Local Business

New Shop Caters to Commuters

Broken Spoke Coffeehouse set to open in Downtown Courtenay…

To encourage biking during the recent Bike to Work Week in mid-May, the CV Cycling Coalition offered one-day cycling commuter skills courses, and will be offering more this year. Schum attended such a course himself and found it invaluable. “Even after riding for 60 years I found I can still learn something,” he says. “It not only made me a better cyclist, but made me a better driver.” Most of the risks involved with cycling, he feels, can be greatly reduced by knowing and obeying the rules of the road and by being visible to motorists.

One of the Coalition’s main objectives is to promote cycling education for children and adults, and cycling safety and awareness among cyclists as well as non-cycling road users. To this end they are working on a pilot project with Huband School, to get more students walking and cycling to school.

A special Bike to the Playground activity was hosted by the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition as part of Bike to Work Week. Kids and parents started at Simms Park and rode under the 5th Street Bridge to the Lewis Centre. Enthusiastic participants included a group from the Strong Start Family Learning Centre—adults and a couple of dozen children on bikes, trikes, and trailers, some whose feet barely reached the pedals but were determined to do the route on their own wheels. “We are really happy to be supporting this event,” says Ellie of the Centre, who commutes on her bike. “It’s a nice way to include kids and families.”

Everyone arriving at the playground received a blue ribbon, and a choice of edible goodies from juice to granola bars to fair trade chocolate. Tony Goodwin, in his second year of chairing the Bike to Work activities and also a member of the Coalition, handed out free snacks, and encouraged everyone to have more.
“This year the schools really got involved,” Goodwin says. “Information was sent to all the schools and it was phenomenal—every morning a load of kids were going by.” Hundreds of students and staff from the schools participated. For next year, Goodwin foresees even more organizations getting involved, more ‘Celebration Stations’ where riders check in for a snack and for a stamp on their passport that confirms participation, and possibly a mini film fest. “We want to focus more on Bike Week, not just Bike to Work,” he says. “Spread the message to Bike to Whatever You’re Doing!”

The vision of a cycle-friendly community is shared by many. “Our Valley has all the natural assets it takes to become the most cycle-friendly place in Canada, and become a destination for cycling tourists—this is such huge business in Europe,” says Schum.

“The benefits to the economy of the different regions are huge. For example, cyclists buy a lot of food and need a comfortable place to rest after a day of riding! The Comox Valley has everything that any of the places in Europe have—we just need some improvements. As far as natural beauty is concerned, and clean air, we still have it and I hope we can keep it that way.”

Adds Schum: “For next year, because the City of Courtenay has about $5 million allocated to make improvements in transportation and roads and so on, my recommendation to the council was to spend 20 per cent of the transportation budget on cycling infrastructure, with the goal to get 20 per cent of cycling mode share by the year 2020.
“I have studied this for several years now,” he says. “In European cities, up to 43 per cent of all trips are done by bicycle! But they are spending more money on it there.”

The vision for the future, adds Schum, is clear. “In the city of Portland, Oregon—one of the most cycling friendly cities in the US—the city administrator commented that the city has never made a better investment than putting money into cycling infrastructure. It might seem expensive to build, but not nearly as much as building anything for cars. It lasts longer, and is much easier and cheaper to maintain. We have to cut back on the use of cars if we want to leave a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren.”

For more information or to join the Cycling Coalition visit cyclecv.ca
If you could look into the future, there what would be the outlook for cycling in the Comox Valley? The Comox Valley Cycling Coalition has a clear vision. In fact, a 20/20 vision—by the year 2020 to see 20 per cent of the transportation budget spent on cycling infrastructure, with the goal to get cycling up to 20 per cent of all the modes of transportation.

On a perfect day for cycling, sunny and warm, Ed Schum, founder of the newly-formed Coalition, leads members along a recreation and reconnaissance ride. The Coalition has 173 members from all walks of life, many who give time, talents and expertise to help make conditions for cycling in the Comox Valley safer and more convenient.

