‘The bike lanes are going to be the tipping point’

Sharon and Jamie Thompson have been riding bicycles to and from work, as they say, “forever.” Today, at 68, they’re both fit and full of life. And they’re eager for more separated bike lanes for all generations.

“The bike lane from Mill Creek to 104 Street, on 83 Avenue, I’ve been anticipating that one for some time because that’s a great route for me,” Sharon, who’s a retired teacher who rides daily in her Bonnie Doon neighbourhood, says.

“The grid downtown is beautiful because it’s segregated from the cars and there’s lots of signals and signage,” add Jamie, who rides to his architectural projects each day. “You just feel really relaxed riding on those lanes now. Before I was always breaking the law. The law says a bicycle is a vehicle and can’t go on a sidewalk, and I would perpetually be riding where I shouldn’t have been, but you had no choice.”

He’s enthusiastic about cycling. “It’s the exercise, it’s the convenience, the fresh air, feeling the weather not seeing it, and it’s just so versatile,” he says. “And the parking is wonderful — you just lock up in front of the place you want to be. And for me, I’m an architect and if I have projects around the city, in the summer I always take my bike there unless it’s more than 10 kilometres. It’s usually faster than driving.”

Sharon is enthusiastic about cycling, too, but also about the expansion of bike lanes. It’s important for not only for her but for her granddaughters, she says.

“One granddaughter rides her bicycle from Mill Creek to McKernan, and it’s important to me that she is safe,” Sharon says. “I’m happy about the 76 Avenue bike lane but they’re not really completed and they’re just a piece. My other granddaughter, who’s 10, rides her bicycle every day to [her school in] Garneau.”

But an expanding network of separated lanes is also important for people her own age, too, Sharon adds. “I think that the infrastructure has a long way to go particularly for my generation. I think the bike lanes are going to be the tipping point for people my age. Until now it’s been a little bit dodgy. But I think they’re not [yet] connected, they don’t go far enough, so it’s a work in progress, I’m just hoping we can have a vision. This doesn’t stop halfway because of blowback. I hope we give it a good chance.”

Jamie just grins at the blowback he sometimes hears from drivers. “I would say both you and I have to get around the city, and you’re grumpy and I’m happy, so that’s why I ride. If you rode a bike, even if you parked outside the downtown core and rode in, you’d actually be happy. When you finally find that out, you will never go back to driving a car when you don’t have to — and you will also be fit.