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‘Breaking down barriers’: New Victoria lending library offers kids bikes, not books

Bikes for kids aged two to four currently available, with more options coming soon
James Coates, bike education coordinator, displays two of the balance bikes available at Capital Bike’s new lending library. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

A Victoria non-profit is hoping to make cycling even more accessible with its new bike lending library for kids.

Like a regular library, Capital Bike’s setup allows families to place holds on and take out bikes. If, after their one month lending period, there are no new holds on the bike, families can renew the loan and keep their kids cruising.

Bike education coordinator James Coates said the idea was passed on to them by a woman in Quadra Village who had been lending bikes from her home informally. It was a perfect fit for Capital Bike, which already runs programs to get more families and kids into the cycling community.

Coates said it’s incredible how quickly kids can pick up the skill when given the opportunity.

“Kids can go from never having ridden a bike before to getting on a balance bike, to peddling a regular bike in 90 minutes,” he said. But, buying multiple several-hundred-dollar bikes for kids as they grow can be cost-prohibitive for many families, Coates said. The lending library is free for Capital Bike members and by donation for everyone else.

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Heather Chapple was the first person to use the library on Tuesday (March 8) to pick up a pedal bike for her four-year-old daughter Zoey to try out.

“She was very excited,” Chapple said. Hitting the streets Wednesday, Chapple said Zoey wasn’t quite ready to go off on her own, but that she was definitely peddling. “It inspired her confidence, which is what we needed.”

That’s just one of the benefits of bike riding, according to Coates. It’s also affordable and environmentally-friendly transportation, good exercise, a mental health booster, and a way to build community, he said.

“I think it’s a lot of different things to different people, and COVID and climate change have made all those things all that more apparent.”

He said Capital Bike is seeing even more interest in biking as the price of gas spikes. For now, the lending library only has seven bikes for kids aged two to four, but as Capital Bike gets more storage space it plans to expand its offering to kids of all ages.

Anyone interested in lending a bike or donating one to the library can find more information at

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Capital Bike has seven balance bikes available in its lending library so far but is planning on expanding its collection soon. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Capital Bike has seven balance bikes available in its lending library so far but is planning on expanding its collection soon. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media after starting as a community reporter in Greater Victoria.
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