Cyclist, farmer and long-time environmentalist Mike Kozlowski is on a mission to strengthen Red Deer’s ‘bike culture.’
Kozlowski is helping to spread the word about the City’s first Bicycle Parade on Sept. 18. The event is being organized by Better Bicycle Commuting and supported by ReThink Red Deer.
“Our first goal is to celebrate the bicycle and all the fun, freedom and friendliness it represents,” he said. “We want more cyclists on the streets feeling safe and comfortable while riding.”
Participants will also be making their case for supporting initiatives including dedicated bike lanes on commuter streets. Kozlowski would also like to see both drivers and cyclists have a better understanding of what it takes to stay safe while traveling.
“There has to be a public awareness campaign about safe riding and safe driving, and I think bike lanes play a big part in that. There is a predictable space that people know what to do with.”
The Bicycle Parade is slated to begin at 11 a.m. at the Notre Dame High School and wrap up at City Hall. A letter in support of bicycle lanes will be presented to Mayor Morris Flewwelling.
“It’s not a petition – it’s just a letter of intent and of interest.”
All are welcome to take part.
Kozlowski said the City of Red Deer is onboard with the concept of bicycle lanes, and it’s essentially a funding issue at this point. Still, he wants to see the concept garner more attention amongst candidates in particular as the municipal elections approach in October.
“I think that a really important part of building a bike culture in a community is approaching it with positivity,” he said. “And as much as this bike parade is about us wanting infrastructure for lanes and promoting awareness, we also want a chance just to celebrate bikes,” he said, emphasizing their remarkable efficiency.
Biking also helps to build community and friendships, he said. “We hoping to get as many people out as possible to show the support for bikes.”
Last year, the Central Alberta Bicycle Club held a Lanes for Life bike ride in support of bicycle lanes in Red Deer. About 100 people signed up for the event.
Earlier this year, Kozlowski embarked on a bike tour of his own dubbed the Steel Pony Farm Tour to bolster awareness about the importance of supporting local farmers and finding new strategies for sustainable food production.
During the planning phase of his journey, he contacted about 18 farmers within about a 200 km radius of Red Deer to gauge their interest in the project. Several replied that they would welcome him to spend a few days on their land working with them so he could see firsthand their agricultural practices.
He ended up visiting about 15 farms. “Some I stayed at for three weeks, others for three hours,” he recalls. “I feel really inspired that there are so many people in Central Alberta who care about good food and healthy communities.
“People who are able to avoid the commodity markets and sell directly to consumers through farmers’ markets or community-supported agriculture — it’s been incredible to see how that can totally flip a farm around from almost degenerating and being dependent on government subsidies to creating their own livelihood and making a strong family business.”
Kozlowski’s tour also aimed to highlight farmers in Central Alberta that are using sustainable growing methods to produce food that is truly nourishing for the people of the local communities. Check out www.steelponytour.ca for more details.
Meanwhile, for more information about the Bicycle Parade, call Kozlowski at 403-343-8520 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.