Scarlett was a full time Connector in 2019! Read about her summer of community and cycling through her interview with Theron, below.
Theron: Hi, Scarlett! When did you first start riding SoBi bikes in Hamilton, and what inspired you to do it?
Scarlett: I hadn't owned my own bike in many years, and I was looking for an intermediary solution between bussing and driving or taking a cab. When I learned about SoBi I really wanted to start using the bike system. Several months later I heard about the ERI’s subsidized passes, so I was finally able to get one for myself and explore the city.
I felt more confident and competent after riding the bikes around town: both by seeing new local areas, and also gaining the confidence that comes with being able to transport yourself around a city safely.
T: We’re so glad you found us. How did you hear about the Connector program, and why were you drawn to apply?
S: I heard about the Connector position from a Facebook post, I believe- probably through a friend of a friend.
Before I knew about ERI passes and began riding, I honestly didn't realize how popular of a choice SoBis were locally, and how functional, convenient, and affordable they are. For that reason, I was drawn to apply: how could I help other people gain access to this system?
T: A desire to help others gain access to our services is one of the main criteria we look for in our Connector volunteers. What were some of your favourite experiences in the Connector program?
S: Being an ERI Connector was a very positive experience for me. I really enjoyed making connections and having conversations with a variety of people. I felt happy to be able to educate riders about the SoBi system and how it could benefit them through meeting them where their needs are, whether those needs were transportation or fun.
I also liked being able to make people smile through the process, like when I got to dance with kids at Barton Play Day while talking to their parents about how they could use ERI passes to ride alongside their children.
T: I remember how much you loved being engaged with people, and how organically you connected with them. Last question- what would you recommend people do if they are new to or nervous about cycling in Hamilton?
S: It may sound simple, but get yourself an ERI pass! Call or visit the office, and the team can help you get started, and even provide free cycling education and one on one lessons.
The Everyone Rides Initiative (ERI) is very excited to have the opportunity to hire a new staff person, ERI Adaptive Bike Coordinator. Through our funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation our program offerings are expanding to include adaptive bikes. So far we have purchased a three-wheeled bike and a beautiful nihola cargo bike. Now we are looking for the perfect person to build a program which will support access to adaptive bikes to the people who can benefit most from them in Hamilton. As the Program Manager of the ERI since 2016 I am excited to see this development in our programming finally come to fruition.
Throughout my time with the ERI program I have been continually identifying and new barriers that may arise for folks and also the long standing barriers that have not yet been address. The introduction of adaptive bikes is a solution to one of those long standing barriers and we are thrilled to introduce access to adaptive bikes into our future program offerings. Stay tuned.
The Adaptive Bike Coordinator job posting will be active until March 1st. Click here to learn more about the position.
Theron: Hi, Dan! When did you first start riding SoBi bikes in Hamilton, and what inspired you to do it?
Dan: I first started riding SoBi bikes in 2018, when my brother introduced me to them! He had been riding SoBis for quite some time, and was drawn to their convenience. I had always ridden my own bike around town, which is wonderful- but when you do that, there is always the extra hassle of finding a place to safely leave your bike, and then come back for it.
For those reasons, I decided to jump on a SoBi and haven't looked back since! In SoBi bikes, I discovered a flexible cycling option that allows me to grab a bike practically anywhere, anytime.
T: I love how your brother encouraged you to give SoBis a try- some folks take a while to discover the bikes on their own! What about the Connector program- how did you hear about it, and why were you inspired to apply?
D: I heard about the Connector program at the Barton Street Festival, from you! I had been searching for a way to volunteer for a cause I was passionate about for a while, before I discovered the Everyone Rides Initiative (ERI). At the Barton Festival, I inquired about potentially volunteering with group rides. I was not expecting to hear about the new Connector program, but when you explained it to me, I knew that I had to apply.
The opportunity to play a direct role in Hamilton's cycling community growth, and being able to advocate for accessible cycling options, is what made applying a no-brainer for me.
T: It sounds like you met us at just the right time. So, what were some of your favourite experiences in the Connector program?
