It’s time to “Rediscover Your Bike” again, Windsor-Essex, as the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit launches their annual campaign aimed at increasing bike ridership and safety.
“The whole concept behind ‘Rediscover Your Bike’ was to get people to go and remember what it was like to ride a bike when they were a kid, or to reinstall the excitement of bike riding back into our community,” said Neil MacKenzie, Manager of Chronic Disease Prevention and Workplace Wellness at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit in the Health Promotion Division.
The campaign began with the “Bike to Work Windsor” event this morning – it’s an annual event hosted by the Windsor Bicycling Committee, a group focused on increasing bike ridership – and allows participants to ride across the city from the WFCU Centre to CBC studios on Riverside Drive.
While “Rediscover Your Bike” used to centre around the “Bike to Work Windsor” event, MacKenzie explained that this year the campaign sought to be more inclusive and not just about biking to work.
“We wanted people to remember what it was like to ride a bike [and] to make sure that your [family and friends] get to enjoy that same excitement,” he said.
The bike safety campaign is heading to Leamington, Amherstburg, Cottam and Windsor over the next month and will allow for participants to learn bike and helmet safety, rules of the road, and general tips of how to ride your bike safely.
In addition, the events will feature helmet and bike giveaways.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said MacKenzie. “Everybody has fond memories of cycling at some point in their life and the trick is to carry that forward and to make sure that we do it safely.”
MacKenzie noted that the consequence of having an unsafe bike could be very significant. “It’s not just a concept, it’s a requirement to have a safe bike. When it comes to the law, there are certain safety features which have to be on your bike [reflector, bell or sound device].”
MacKenzie also noted that helmet legislation is “very important” and that even though the legislation only applies to those 18 and under, the WECHU encourages “anybody who is riding a bike to wear a helmet because it’s the safe thing to do [and] because it sets a good example for the young children who are required to wear them.”
“I cycle and I never get on my bike without putting my helmet on first, it’s like putting your seatbelt on,” said MacKenzie. “If you think about the importance of your head and what’s in your head, the consequence of having a crash and banging your head is very significant.”
MacKenzie believes Windsor-Essex to be a great area for cycling and that it’s getting “better every year. There’s more signage going up, there’s a diversity of trails, whether off road, on road bike paths, and now that the county [is] improving and linking our trail networks across the county.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.