Getting in gear

Dedicated cyclist Merle Kindred heads up Martin Street after the Pedal Penticton event Saturday.

Hundreds gathered downtown Saturday for the Pedal Penticton event, an opportunity to share thoughts as the city gears up for a lake-to-lake bike route.

The need for a safe and convenient way for cyclists to travel from one end of the city to the other was identified in 2012, according to JoAnne Kleb, the city’s engagement strategist.

“Our progress has been pretty slow,” she said. “We wanted to get people familiar with the plans are, and what the possibilities are with cycling in the community.”

She said she was overwhelmed by the turnout only hours into the event, which featured a community bike ride from lake to lake, e-bike demos and other family friendly activities.

Consultants have already begun researching the best possible roads to build the route along.

“As we start putting some options forward, we’ll get more people involved and the actual specifics of selecting the routes,” said Kleb.

Some streets may see complete separation from cyclists, others will have lanes and some may not, explained Kebb.

“There’s been a lot of innovations in route designs. It really depends on what the right path is.”

Laura Harp, the past president and current board member for the Penticton and Area Cycling Association, said the current route cyclists need to take to follow bike routes and lanes leads to a large hill northbound.

“We would love to see a north-south connector,” she said. “The current main bike lane that we have is off of Government, and a lot of people find that hill getting up to Government from the south end of town is a barrier.”

Merle Kindred gave up her vehicle 11 years ago, and has been cycling in Penticton for 10. She said she’ll never look back.

 “This is how I get around,” she said. This is one of the reasons I moved to Penticton.”

In the winter, Kindred said, she either carpools, takes transit or, on occasion, a taxi.

“I’ve decided to just live it, and just take transportation without using fossil fuels as much as possible,” she explained.

Penticton city Coun. Katie Robinson was in attendance, and was excited by new technology of cycling.

“The e-bikes are seriously the cat’s meow,” she said after taking a test ride on one. “I seriously have not had that much fun in years!”

Robinson said she was happy to see the city take the initiative to begin working on a lake-to-lake route, and to involve the community in offering feedback.

“I’m really, really excited getting a really dedicated bike path,” she said.

E-bikes, she added, are a great addition to the industry to make cycling easier for those who may face challenges with pedal bikes.