Today’s diverse group includes a trio of three generations of cyclists—Melissa, a competitive cyclist once coached by Ed, with her 16-month old son as a passenger in a trailer behind, and her mother Terry. Another member of the group, Brian, a flight instructor at CFB Comox who commutes to work along Ryan Road, contributes electronic support. With a combination of GPS, iPhone, and other wizardry, he can map the route, take photographs, and calculate distance and elevation gain, to be posted on the Coalition’s website at www.cyclecv.ca

Schum is a grandfather himself, and has been cycling for most of his life, racing and coaching. After retiring as owner of the former Mountain Meadows Sports in Downtown Courtenay, he began touring by bicycle and blogging about it at www.crazyguyonabike.com.

“Now that I am over 65, I thought it was time to slow down,” he says as an introduction. “Get into some touring and see more of the beautiful Canada I live in.” His online journals include Grandpa Cycles across Canada, 2007 and Grandpa Cycles Europe, 2008.

“I went across Canada to see how safe or unsafe cycling is in Canada, and saw a lot that could be improved,” Schum says. “So I went all over Europe to find what they’ve done there to make cycling safer and more popular—and now we’re putting the two together.”

Pink plum-tree flower petals scatter over the roads as the group leaves Downtown Courtenay over the Condensory Bridge. Along the way, Schum provides helpful tips about cycling safety. The mission of the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition is to create a safe environment for cycling in the region, and encourage cycling as an effective, economical, healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

The group’s regular rides scout problem areas. “Try to stay about one metre off the edge of the pavement,” he advises Melissa, with the wide trailer behind her bike, as the road shoulder disappears. “That way the trailer won’t catch the edge.”

The group rides in single file and turns onto Cessford, a quieter road. The paving surface changes noticeably—the coarse surface Schum calls chip seal is an inexpensive re-paving method used by the Ministry of Transportation, but is quite dangerous to cyclists. “Part of Headquarters Road and Coleman Road—very popular cycling routes—were freshly done in this surface last year,” Schum says. “If anybody ever went down on that, they would be very badly injured.” It is ironic that over a century ago roads were originally paved to accommodate bicyclists, but now the needs of cars dominate. The Coalition has reached an agreement with the Ministry that all chip sealing will be put on hold, until an acceptable surface for cycling is decided upon.

Luckily the rough section is short, and the smooth surface resumes— in time for an uphill incline along Piercy Road. The pace slows, and the temptation is to stop and smell the roses—or here, the scent of cedar from the nearby sawmill. Everyone gears down but soon the grade flattens and the group turns north onto the Inland Highway. The shoulder is wide and the rumble strip that separates the car traffic allows plenty of room for cyclists.

“The rumble strips here are not bad,” Schum says. “The shoulder is still wide enough for cyclists.” His neon-yellow cycling vest is highly visible and traffic gives the group a wide berth. At the Dove Creek interchange there is a pause for a group photo by Brian. After the turn, the group continues to complete the ride, some exploring a longer route before heading back to town for a sociable coffee.

“The Comox Valley is very well suited for cycle commuting,” says Schum after the ride. “If you draw a five kilometer circle around the hub—say the Superstore—it encompasses just about the whole Comox Valley. Cumberland would be a little bit outside of that. Many more people here could ride their bikes to go shopping, to go to and from work, to ride to school, and so on. We do have a relatively high ‘cycling mode share’ of people traveling by bike—just over four per cent here, which is fairly large for North America. There are so many more people who would like to ride their bikes, but they just find it too dangerous.”

The Coalition initiated a survey to learn the community’s thoughts about cycling in the Comox Valley. “We have about 650 survey responses by now,” Schum says, “and the number one issue is not enough safe cycling routes—specifically too many cars and the traffic is too fast. The other major issue is that the bridges are unsafe to cross.”
He cites as an example the Fifth Street Bridge, which is narrow and drivers often try to pass cyclists. “The signage that’s there now, drivers interpret as if the cyclist has to be on the sidewalk, which is not the intention,” Schum says. “The cyclist should only dismount and take the sidewalk if they decide not to ride in the traffic lane.” The current signage causes much friction between motorists and cyclists. Ideal signage, Schum says, would state ‘Drivers should not pass cyclists on bridge’.

