Cycling in Windsor

People keep telling me that Windsor isn’t a cycling city. “This isn’t Vancouver, people here don’t ride their bikes”. “This is the automotive capital of Canada, not the cycling capital”. “Don’t expect many people to participate in Bike To Work Week”.

Yet, whenever I am out biking, I always see other cyclists. The other day I counted 6 other cyclists on a 1km stretch of California Avenue. I always see cyclists on the riverside trail, and saw a few yesterday on the Ganatchio trail. Research shows that approximately 65% of Windsorite’s ride a bike.

So with all these people cycling, why don’t we have a strong cycling community in Windsor?

9 thoughts on “Cycling in Windsor”

  1. It’s rather a chicken and egg thing, isn’t it. There seems to be little outward political will in the mayor’s office; there’s little support from the vocal motoring citizens, and the mayor appears reluctant to put too much weight behind any initiatives that would upset the rather conservative voters.

    However, I’m not that pessimistic. The wonderful trails that so many people now use for all sorts of exercise, not just cycling, simply didn’t exist 12 years ago. I’m the first to complain that our cycling infrastructure is lacking, but in reality, a lot of quiet headway is being made.

    So yes, it is disappointing that there isn’t a strong cycling community, but it would be even more disappointing if there weren’t many cyclists. The fact that the trails are well-used means that there is support for a healthier lifestyle, and that should give us hope.

    1. Once you try to reach out though like I have, or Steve it’s still frustrating. The shops still do a lot I believe to help by getting people out there on rides. The bike friendly group on facebook has something like 63 members, but hardly anyone goes to the meetings to see what’s going on and to try to be a part of their community project.

      My friends started bike polo games and still so few come out to play. The trails are good but I still see more people walking on them than cycling. When I look at that map I made with the blue bike lanes on it, so few to help cyclists get on the roads more.

      I’m starting to wonder if it’s this city or just me.

      1. I have yet to be able to make it to one of the meetings and it is the same again this coming Sunday. Sunday morning to midday rarely work for me and this Sunday I have something on overlapping the early afternoon as well. Not complaining at all, just explaining.

        What Luke Weilder says below is excellent.

  2. 1. Urban Form
    The city was designed around accommodation of the automobile and it shows. Things are so spread out that it is much more difficult to shop and access services by bike than it is by car. Most shopping is designed around power centres and malls, places which are located inconveniently and surrounded by dangerous arterial roads.

    2. Infrastructure
    The city doesn’t have enough bike lanes, the ones that do exist don’t connect to each other, and many of them are badly designed, as has been discussed in previous posts. This is both an engineering and a funding problem, and for the average cyclist or citizen, simply communicates that biking is a dangerous and haphazard proposition in Windsor.

    3. Culture
    I believe the whole “automotive capital of Canada” attitude still does hold a lot of sway. Biking is viewed by many here to be, I think, something that you do as a last resort – either because you’re too young to drive, because you lost your job, or because your license was taken away. Speaking for myself, I live on University Avenue West and while I do see a relatively high number of cyclists in the bike lanes on that road, the vast majority do not look like they want to be on their bicycles. The machines are in terrible condition and the riders don’t look healthy or happy – they look consigned to that mode of travel. I think this attitude is pervasive in the city and intersects with the above factors and the final following one:

    4. Behaviour
    There is an attitude not just in Windsor but in many parts of the country that cycling is something children should do in parks and on suburban cul de sacs, and that bikes don’t belong on the road. I have had people justify their terrible and reckless driving around me with this excuse before, and I think it plays a significant factor in scaring people away from trying to bike – particularly in a town like Windsor where the bike culture is small and underfed.

    1. Thank you for your well thought out reply. It’s what I’ve been trying to say for so long.

  3. I think that most people I see cycling do not identify themselves as cyclists. They are poor people (who probably would drive a car if they could afford one), getting around the cheapest and easiest way they can.

    1. While out riding today I saw so many cyclists, but I agree with what you said. So many don’t commute to work and are recreational riders. Saw many people out today with their fancy track bikes, and other nice vintage ones. Happy to see them out, but seems like most people here still choose to drive instead of bike as a means of getting around.

  4. while at the moment we don’t have a strong vocal cycling community, we’ll get there. our trail and route system is fractured but the pieces are there to make it work and make it work well. groups and sites like this one are key into rallying people and getting them to understand and support getting the infrastructure into place.

    the key in getting people to ride their bikes to work is ensuring the workplace has what they need to make it an option. bike racks would be a start. every work place should have them.

    and initiatives like the VIA Rail Bike Train can help in raising awareness and funding for better infrastructure.

    it gets discouraging sometimes, but we’ll get there.

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