BIKE MONTH CYCLIST PROFILE SERIES PRESENTED BY MEC: BURLINGTON

Published May 23, 2017 16:10

We visited Samantha Gatchene in Burlington for our weekly cyclist series. She met with us near a beautiful waterfront trail to chat about the freedom she feels when cycling, her passion for commuting, and what inspired her to get on her bike in the first place! 

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Samantha Gatchene on Burlington's waterfront trail. Photo by Danielle Griscti.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m an urban planning student and a lifelong cycling enthusiast. I was raised car-free so cycling has always been a huge part of my life. When I’m not cycling, I enjoy journaling and listening to podcasts. After I finish my studies, I hope to work promoting active transportation to benefit the health of citizens, while advocating for a greater network of shared roads.

When and why did you start cycling?

I’ve been riding since I was child but got seriously into it when I got my first job. Like most teenagers, I had a million places to go but little money. Cycling offered me a cost effective solution that allowed me to balance a busy schedule while being independent. I attribute a lot of my cycling passion to my dad, who is a cyclist and is familiar with the challenges of commuter cycling. We share a special bond over cycling and he has been a huge inspiration, teaching me all about road safety while encouraging me continue cycling. 

What style of bike do you ride?

I ride a Norco hybrid. I’ve covered it in yarn to add some personality and protection to my bike.

Tell us about some of the things you ride your bike for.

I ride my bike everywhere - work, groceries, and the mall. Cycling saves me the stress of navigating traffic as well as giving me a sense of freedom that doesn’t come with driving. Cycling has become an integral part of my identity because I’m passionate about living a sustainable lifestyle while supporting the reversal of peoples’ aversions to bike commuting.

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Photo by Danielle Griscti.

Any favourite bike routes? What do you like about them?

I really enjoy riding the Waterfront trail, specially along the waterfront in Spencer Smith Park. The scenery around the Burlington trails is refreshing, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy seeing all the cute dogs being walked.

What would you say is the greatest benefit you get from cycling?

The greatest benefit that I get from cycling is the sense of control of my time and my health. When you cycle, you aren’t restricted by traffic delays or transit schedules, and you can go at your pace on a route of your choosing. When it comes to my health, it feels good to know that I’m incorporating exercise into my daily routine instead of spending hours at the gym. Cycling has not only been physically beneficial but mentally beneficial too. After a long week, a ride on the trail allows me to reflect, making me feel grounded.

What's your most essential piece of cycling gear?

I don’t leave home without a comprehensive bicycle security system. I use a U-lock, cable and locks for all my bike components. Your bicycle is an investment that should last you many years, and part of that, is ensuring your bike is properly secured anywhere you take it.

How will you be celebrating Bike Month this year?

I plan on taking my bike in for a summer tune-up at my favourite bike shop, taking Waterfront Trail to Oakville, and coming out to the Polka Ride on June 4th.

What is your favourite thing about riding a bike in Burlington?

The best thing about biking in Burlington is the amount of different cycling infrastructure in place. Whether I want to take a leisurely ride to the park, or cycling around to run errands, I can move efficiently with the variety of trails, bike lanes, and shared roads. There is some type of bike infrastructure on almost every major road in Burlington, giving cyclists a variety of options for getting around the city safely on their bike. 

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to try bike commuting?

My biggest piece of advice is to make your ride is as comfortable, safe and convenient as you can. This might mean taking a longer, more scenic route, purchasing bright road wear, or walking your bike part of the way. Take the time to ask yourself “what do I need to do in order to have the best cycling experience?” Bike commuting can be fun and rewarding, and don’t forget there is a whole cycling community here for you!

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Photo by Danielle Griscti.

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About Bike Month

Bike Month 2017 kicks off on Monday, May 29 and continues until the end of June with hundreds of interesting and fun things to do, including rides, guided bike tours, festivals, art shows, film screenings, and so much more.

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Coming May 1, take the Bike Month pledge!

Pledge to ride to school or work on Bike to Work Day, Monday May 27 and/or throughout June for a chance to win one of three trips for two courtesy of VIA Rail (to Quebec City, Montreal or Ottawa) or a weekend getaway courtesy of Welcome Cyclists. Contest closes June 18.

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