On the 17th Street Bridge, the metal grating is a hazard for cyclists. “There are ways to fix it— different types of decking that can be put on the metal grating, or fill the outside portion with concrete, like the sidewalk,” says Schum. “The problem is, it’s a drawbridge, it has to be raised because the river at that point is a navigable waterway, so any additional weight would make it more difficult to raise. The Ministry of Transportation has told us that they are working on it; they realize it is a hazard for cyclists, but it may take as long as four years to get it done! I personally know of three people who have been hurt on that bridge—all very accomplished cyclists, not risk-takers. How many more cyclists will be injured, or worse, before something is done to make the bridge safe for cycling?”

Schum sees an alternative, ideal for cyclists. “For me it would be logical to have a connection from East Courtenay and Comox, behind the Superstore, just on the edge of the farmland: crossing the bypass Highway 19A with a bridge, crossing or going around the Slough, and then put a bridge over the river—for cyclists and pedestrians only.” The proposed route would connect to the popular Courtenay Riverway and into downtown without crossing any busy intersections.

This idea was included in a recent presentation to Courtenay Council by the CV Cycling Coalition. “There were a lot of supporters there for greener and cleaner transportation,” says Schum, “and the response from Council seemed encouraging. They asked some very good questions.”

The Coalition is advocating for an entire network of safer cycling routes, along many commuter roads. “There are a lot of people commuting to the base, for example,” he notes. For connections between Comox and Courtenay, “We can’t expect that everyone will come to a centre spot, so we have the Veteran’s Memorial Parkway in the north, we have Ryan Road, we have Comox Hill and Dyke Road, then we will have hopefully a new connection behind Superstore—we need all of those.

“We have 1,600 more people moving to the Valley on average every year,” Schum adds. “They bring 1,000 more cars—a huge challenge to deal with. And what has happened, here as in the rest of North America, the reaction has been widening roads, building new roads, building another bridge across the river, building a bypass around Courtenay with Highway 19, creating more parking… but there is now no more room!”

“When you look at an aerial photo of Downtown Courtenay, it is one-third buildings, one-third roads, and one-third parking. If we want more parking, we would have to build parkades, and they [cost] around $30,000 a stall. If we want to build more roads, we would have to double-deck the roads. If we were to build another bridge for cars across the river, where would the cars go when they get across? Traffic lights are almost $250,000—and that is only for the light, not for the road infrastructure. And all this is planning for more and more cars.”

To the Coalition, transportation modes need to be viewed from a different perspective. “We don’t see this as an ‘us versus them’ situation between cyclists and motorists,” Schum says. “Most cyclists also own and drive cars, and even drivers who don’t ride a bike now might change their mind some day. So if we start making conditions for cycling and walking safer and more convenient, we would get more people walking and cycling. For every person who is riding a bicycle, there is more space on the roads for the people who have to drive. There are times when you have to use your car and other times when you can do it by bicycle. We have to start investing and making it safer and more convenient for people to get out there.”

In the survey done by the Coalition, an overwhelming 99 per cent of those who responded said that they were in favor of more tax dollars being spent, or a significant increase in investment, for safer and more convenient cycling and walking infrastructure.

Some simple tasks for improving safety include basic housekeeping improvements such as regular sweeping of the road shoulders to remove debris, and re-painting of lines to show both cyclists and drivers where each belong on the road. Colored paving for bike lanes is another effective safety measure, widely used in Europe and even used in Victoria and Campbell River.

The Coalition is working closely with the Cycling Task Force, made up of representatives from all local governments working together to develop a comprehensive cycling strategy. The task force mandate mirrors that of the Coalition—making cycling safe, enjoyable and efficient, improving health and leading to a clean environment and community.

Schum feels strongly that the efforts of a group will be more effective than individuals. “The Cycling Task Force is a wonderful group of people, all the jurisdictions in the Comox Valley sitting together at one table,” he says. “They are welcoming what we are doing, collecting information from all the cyclists in the Valley. The coalition is trying to represent all cyclists in the Valley—the more members we have, the more our voice will be heard. We are meeting with the task force on a monthly basis and they seem very pleased with the work we are doing—politicians have so many other things to do, and we are happy to do the groundwork for them.

