With the arrival of the nice weather it is time for the residents of Kawartha Lakes to go outside and get active.
One of the easiest ways to get active for those of all ages is bicycling, and Canada has had a long love affair with bicycling since the two-wheeler arrived in Montreal in 1868. Albert Lane brought the first bicycle to Canada, and that lone bicycle would soon be followed by thousands of others, largely manufactured in the United Kingdom.
The bicycle soon became the urban transportation device of choice, and until the early 1920s thousand of Canadians regularly rode their bikes to work, school and church. The advent of relatively affordable automobiles in the Roaring Twenties caused the car to replace the bicycle as a primary form of transportation, and the bike moved to almost exclusively sport or recreational usage.
The Canadian Cycle and Motor Company, better known as CCM, dominated the Canadian bicycle market for most of the 20th Century, producing under their own name, J.C.Higgins for Simpson-Sears, and many different labels and monikers for the Canadian Tire Corporation. It was estimated that by 1960, fifty percent of all the bikes in use in Canada were made by CCM.
Every year in Canada 1.3 million bicycles are sold, and many believe that with the advent of off-road mountain biking and the steady growth of electric bikes that those numbers will stay strong.
Across Canada, more and more urban areas are becoming more bicycle-friendly and in Victoria, Kelowna, Ottawa and Kingston there has been a recent boom in people once again using their bikes to commute to work, rain or shine. In 2015 the city of Calgary launched a strategic protected bicycle infrastructure plan that has been lauded by bicyclists world wide as a way forward that will help both the environment and keep people fit.
Locally the Kawartha Cycling Club, established in 2006, is growing rapidly, and the club just received a provincial government grant to encourage seniors to become more involved in cycling.
The CKL has established eight different cycling routes throughout the city and they include the Emily Route, the North Sturgeon Route, the Farm Country Ramble, the South Sturgeon Route, the Carden Ramble, the Mariposa Route, the Four Villages Tour and the Bexley Ramble. More information about each ride, its distances and difficulties is available on the city tourism website.
CKL is also very fortunate to have the Victoria Rail Trail, and access to the Kawartha section of the Trans Canada Trail. The Trans Canada Trail opened in 2017and allows cyclists to ride Canada coast to coast in relative safety and comfort with well taken care of trails, many of which are kept open twelve months a year. CKL also has the Somerville Tract, but the City warns that this bike and ATV path is an ideal option for those looking for backcountry riding and BMX trails only.
In the most recent survey of bicycle use in North America, one in four people polled indicated that they not only owned a bike but rode it regularly. Plans are afoot in Bobcaygeon to expand public access to bicycles for both local residents and tourists, and many expect this movement towards a more environmentally friendly way to see the North Kawarthas will be greeted with open arms.
Blow the dust off that bike that has been hanging too long from the garage rafters and go out and get active in the Kawarthas. Summer is short. Enjoy it as much as you can from the seat of your favorite bicycle.