A Source of Comfort and Joy in Unprecedented Times

Written by Elise Desjardins, Hamilton cycling advocate (July 2020)

Image credit: Elise selfie, June 2020.

I started cycling in Hamilton in 2016 and became a bike share member in 2017. At the time, I was working a few kilometres from my home and cycling seemed to be the healthiest, fastest, and most affordable way to get to and from work.  Up until that point most of my cycling had been in my hometown as a child so I was experiencing Hamilton’s streets for the first time by bicycle. What started as a practical decision has slowly, but completely, shaped my lifestyle. In no time at all, cycling became a natural way for me to travel and my default choice. The freedom of mobility was new to me. I enjoyed new neighbourhoods by taking different routes to and from home. I loved how I could pass by a local business and decide to spontaneously stop and visit. I cherished the times I passed someone I knew cycling and could stop to say hello and chat. As I learned to cycle in our city, my connection to Hamilton and sense of belonging deepened. Now, I look forward everyday to cycling because I get to experience our city up close – it’s a special way to get to know any city intimately.  I look forward to my cycling commute everyday and some of my best experiences and memories in Hamilton have been by bicycle.

During the pandemic, nearly all of my trips have been with bike share. Before the lockdown began in March, I had been using bike share regularly almost every day to commute. It’s much easier and convenient in the winter since I don’t have to trek my personal bike in and out of my apartment (or up the stairs) or worry about maintenance. Hamilton Bike Share helped me become a year-round cyclist. When I transitioned to studying and working from home, it surprised me how much I immediately missed my cycling commute. I had always looked forward to them but hadn’t realized how much they were a fundamental part of my life until they abruptly stopped. With fewer places that I needed to go or needed to be, not being able to cycle my regular trips made me feel disconnected from my community. Although the weather was warmer, and in a normal year I would have started using my own bike more, I felt drawn to continue using the bike share system. The bike share hub at the end of my street became a source of comfort and joy at a time when many things were uncertain and difficult. With so many services and destinations closed, the blue and white bicycles became one of my strongest connections to our city.

I adjusted my cycling and my bike share trips turned into daily recreational rides. My cycling trips are now slower and shorter (mainly in my neighbourhood) but they have anchored me. Despite all of the things that seem to change daily or that are uncertain, cycling has been one of the constants. By bike share, I’ve been able to slow down, notice my neighbourhood, and explore streets that I had never travelled. I’m enjoying the intentional act of getting to know my immediate surroundings more intimately by bicycle, similar to my first experiences back in 2016-17. The other noticeable change in my cycling because of the pandemic is the social aspect. The streets in my neighbourhood are quieter and I often don’t see a single car on my evening bike rides. The extra space has allowed me to cycle side by side with my boyfriend. We can now enjoy the social experience of cycling – something that isn’t possible when we have to ride single file on the road or in a bike lane. With the sound of traffic all but gone, we can talk and laugh as we cycle. It has reminded me of my time in Amsterdam a few years ago where I always saw people cycling in pairs or in groups. In Amsterdam they recognize that cycling is something to experience with others, and their city is designed to support social riding. Cycling side-by-side is one of the unexpected joys that I have found during the lockdown, and one that I hope I will not have to miss after the city “re-opens”. It would truly be wonderful if the social aspect of cycling was celebrated and accommodated because it helps to strengthen connections between people and our environment.

Being able to rely on the bike share system throughout the pandemic has reinforced its value to me and to our community. I am deeply thankful that bike share staff maintained the system for Hamiltonians to continue cycling. Hamilton Bike Share is needed now more than ever for people like me to be physically active and make essential trips. I might not be able to return to my longer commute trips for a while, but I’ve managed to hold on tight to my sense of belonging in Hamilton because of bike share. I didn’t know the immense benefits that I would gain from cycling when I bought a bicycle back in 2016, but the practical decision I made years ago to cycle has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Elise Desjardins is a Master of Public Health graduate student at McMaster University.  Her research focuses on understanding how the built environment in Hamilton influences cycling and where cyclists travel. Elise helped to plan and coordinate Bike to Work Day in 2018 and 2019, and is also involved with Cycle Hamilton and the Bike Buddies initiative.

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No More Stolen Sisters

As Hamilton spent July 1st in lockdown without fireworks or in-person Canada Day festivities, hundreds of people gathered in an afternoon vigil to honour Indigenous women who have gone missing or been murdered in an ongoing, centuries-old national genocide. The “No More Stolen Sisters” event, held at the Claremont access on July 1st, featured storytelling and calls to action against anti-Indigenous cultural and systemic violence, racism, and misogyny in the colonial state of Canada.