In the Coalition’s first meeting with the task force, Schum asked how much money was allocated in the budgets for cycling infrastructure. “The answer was zero,” he says. “That was such a disappointment! We cannot say that we want to get the population healthier and the air cleaner by encouraging people to ride their bikes and walk, and then not spend any money on it.”

To encourage biking during the recent Bike to Work Week in mid-May, the CV Cycling Coalition offered one-day cycling commuter skills courses, and will be offering more this year. Schum attended such a course himself and found it invaluable. “Even after riding for 60 years I found I can still learn something,” he says. “It not only made me a better cyclist, but made me a better driver.” Most of the risks involved with cycling, he feels, can be greatly reduced by knowing and obeying the rules of the road and by being visible to motorists.

One of the Coalition’s main objectives is to promote cycling education for children and adults, and cycling safety and awareness among cyclists as well as non-cycling road users. To this end they are working on a pilot project with Huband School, to get more students walking and cycling to school.

A special Bike to the Playground activity was hosted by the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition as part of Bike to Work Week. Kids and parents started at Simms Park and rode under the 5th Street Bridge to the Lewis Centre. Enthusiastic participants included a group from the Strong Start Family Learning Centre—adults and a couple of dozen children on bikes, trikes, and trailers, some whose feet barely reached the pedals but were determined to do the route on their own wheels. “We are really happy to be supporting this event,” says Ellie of the Centre, who commutes on her bike. “It’s a nice way to include kids and families.”

Everyone arriving at the playground received a blue ribbon, and a choice of edible goodies from juice to granola bars to fair trade chocolate. Tony Goodwin, in his second year of chairing the Bike to Work activities and also a member of the Coalition, handed out free snacks, and encouraged everyone to have more.
“This year the schools really got involved,” Goodwin says. “Information was sent to all the schools and it was phenomenal—every morning a load of kids were going by.” Hundreds of students and staff from the schools participated. For next year, Goodwin foresees even more organizations getting involved, more ‘Celebration Stations’ where riders check in for a snack and for a stamp on their passport that confirms participation, and possibly a mini film fest. “We want to focus more on Bike Week, not just Bike to Work,” he says. “Spread the message to Bike to Whatever You’re Doing!”

The vision of a cycle-friendly community is shared by many. “Our Valley has all the natural assets it takes to become the most cycle-friendly place in Canada, and become a destination for cycling tourists—this is such huge business in Europe,” says Schum.

“The benefits to the economy of the different regions are huge. For example, cyclists buy a lot of food and need a comfortable place to rest after a day of riding! The Comox Valley has everything that any of the places in Europe have—we just need some improvements. As far as natural beauty is concerned, and clean air, we still have it and I hope we can keep it that way.”

Adds Schum: “For next year, because the City of Courtenay has about $5 million allocated to make improvements in transportation and roads and so on, my recommendation to the council was to spend 20 per cent of the transportation budget on cycling infrastructure, with the goal to get 20 per cent of cycling mode share by the year 2020.
“I have studied this for several years now,” he says. “In European cities, up to 43 per cent of all trips are done by bicycle! But they are spending more money on it there.”

The vision for the future, adds Schum, is clear. “In the city of Portland, Oregon—one of the most cycling friendly cities in the US—the city administrator commented that the city has never made a better investment than putting money into cycling infrastructure. It might seem expensive to build, but not nearly as much as building anything for cars. It lasts longer, and is much easier and cheaper to maintain. We have to cut back on the use of cars if we want to leave a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren.”

For more information or to join the Cycling Coalition visit:
www.cyclecv.ca

If you could look into the future, approved
what would be the outlook for cycling in the Comox Valley? The Comox Valley Cycling Coalition has a clear vision. In fact, hospital
a 20/20 vision—by the year 2020 to see 20 per cent of the transportation budget spent on cycling infrastructure, with the goal to get cycling up to 20 per cent of all the modes of transportation.

