Morning Star Staff
Most people remember when they got their first bike. What a thrill to take that first independent trip even if it was justaround the block.
“It’s true that you never forget how to ride a bike and now more people are biking as a family activity, for exercise, to commute and because it’s a great way to enjoy your route,” said Taylor Weixl, a Vernon native who has been biking with her family since she was a child. She biked to college, then to catch the bus to UBCO where she recently graduated with a degree in evolutionary biology. A fall 2016 cycling trip with a friend took her down the west coast of the United States to San Francisco.
“Conditions for cycling have gotten better. We now have bike lanes and separated paths and people can plan their routes. We want to help people who are enthusiastic about biking to learn how to get the best from it,” she said.
Weixl is a member of NOCAT (North Okanagan Coalition for Active Transportation), which includes all small, wheeled vehicles, as well as pedestrians.
The group meets once a month to provide information on safe cycling and maps, and to discuss issues and all aspects of active transportation, including winter biking. There are also movie nights relating to biking.
Two members, Bruce Mol and Kerry Carlson, are part of another group, the Greater Vernon Cycling Advisory Committee. The group works to raise awareness with city staff, Vernon Tourism and the general public.
“With the North Okanagan Rail Trail, biking could be a big part of tourism. We also have some guided rides for people of all ages and abilities. It’s a great way to meet other people who share your interest, the main thing is to get people riding and finding out how interesting and rewarding it can be,” said Weixl. “Biking is accessible to almost everyone. People can start at their own level. Age does not dictate what you can do and you don’t need a fancy new bike. There are a lot of used bikes. People might even have a dusty bike sitting in their shed. Give it to someone who will use it or get out and use it yourself. Pump up the tires, put on your helmet and go.”
She noted that kids are more likely to use bikes for transportation while adults use it for fun, but everyone can have transportation and fun.
“I like how riding a bike helps me feel healthier and happier and it’s cheaper and more time-efficient. A bike tour is a really interesting way of traveling. You really see what’s around you, you smell and hear things better and food tastes better. You can go on bike tours around the world.
“You meet more people because you’re more approachable. We met some really nice people, some of them let us camp in their yards. There are web sites that let you connect with people who will let you stay with them. I will be doing more bike tours, I have nothing specific planned but I’ll definitely do more.”
For more information about NOCAT see nocat.weebly.com.