As communities around Greater Victoria improve access to cycling infrastructure and encourage residents to adopt more active modes of transportation, some advocates are looking to help make that process easier.
Ryan Harris, owner operator of Recyclistas near the junction of the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails in Saanich, has seen a spike in demand for bicycles over the past year, with many people flocking to outdoor activities during the pandemic.
Demand for affordable bikes is especially increasing, he said, noting that most people just getting into cycling are not buying $5,000 models.
Not only is Recyclistas a full-service repair shop, they accept donations of used bicycles and parts, then re-build and sell the upgraded bikes. Part of what Harris loves about his work is helping people enter the world of cycling in an affordable way while preventing older bikes from ending up in landfills.
“We want to get more people riding bikes and we want to divert waste from the landfill, this is our mandate,” he said. “It’s also really great to see Saanich and Victoria really upping their infrastructure game – as an experienced cyclist who does my best to stick to the bicycle lanes, I can only imagine how scary it must be for new riders.”
Road safety advocate and member of Better Mobility Saanich, Elise Cote, said as more people shift to cycling she hopes to see continued improvement of cycling networks around the region.
“In my experience, the real barrier to cycling is being able to ride for pleasure,” she said. “Having that infrastructure in place to improve safety, as well as spaces and businesses that support riding for pleasure, is a really big piece.”
Cote, who recalled paying just $40 for her first bike, said if residents have the time and patience to search, similar bargains can be found.
“Take it to a place like Recyclistas and they can fix it up for you and you can basically ride away there,” she said, referencing its location next to well-used cycling paths. “Capital Bike also has programs to help people get out on their bikes and feel safe doing so.”
New cyclists looking to explore new pathways and veterans alike can find a map of all bike lanes around the region, protected and otherwise, at crd.bc.ca/service/commuting-cycling/bike-maps.