Image credit: Nicole O’Reilly, July 1st 2020, Hamilton Spectator

A particularly powerful testimony came from an Indigenous woman who narrowly escaped death several years ago in Hamilton. “I’m one of the very, very, very lucky ones - I got to make it home to my family. I feel that it’s my job to speak up and tell my story”. The woman was adamant about sharing how many Indigenous women face systemic and police discrimination for having a drug dependency, on top of the discrimination they already face as Indigenous people and women: “It’s got to change [in Hamilton], people have to get rid of the [taking drugs equals deserving of harm] mentality”. 

The No More Stolen Sisters vigil attendees also brought dozens of red dresses to hang from trees, an homage to Métis artist Jaime Black’s REDress Project. Years ago, as Black listened to a conference presenter in Germany speak about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, she experienced a vivid flash of imagery: dozens of dresses, hanging from stark branches and dancing in the wind. The dresses in Black’s vision were uniformly red: “red to represent women of the red nation, red for life blood - women’s ability to give life”. 

Image Credit: Katherine Fogden, REDress Project, Washington DC, NMAI

By the time Black’s goal of 500 red dresses became fulfilled through donations in 2011, her project had gained national recognition. As of the present day, Black’s exhibit has been shown in numerous cities across Turtle Island; from Edmonton, Alberta to Washington, DC. The REDress project took on new life, as Indigenous vigils and protests began displaying red dresses in remembrance of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, such as the dresses displayed two week ago at Hamilton’s No More Stolen Sisters event. 

Image credit: Nicole O’Reilly, July 1st 2020, Hamilton Spectator

Regardless of the dresses’ location, passersby watching the garments twisting in the wind are often brought to tears; as the empty red dresses powerfully symbolize the absence of the bodies that should fill them. In Black’s gallery exhibits, dresses have blood-red petals beneath them, arranged in a perfect circle - a reminder of blood shed by women whose lives and deaths were never given justice. And at Hamilton’s No More Stolen Sisters vigil, several small, red dresses were brightly adorned with intricate stitching - dresses clearly made for children, meant to honour the Indigenous girls stolen from their families and murdered by Canadian “forced adoptions” and residential schools. Through the imagery of the red dresses hanging in the trees around them in the Claremont access park, vigil attendees were reminded of Canada’s colonial state and settler apathy to Indigenous deaths;  alongside local, systemic violence and acts of racism inflicted against Indigenous people in Hamilton. 

Jaime Black’s friend once told her that red is the only colour spirits can see; and thus her red dresses call the women they honour home to rest. The attendees of the July 1st vigil in Hamilton for Indigenous women and girls felt similarly as they sat listening to the stories of resilient, powerful Indigenous women who are still here; living their lives in bold defiance of Canadian state violence meant to erase them from history. Jessica Bonilla-Damptey, member of the Sisters in Spirit Committee and representing Hamilton's Sexual Assault Centre (SACHA) at the No More Stolen Sisters vigil articulated this vigil-wide solidarity best: “seeing those red dresses [and how they were] flowing in the wind was really impactful​​​​​​, just knowing that those sisters were there in spirit". 

Resources and Links:

To read more about the Cancel Canada Day project, click here

To learn more about Jaime Black’s work, click here

To access the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre’s services, or to make a donation, click here

To learn more about the No More Stolen Sisters Project, click here

 

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May 5th was Red Dress Day

Written by Thea Jones, ERI Program Manager (May 7, 2020)

Image: Rebecca Belmore, The Named and the Unnamed2002, video installation, Vancouver BC.

May 5th was Red Dress Day. On this day Canadians were encouraged to wear red as a way to draw attention to missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. 

The REDress Project was created by Metis artist Jamie Black, as a call to Canadians to remember. Black is a part of a history of female Canadian artists working to ensure we do not forget the missing and murdered indigenous women. Rebecca Belmore is one such artist. Belmore is internationally recognized multidisciplinary artist and a member of the Lac Seul First Nation (Anishinaabe). 

On June 23, 2002 on the corner of Gore St and Cordova St in Vancouver BC, Belmore wore a red dress and conducted a performance she calls Vigil. Throughout this performance Belmore marks her body with the names of indigenous women who went missing from that intersection (Gore and Cordova) in Vancouver and then screams those names aloud - these screams are spaced with silence for the names of women we not know. Belmore hammers 
nails into her red dress, attaching herself to the corner, and attempts to rip her dress away, a seemingly impossible tasks that she works endlessly at. She lights candles. All of this work, this labour, was Belmore's way to call attention to the women we must not forget. 

