Talking Bikes with Mayor Lisa Helps

It’s no secret that City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is a supporter of biking and an avid cyclist herself.  She bikes into City Hall nearly every day. We sat down for a quick chat with her last week and chatted about new cycling projects, why she loves commuting by bike, and Bike to Work Week.

Mayor Helps’ daily commute starts in Fernwood village.  She makes her way to Pandora and from there it’s a straight shot to City Hall!  On her way home, she winds her way through Chinatown, North Park, and back to her home in Fernwood Village. That riding ritual is not only her daily commute but also her favourite ride.  “So you must be pretty excited about the new Pandora Cycletrack facility?”, we asked.  “I’m excited about the cycling network. The Pandora facility is a good start; there’s still a lot of work to do, and a lot to look forward to!”

The City of Victoria’s goal is to have a connected cycling network that welcomes people of all ages and abilities (AAA). This encourages people who don’t have the skills, experience, or confidence to ride with traffic to commute by bike.  A network of protected facilities simply creates a safer, more comfortable cycling experience.

We chatted a bit more about one of the upcoming upgrades in the AAA Cycling Network’s minimum downtown grid – Fort Street.  The Fort Street protected bike facility project is well underway having completed public consultations, stakeholder engagement, and detailed design phases. The next steps include presentation to council for approval which is set to take place in late April.  It is critical for our community to show our support of this project by telling council how a protected facility on Fort will allow us to comfortably use the Fort Street corridor, including accessibility to shops.  Take part by emailing council (engage@victoria.ca) to tell them how a complete street on Fort will make shopping along the corridor more enjoyable!

Some days, Mayor helps walks to work rather than biking but, “it’s just not the same,” she admits.  Though it’s also a nice way to get to work, walking doesn’t give her the same energy as biking does.  “I feel powerful on my bike,” she tells us.  One of her favourite things about biking to work is the energized feeling she gets while riding in;  it makes her feel sharp and ready to seize the day.

“I feel powerful on my bike”

With Bike to Work Week just around the corner, we found it so poignant that Mayor Helps picked her daily commute to work as her favourite ride in Victoria.

“I look forward to Bike to Work Week every year”, Mayor Helps tells us.  Though Bike to Work Week is every week for her, she joked, she thinks it serves two great functions: it celebrates people who are biking to work and it also draws in new people in to trying it out. Bike to Work Week was founded with the goal of getting new people to try commuting by bike. That’s why we are especially proud of the number of new bike commuters that take part in Bike to Work Week each year.

This year we hope every team leader, keen cyclist, and even Mayor Helps will challenge a friend, family member, or colleagues to try commuting by bike.  Our message to those unsure about commuting by bike is: Bike it! You’ll like it!  It might just become your favorite part of the day.

Thanks to Mayor Helps for chatting with us.  We look forward to seeing you at the Celebration Station!

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