ON A ROLL: First Wheel Jam family biking event hits road
Published:June 10, 2018
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Kids got the chance to let loose and have fun on their bicycles while learning about safety and accessibility on Sunday afternoon during Winnipeg’s first ever Wheel Jam family biking event.
The sweltering heat didn’t stop an estimated 150 people from showing up to the first Wheel Jam ready to ride. The free event took place at Mulvey School and featured bike events for the family, including a bike obstacle course, a bike decorating station, a Manitoba Public Insurance bike safety course, and a bike repair station. After all the festivities, the entire group went on a bike ride down the Wolseley-Wellington loop to Omand Park and back.
“It is about inclusiveness that will bring together different neighbourhoods, different ages, and people of different abilities,” said Kreesta Doucette, one of the event coordinators. “We are hoping that people will take away a fun experience where they have been able to use their bikes as a family, we’re hoping that kids will take away some safe ways to ride a bike, and we’re hoping that this event will be a learning event about accessibility.”
Chris Johnson was a volunteer at the event. He said he regularly rides his bike, but nearly 10 years ago he had a stroke and the way he rode a bike had to change a bit. Johnson now rides what he calls a modified bike with “bigger and badder” training wheels to help him balance.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t know (my bike) is for a person without the same accessibility options, so when they pass by, they honk at me, they scream out at me, either swear words or they say ‘Nice training wheels’ to me,” said Johnson. “The accessibility could use some work, some awareness.”
Among the kids learning riding around the obstacle course, was eight-year-old Henry Sheppard who had just learned how to ride his bike earlier this year.
“(Biking) is a faster way to travel and doesn’t pollute,” said Sheppard who added some advice for anyone just learning how to ride a bike. “Don’t look down at the pedals, it makes you wobble and fall over. Keep your eyes on the prize straight forward.”
Wheel Jam had a large number of sponsors including City Councillors Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre) and Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry). During a speech at the event, Gilroy said she hopes there will be many more events like this in the future.