Wow. What a year it has been. I’m sure most of us can agree that we’ve never seen anything like it in our lifetimes thus far. For me, it feels as if February this year was last week and ten years ago all at once- a feeling that increased as I looked out my window this morning to see a winter wonderland; a scene reminiscent of the weather in March when many of us retreated to isolate and delay the spread of the pandemic.
However, despite uncertainty, sadness, and a yearning to return to the familiar, many beautiful things took root and bloomed this year. The Everyone Rides Initiative was able to connect with riders, old and new, in ways we could not have dreamed of a year ago. Relationships strengthened, programs adapted, and bike share in Hamilton persevered through it all.
So without further ado, we’d like to present a visual snapshot of a few moments that made us feel incredible warmth this year: and make sure to keep an eye out for our more extensive Year in Review feature in the coming weeks. We couldn’t have gotten through 2020 without you- and we are so glad to know you as cyclists, community members, and friends.
Hugs and Hot Chocolate Ride- February 2020
Ah, February. Chilly, casual, and full of in person connections- especially between the ERI and our community partners. The ERI’s partner organizations Good Shepherd Steps to Health program and the 541 Eatery and Exchange teamed up to host a “Hugs and Hot Chocolate Ride”: over 12 Good Shepherd Steps to Health riders, along with Steps to Health coordinators Josh and Kereena who were ready with their ERI Group Ride pass, joined the ERI team at Delaware and Myrtle hub to amplify their weekly group ride experience.
Cyclists rolled down Delaware Street’s bike lane before turning onto Sanford, and then navigated past Barton street to meet at the 541 Eatery and Exchange. When the chilly cyclists arrived at the 541, decadent hot chocolate, homemade chili, and warm cookies awaited them in the 541’s private meeting room. Riders laughed and took photos with one another as the ERI team, Good Shepherd staff, and 541 management celebrated the value of community partnerships as we watched Good Shepherd riders hug each other goodbye.
ERI Magnolia Map
When warmer weather swept over Hamilton in April, many people were quietly sheltering in place to the best of their ability, hoping to slow the COVID spread. The ERI team decided to add some levity to a slowed-down activity month, and so ERI Executive Director Chelsea Cox initiated a Magnolia Map, to which community members and cyclists were encouraged to contribute.
This fun, scavenger hunt-inspired activity shows the locations of magnolia trees all around Hamilton’s lower city, within our bike share service area. ERI riders and other Hamilton cyclists could email the ERI team to add tree locations they came across, as well. In total, 96 trees were added to the map, and cyclists were able to ride around and hunt down the magnolias to enjoy a visual feast, as the hardy trees went into full bloom starting in late April. This was a cherished initiative that pulled us together to share in an activity while also keeping safely distanced. We look forward to our now Annual Magnolia Map and Ride in 2021!
When the ERI team started to work from home, our face to face connections with riders sharply decreased with each hour we logged online. To counter the barrier of riders no longer being able to visit our office to receive new cards, and get signed up, we developed a plan- why not bring the cards to our riders, instead?
ERI Program Manager Thea quickly developed a card delivery volunteer system, and our riders were able to receive cards delivered to their mailbox or apartment by kind, efficient ERI volunteer cyclists.The ERI team also delivers cards to riders without a permanent address, and altogether, we have seen more of our city and our wonderful riders than we ever expected given the circumstances this year.
Distanced Group Rides
Indwell Homes knew they wanted to enjoy the benefits of an ERI Group Ride pass- but they didn’t quite know how to get started. ERI Equity Coordinator Theron joined Indwell’s staff and riders for a beautiful ride around the Corktown and Stinson neighbourhoods, and each rider was thrilled to have easy access to bike share.
Due to COVID, riders wore masks, and numbers had to be limited- but the ride itself was a success, and Indwell held several more of their own afterwards in high spirits.
Speaking of rides, we also gave private adaptive bike lessons this summer and fall! Adaptive bikes are bicycles that are created to allow people who can’t ride 2-wheeled traditional bikes for physical or developmental reasons to ride. Our ERI trike we launched in 2019 is now joined by a Nihola front bucket cargo bike, a Muskoka trike, and an EVO step through 2-wheeled bike.
The ERI team is always excited to see riders get out and enjoy the benefits of exercise and movement via a safe, physically distanced form of transit- subsidized bike share passes. If you’d like to sign up for a subsidized pass giving you 3 free hours a day to ride, please visit our form here.
Keep riding, and enjoy the sunshine on the snow!
ERI Equity Coordinator