You might think of Calgary as a city where you need a car to get around and it's the only option for transportation. I'm here to tell you about a word that used to be dirty in Calgary but lately has picked up a lot of steam, that word is cycling.
Mainstreet buildings near the core (Inglewood, Bankview, Downtown, Beltline and more) are all very easy to navigate around and get to important things you need like grocery stores, local entertainment, shopping and evening and weekend events & festivals and more. There's also the downtown cycle track project which just celebrated its first birthday and is a great way to navigate the core and take some stress out of riding your bike as you get your own lanes to comfortably ride in that allow easy access and traversing of the city center.
Recently, with the addition of more bike parking, it's never been easier to get where you're going, have space for your two wheels when you get there and making the trip home worry-free. The best part about riding a bike and parking it is: it's all FREE!
Cycling can drastically shorten your commute to work, school and anywhere you want to go. With the city having an intricate system of paths, bike lanes and ways to get around you can make sitting in traffic a thing of the past. When I first started cycling I asked myself this. "If I have a bike how can I make big shopping trips and buy enough groceries?" This is actually an added benefit of only having the ability to carry things that fit in a backpack, rack you install or if you go all-out and get a cargo bike. The benefit is that only being able to carry small loads of purchases at a time saves a lot of money on the trip to the store, sure it's easy to spend a few hundred dollars at Costco, but with space limited, you cut down a lot on the 'ya I might use that' type of purchase and only stick to the essentials.
http://ridethecity.com/calgary is a great tool that is basically a Google Maps for riding your bike, it can provide your safest route, a safe route, or a more direct route if you're looking to get around in a hurry. What cycling also allows you to do is explore your neighbourhood, find local shops, a route that works for you on your way to or from work or school and you'll even get in better shape from doing it!
The one thing that might hold you back, if you live in an apartment, is how to store your bike. Leaning your bike up against a wall in your suite might not be the best as bikes can fall, slip and may cause damage to drywall, floors and the bike itself. There are different ways to store your bike that aren't just limited to 'leave it on the balcony' and this can even add a little design element to your apartment! Please, for the love of drywall, if you're going to wall mount your bike, ask your landlord or resident manager first and use drywall anchors.
The second option is a bike stand, they're easy to use, require little to no installation and get your bike off the ground and out of the way. These come in a variety of styles, materials, and designs so you can get the perfect one that matches you and your style.
Riding in winter, another hurdle that might deter you, I'm here to confidently tell you that you already have all the gear you need! If you live in Alberta or Saskatchewan (lucky Vancouver with their mild winters) then you more than likely have a section in your closet dedicated to staying warm in -20. When you ride your bike in the winter, you're exercising and you'll warm up quickly, so wearing any and every winter article of clothing is a disadvantage because you'll be way too hot way too fast. Sure the first few minutes is going to suck, but so does having to let your car run for 5-10 minutes to warm up first or hopping into your car and freezing your buns for the first few minutes too. You also get to avoid winter rush hour and traffic jams, iced over windows, having to fight with your car to get it to start and the benefit of the staying fit thing too. A jacket with a sweater or hoodie underneath and long underwear & thick socks are all you need. No need for the Antarctica preparedness kit when you're commuting.
You might get a few weird looks from friends when you first start to say, "No problem, I'll ride my bike and meet you there!" but in the long run it's worth it. You save money, you get in shape, it can save time, there's pathways and bike lanes to help you out and you learn that you can live quite comfortably in an area close to where you live and work.
Hope to see more of you out and about on those two wheels, happy riding.
Mainstreet Equity Corp. is a publicly-traded (TSX: MEQ) residential real estate company in Canada. Mainstreet currently owns and operates properties in Surrey, BC; New Westminster, BC; Abbotsford, BC; Calgary, AB; Cochrane, AB; Lethbridge, AB; Edmonton, AB; Fort Saskatchewan, AB; and Saskatoon, SK.
Mainstreet provides affordable, renovated apartment suites to Canadians, and is committed to creating real value without diluting shareholder interests.