December is here and the 2016 Cycle Season is coming to a close. Many have put their two-wheels in storage until spring, while others are gearing up to take on the winter season (get tips on how to do this comfortably and safely here)! Looking back, here are some 2016 highlights for cycling culture in Winnipeg for us here at Green Action Centre:

Multiple users on cycle trackManitoba Hydro Hits 10K Bike Trips In A Year
Hydro employees have embraced healthy commuting. When Manitoba Hydro relocated their head office to downtown Winnipeg, they knew the car culture of their employees would need to change. Instead of simply limiting parking spaces and forcing employees to scramble, the company ensured support was in place to encourage active and mass travel. With the EcoPass Transit option, preferential parking for car poolers and secure bike parking, employees have embraced healthy, mass travel.  “The number of staff who bike to work has been steadily growing,” said Kelvin Shepherd, President and CEO of Manitoba Hydro. “We’re proud to celebrate our employees who pedaled their way to this unique achievement.” We can’t wait to hear how many trips by bike employees will have logged by the end of 2016!

New Cycling Infrastructure
Have you checked out the extension to the Sherbrook protected bike lane? You can now head North of Portage on dedicated, partially protected route to Notre Dame Avenue. Heading south, improvements have been made to the Maryland route, with some protected stretches. A new AT crossing has gone in at Main and Assiniboine, connecting the Assiniboine protected bike lane to The Forks, and the protected route along Pembina has been extended.

Portage la Prairie Opens First Community Bike Shop
Everyone in Portage now has access to the Community Bicycle Repair Shop, thanks to a partnership between the Portage Active Transportation Committee and the Canadian Mental Health Association. “This project is truly for everyone,” said Ian Wassink, Project Steering Committee Chair for the Community Bicycle Repair Shop and Portage AT Committee member. “Portagers – from kids to seniors – will have access to specialized bicycle tools, bike stands, parts, oil and grease, and educational programming.  We are going to bring in bike experts to lead repair workshops, and have Open Shop hours for drop-in repair time.  Volunteers can also help maintain the shop during Volunteer Shop.” Check out the Portage Active Transportation Committee on Facebook to learn more!

City of Winnipeg Hires Second AT Planner
After the approval of the Pedestrian and Cycling Strategies in 2015, we have been impressed by the City of Winnipeg’s progress. We were especially thrilled to see that Stephanie Whitehouse has some much needed help with the hiring of a second AT Planner, Chris Baker. The Pedestrian and Cycling Strategies calls for a staff team of four, and we hope to see the remaining positions filled soon.

Increased Presence of People on Bikes at Summer Festivals
Whether you were at the Winnipeg Jazz Festival, the Fringe Festival, Many Fest, Nuit Blanche or any other event this summer, you probably noticed extra bike racks set-up and overflowing! Yes, the days of being a lone person on a bike are pretty much over here in Winnipeg, and we look forward to more and more people experiencing the freedom, ease and fun of commuting by bicycle. Check out the video below from Howard Wong, showing the final Bike Jam of 2016, which was part of Nuit Blanche.

This is the group entering the downtown over the Arlington Bridge, and here is another through the Exchange District. Note the smiles – above all else, riding a bike with your friends is fun!

2016 Bike Jam crossing the Arlington St Bridge from Howard Wong on Vimeo.

Wish list for 2017:

  • City of Winnipeg commits to hire remaining two staff dedicated to active transportation.
  • Major bike routes given “Priority 1” status, like roads, to be immediately cleared of snow.
  • Pop-up downtown cycling grid created in the summer of 2017, in time for the Canada Summer Games.
  • Sharrows eliminated as acceptable cycling infrastructure.

What were your highlights from your rides in 2016? What are you hoping for in 2017?