Ciclovia events aim to draw more women in to Winnipeg's bike culture

Ciclovia capped off Winnipeg Bike Week, which featured over 60 events across the city, including bike maintenance workshops, city bike tours and group rides

Ciclovia stepped away from ManyFest this year to partner with Bike Week Winnipeg

The WRENCH set up pop up shop at Ciclovia selling refurbished bikes at an affordable to make cycling more accessible in Winnipeg. (Walther Bernal/ CBC)

Bicycles got VIP parking at The Forks on Sunday as part of Ciclovia, a one-day festival that promotes cycling in Winnipeg.

In its 9th year, Ciclovia stepped away from ManyFest to partner with Bike Week Winnipeg, which started on June 18.

"This is a celebration of cycling and active living," said Andraea Sartison, who is a Bike Week event coordinator. "We are going to have yoga, zumba … swing danging, hula hooping."

Andraea Sartison, who is a Bike Week event coordinator, wants to see more families getting out on two wheels (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Ciclovia, which means cycleway in Spanish, started in Bogota, Colombia, in 1974, where streets were closed down and opened up to cyclists, runners and pedestrians. It was first imitated in Winnipeg in 2009 to promote cycling routes and active transportation.

"We want to see more people riding bikes and in order to do that, I think we're always looking for things like more separated bike lanes to make it really comfortable for people to get around, especially with young families," said Sartison.

She said cycling seems to be on the rise. While official numbers aren't in yet, Bike to Work day, which kicked off bike week on Monday, saw more riders. Sartison said pit stops which usually saw 200 pass through saw 300.

The week also featured over 60 events across Winnipeg this year, including bike maintenance workshops, city bike tours and group rides.

Sartison said a highlight for her was Ride Outside the Lines, a group ride run by women to create safer cycling spaces for women and non-binary people.

"I think that's really important because a lot of times when you think of cycling culture, you think about men in spandex, and that is not what it is. Bike week is for everyone," said Sartison.

Ciclovia acted as a hub to showcase groups that are working hard to promote bike culture in Winnipeg, including the Velodonnas Cycling Team.

"We offer skills clinics for women. We want to increase their confidence on the bike," said Gillian Robinson, who is a member of the female cycling club.

She said she always biked as a kid but only started taking it more seriously about 10 years ago.

Gillian Robinson is a member of the Velodonnas Cycling Team, a womens' cycling club. (Walther Bernnal/CBC)

"It's just such a great way to get to and from work and compete in races and also for health," she said.

The Velodonnas offers weekly road rides, mountain bike rides, beginners courses and organizes races for women only. 

Robinson said it's open to women of all ages and the purpose is to support and encourage each other.

"I think sometimes maybe we can be intimidated if you definitely don't know what the right equipment is to have or how to maintain it, or the skills to ride safely," she said.

"But that is part of what our club is about, is giving women the information and support so they can get out there and enjoy their time on their bikes."

Other groups on hand showcasing their cycling advocacy included: The Wrench, The Bike Dump, MEC, and Orioles Bike Cage.