Image: Jamie Black with her REDress project (credit: Sean Leslie, Global News)

Jamie Black, pictured above with her REDress Project, uses an empty red dress to depict the missing woman from the dress. Both Black and Belmore use the visual and performative power of art to help us grasp the magnitude of the loss and grapple with the injustice. 

The ERI team would like to thank these women for ensuring we remember their pain, and honour their present day resilience.

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Food Banks and FREE Meals

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A letter to Uber

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Pride and Remembrance

As we usher in June’s humidity and the fourth month of physical distancing in Canada, it’s natural for people to seek connection. June is a historically festive month, and many Hamiltonians look forward each year to one of the city’s most meaningful events: Hamilton Pride.

This year, Pride Hamilton has 
announced that Pride is going digital; allowing Pridegoers access to concerts and virtual events online. While the program has yet to be announced, we expect the best of Hamilton’s local talent and well-known performers to grace the virtual venue. 

Credit: John Rennison, The Hamilton Spectator

Local LGBTQ2S+ organization Speqtrum has released a stellar line up of events, organized under different themes. Take a look below:

SPEAK OUT: On THURSDAY, JUNE 11, 6-7:30 PM, join a Zoom call to write emails and call elected officials in support of Black organizers' demands.

QUEERIOSITY: Spoken word event in collaboration with Hamilton Youth Poets on FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 1:30-2:30. 

  • Free tickets here.

TRANS ID Q+A: Connect with legal experts on how to change your name and gender marker on THURSDAY, JUNE 18TH. 7-8 PM. Collaboration with Hamilton Community Legal Clinic and the Queer Justice Project

PEER SUPPORT TRAINING: Learn skills to better support your peers on THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 6-7:30 PM. 

INTERGENERATIONAL KITCHEN: Cook and connect with community on MONDAY, JUNE 29TH, 7-8:30 PM. 

If you’ve attended a Pride festival before, you might have felt at the time that you just joined a week-long street party. However, Pride festivals are strongly rooted in activism, protests against police violence, and resilience.

In the 1960s, queer and trans people attending gay bars across North America were routinely assaulted and thrown into jail for such “offenses” as dancing with a same-sex partner, or wearing three items of clothing “belonging to the opposite [gender]”. Although police-sanctioned abuse against LGBTQ2S+ people had endured for decades, it came to a head in the early hours of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City.

As butch lesbian Stormé DeLarverie was forcibly shoved towards the police van in her handcuffs, she shouted “why don’t you guys do something!”. When DeLarverie was lifted into the van, the crowd around her - already agitated from defending their peers - exploded in fury and desperation. The police were driven back by hundreds of the Stonewall’s patrons and neighbourhood supporters, and resorted to barricading themselves within the bar. By 4 AM, the streets had cleared, but a message resounded in the silence: queer and trans people fight back, and they’re done with taking abuse from cops.

News of the Stonewall rioters and their bravery spread quickly across the world. In 1970, the first ever gay pride marches were held in New York and Los Angeles in protest against policing and discrimination, and laws were increasingly passed, decade by decade, to protect LGBTQ2S+ people against bias and violence. 

Today, Pride festivals across the world are attended by millions of people each year, and are celebrations of queer and trans resilience. However, it is important to remember that without riots and resistance, Pride would have never come to be- and those acts of protest are still necessary today, as queer and trans people face increased discrimination and scrutiny from police.

As Hamilton Pride 2020 unfolds online this June amidst ongoing anti-Black racism protests, the Everyone Rides Initiative team encourages you to engage with Black, queer artists’ musicwriting, and art.

We wish the best for you and your loved ones as we celebrate Pride’s hopeful theme of liberation from oppression. 

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Statement on Black Lives Matter

The Everyone Rides Initiative, on behalf of our not-for-profit organization Hamilton Bike Share Inc., reaffirms our commitment to equity in bike share as we witness the recent and ongoing acts of violent, anti-Black racism in the colonial states of Canada and the United States. We see and mourn the recent deaths of George Floyd (46, Minneapolis, MN), Tony McDade (38, Tallahassee, FL), David McAtee (53, Louisville, KY), and D’Andre Campbell (26, Brampton, ON) by the hands of police. We condemn this white supremacy and state-sanctioned violence.