On a perfect day for cycling, sunny and warm, Ed Schum, founder of the newly-formed Coalition, leads members along a recreation and reconnaissance ride. The Coalition has 173 members from all walks of life, many who give time, talents and expertise to help make conditions for cycling in the Comox Valley safer and more convenient.

Today’s diverse group includes a trio of three generations of cyclists—Melissa, a competitive cyclist once coached by Ed, with her 16-month old son as a passenger in a trailer behind, and her mother Terry. Another member of the group, Brian, a flight instructor at CFB Comox who commutes to work along Ryan Road, contributes electronic support. With a combination of GPS, iPhone, and other wizardry, he can map the route, take photographs, and calculate distance and elevation gain, to be posted on the Coalition’s website at www.cyclecv.ca

Schum is a grandfather himself, and has been cycling for most of his life, racing and coaching. After retiring as owner of the former Mountain Meadows Sports in Downtown Courtenay, he began touring by bicycle and blogging about it at www.crazyguyonabike.com.

“Now that I am over 65, I thought it was time to slow down,” he says as an introduction. “Get into some touring and see more of the beautiful Canada I live in.” His online journals include Grandpa Cycles across Canada, 2007 and Grandpa Cycles Europe, 2008.

“I went across Canada to see how safe or unsafe cycling is in Canada, and saw a lot that could be improved,” Schum says. “So I went all over Europe to find what they’ve done there to make cycling safer and more popular—and now we’re putting the two together.”

Pink plum-tree flower petals scatter over the roads as the group leaves Downtown Courtenay over the Condensory Bridge. Along the way, Schum provides helpful tips about cycling safety. The mission of the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition is to create a safe environment for cycling in the region, and encourage cycling as an effective, economical, healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

The group’s regular rides scout problem areas. “Try to stay about one metre off the edge of the pavement,” he advises Melissa, with the wide trailer behind her bike, as the road shoulder disappears. “That way the trailer won’t catch the edge.”

The group rides in single file and turns onto Cessford, a quieter road. The paving surface changes noticeably—the coarse surface Schum calls chip seal is an inexpensive re-paving method used by the Ministry of Transportation, but is quite dangerous to cyclists. “Part of Headquarters Road and Coleman Road—very popular cycling routes—were freshly done in this surface last year,” Schum says. “If anybody ever went down on that, they would be very badly injured.” It is ironic that over a century ago roads were originally paved to accommodate bicyclists, but now the needs of cars dominate. The Coalition has reached an agreement with the Ministry that all chip sealing will be put on hold, until an acceptable surface for cycling is decided upon.

Luckily the rough section is short, and the smooth surface resumes— in time for an uphill incline along Piercy Road. The pace slows, and the temptation is to stop and smell the roses—or here, the scent of cedar from the nearby sawmill. Everyone gears down but soon the grade flattens and the group turns north onto the Inland Highway. The shoulder is wide and the rumble strip that separates the car traffic allows plenty of room for cyclists.

“The rumble strips here are not bad,” Schum says. “The shoulder is still wide enough for cyclists.” His neon-yellow cycling vest is highly visible and traffic gives the group a wide berth. At the Dove Creek interchange there is a pause for a group photo by Brian. After the turn, the group continues to complete the ride, some exploring a longer route before heading back to town for a sociable coffee.

“The Comox Valley is very well suited for cycle commuting,” says Schum after the ride. “If you draw a five kilometer circle around the hub—say the Superstore—it encompasses just about the whole Comox Valley. Cumberland would be a little bit outside of that. Many more people here could ride their bikes to go shopping, to go to and from work, to ride to school, and so on. We do have a relatively high ‘cycling mode share’ of people traveling by bike—just over four per cent here, which is fairly large for North America. There are so many more people who would like to ride their bikes, but they just find it too dangerous.”

