099 8/18/2013 – World Accord, an international charity based in Waterloo ON, whose mission is to support development activities in proverty stricken regions in LATAM and Asia, hosted a cycling event that coincided with Open Streets Waterloo.

The cycling event, Cycle for Sustainability, focuses on business and farms in local areas that have a sustainability focus. Participants received a “Passport”, where stamps/signatures from these businesses are collected when we arrive to the location. The individuals of the local businesses would talk about their business.

Streets of KW was happy to participate at this event, and have chosen to do the 50km route, which was the longest route offered by this event. We registered, got our T-Shirts, and soon were on our way. However, before we left, Queen Street Yoga was there, giving the cyclists a short yoga exercise to loosen the muscles and relax us before our ride.

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Our first stop was at Pfennings Organic & More, which sold health products and organic foods. The below excerpt is from their website:

Support of local organic farming is a main priority of our store. We get as much produce as possible from our family farm, Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables (located between Kitchener and Stratford) as well as other local organic farms. Certified organic farmers throughout Southern Ontario are contributing to this service by growing a wide and diversified selection of local fruits and vegetables.

So if you are ever looking for a place to buy some organic foods and support local farms, please visit Pfennings!

They also provided to us fresh apricots and plums, as well as water and other fruit drinks. Our passports were signed and we were on our way.

Our next stop was Vibrant Farms.  Vibrant Farms has been a family farm for over 200 years. It is currently a certified organic farm. We were greeted at the farm by The Farmer’s Daughter, Melissa. Melissa was super friendly and awesome. She was born and raised on the farm, has a degree in Marketing and Business from Western and has her own blog, The Farmer’s Daughter, where you can find a lot of information about the farm, being organic, and just Melissa.

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One of the coolest things on Melissa’s blog is Dinner with the Farmer’s Daughter. Melissa hosts and prepares 5 course dinners at the farm with fresh ingredients directly from the farm! How cool is that? If you are interested in knowing more about organic farming and are interested in having dinner with lovely Melissa, please check out her website on how you can have dinner with her.

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After visiting the farm, we made our way back into the city proper and stopped by World Accord’s headquarters on Frobisher Road. There, we were greeted with an impressive spread of fruits, granola bars, cookies, ice, and water. We were not shy in having our fill of delicious food and replenished our energy. At this point, we had about 8km left to go on this route.

The last stop was Raintree Cafe. However, they were already closed by the time our group got there. Unfortunately, we were not able to check out the Cafe this time, however I have been there before and love the place.

103Finally, Seven Shores provided cyclists with a complimentary lunch of either a veggie or chicken wrap, served with awesome side of salad and fruits. We drank, we ate, and we were happy (at least, I was happy… haha). The chicken wrap was delicious!

I learned a lot about organic farming and wish to say kudos to those organizations who have made sustainable methods and operations a priority. I hope that in the future, more businesses will follow their example and move to sustainable methods of operations.

While I did cycle 50km, unfortunately, much of it was outside of Kitchener-Waterloo borders and/or areas I have already covered. Of the 50km, I was able to add 16km more towards my completion of cycling/walking all the streets of KW.

I had a great time, and look forward to doing this again!

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0978/18/2013 – So after having cycled for so much recently, I felt like I wasn’t doing justice to the project “Biking and Walking all the Streets of Kitchener-Waterloo”. I had therefore organized a Heritage Walk around Victoria Park and invited people to come join me on the walk. I’m happy to say that that I was able to take 13 other people for a walk around the area, looking at Heritage homes and getting some of the history from our very own town.

We visited 26 heritage locations as stipulated on the self-guided walking tour brochure provided by the City of Kitchener. It is in need of an update as some homes were no longer in existence, but for the most part, it was a very nice comprehensive map of all the homes we wanted to see.

The weather was absolutely amazing. This was great because actually I had previously scheduled this Heritage Walk, but it got rained out due to the severe thunderstorms we had been experiencing earlier this season.

When we were walking around Victoria Park, we had noticed that people were setting up some tents and chairs. Upon further inquiry, it turned out there was a free BBQ hosted by a local church group. So not only did our group get to go out for a nice walk on a fine Saturday afternoon, we also were able to get free food and relax for a nice BBQ after the walk.