We implore any white viewers of this post to amplify (share) and support Black Lives Matter and local Hamilton-Toronto organizations doing important work to support and represent Black communities, listed below:


The Everyone Rides Initiative affirms that Black people face disproportionate levels of policing, scrutiny and harm, including being carded, violently detained, and racially profiled in our community as well as other Canadian cities while using or working for public transit.

We know that bike share systems are used globally in cities as efficient, convenient and affordable forms of active public transportation. We also know that bike share systems have never been immune to systemic racism. Bike share systems are routinely launched in dense, downtown neighbourhoods to ensure a greater ridership. However, many downtown North American urban neighbourhoods have become overwhelmingly white and upper-middle class due to gentrification. Gentrification pushes out communities of colour and forces more people to the economic margins. Meanwhile, in neighbourhoods outside of downtown commercial districts, services such as bike share stations can be inaccessible: bike infrastructure, including bike lanes, are often sparse or nonexistent.

Furthermore, Black cyclists report a greater sense of self-vigilance and fear while riding bikes. They avoid busy, high-visibility bike routes and peak commuter times of day while cycling to reduce their risk of being unjustly racially profiled by police.

The reasons listed here as to why Black people may choose not to partake as cyclists in bike share systems are not exhaustive, but they expose racist acts that bike share organizations often partake in, and are obligated to unlearn. We applaud the important work done through programs like Indego in Philadelphia, MoGo for All in Detroit, Adaptive Biketown in Portland, and Better Bike Share to make bike share more equitable.

Through the Everyone Rides Initiative and other ongoing projects, our organization has worked to address and overcome these problematic planning decisions by increasing bike share hubs, service, programming and options in the Hamilton neighbourhoods where there are relatively high levels of poverty. However, it is not enough. We must do more, and we must do better.

We pledge to develop a comprehensive action plan that outlines how our organization will build greater solidarity and allyship with organizations and communities of colour, and work towards dismantling racist structures.

We cannot be silent as Black people are murdered and violence against them continues. Black Lives Matter.

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ERI Photo Contest Winner: Nate Burger

“Among the Trilliums” taken by Nate Burger, Lead Field Technician at SoBi Hamilton.

This picture was taken in the Louth Conservation Area in Lincoln, about 52 kilometers west of Hamilton. Nate and his roommate Anthony Saracino set out together on Saturday May 2nd for a bike ride. They were equipped with camping gear, the promise of a familiar route, and a desire to explore. Nate and Anthony have been friends since grade school, and have biked from Hamilton to Welland to visit family many times before. And so, the start of their route was planned: Ridge Rd into Beamsville, onto Vineland towards Balls Falls Conservation Area. Nate and Anthony zigzagged through Beamsville and stumbled upon Staff Road, they decided it looked interesting and ventured downwards. Louth Conservation Area had not been on their list of possible destinations when they set out, so it was a new and unexpected discovery for the cyclists. Once in the Louth Conservation Area they found themselves in a valley and had to carry their bikes for a while. While the valley might not have been the best area for biking in hindsight, Nate and Anthony decided it was beautiful nonetheless, and were glad they ventured off course and found it.

The picture Nate took is a few kilometers into the Louth Conservation Area, where the two cyclists stopped for rest and a snack. Pictured here is Anthony and the bikes among the trilliums, the scene inspiring the photo’s title. With daylight still remaining, they biked into Welland and onwards to Merritt Island, where Nate described how “the New Canal, the Old Canal, and the River [Welland River] meet.”

Nate describes the trip from Hamilton to the Louth Conservation Area as taking 3-4 hours by bike. He states that, “if you are averaging 20 km/hour, it should take you 3 hrs.” Nate also describes this route as, “not for the faint of heart, but a great challenging ride for beginners thinking of trying longer rides [not too many hills].” The route Nate and Anthony took, described above, is predominately on rural roads with low vehicle traffic.

I asked Nate how COVID-19 has affected his cycling: “I have only been cycling with my roommate [Anthony], instead of with other friends from different households. It has forced me to explore more - I have found different routes and back roads. And I have found a lot of beauty and new routes that are not too far away, and in my own backyard. It has also made me really appreciate Niagara. Biking along and seeing the blossoming cherry trees, orchards and the rolling vineyards - you might as well be in France”.

