Cycling Contributes to Thriving, Cohesive Community: Charlie Best

Transportation mode benefits local economy, downtown

The local economy can be more robust and the planet healthier if more Peterborough residents make the switch from commuting on four wheels to two.

Charlie Best, shop manager of B!KE, Community Bike Shop, says people can and do cycle year-round on a daily basis to get to and from work or school. It takes some adjustment and tweaking of habits but it’s worth it, as not only do the cyclists benefit from riding so does the local community.

“There are proven benefits for a thriving, cohesive community,” Charlie tells Electric City Magazine.

“If all of those people were walking or cycling, not only would the vehicles that have to get places in town get there much more quickly but the amount of pollution being created every day would drop drastically.”

In North America we’ve trended towards putting all of our retail businesses outside of the downtown core and installing large parking lots, expecting shoppers to drive there. Meanwhile, when people are on bicycles, they’re moving more slowly and can stop quite easily if they see something they like and go into a store.

“If you can get more people cycling, it has a domino effect. They’ll spend more money in small businesses in the downtown core. That will, of course, improve the downtown core in general. People will want to open businesses there, you get lower rates of commercial vacancy and that brings in more property tax,” Charlie explains.

For those who want to make the transition towards using a bicycle, B!KE can help. “It’s just a matter of getting things on the right track and getting people to break habits.” That switch can truly impact a person’s experience of his or her community.

“It slows you down and it makes you more aware of your surroundings. You’ll notice things that you haven’t noticed before such as shops set back from the street and shops that don’t have big, illuminated signs. You’re insulated from that experience in a car.”

When it comes to motor vehicle use locally, Charlie read a statistic a few years ago that stated about 80 per cent of Peterborough residents have less than a two-kilometre commute.

“If all of those people were walking or cycling, not only would the vehicles that have to get places in town get there much more quickly but the amount of pollution being created every day would drop drastically.”

B!KE is gearing up right now to support people who have a desire to discover riding and exploring the city on bicycles. March is the month to get started.

In addition to selling refurbished bicycles, B!KE’s mission encompasses teaching people to maintain, repair and ride their bikes. The shop provides a workshop space and tools.

Peterborough residents can purchase an annual membership, gaining consistent access to the shop and a variety of expertise and resources on cycling.

For more information about B!KE, visit the website.

Photo courtesy of B!KE.

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