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.
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.
- Message Speqtrum for the Zoom link.
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.
- Join on @speqtrumYHM 's Instagram Live.
PEER SUPPORT TRAINING: Learn skills to better support your peers on THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 6-7:30 PM.
- Event registration posted on Speqtrum's Instagram page soon.
INTERGENERATIONAL KITCHEN: Cook and connect with community on MONDAY, JUNE 29TH, 7-8:30 PM.
- Message Speqtrum for the Zoom link.
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’ music, writing, and art.
We wish the best for you and your loved ones as we celebrate Pride’s hopeful theme of liberation from oppression.
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:
- Black Lives Matter (+DONATE)
- Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (+DONATE)
- Afro Canadian Caribbean Association (+DONATE)
- Rafiki Hamilton (+DONATE)
- Empowerment Squared (+DONATE)
- Refuge Centre for Newcomer Health (+DONATE)
- Toronto Protester Bail Fund (+DONATE)
- COBRA - Coalition of Black and Racialized Artists Hamilton
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.
“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:
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.
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.
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-
If you know anyone who could use a subsidized bike share pass to get around Hamilton during COVID-19, please direct them to email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 289-768-2453 ext. 2.
Hello to all our riders! We are thinking of you and your families and friends as we navigate these transformative times together as a community.
I was thinking recently of how one of the most valuable aspects of my job as the ERI’s Equity Coordinator is creating and nourishing connections. During COVID-19’s physical distancing protocols, the ERI team can no longer meet with new riders face-to-face. Instead, we are working to sign up new riders via phone, email, at the Wesley Day Center, via our online registration form, and of course, using our educational ERI Toolkit.
However, despite all the ways we have adapted our programming to reach new riders, I am sometimes struck by the ways in which new connections can bloom organically- and unexpectedly- of their own accord.
Last week, I signed up a new rider over the phone- we’ll call him James. Two days after I had educated James and activated his pass, he called me. He had just spoken to a potential rider outside his apartment who had expressed interest in the blue bike locked nearby- would this new rider be able to receive a pass from us? James let the rider use his phone on speaker mode after he told James he had neither a phone number nor internet access.
I listened as James gave a quick summary of Pedal pass rules to the new rider. I knew I would have to go over the rules again in a few minutes, but I was touched by the care with which James reassured his companion about cycling on the road. After I went over the Toolkit with the rider, I realized I had forgotten to tell him that he would have to go to a location by our closed office to pick up a blue bike card used to sign out bikes. “Oh, that’s no problem”, James assured me after overhearing our conversation, “I picked up two cards when I signed up the other day. One for me, and another for anyone I thought could use it.”
When I think of all the uncertainties and rituals we’ve had to adjust to during COVID-19, I can never do so without noticing the kindness and compassion I’ve seen rise here in Hamilton, such as James helping someone he had just met receive a subsidized bike share pass to get around the city.
I also think of Krista Rao, Welcome Inn’s Community Coordinator and an Everyone Rides longtime champion, who let me know she’d be happy to distribute ERI program information to all Food Bank clients so that they could access subsidized passes in order to ride for pleasure and to do essential errands.
I think of the ERI riders I have bumped into in public and enjoyed chatting with from a minimum 2 metre distance, them sitting on SoBi bikes and me waiting in line for groceries. I’ve smiled and assured a longtime rider I ran into that yes, his baby grandson was in fact the cutest thing I’ve seen this year (as I squinted at his phone photo from an admittedly difficult viewing distance).
And lastly, I think of the comfort I take in the bike lanes around my home; where on any given day on my daily walk I see parents and their children ride bikes together, pedalling slowly to make sure everyone can keep up. Riding behind these families in the bike lane are SoBi riders, including a few ERI riders I signed up some months ago, patiently bringing up the rear and keeping a safe distance between themselves and the other cyclists. No one ever passes the child or their parent, and everyone reassures the parent with smiles when the latter looks behind them to see if their family is holding up traffic.
I like to imagine that the solo ERI riders are patient because they enjoy the idea of the kid in front of them thinking they’ve got all the time in the world to explore their neighbourhood by bike. Or maybe those adult riders are just choosing to take a slow roll, enjoying the budding trees and tulips beginning to unfurl in the scenery around them. Either way, I’m glad kindness and patience are traits that my city- our city- displays when its courage and resilience is tested.
Since the beginning of stay at home orders, the ERI team has registered 14 riders, with interest rising each day and several riders completing their registration as I speak. And each day as I check on our riders’ accounts, I notice ERI riders taking bikes out and about, tracing new paths around their quiet city. I wish them, and you, well as we move through these times together.
