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VCB eNews, Volume 12, #21 Change: A Big Glittery Mess

Volume 12, #21: Change: A Big Glittery Mess
Shelley Porter, Editor
Editorial: Changes: A Big Glittery Mess
Rides Captain’s Report: Intro 10
Loose Chain Links
About That Funny

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
  • Socrates

Like many Cape Bretoners, I went South over March Break. I went across the causeway, through Truro, past Halifax and all the way to Wolfville.  As usual it was a multi-purpose trip that included visiting relatives, shopping, and checking out the cycling scene. Wolfville is an old town: it was officially incorporated in 1893, but European settlement in that area goes back to the 1600s, and of course Mi’kmaq use of the land far predates that. Some of the buildings in the town are even older than the town itself. Photos of the main street, indeed of many of the streets, from 1900 don’t look much different than they look today, the same houses, storefronts and, in some cases, trees having stood for more than a century. I lived in Wolfville in the 1980s, and find the charming timelessness of the magnificent old wooden houses and languid elm trees comforting. But I see changes in Wolfville, too, and many of them have to do with cycling, just as they do in Sydney.
My educational background is in evolutionary ecology, which is essentially the study of how things in nature change. External and internal forces work on populations of organisms over time, and within its capacity to do so, the organism changes. Adrienne Clarkson, in a recent Massey Lecture on Citizenship, stated “Evolution is a kaleidoscope, not a pyramid. Things are either adapted to their environment or changing to fit it”. I had a kaleidoscope when I was a child, and I loved the jewel-toned colours and variety of patterns, so I love Clarkson’s imagery. We like to think of change happening in an even, straight line, but really it’s a big, chaotic, glittery mess.
Changes in cycling here in Sydney have come slowly, unevenly, and what must look to some as suddenly. “Suddenly” we have a lot of an active transportation network completed or nearly so. Those who have worked for many years to make this happen hardly think so. It may appear that the increase in cyclists comes from the pressure of Velo Cape Breton, but we can only take some of the credit. Cycling is becoming popular everywhere - pressure is on everyone to fight obesity, improve public health, and reduce our environmental footprint. Cycling is seen as part of the remedy for all these ills.
When I attended university in Wolfville, there was one bike shop within about 50 km. That bike shop recently relocated to the nearby town of Kentville and expanded. Not long after, a new bike shop opened in Wolfville, in the same building as the previous one. At the old bike shop, there were lots of racing bikes, great accessories, and a friendly staff. When I lived in Wolfville, I took my bike there for servicing. The new shop has bicycles, a service menu, and accessories. But it also has some things that show the changes in cycling that are happening, in North America and in Nova Scotia. Along with the usual racing and mountain bikes, there is a selection of commuter bicycles – bicycles meant for regular daily transportation use. They are perfect for the bike trails that run through the town – trails that are new since I lived there.
This small bike shop positions itself as a resource and gathering place for the community, with space for spin classes, a fleet of rental bikes, connections with local tourism, and lots of information about cycling and non-cycling events in the area. That may not seem like much of a change, but that two bike shops can thrive in the area is. There are now two bike shops in Truro, one in Mahone Bay, many in Halifax, and others in rural towns. People in Nova Scotia are embracing the bicycle as a mode of transportation. In a province very much planned for automobile travel, this is a big change.
Even Bicycle Nova Scotia is changing: long an organization mainly concerned with cycling as a competitive sport, they have recently created a Roadways, Education, and Bikeways Advocacy Committee. This is not about athletes or competition: this is about how people use their bicycles in their communities every day. And of course, Bicycle Nova Scotia is the lead organization for the creation of the Blue Route, which is an active transportation system that could transform transportation and tourism in Nova Scotia.
I’ve been observing the big, glittery mess of change in cycling for a long time, and delighted in every turn of the drum. The incident that made me realize the bicycle’s time as a transportation option has come in Nova Scotia was the day I saw a city bike at the Walmart. My fellow cyclists, we have gone mainstream! Even if you don’t want to buy a bicycle from Walmart (and I’d encourage you to support your local independent bike shop instead), you can probably get a kaleidoscope there.

An Opus “city bike” hangs on the wall at Banks Bikes in Wolfville, NS. A few years ago, a city bike could not be purchased in NS; nowadays, many bike shops and even local Walmart stores carry this style of bicycle. (S. Porter, photo)

The lounge area at Banks Bikes in Wolfville. A modern bike shop, Banks Bikes has space for spin and yoga classes, a selection of rental bikes, a relationship with local tourist accommodations to cater to cycling travellers, a broad selection of bicycles and accessories, and tops it off with a menu of mechanical services. (Laura Porter-Muntz, photo)
Well here it is, two days before spring and we are in the middle of another snowstorm. So I figured the photo below would be appropriate. One of the (*many ) things I have wondered about over the years is this whole groundhog business, given that shadow or not, whatever the weather, it will always be six weeks to spring. This year, of course, is proving to be somewhat taxing as we have yet to have any kind of mild thaw as we usually seem to do mid-winter. It has been very cold with one storm after the other. It doesn't look like we will ever see green grass again. But do not despair, plans are going ahead even as you read this for the opening potluck/ride/banquet for May 2nd (details to follow) which is only 7 weeks away. The Eastern Shore WoW event- information about which you can find at the main Velo Cape Breton site, is even closer - the 24th to 26th of April. Our annual Lobster Roll Ride, with new routes and options, is also half-way through the planning stages. So, gird up your loins and stand your ground because spring will get here in more than name only (eventually). And don't forget to stay on those trainers. Happy riding, JP Martin, Rides Captain

The bicycle is a many-splendoured machine:
One more reason to buy Big Spruce:
Could use some of these:
A good idea:
Most and least polluted cities in the world:
Bike tech news:
The cycling industry notices 52% of humanity:
Very high tech smartbike:
The Snow Psalm, by Chris Corbett (posted on the “We Love Nova Scotia” Facebook group)
Oh Lord, with this blizzard; I’ve had enough.
You forceth me to shovel for six hours: you maketh me cry when snow falls back down.
You destroyeth my spine: you wisheth that I should apply Tiger Balm to my back.
Yea, though I walk through a mountain of the heaviest snow, I will hear no snow plow; for thou art nasty; thy plow and thy staff they are elsewhere.
Thou increaseth the inches before me at the bottom of my driveway: thou annoyest my brain with this crap; my cats stayeth indoors.
Surely springtime and sunshine are somewhere but, I guess, not where I am: and I will writhe in this hateful a** slop forever.

Velo Cape Breton is the island-wide voice of cyclists, working for better cycling in our great island. Visit our website that will introduce you to some of our activities.   If you have any question(s) or suggestion(s), please contact us
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