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Keepin’ it wheel

Mike Fleury gets a-pedalin’.

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You know what's better than a ride on the ferry? A free ride on the ferry. And you know when you can get a free ride on the ferry? Right freakin' now.

It's true. All you need is a bicycle and a smile. Although you may not have been aware of it, you're now smack in the middle of HRM's annual Bike Week—which means, ferry rides avec bicyclette are gratis. Magnifique!

The 2007 installment of Bike Week ends this Sunday. And, depending on when you read this blurb, fear not—there's still fun to be had.

On Friday, June 8, there will be a mass ride and social dedicated to the memory of late bike shop owner Jack Nauss. The ride will depart from three locations: Victoria Park (Spring Garden & South Park) in Halifax, Alderney Gate (outside the public library) in Dartmouth and Woodside Ferry Terminal (Dartmouth), beginning at 6pm. Each route runs roughly 10km, with all three groups eventually ending at the Harbourside Market for food, drinks and cyclist camaraderie—just one of the ways to get your toned, cycle-sculpted butt involved.

Another would be to attend the grand re-opening of the Bike Again! Community Project in the Bloomfield Centre, happening this Saturday at noon. The project takes old bikes or bike parts, refurbishes them (often, with help from the donor—"sweat equity," says project leader Scott MacPhee), and distributes them to those in need of bikes, for free. They've recycled nearly 1,000 bikes in the past five years. Bike Again! will be giving out a number of bikes on Saturday to celebrate their relaunch. After closing last September, the project has reopened in a much nicer location—still the Bloomfield Centre, but a much nicer location.

"We were in a boiler room downstairs," says MacPhee, "and the city said it was unsafe. So now"—after being closed from September until March—"we're upstairs and in a much nicer space—lots of lights, totally safe."

Hanita Koblents is the co-chair of Bike Week 2007; in the past, she's served as a volunteer.

"I feel really encouraged this year," she says. "I'm quite optimistic. There are some neat synergies happening in the city."

For example?

"Every new bus that the city is buying will have a bike rack on it," she says. "Link busses—the rapid transit buses—have it already. But they won't start promoting that until they can guarantee that a route will always have rack on it, and it takes a bit of time to turnover the whole fleet. But every new bus will have racks."

Laena Garrison shares Koblents's optimism. She works at the Ecology Action Centre as the TRAX coordinator (the EAC's branch to promote active transportation). She considers Bike Week a time to celebrate the city's bike achievements rather than point out its shortcomings.

"We still have a way to go, but there's a lot to be happy about in the last year," says Garrison. "Definitely the opening of the Sackville Bedford connector, which serves as a leisure and transport connector. And although it's not finished, the bike lane that was painted on the turn off between Peggy's Cove and the North West Arm is a real plus. It's a nice wide lane.

"Also, the Capital District did put in 21 new bike racks over 2006/2007 in the peninsula and downtown Dartmouth area. There's always a need for more, but they're coming."

A full list of events can be found online at: www.halifax.ca/bikeweek

Be a spokesperson. Email: mikef@thecoast.ca

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