Stay safe, and be well-
Gage park lies quiet at sunset
Lawrence road bike lanes are clear ahead
Magnolia Map: ERI Ride Activity
View the map at bit.ly/MagnoliaMapHamOnt
April 15, 2020
Every spring is marked by the burst of magnolia blossoms throughout Hamilton, and this year the flowers are blooming with the global pandemic as their backdrop. In this uncertain time of change and discomfort, the delicate tepals*** of the magnolia are a fleeting but welcome distraction.
Hunting for magnolia trees and other plant life is a great way to explore your neighborhood and city, get fresh air, exercise, and connect with nature. We have made this easier than ever by mapping out 37 magnolia trees in our bike share service area.
We recommend you use our map to walk or roll to nearby trees in your neighborhood. This is an activity you could integrate into a necessary trip you were already planning (for example, a detour on the way to a grocery store, food bank, or other essential trip) or you could make it an outing to just get your body moving. Along the way you may also see blooms like forsythia (bushes with bright yellow flowers), daffodils, and other colourful signs of spring and renewal. As you become more familiar with your neighborhood magnolias, you may notice that the “star” magnolia trees with white flowers tend to bloom earlier than their pink-hued counterparts.
Remember to participate in this activity safely, to protect yourself and others. If you are sick, stay home and follow the map next year. Adhere to physical distancing measures whenever you are out and about. This means staying at least 2 meters away from other people. Try seeking out quieter streets and alleys if you are walking, as it may be more feasible to move into the street and put more distance between you and other passersby. You should also wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when you leave your home and when you return, and avoid touching your face. You can read more information about how to keep yourself and others safe here.
If you are riding a SoBi to the magnolias, please bring along wipes for the touch surfaces (grips, keypad), use hand sanitizer if you have it, and follow the other protocols we listed in the last paragraph (hand washing and distancing). You can find out more about what SoBi Hamilton is doing during the COVID-19 pandemic here.
The map is not exhaustive, so if you see any missing magnolias, tag the Everyone Rides Initiative on social media (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) with the location and a picture and we will add it to the map! For example, there are many streets in Strathcona, the North End, West Hamilton, and Dundas that we didn’t get to during our initial hunt. This started as a one-person list, and we’d love to see it grow into a collaborative community resource.
Happy magnolia hunting, and stay safe out there. We look forward to riding with you in the future!
Chelsea Cox, ERI Executive Director
***Nerd out on all things magnolia on the Wikipedia page and learn about tepals vs petals.
Additional Resources related to street trees:
- Access to green space is an equity issue: how race and class relate to unequal access to parks and green space
- How to get a FREE street tree where you live: The City of Hamilton Street Tree Planting Program
- Video: The importance of trees as air filters
- More trees, happier people: the effect of green space on mental health
- More on why street trees are so important: The Magic of Tree-Lined Streets
This time 4 years ago I was already fairly isolated and enjoyed my time alone. That all changed very suddenly when I was diagnosed with diabetes and had to make big changes in my life in order to get healthy. This wake-up-call to my health along with an unexpected fire in my apartment forced me to look outside my solitary comfort zone for help. Since then I have worked really hard to be active and have found riding a bike very fulfilling. Through cycling in Hamilton I have met many people and value the Hamilton cycling community as my community.
Like so many of you during the COVID-19 pandemic, and orders to maintain social distance and stay at home, it has been really hard. I have been isolating, staying home and only going out when necessary. I have missed many programs and meet-ups, such as: my meetings at Steps to Health, which specifically supports quitting smoking through a 'Breathe Easier' program and Accu-Detox, medical appointments and getting together for group rides, Bike Buddy rides, bike repair workshops at New Hope, Dundas Rides and other cycling related meetings.
With new information and closures coming out daily it is so hard to keep up. On March 23rd I went out and did a porch drop off and pick up for a friend and the first thing I noticed was there were a lot less cars and trucks on the road. The second thing I noticed was the air felt a lot different. I had to go out again on March 25th and found the same thing. Our roads are a lot quieter making them safer and the air quality is at healthy levels. Riding your bike or walking are great ways to get some exercise and to help your mental health. However, just because there are less vehicles on the road doesn't mean you should skip the rules of the road.
Remember these important tips:
- If you feel sick stay home.
- Stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people
- Stay informed - closures are happening daily, some of your favourite parks or trail might not be open and could lead to fines (As I am writing this they just closed the Wentworth and Chedoke stairs)
|Intersection at Bay and Cannon right near the Eco-Counter. According to the eco-counter at this intersection: on March 31st there were 52 trips taken by bike and between March 2nd-31st there were 2,227 trips taken by bike.|
Be Safe, Be Seen, Pedal On and Stay Healthy