D: One of the simplest but coolest experiences that I had as a Connector was going on ERI group rides. There were many fun ERI events I also attended this summer, but it really meant so much to me to explore different parts of my city, meet new people, and hear about how cycling has changed ERI Riders’ lives!
The way that the ERI makes group rides accessible for everyone is admirable. Don't have a bike? They have one for you to rent for free. New to cycling and a little nervous? A Connector will ride with you to support you. I strongly recommend that any cyclist, regardless of their experience level, attend a group ride- they truly showcase the great cycling community that we have here in Hamilton.
T: I could tell how much you enjoyed riding next to ERI Riders on group rides, and chatting. Last question-what do you think that the best thing is that Riders take away from the program?
D: I believe that the best thing Riders take away from the program is the freedom and convenience that having access to SoBi bicycles on a subsidized pass can give them.
Access to quick and reliable transportation options can often be too expensive, inaccessible, or non existent for some Hamiltonians. I think that new Riders are pleasantly surprised when they realize how conveniently cycling can fit into their daily routine, and that the Everyone Rides Initiative does a fantastic job of introducing cycling as a viable transportation option in peoples' lives
Thanks, Dan! Keep an eye on our ERI Blog for upcoming Connector features.
Being a part of the Everyone Rides Initiative (ERI) was an amazing experience for me, and continues to be so when I join the Initiative on group rides. My goal in volunteering my time for the Initiative was to interact with Hamilton’s Bicycle Share system, and to learn how Riders in the ERI program connect with that system. I was able to share the ERI’s great programming and Hamilton’s amazing bike share system with people in the community who I believe can benefit most from such a program. I think bike share and the Everyone RIdes Initiative centers mobility equity in their work, and ERI is clearly trying to bridge the wide gap of mobility equity for those who need it. The great thing with the ERI is that people who need subsidized bike share passes can self identify as in financial need of them, and I appreciate that the ERI is so open with their criteria for getting a pass. The ERI program tries to be judgement-free, and to allow those who feel they need the program to use it without question. The graduated levels of ERI subsidized bike share passes also allow for people in different socioeconomic circumstances to find which level works best for them, and the subsidized bike share passes’ features like ride credits also assist people in eventually graduating into monthly and annual bike share passes.
While I was working as an ERI Connector, I attended group bicycle rides, and events like Hamilton Play Day. Both types of events went really well, with the Group Rides allowing people new to cycling in the ERI program or in general to learn how to cycle confidently, share their new love of cycling, and meet other people of all skill levels who love cycling. Group Rides also give people who are new to the ERI the ERI program or cycling in general in the city an opportunity to learn about good cycling trails, and which streets and bicycle lanes they can cycle in more comfortably in, instead of busy roads. The Play Day event I volunteered at allowed children and their parents to learn about the ERI, and gave adults the chance to try out SoBi bikes. Play Day was a great way to connect both with the Sherman hub community, and people who might not ride, but could pass on the details of the program to people who might find the ERI program very useful.
As a moderately experienced cyclist, it was great to share the skills I have learned over time with newer cyclists, such as people who received ERI bike share passes this summer. My volunteering also allowed me to connect with other programs and organizations working on the same solutions for equity in mobility that the ERI is also working to improve.
Keep on Riding,
New Bike Buddy Mentoring Program: How Kids can Benefit Too
When I was a lot younger than I am today, I remember going into Springy’s on Barton Street with my Mom and Dad and getting my very first bike. I must have been 7 or 8, and I was so excited to ride my bike for the first time. Back then, we lived in a townhouse complex that had many paved paths for walking and cycling. My Dad insisted that I had to know how to ride safely before I crossed the road, and his lessons for me included locating safe places to cross and learning proper hand signals.
I also remember riding to school the first time: it started with my Dad and I completing practice rides from home to school on the weekend. Then, on the very first day of the school year, I rode to school confidently on my own. I signaled my stops, crossed with the crossing guards, and signaled my turns until I reached the school. I didn’t know it then, but my bike ride opened up a whole new world of freedom, mobility, and responsibility for me.
