As Monday, May 25 is Bike To Work Day, I thought it was fitting to do a post about the connection between biking and community in Hamilton.
In my opinion, biking to work is a great way to start your day. Your adrenaline gets going, fresh air in your lungs and your mind gets in the right space for the day ahead. I did it for years before having kids, and it’s something that I want to get back into my workday. Hey, if this agent in Portland, OR can do it full time, why can’t I?
There are many benefits for riding a bike and you can find endless lists about how bikes can save the world online. But from a real estate and community building perspective, biking can be a great vehicle (pun intended).
Unlike when driving a car, you’re moving at slower speeds and you can observe your surroundings better (of course while keeping an eye on the road.) It’s a great way to experience the streets, houses, parks and those little nuances which make our neighbourhoods unique. If you’re thinking about moving to a new neighbourhood, I’d definitely recommend hopping on a bike and touring the streets for a couple hours.
Biking also allows you to engage with community members and businesses in a way that’s different from driving. When you get in a car, you often have a destination in mind and don’t make many stops on that trek. When you’re on a bike, it’s a lot easier to pop into a local business or café, or strike up a conversation with a resident on the street.
Finally, biking gives you options. Real estate agents always include a neighbourhood’s walkscore in their listings because it’s important information for many buyers. You see it at the bottom of MLS pages – the higher the walkability, the greater access the property has to amenities like schools, stores, restaurants, transit and parks. If a neighbourhood has a high walk score, it generally has equally high “bikeability” which is a draw for a lot of buyers. Being able to walk or bike to do your groceries and to work means you don’t have to rely on a car or transit, which can save you money. Who doesn’t like that?
The recent launch of the Hamilton Bike Share, or SoBi (Social Bicycles) for short, has made biking more accessible in Hamilton. Hamiltonians definitely appear to be fond of this new system – in its first month SoBi had 1,974 users enjoying over 10,000 rides, according to the organization’s Twitter feed. Physical infrastructure improvements, such as the permanent dedicated bike lanes on Cannon St (the result of tireless efforts by engaged citizen groups like Walkable Hamilton) are making it easier, faster and safer to connect residents from many neighbourhoods with the downtown core.
As Hamilton continues to develop its urban centre and economy, having this flexibility will be an increasingly important tool to build our neighbourhoods, communities and city. Why not see if it works for you on May 25?