Here are some other forest ride suggestions from Nate:
  1. “The Rail Trail is open and a classic forest trail. Pick up a bike from the Wentworth stairs, and there you have a beauty ride.”
  2. “The Red Hill Valley is another great forest ride. Take the rail trail to Albion Falls, and you can enter the valley at the Red Hill Trail south parking lot”.


The Everyone Rides team would like to thank Nate for submitting his photo, and remind you that we are still accepting cycling photos to feature in our newsletter and on social media.

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Sunset Memory Rides, and a Contest for Spring

All photos taken by Theron Pierce unless otherwise noted

This past Sunday night at sunset, when the soaring temperatures in Hamilton had retreated and no longer threatened to overwhelm my winter-adjusted body, I went for a long bike ride. The route I chose reminded me of languid summer nights in 2019: cycling on a SoBi bike behind 200 Hamilton GlowRiders as electronica music pumped through the air around us, and rollerbladers with fairy wings and bubble sticks expertly wove between us like a royal escort to the waterfront.

  

Images: Hamilton GlowRiders gather in September 2019 for the last ride of the season Credit: Ramucy Photography.

Shortly before the September 2019 GlowRide, I had carefully decorated the SoBi I was riding with lights- little unicorns from the dollar store-- and placed an ice cream battery lamp in the bike’s basket. My efforts were well intended, but paled in comparison to the neon visions around me; many whose SoBi bikes (and bodies) were lit with shifting LED wires attached to their limbs,and rotating disco balls that shed light fragments around them.

 

Credits: Left, Ramucy Photography. Right: Elvir K. Photography

Returning to the present day, May 2020: As I descended Aberdeen Street hill towards Princess Point, it was jarring to see the road ahead of me empty. There were no bikes adorned with luminescent glowsticks and fairy lights, no children looking around in wonder at the mobile disco around them as they rode beside their parents. The GlowRides, usually beginning each year in May throughout the summer months, are on hold. And yet, I still felt a thrill while riding alone towards the water.

The air grew thick and heavy with humidity and the scent of lilacs as I reached Princess Point and went over the Waterfront Trail bridge, just as the sun was sinking in the west. The view took my breath away, and as I was taking photos I almost missed the cyclist to my right looking pensively over the water; a scene I had to capture the best I could before the sun retired for the evening. 

I kept riding over gravel and pavement, stopping frequently to look behind me at the setting sun. As I passed the corner that marked my progress from Princess Point towards Bayfront Park, I looked over the water a few feet away and caught my breath, not entirely sure what I was seeing. A swan’s head rose from the shallows, glancing in my direction briefly before the bird slowly set out across the water, seeking out its nest to retire within for the night. 

I entered Bayfront Park’s boat launch area just as the sky shifted to pastel shades of pink and blue. There was a dock facing westward, and somehow, no one had claimed it for a viewpoint. Rolling the SoBi to the end of the pier, I stood and watched as the sky changed to dusk; thinking of how the next time I’d be here, the trees and lilies would be in full foliage, whispering around me on the wind rolling over the water. 

When I find beautiful places, I tend to return to them again and again- and in that moment at the pier, I mourned that I could not be several hundred places at once as Hamilton ushered springtime in. We do live in an age of technology, however, that might let myself and others who chase out familiar spots see more of the beautiful city around us. 

On that note, the ERI is proposing a photo contest: Send us a photo of springtime cycling in Hamilton. We will choose a photo and feature it in our next newsletter, and on our social media. If your photo is selected as the winner, you’ll receive 5 free ride credits. 

Be sure to stop safely when taking your photos, and we look forward to seeing what springtime in Hamilton looks like through your lens.

Take care, and as SoBi bike baskets always say: Please be safe.

Theron

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ERI Rider Spotlight: BILL PUGH

Bill Pugh’s voice is as vibrant over the phone as it is in real life. 

“How ya doing?”, he asks me. “I’m thinking of coming by the office to check on my account and chat. Are you in?”

I can hear the wind behind Bill whistling loudly as he makes his way to his next destination. I inform him with regret, thinking of our mutually enjoyable talks at the office, that we are working from home nowadays. He sucks in his breath.  

“Of course! Can’t believe I forgot. Next time, then. In the meantime, could you check on my account? Want to make sure I’m good to ride- got a lot to do today.”

Image credit: Jessie Golem, 2019.