Later, I realized that this ride to school was a rite of passage of sorts, it was “the first time I rode to school alone”. I believe that this accomplishment is something that every child should get to experience. After my first ride to school, my Dad would ride with me whenever I started at a new school to be sure I knew about hazards and busy roads. Best of all, he helped me plan routes that would get me to where I wanted to go more quickly.
To this day I still route plan, and I believe that route planning for cycling is very important from childhood onwards. At my Dad’s encouragement, I also learned how to do minor bike repairs, like fixing a flat and adjusting my seat. The good relationship I had with my bike allowed me to delay in getting my drivers license until I had finished high school.
This month (November 2019), I have been looking forward to an upcoming bike mentorship program: Bike Buddy. This new program is being launched in partnership with the Everyone Rides Initiative, Cycle Hamilton, and the City of Hamilton. The Bike Buddy program will match up experienced cyclists with new or uncertain Riders who want to learn more about cycling, in order to feel comfortable and safe while riding in Hamilton.
How great would it be if parents could take advantage of this program to refresh their own cycling, bike safety, and route planning skills? Then they could pass this knowledge along to their kids like my own Dad did to me, and teach their kids how to safely ride their bikes to and from school, the community centre, a friend’s house, or the library. Think of how fantastic this parent/child bonding exercise could be-- even running to the corner store with their parents by bike could teach children how to feel safe and comfortable cycling on Hamilton roads.
If the Bike Buddy program expands the way that a lot of us Hamilton cyclists hope it will, the physical and mental health benefits the program could pass on to our community could be numerous. Imagine if this startup bike mentoring program for adults in our neighbourhoods led to the City and School Board having a great “problem” they haven’t seen in decades: keeping up with an overwhelming new demand for student bike racks!
To me, the possibilities for the Bike Buddy program seems endless. It is my hope that every parent who bikes can learn from educational opportunities like the Bike Buddy Mentoring Program. Their new knowledge might not only stay with them, but be passed down to their children as well.
Be Safe, Be Seen, and Pedal On- and Thanks for Reading!
Mark Anderson, ERI Connector
The Everyone Rides Initiative is partnering with Cycle Hamilton and the City of Hamilton to bring you a new and exciting opportunity: participating in a Bike Buddy bike mentoring program! This program will pair riders who want to learn more about cycling in Hamilton with an experienced cycling companion. Each rider will be matched with a mentor based on their stated needs or desires, and the rider and mentor will go on rides together in the city. All skill levels and abilities are welcome to participate.
When I went to attend the Cycle Hamilton monthly meeting on March 25th, it was because I had been hankering to get more involved in the cycling community through volunteering. As luck would have it, Theron from the Everyone Rides Initiative (ERI) team was at the meeting to discuss the ERI program, and asked for volunteers for group rides. I jumped at the chance- I think I even waited a few days and then emailed Theron, to be a pest!
Soon enough, I found myself taking Can-Bike Level 4 training, a Canadian bike safety training program whose classes were sponsored by the ERI team. This course was spread over 2 days- the first day being theory and safety, then the second day being practical training, or learning how to ride bikes around the city safely. It was an optional course for me, but I got to put those skills to good use, when I joined the ERI team as a group ride volunteer and mentor.
My Group Rides
My first group ride with the ERI team was the Spring Roll Ride, to the Cycle Hamilton Annual Meeting. The Cannon Street bike lanes being shut down made it an interesting route. After the ride, I spend some time with Thea and Theron at different pop-up locations, learning more about Hamilton Bike Share and the Everyone Rides Initiative.
The next group ride I went on was the Pride Ride; which went from the Bike Rodeo at Carter Park to the Pride Celebration at Gage Park. I rode as a ride anchor for this ride, and got the chance to talk to a young man who was riding on the sidewalk as the ride went east, even though the majority of the ride was on the road in bike lanes. He said that his mom wouldn't let him ride in bike lanes, because they were dangerous- so we talked a bit about biking, specifically braking and shifting gears. This ride really increased my desire to mentor people on bike riding, safety, and route planning.
The next group ride the ERI team held was for the Pride Rally, and I rode with them from Powell Park to City Hall. We had just met with the Gibson and Landsdale Association (GALA) and wanted to include them, so the ride was held one of GALA’s neighbourhoods, which was a nice way to connect with community.
