As a wonderful summer of riding gives way to some much-needed fall rain, we thought the timing was ideal to send a note to update our members and supporters on our activities. We hope this newsletter is both informational and inspiring as we share all the efforts we have been championing. Our CVCCo mission is to promote safe cycling in the Comox Valley, and we continue to focus on achieving that by both educating cyclists and advocating for improved infrastructure for active transportation options.
If anyone has any ideas as to how we can better interact and share information with members and the public, we would love to hear your suggestions. Feedback is always welcome so please let us know how you think we are doing! We can be reached at [email protected] or through our Facebook and Instagram social media pages.
Apologies up front to some of our members who know these programs very well – we have included some background information on each as we have so many new residents that may not know the underlying story.
Our most rewarding project is providing a cycling program to young students in School District 71. We rotate through 7 elementary schools per year, usually 3 in the fall and 4 in the spring, with every grade 4/5 student having the opportunity to participate. Students not only gain bike handling skills and safety knowledge, but also the confidence to help them feel comfortable biking safely to school or over to a friend’s house.
This amazing education program was spear-headed by Ed Schum and has had so many CVCCo members support and help it grow over time. The current version of the program combines the CVCCo developed “Bike Rodeo” safety lessons with a riding skills session over 2-3 days at each school. We could not deliver the program without the dozens of CVCCo volunteers that donate their time to help the kids. CVCCo are always looking for more volunteers so please get in touch if you are interested – very little skill or knowledge is required, just a keen interest in helping kids learn!
We are incredibly fortunate to have Lauren Lan co-ordinating the SCP – her enthusiasm, knowledge and cycling skills really take the kids to another level in the short time we get to spend with them. The School District also generously supports the financial requirements and has purchased their own trailer with over a dozen bikes and equipment. Teachers can now utilize this trailer and take their classes on bike outings during the year (usually with additional support from some CVCCo volunteers).
The SD71 student population is growing rapidly and we provided the SCP program to over 350 children at three schools over a 9 day period in October, compared to about 200 kids a few short years ago. This program is delivered for a cash cost of under $10 per kid and that is mostly due to the hundreds of hours donated by our generous volunteers.
The SCP is a unique, high quality, grassroots cycling education program that we should all be very proud of and that other areas of BC wish to emulate!
Our Adult Cycling Education program is back in full force after being limited during the pandemic. There is a short classroom session (option for on-line video) followed by a 1 – 1.5 hour ride around town that teaches you how to safely and confidently handle expected traffic situations including bridges, left turns and even roundabouts!
With many new riders in the Valley (especially on e-bikes) we are seeing a strong interest in learning how to ride safely and confidently, and we hope to have even more students enrolled in 2023. Specific courses for e-bikes are available. If you are interested in this course, please visit our website at www.cyclecv.com/ride-right/ or email us as per above.
The multi-jurisdictional nature of the Comox Valley can certainly make it challenging to coordinate continuous and consistent cycling routes. We do our utmost best to coordinate and communicate between the various groups that include Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland, CVRD, K’omox First Nation, MoTI as well as both provincial and federal funding agencies. Active transportation is a relatively recent concept and we are seeing improvements in the standards and process every year – although we do still have a long ways to go.
Our goal during the pandemic was to assist each jurisdiction wherever possible to identify gaps in their cycling networks and try to steer priorities toward projects that would benefit the most riders using the limited capital available. All three municipalities and the RD either have a Cycling Network Plan in place or are working toward that goal. To date, most of the funding for active transportation has been provided via grants from the provincial and federal governments. We are very supportive of recent efforts to change that model that could see dedicated funding go each year toward cycling infrastructure.
There are wide ranges of cycling abilities and confidence levels, so it is challenging for any single infrastructure project to score 10 out of 10 for all users. Retro-fitting bike lanes into an existing (and aging) road network is not easy and can be very costly. In some cases, the projects are interim solutions as the ultimate goal may be complex and/or costly to implement. Some of the current significant projects in each jurisdiction are highlighted below.
About 6 years ago, due largely to an incredible effort by Sue Vince and other Cycling Coalition members, an interactive Comox Valley cycling map was created and continues to be made available on our website. A regional and urban map were designed to help cyclists choose appropriate routes based on their comfort level as well as to help visitors to locate points of interest and services.
Check out the existing maps: https://cyclecv.com/maps/
With the exponential growth seen in the Valley, we have realized it is time to update the map and we are working on how best to do so. We have obtained some grant funding and are working on obtaining additional funds while we finalize the specifications for the new maps. A well-built map also provides the ability to readily view the interconnectivity (or lack thereof?) between the various local jurisdictions. It is much easier to identify gaps in the cycling network visually when they are presented together. One of the features we would like to include is an overlay of all the cycling network plans for the various jurisdictions – so the public can see what can be expected in future years.
Our hope is that the new map will be a very useful tool for many types of cyclists, both locally based and visitors to the Valley. We hope to kick off the project this winter/spring and will be looking to our membership to help provide local knowledge in order to ensure we are presenting the correct data for each area and neighbourhood.
Thank you to all our members for their continuing support! If you are not a member and would like to become one, or even join our mailing list, please follow the link: https://cyclecv.com/membership/