Bill has never been one to sit still for long; and walking, for him, feels like a poor use of the limited hours in a day. Biking makes him feel efficient, and curbs his restlessness. Bill has been an ERI Rider since the beginning of the program, and has ridden over 6500 kilometres: thousands of kilometres each year, one 20 minute errand ride at a time. He has successfully graduated through all 3 levels of the ERI’s subsidized passes since he began the program- Tandem, Pedal Pass, and 5 & Roll- and enjoys earning credits on his account as he returns out-of-hub bikes to SoBi stations. 

 

 

Bill speaks often of the peace he felt when he moved to his own private apartment: a move that was almost entirely completed by hanging bags of his belongings on SoBi handlebars, over dozens of rides. He went without permanent housing some years ago for 37 consecutive months, and reflects on the pleasure of having his own space.

“I remember living at the Sally Ann for 6 months, forcing myself to move away from the TV. The guys there, they’ll watch that the whole day, and I don't blame them. It’s so hypnotic; so simple to just to sit there and not get outside- but I biked instead.”  

There’s satisfaction in his voice as he describes the home he gained after waiting on a housing list for over 3 years. 

“I cook, but it’s what I want. I pick up groceries by bike, and bring home books. When I’m in need of something, I know all I have to do is bike and get it. Later at night, I sit quietly and listen to the city outside, and there’s a certain peace in that, you know? It took a long time, but this is a home base for me. I go and come back, and when I’m not out, it’s my refuge”. 

Bike share is Bill’s primary mode of transportation, and after riding around Hamilton’s lower city for many years, he knows all the streets and alleys. He continues many of the daily routines he had before he got his apartment, including accessing many of Hamilton’s service resources. He lists off an average day, briskly: breakfast at home or at the Presbytarian church: "best pancake breakfast in the city right now”. A bagged lunch to-go at St Patrick’s parish“you can grab an orange for later- gotta have fruit for energy, when you’re active!”. He volunteers for a few hours, and checks in on people he cares about around the city.

Then Bill's personal errands begin- using bike share to make visits to service providers, go grocery shopping, and read books and articles online at the library. He is an avid reader, and enjoys keeping up with the world's current events.

One habit that persisted long before Bill became an ERI rider is a strong sense of responsibility to his community. As an Ontarian who has lived all over Canada, Bill volunteers with Keeping Six, putting together kits to reduce harm for vulnerable people with drug dependencies. He has a critical analysis of the current opioid overdose crisis in Hamilton.

“These services, these on-site safe injection sites, they’re necessary. We had to fight [the city] to advocate for them. People using drugs, they need food, shelter- basic living help- all in one place, like at the Wesley Day Centre.”

Image credit: Jessie Golem, 2019.

Bill is an ERI rider with a deep understanding of some of Hamilton’s most at-risk populations. So I ask Bill how he would recommend the ERI program to others, especially people who have not ridden in a long time. I know he is well qualified to speak to lapsed riders: he himself stopped cycling for years, after having his right arm amputated in adulthood. Bill pauses briefly, before replying with conviction. 

“Aside from how the ERI is a great option for people without a lot of money, or things like phones or bank accounts? I’d say to them, take baby steps. Maybe go to pick up a few groceries, or to the corner store a few blocks- it’s good for your health, it’s good for the environment, and it gets easier over time the more you do it. You can go as slow as you need to, and there are always people- especially long time riders like me- who can help you. We were there where you were once, too.”

In our last few minutes, I ask Bill why he feels it is important to consider cycling over driving in the city, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic. I can hear the smile in his voice as he responds.

“The way things are going with the world this past season- bushfires in Australia, massive snowstorms in Newfoundland- riding SoBi bikes seems the responsible thing to do, environmentally speaking. If you want to contribute in some small way, riding a SoBi bike is one less car on the road.” 

I ask Bill what cycling during COVID-19 has been like.

“It’s unreal- I’ve never seen the roads so empty. It’s beautiful, and peaceful- honestly, the best time to feel safer on the streets is now. Depending on where you go, you have the whole street to yourself with no cars, and you don’t have to worry about getting too close to others [and violating physical distance guidelines]. It’s a great time to start riding bikes and using bike share to stay off transit.”

After I reassure Bill that all account renewal fees for his pass are waived during COVID-19, he ends the call to go on his next adventure. I’m left with gratitude at the connections our team is still able to make during this unprecedented time, and looking forward to registering new riders this season who I might be able to see graduate through our subsidized passes in years to come. 

Take care all, and stay safe-

Theron

If you know anyone who could use a subsidized bike share pass to get around Hamilton during COVID-19, please direct them to email theron@hamiltonbikeshare.ca, or call 289-768-2453 ext. 2.

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