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One of the highlights of the trip for me was the Schneider Haus museum. There, we were able to go on the property and received a short tour of the original Schneider Haus, where an exhibitor was busy cutting fruit for drying. He gave us a quick tour of the house, which was an added bonus.

All in all, a pretty eventful day. I thank all those who came and explored the park and its surrounding areas with me, and I hope in the future that more people with join me on my crazy little excursions!
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copenhagen_legobike 8/14/2013 – Fjords, Waterfalls, Kroners, and Beer… that is what I have been exploring the last two weeks! I went on a European Scandinavian vacation for 11 days. While most of the trip had nothing to do with cycling, I did take this opportunity to observe the cycling happening on the other side of the pond and as well partake in some of it myself.

This blog entry isn’t so much about cycling the streets of KW, instead, I want to take some time to talk about cycling in other places. I think there is a lot that we can learn from other places that would make our own city more cycling friendly.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived at my first stop in Berlin was that cycling was very prominent in Europe. They had, for the most part, a separate cycling lane that is not part of the street.
berlin_bikes
It appears that everyone had a bike and everyone cycled. The number of bikes parked in areas were no less than the cars. The image of the bikes along the sidewalk, you can see there are bikes everywhere. Wherever I turned there were bikes, or people on bikes. It was definitely a cycling culture.
Next stop in Copenhagen, Denmark, was where I really started seeing some very nice and functional cycling infrastructure that I think we are lacking here in KW (and Southern Ontario in general).

copenhagen_bikelanes

I’d like to draw your attention to a couple things in this image:

  1. Cycling lanes are clearly marked and clearly seen as separate from pedestrian walkways (zebra stripes and sidewalks) and car lanes
  2. There are designated “Cycling streets” where there is a sign showing that cars and motorbikes are not to use them.
  3. There are multi-lane cycling lanes, with left turn arrows drawn, just like on car lanes
  4. The cycling lanes have their own traffic lights

This, ladies and gentlemen, is proper cycling infrastructure. Now, I’m a big fan of the new sharrows that we have placed on King Street, but that’s a bandaid to the problem. If the goal is to get many more people cycling, holding up car traffic with cyclists who are moving slower is not the way to go in the long term.

copenhagen_bikerental

Cycling is so big in Copenhagen that daily and hourly bike rental shops are everywhere. For the equivalent of $10CAD, we rented a couple bikes for the afternoon and cycled around NyHavn, then along the waterfront onto the island to Freetown Christiania, where hash was sold openly in little stalls along the shopping district streets. The streets were incredibly easy to navigate, even as tourists who didn’t know where we were going. The cycling lanes were very clearly marked, with the cycling traffic lights seamlessly incorporated into the transportation infrastructure of the city. For a cyclist, this was pure joy.

Next stop, Oslo!

Viking-Biking-Oslo
There’s much to see in the Oslo, Norway, however one of the coolest things I did there by far was a biking tour of the city. A biking tour is very different from a bus tour or a walking tour. It’s the best mix of both. There is a neat little establishment called Viking Biking in Oslo. Curtis, the owner, was our tour guide for the afternoon and took us to various parts of Oslo that you would normally not be able to see on a bus tour (through parks, up hills, down trails, to the backends of Oslo behind all the major streets); you are able to experience much of the city beyond the most popular travel destinations. These bike tours are insanely popular and we had a blast. We got to see some neat waterfalls in the middle of the city!

Cycling in Oslo wasn’t as easy to do as in Copenhagen. There were bike lanes, but a lot of the streets were shared with either cars or pedestrians. Because we were with a tour guide, it made it fairly easy to navigate, but still Copenhagen had the best infrastructure!

Onto Sweden!

sweden_bikelanes

Now I didn’t really get to stay in Stockholm for very long, but they had an interesting cycling infrastructure where there were basically cycling roads, separate from pedestrian and car roads. These cycling roads are two way, as pictured above and have their own crossing markings.

When I first started getting on the roads here in KW, I had never ridden on any other types of streets other than the ones in Southern Ontario. I had thought that sharing the road with cars was the only way to do it. While it is a method that works with a small number of cyclists, I see now that there are far better solutions.

In other words, I had taken what we have here as given, as “just the way things are”. However, if we take time to observe better methods and learn from them, I think there is a lot of potential for making our roads more bike friendly.