The Coalition initiated a survey to learn the community’s thoughts about cycling in the Comox Valley. “We have about 650 survey responses by now,” Schum says, “and the number one issue is not enough safe cycling routes—specifically too many cars and the traffic is too fast. The other major issue is that the bridges are unsafe to cross.”
He cites as an example the Fifth Street Bridge, which is narrow and drivers often try to pass cyclists. “The signage that’s there now, drivers interpret as if the cyclist has to be on the sidewalk, which is not the intention,” Schum says. “The cyclist should only dismount and take the sidewalk if they decide not to ride in the traffic lane.” The current signage causes much friction between motorists and cyclists. Ideal signage, Schum says, would state ‘Drivers should not pass cyclists on bridge’.

On the 17th Street Bridge, the metal grating is a hazard for cyclists. “There are ways to fix it— different types of decking that can be put on the metal grating, or fill the outside portion with concrete, like the sidewalk,” says Schum. “The problem is, it’s a drawbridge, it has to be raised because the river at that point is a navigable waterway, so any additional weight would make it more difficult to raise. The Ministry of Transportation has told us that they are working on it; they realize it is a hazard for cyclists, but it may take as long as four years to get it done! I personally know of three people who have been hurt on that bridge—all very accomplished cyclists, not risk-takers. How many more cyclists will be injured, or worse, before something is done to make the bridge safe for cycling?”

Schum sees an alternative, ideal for cyclists. “For me it would be logical to have a connection from East Courtenay and Comox, behind the Superstore, just on the edge of the farmland: crossing the bypass Highway 19A with a bridge, crossing or going around the Slough, and then put a bridge over the river—for cyclists and pedestrians only.” The proposed route would connect to the popular Courtenay Riverway and into downtown without crossing any busy intersections.

This idea was included in a recent presentation to Courtenay Council by the CV Cycling Coalition. “There were a lot of supporters there for greener and cleaner transportation,” says Schum, “and the response from Council seemed encouraging. They asked some very good questions.”

The Coalition is advocating for an entire network of safer cycling routes, along many commuter roads. “There are a lot of people commuting to the base, for example,” he notes. For connections between Comox and Courtenay, “We can’t expect that everyone will come to a centre spot, so we have the Veteran’s Memorial Parkway in the north, we have Ryan Road, we have Comox Hill and Dyke Road, then we will have hopefully a new connection behind Superstore—we need all of those.

“We have 1,600 more people moving to the Valley on average every year,” Schum adds. “They bring 1,000 more cars—a huge challenge to deal with. And what has happened, here as in the rest of North America, the reaction has been widening roads, building new roads, building another bridge across the river, building a bypass around Courtenay with Highway 19, creating more parking… but there is now no more room!”

“When you look at an aerial photo of Downtown Courtenay, it is one-third buildings, one-third roads, and one-third parking. If we want more parking, we would have to build parkades, and they [cost] around $30,000 a stall. If we want to build more roads, we would have to double-deck the roads. If we were to build another bridge for cars across the river, where would the cars go when they get across? Traffic lights are almost $250,000—and that is only for the light, not for the road infrastructure. And all this is planning for more and more cars.”

To the Coalition, transportation modes need to be viewed from a different perspective. “We don’t see this as an ‘us versus them’ situation between cyclists and motorists,” Schum says. “Most cyclists also own and drive cars, and even drivers who don’t ride a bike now might change their mind some day. So if we start making conditions for cycling and walking safer and more convenient, we would get more people walking and cycling. For every person who is riding a bicycle, there is more space on the roads for the people who have to drive. There are times when you have to use your car and other times when you can do it by bicycle. We have to start investing and making it safer and more convenient for people to get out there.”

In the survey done by the Coalition, an overwhelming 99 per cent of those who responded said that they were in favor of more tax dollars being spent, or a significant increase in investment, for safer and more convenient cycling and walking infrastructure.

Some simple tasks for improving safety include basic housekeeping improvements such as regular sweeping of the road shoulders to remove debris, and re-painting of lines to show both cyclists and drivers where each belong on the road. Colored paving for bike lanes is another effective safety measure, widely used in Europe and even used in Victoria and Campbell River.

The Coalition is working closely with the Cycling Task Force, made up of representatives from all local governments working together to develop a comprehensive cycling strategy. The task force mandate mirrors that of the Coalition—making cycling safe, enjoyable and efficient, improving health and leading to a clean environment and community.

