By: Rebecca Murray
If you stayed in Hamilton over the summer, you might have noticed the monthly parade of 100 plus cyclists riding through the city on bikes wrapped in glow sticks and LED lights.
The most commonly asked question by spectators is “what is this?” quickly followed up by a “why?” The answer happily shouted by the participants is always “Glowride! and “Because bikes!”
The final ride of the year is to coming on Sept. 24 and will see Glowride paired up with Hamilton’s City Council to celebrate the grand opening of the brand new Herkimer Bike Lane.
Glowride began in June 2012 as a small group of about fifteen friends organized by Tyler Roach, who, inspired party by Toronto’s yearly “Bike Rave,” wanted to bring a more relaxed style of group ride to Hamilton’s downtown.
Glowride, which has now grown to 120 or more monthly participants stands as a prime example of positive community relationship building through cycling within urban settings.
Prior to Glowride, most group cycling activities around Hamilton were in the form of a “Critical Mass” which tend to have a more adversarial approach to cyclists’ relationship with motorists.
Glowride however, actively seeks to repair this frequently tense relationship by adding an element of fun and celebration to the group ride and stressing the need to be safe and follow all rules of the road. Instead of tense interactions, now most drivers in the downtown core drive and honk along in support of the cyclists.
While speaking with Roach about what his goal was in creating Glowride, his focus on building an inclusive and supportive cycling community within Hamilton became immediately apparent.
Every detail of the ride is planned with these goals in mind, and if its growing popularity is any indication, it’s working.
The monthly ride happens on Saturday evenings, beginning after sunset at Durand Park.
While the ride length of an hour and a half may seem intimidating, the route shows off some of Hamilton’s best cycling areas and parks, including Locke St, Victoria Park, Bayfront Park, and James St. Glowride emphasises a comfortable pace so riders of all age and skill groups can find their place in the pack of cyclists without much effort.
In its capacity as a community building exercise, Glowride has quickly become respected within the city as an excellent launching point for cycling related projects.
This summer one of the rides was colaunched by SoBi Bikes, which gave out free ride vouchers along with their bikes at the “preride” meetup, where people can get to know others who are participating–frequently through the act of sharing glow sticks and lights.
Hamilton’s Glowride has also inspired others to bring this celebration of cycling culture to their neighbourhoods, with a ride for small children being held separately so their parents could be free to attend the downtown ride and after ride festivities on Augusta St. later in the evening.
Few things are as magical and awe-inspiring to a cyclist than to be part of a group of your peers that stretches almost as far as the eye can see, all enjoying each other’s company and the simple pleasure of riding a bike in their community.
The upcoming and final Glowriders meetup starts on Saturday, September the 24 at 8 p.m. at Durand Park with the ride beginning at 8:30 p.m.
For any students interested, MACycle will be leading a group ride to Durand Park and will meet up, and leave from Mills Commons at 7:30 p.m.