance and healthier people. The improvements also must make cycling a much safer activity. If I was going to stay here longer, I would definitely be investing in my own bike and make that my main mode of transport. 

Kay Cahill is a cyclist and librarian who believes bikes are for life, not just for commuting. Reach her at kay@sidecut.ca.

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