Cycling Safely In Thunder Bay

Sep 01, 2020 by Rob Freeman

Updated: Oct 03, 2023

Topics: Family & Parenting , Community Posts

Have A Great Time Cycling Safely as A Family in Thunder Bay!

It was a Sunday morning and I was delivering the message. My first words were, “So, I’ve got a funny story. I lost my driver’s license yesterday!” I continued to explain that no, I hadn’t broken into the Eucharist cupboard again before an evening high speed scolding of the neighbourhood. But rather I had just been diagnosed as having something in my brain that might cause a major seizure. Thankfully, I didn’t have a major seizure at that time – at least not until a few years later. But in the meantime I was without a vehicle. So I needed a new plan.

At first I tried to make friends so I could carpool. But that was exhausting. So then I looked in my garage at this funny contraption that had a vaguely familiar look to it. And then it all came rushing back. My bicycle! And so, over the next six months I rode that thing everywhere. And then I got my license back, but decided to keep on biking anyways. Now while biking is great fun, and it made me lose twenty pounds that I didn’t realize that I had gained over the years, it can also be treacherous. Especially if you don’t follow the rules of the road.

Thankfully, we have several groups in Thunder Bay that want to make biking both enjoyable and safe. The first one I'd encourage you to check out is Safe Cycling Thunder Bay. Outside of the Covid season they run lots of cycling courses, but at the moment my favourite part is their “Really Great Stuff” tab with a series of “Sharing the Road” short films. These are great for the whole family to enjoy.

The second is the City of Thunder Bay “Active Transportation” map – you know, for walking, jogging and biking. It is incredible all the opportunities we have, including exciting things for mountain bikes and some spots you really only want to walk – like to the top of Mount McKay.

Finally, I also really like a great 56-page cycling skills booklet designed specifically for Toronto, but all applicable here in Thunder Bay. It has great stuff like explaining how to rig your bike with safety equipment – both the required and optional stuff (p. 8). It also shows how to properly fit your helmet to prevent most cycling fatalities (p. 11), and has all the rules for riding in traffic (p. 18-38). And finally, it gives you the low-down on what you can expect to pay if you break the rules; a bike is a vehicle after all (p. 53). For example, if you swerve around a school bus to join some kids on a crosswalk, making some of them adjust how they’re walking, without a bell or reflectors and without signalling, that could total over $700 in fines - plus some angry moms chasing you down the street!

So keep your story healthy, fun and safe this fall and I’ll see you on the trails!