Jennifer Douglas rides her bike in all types of weather, and is passionate about cycling in general. She is joining others to form Cycle Chilliwack. (Submitted)

Cycle Chilliwack rolling out with inaugural meeting Feb. 5

Advocacy group for cyclists wants to represent people of all ages and abilities

Jennifer Douglas, Janice Balakshin, and David Swankey are extremely passionate about cycling in Chilliwack.

They are channelling that energy and spirit into Cycle Chilliwack, a new cycling advocacy group with a meeting set for Feb. 5, at 7 p.m. in the Sardis Library.

From protected bike lanes, to increased bike security and cyclist safety, there are a range of issues to consider.

“I have been wanting to form a cycling advocacy group in Chilliwack for years,” said Janice Balakshin. “So I am extremely happy it is finally happening and that there is an enthusiastic membership.”

The group organizers met at some open house events held last year to discuss the Transportation Plan, as city officials were sharing details of the Cycle Vision Plan.

READ MORE: Cycle Vision

City of Chilliwack has added about 180 kilometres of lanes, shoulder bikeways, pathways and trails, and the Cycle Vision plan calls for filling in even more of the gaps, and making the cycling routes safer.

After filling out opinion surveys, many residents said they wanted more protected lanes across Chilliwack. Some improvements and quick wins may be coming in the short term, with the idea of creating a continuous network of bicycle routes in the longer term, with the Sardis Rail Trail as the spine of those interconnected routes.

So far they have about 70 people who’ve expressed interest in joining Cycle Chilliwack. They’ve also sat down with city engineers to see if there’s a collaborative role for the group members to play in advocating for cyclists.

“We want to advocate for all cyclists, from those who bike to work, to elite cyclists, to those who love to ride, and those who’ve never been on a bike,” said Balakshin.

The plan is to work collaboratively and in partnership with City of Chilliwack on quick wins and long-term ideas, as well as the Chilliwack School District and the Downtown Chilliwack BIA.

“It’s a very committed group of cyclists so far, and it’s growing,” said Balakshin.

Chilliwack is not only beautiful, with its abundance of natural wonders and vistas, but large sections are flat, with dikes everywhere, which makes it ideal for exploring on a bike.

Jennifer Douglas, one of the three founders of the new group, said she appreciates the fact that Chilliwack already has an excellent network of cycling roads.

“I don’t know if people really know that,” she said.

Creating the group Cycle Chilliwack will give them power in numbers on the way to making Chilliwack a cycling destination for people of all ages and abilities.

“I see the group as a way to bring the entire cycling community together, and to have open discussions about where the gaps are,” she said.

Improving conditions for commuting cyclists is one of the goals of the group, since some have shared their frustrations with being heard.

City reps have put an emphasis on improving the conditions for Chilliwack cyclists in recent years, with the effort to develop Cycle Vision, so it only makes sense going forward to seek out ways to partner with them and build a relationship, Douglas said.

“I am so impressed with the city right now, said Douglas. “I get the sense they understand what we are looking for.”

For more information about Cycle Chilliwack, email to jbalakshin@gmail.com


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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