Schum feels strongly that the efforts of a group will be more effective than individuals. “The Cycling Task Force is a wonderful group of people, all the jurisdictions in the Comox Valley sitting together at one table,” he says. “They are welcoming what we are doing, collecting information from all the cyclists in the Valley. The coalition is trying to represent all cyclists in the Valley—the more members we have, the more our voice will be heard. We are meeting with the task force on a monthly basis and they seem very pleased with the work we are doing—politicians have so many other things to do, and we are happy to do the groundwork for them.

In the Coalition’s first meeting with the task force, Schum asked how much money was allocated in the budgets for cycling infrastructure. “The answer was zero,” he says. “That was such a disappointment! We cannot say that we want to get the population healthier and the air cleaner by encouraging people to ride their bikes and walk, and then not spend any money on it.”

To encourage biking during the recent Bike to Work Week in mid-May, the CV Cycling Coalition offered one-day cycling commuter skills courses, and will be offering more this year. Schum attended such a course himself and found it invaluable. “Even after riding for 60 years I found I can still learn something,” he says. “It not only made me a better cyclist, but made me a better driver.” Most of the risks involved with cycling, he feels, can be greatly reduced by knowing and obeying the rules of the road and by being visible to motorists.

One of the Coalition’s main objectives is to promote cycling education for children and adults, and cycling safety and awareness among cyclists as well as non-cycling road users. To this end they are working on a pilot project with Huband School, to get more students walking and cycling to school.

A special Bike to the Playground activity was hosted by the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition as part of Bike to Work Week. Kids and parents started at Simms Park and rode under the 5th Street Bridge to the Lewis Centre. Enthusiastic participants included a group from the Strong Start Family Learning Centre—adults and a couple of dozen children on bikes, trikes, and trailers, some whose feet barely reached the pedals but were determined to do the route on their own wheels. “We are really happy to be supporting this event,” says Ellie of the Centre, who commutes on her bike. “It’s a nice way to include kids and families.”

Everyone arriving at the playground received a blue ribbon, and a choice of edible goodies from juice to granola bars to fair trade chocolate. Tony Goodwin, in his second year of chairing the Bike to Work activities and also a member of the Coalition, handed out free snacks, and encouraged everyone to have more.
“This year the schools really got involved,” Goodwin says. “Information was sent to all the schools and it was phenomenal—every morning a load of kids were going by.” Hundreds of students and staff from the schools participated. For next year, Goodwin foresees even more organizations getting involved, more ‘Celebration Stations’ where riders check in for a snack and for a stamp on their passport that confirms participation, and possibly a mini film fest. “We want to focus more on Bike Week, not just Bike to Work,” he says. “Spread the message to Bike to Whatever You’re Doing!”

The vision of a cycle-friendly community is shared by many. “Our Valley has all the natural assets it takes to become the most cycle-friendly place in Canada, and become a destination for cycling tourists—this is such huge business in Europe,” says Schum.

“The benefits to the economy of the different regions are huge. For example, cyclists buy a lot of food and need a comfortable place to rest after a day of riding! The Comox Valley has everything that any of the places in Europe have—we just need some improvements. As far as natural beauty is concerned, and clean air, we still have it and I hope we can keep it that way.”

Adds Schum: “For next year, because the City of Courtenay has about $5 million allocated to make improvements in transportation and roads and so on, my recommendation to the council was to spend 20 per cent of the transportation budget on cycling infrastructure, with the goal to get 20 per cent of cycling mode share by the year 2020.
“I have studied this for several years now,” he says. “In European cities, up to 43 per cent of all trips are done by bicycle! But they are spending more money on it there.”

The vision for the future, adds Schum, is clear. “In the city of Portland, Oregon—one of the most cycling friendly cities in the US—the city administrator commented that the city has never made a better investment than putting money into cycling infrastructure. It might seem expensive to build, but not nearly as much as building anything for cars. It lasts longer, and is much easier and cheaper to maintain. We have to cut back on the use of cars if we want to leave a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren.”