My time as an ERI Connector
Working with partner organizations, such as going to the 541 Eatery & Exchange to staff the ERI pop-up desk, was a big part of my summer. I had the chance to meet lots of people who, if it wasn’t for the ERI program and partner organizations, might not have gotten the chance to ride a bike. There are so many barriers to riding a bike, and the ERI program helps eliminate a majority of them.
We also met with neighbourhood associations at their community meetings, and talked about Bike Share and ERI- there were always passionate discussions about bikes, bike safety, and issues we want to fix in Hamilton.
Though rides are generally my favorite activity, getting out at events, meeting people, and sharing all we had to offer was also pretty awesome. The smile on someone's face when they learned they could get a $1 a month Pedal Pass, or a free Tandem membership through a partner organization, was the best part (OK, riding the 3-wheeled bike from the ERI office to Gage Park was pretty great as well).
I know that my summer as an ERI Community Connector was just the start of my involvement with the Everyone Rides Initiative, and Hamilton Bike Share.
Be Safe, Be Seen, and Pedal On- and Thanks for Reading!
Mark Anderson, ERI Connector
Enter to win prizes once you have completed a line!
take selfies (or images) completing the squares / post them to social media / tag the Everyone Rides Initiative & 100in1Day
Once you have completed a line contact the ERI and we will enter your information to win: Downtown Bike Hounds gift card, a New Hope Community Bike Workshop gift card, ERI rider credits and more!
The Everyone Rides Initiative is searching for ERI Connectors to engage their communities by encouraging their neighbours, friends, and fellow community members to ride bikes in their neighbourhoods. ERI Connectors are dedicated and passionate riders who want to make a difference in their community.
If you are interested in becoming an ERI Connector, participating in local events, and starting your own cycling initiatives in your community this may be the opportunity for you.
The Everyone Rides Initiative (ERI) Connector will be an active community member and proud cycling promoter who seeks to recruit and engage community members in Hamilton neighbourhoods for the ERI program’s Group Rides, special events, and subsidized passes.
The Connector is:
- Passionate about their Hamilton home communities, and invested in helping make Hamilton an accessible and fun city to cycle in
- Engaging and open, as well as an active and empathetic listener
- Willing to attend ERI events on evenings and weekends
- Someone who embraces diversity, and who is respectful towards all types of people who exist in Hamilton communities (newcomers, LGBTQ+, racially and ethnically diverse people, people living in poverty, women, people with disabilities, and many more)
- Interested in reaching out to their fellow community members, to spread the word about cycling accessibility, subsidized passes and programming opportunities
- Responsible and reliable in fulfilling their work assignments, showing up on time, and staying in touch with the team
- Able to ride a bike, and comfortable cycling on Hamilton streets
Commitment & Compensation
You are an ERI Rider
- Commitment over 2 months: June-August 2019, 15-20 hrs/month, 5-6 activities
- Compensation: $1500 compensation (upon completion), free bike share access, free meals at training & events, training and skill-building
You are not an ERI Rider
- Commitment over 2 months: June-August 2019, 10-15 hrs/month, 3-4 activities
- Compensation: free bike share membership for a year, free meals at training & events, training and skill-building
The ERI program is grateful for every Connector offering their skills and labour to help us deliver our programming. However, we will only be able to accept 2 Connectors this season, and will be continuing the program in the coming years.
HOW TO APPLY
If you are interested in becoming an ERI Connector, please read below to see how you can apply.
- Become an ERI Connector Fill out the online form, and we will contact you afterwards to confirm receipt of your application.
- BY PHONE: Call Theron at 289-768-2453 (BIKE), extension 2.
- IN PERSON: Please come into our office at 126 Catharine Street N, basement level. ERI Drop-in hours are Mondays and Wednesdays between 1-5 PM; but please feel free to reach out to us if those do not work for you.
If you have any additional questions about whether this opportunity is for you or how to apply, please contact Theron at 289-768-2453 ex2 or firstname.lastname@example.org.