Profile #2: Wellington West BIA and Cyclelogik
Annie Hillis is the Executive Director of the Wellington West BIA, an organization that celebrates and strengthens local businesses in Hintonburg, The Parkdale Market, and Wellington Village. Right Bike contacted the WWBIA early on: “We thought it was a good fit and we’ve been involved in an advisory capacity ever since,” says Hillis.
Because the business area is thriving, with folks from around the city joining residents to shop, attend gallery openings, live music and theatre, the WWBIA knew that the area would quickly reach capacity for car traffic and car parking. Hillis notes that investigating how more visitors and residents can access the shops and services of the area by increasing bike use made sense “so that more people can use our amazingly gorgeous street.” The neighbourhood already boasts higher than average bike use, so Right Bike would just increase opportunities for spontaneous rides.
Over a year ago, Shane Norris of Right Bike gave a presentation at a WWBIA Board meeting on the bike sharing project. “That presentation led to a popular survey on bike sharing which led to a feasibility study and finally a business plan that is now being enacted,” says Hillis who was very impressed with the thorough and deliberate steps Right Bike project leaders have taken in developing the bike share.
Right Bike plans to launch this spring, with an office in the WWBIA’s office suite on Holland at Armstrong. Three car parking spots in the lot beside the office will be given over to bright purple bike racks full of bright purple Right Bikes. “We’re connecting Right Bike to its local business advertisers and sponsoring one of the bikes ourselves,” says Hillis.“We’ll be participating in the spring launch and doing everything we can do to make the program a success.” Locating the Right Bike office within a convenient walking distance from Tunney’s Pasture was deliberate as many employees at Tunney’s Pasture walk to shop during their lunch hours, and offering them easy and affordable bike access to the neighbourhood would allow them to travel farther in the same amount of time.
As a BIA with its very own Cycling Committee, the WWBIA is well-positioned to offer meaningful support to Right Bike. One of the Cycling Committee initiatives is working with local business owners to help fund bike racks on private property. “We are trying to create a critical mass of cyclists,” says Ian Fraser, co-owner of CycleLogik and Chair of the WWBIA Cycling Committee. “With purple bikes dotting the neighbourhood, more people will feel like riding and will feel safer riding. Part of the idea is that this community already is and should be one of the most cycling dense communities in Canada.”
CycleLogik is Right Bike’s easterly hub. This means there will be a bike rack outside the store and Right Bike members can borrow bikes by coming into the store and signing out keys and locks. “The program is designed to be really accessible, to be people talking to people and feeling like they are part of the community,” explains Fraser who is very pleased to be a strong supporter of the program and feels that it’s in keeping with the slow but positive changes that have been taking place in the neighbourhood over the past few years.
Fraser attributes the City’s strong support of the program to Kitchissippi’s councillor, Katherine Hobbs, who is a true cycling enthusiast and to Right Bike’s Shane Norris and Schuyler Playford’s “patient persistence and professionalism” in their development of the project and in their development of strong connections with its many partners.
“I’m looking forward to the summer, and to running errands to the hardware store on a bright purple Right Bike,” says Fraser. “I think all the guys here at the store will get a kick out of hopping on the Right Bikes and zipping around the neighbourhood.