For more information or to join the Cycling Coalition visit:
www.cyclecv.ca

Tomiko and Mike Collins

Tomiko and Mike Collins

Photo by Boomer Jerritt

The aroma of fresh coffee mingles with the scent of freshly cut lumber. It’s an unusual atmosphere for a bike shop, viagra approved
but at the Broken Spoke Coffeehouse, Hemophilia
a new bike shop and coffee bar set to open at the corner of 4th Street and Fitzgerald Avenue in Downtown Courtenay, this web
it’s all part of the ambiance.

Mike and Tomiko Collins, the energetic young owners of the Broken Spoke, are creating a place for commuter cyclists to browse for bike gear, enjoy a java, and absorb the unique environment. The handmade wooden tables, chairs, and display cases still have the scent of newly-built woodworking, and along with engraved wooden signs, give a hand-crafted appeal to the shop.

Over a cup of Misty Valley, a unique coffee from Ethiopia, Mike explains the vision for their business. “Tomiko and I met through cycling,” he says. “We both lived in Japan and the vast majority of people travel by bike in the cities, so we got into biking that way.” With a plan for a bike shop in mind, Mike returned home to England for a series of bike mechanics courses, where he received a Level 3 Certificate from Cytech, the British cycle industry training and accreditation scheme for mechanics and technicians.

Two years ago Mike and Tomiko moved back to BC and started saving to open their shop. The Broken Spoke focuses on commuter bicycles only—no mountain bikes. “Transportation is our main thing,” he says. “And the accessories to go with it—lots of panniers and racks. We will also be getting more clothing as time goes on, focusing on safety clothes and rainwear”.

The sun pours in the south-facing windows as we sip the coffee. Where some might see only asphalt parking outside, Mike envisions the space as a community square or courtyard. There are plans for outdoor seating and landscaping with hanging baskets.

“What do you think of the coffee?” Mike asks. “Do you get the bit of blueberry taste in it?” The coffee, he says, is ‘direct trade’, the next wave beyond ‘fair trade’. Direct trade means buying directly from growers, cutting out the traditional middleman buyers and sellers as well as the organizations that control other certifications in order to build relationships with individual producers or cooperatives in the coffee-producing countries. “Working direct with small scale coffee producers, you get different flavors from individual farmers,” he says. “Like the wine business”.

Mike and Tomiko are also active in the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition, each serving as secretary for the group. Both are former teachers and are hoping to focus on education in their shop by the fall, offering bike mechanic courses for various skill levels as well as specific target groups, such as women and seniors.

The Collins are aiming for a July 1st official opening, although they may open sooner. Hours will be 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. Monday to Saturday, with a shorter day to be determined on Sunday.

“We’d like to catch commuters before they get to work, in case they have repairs to do,” Mike says. With a morning coffee to savor as well, any cyclist’s day will be off to a great start.

9 Responses to New Shop Caters to Commuters

  1. We can’t wait for The Broken Spoke to open so we can come up for a visit from Victoria.

    Great photo guys – looking great!!!

  2. Congratulations, guys! this is so exciting for you – I hope you’ll have great success!

  3. Wow, your awesome idea has come to fruition. I remember chatting about this over many conversations in Victoria, congratulations on making the dream a reality

  4. Wow, Nice to see that things are working out! Best of luck with all guys!

  5. Congratulations, you have both worked so hard to get this far. Can’t wait till we see you and your shop in 4 weeks. Love Linda and Terry

  6. Misty Valley is NOT Direct Trade. Roasters shouldn’t lie about getting certain coffees via direct trade. You can get Ethiopia Misty Valley from many roasters. And the main importer is located in Holland FYI.

    Retailers should do their homework when talking about coffees and not believe everything their roaster has to say.

  7. Well done Guys! Good Luck and hope to see you soon for a coffee and a bike ride.xx

  8. Congratulations to you both.Hope to have a cup of coffee with you in the near future.Love Anne and Brian xx

  9. Sorry we wont be there this year but look forward to seeing you very soon. Best of luck. Love and congratulations from Wendy and Jack xxx