An innovative cycling experiment began Saturday in Waterloo Region, with the presentation to 25 would-be cyclists of their new Cannondales from Ziggy's Cycle and Sport in Kitchener.
Ziggy's owner Margaret Pachnik was accompanied by family, staff and partners for the launch of the Waterloo Region Freewheels Project. Some 150 people had responded to a contest hosted by Ziggy's that would see them get a new bicycle and helmet that they can use from now until September. The 25 successful applicants were sized up for bikes and helmets last month, and received their gear Saturday.
They are expected to ride the bikes and blog about their experiences at least once a week. By September, having satisfied this and some other requirements (like don't trash the bike), they get to keep the bicycles and gear.
The intention for Ziggy's is to celebrate their 25 years of business, and to encourage others to take up cycling, based on the experiences of the Freewheel Project members.
The 25 successful applicants (some of whom are shown here in their matching bikes and helmets) met for a group photo and some greetings from the partners, which includes KW Health Connection (which is offering dietary advice to all riders and a free massage to the best cyclist blog post of the month).
John O'Reilly, the fourth year urban planning co-op student who is working at Ziggy's and implementing the project, reminded the group that the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster is focusing the world's attention on oil dependency, and that cycling is one solution to that, as well as a key to a healthier society.
And he welcomed them to the exclusive club of cycle commuting: "You are joining a small, friendly and dedicated group of people who use their bikes to get to work every day."
Rob Boyce, territorial manager for Cannondale, praised Pachnik for launching the project: "I know of no shop in my lifetime as a bike rep that has done something like this."
After the speech-making, there was a short group ride through Victoria Park and along the Iron Horse Trail. It was refreshing to be in a group that stops traffic, especially at Iron Horse Trail crossings such as the one at Queen Street, where cyclists usually have to wait for a break in the flow before they can sneak across.