Summerland cycling — Another in my “Life in our Little Town” series

Like many things in my life, learning to ride a bicycle took me a long time—I am a lifelong if sometimes slow learner. My father tried to teach me on the back lawn of our home in Victoria. He had just bought me a lovely green one-speed CCM, complete with two tires, one backpedal brake, one seat and handlebars. We would trek down to Victoria Sporting Goods to visit with his buddy Henry in the back. Henry knew everything about bikes. Once purchased, we returned home, where after a time our lessons moved to the street–after one or two painful spills I enjoyed my first experience of freedom on two wheels. I was ecstatic. Other bikes over the years included my first Peugeot 10-speed, an Apollo twelve-speed, and countless other models over the years till first ebike, a Trek Verve-3. For me, as a non-driver, cycling meant freedom of mobility.

I was both surprised and disappointed as we moved back to Summerland seven months ago. One of the reasons we moved here was so I could cycle with safety and ease. I was impatient to purchase a new ebike and get cycling again. Winter came quickly so the thought passed. I needed to purchase a new bike as my Trek ebike was stolen from inside our garage when we still lived in Kamloops.

The new bike took some time to arrive, but eventually, Kathie and I rode away from our local bike store on a Sunday afternoon, each with a similar light green Kona bike. With great expectations, we rounded the corner, and then, my gosh—potholes as far as the eye could see, not only potholes, but large patches of uneven, cracked pavement, and worst of all, a series of long crevasses parallel to the road edge, almost inviting my front wheel to engage and explore.

You may rightly ask why our affluent and little town has such disheveled streets? Surely roads are a priority, as their state of repair should be the most visible sign of effective municipal management. At the local level, delivery of services,  including road maintenance. will score highest of most voters’ priority lists. I planned to compose a grumpy blog sharing my frustrations and disappointments.

This morning however, a friend directed me to an article in the Penticton Herald which described a detailed plan for remediation of our combat-zone roadways. According to Mayor Doug Holmes: “If there’s anything that symbolizes inefficiency in local government more, it’s repaving a road one year, only having to go dig it up a couple years later to replace the water mains,” he said. He went on to describe a  detailed and prioritized remediation plan. It has taken some time to rebuild capacity for road maintenance, but with additional infrastructure money from the province work can now proceed. Great news friends.

Lest you think that Summerland is alone in facing road infrastructure challenges, ask anyone who has visited Newfoundland recently. Given harsh winter weather and the influence of salt water spray, the province can claim some of the largest and most bedeviling potholes in the country. And closer to home, a woman riding her motorcycle in Kamloops just days ago died as a result of collision with a pothole on what one Indigenous councillor described as “one of the ‘weakest’  pieces of provincial transportation infrastructure in Interior British Columbia.”

Now able to expand my cycling experience in Summerland I want to give a shout out to the good folks at Koncept Kalifornia where I purchased my bike. London is a single-brand Kona dealer with a keen desire to meet the needs of his customers even years following their purchase. With his assistant, Christian, they service all brands with both expertise and a smile. They love cycling, cyclists, and the culture which surrounds the sport and leisure activity. Check them out, in person, as they don’t seem to operate a website. See if London will throw in a haircut. True story. 

There’s more to say about cycling in Summerland. Of course, the dreaded security question. We bought a sturdy (and heavy) lock. Bikes of all sorts are the currency of the drug trade these days—though my Peugeot was stolen from a church in downtown Victoria in early 1976; another was stolen from our Colwood back yard around 2010. Check out my insurance blog here. And of course, I was almost “doored” a few days ago. Some stupid person did not shoulder-check. Why don’t all drivers do as the Dutch do, that is always open your door with your right hand. Fortunately there was room for me to dodge into the centre of the road–This time!

The upside of cycling thankfully cancels out any of the concerns noted above. Yesterday as I rode around photographing potholes, the sun warmed my back; blossoms were in the air, scent and all; the air was clean and fresh; the greens turned greener at every corner; traffic was light, and no door dodges necessary. Thanks to all who make cycling here a beautiful experience.

UPDATE: Thursday night: Riding along Prairie Valley Road between Cartwright Ave. and Morrow Ave. I discovered some of the most dangerous roadway yet. Cyclists must be EXTREMELY CAREFUL on the south lane heading back into town. And then, there is the dreaded Blair Street! I mean, really?!

3 thoughts on “Summerland cycling — Another in my “Life in our Little Town” series

Add yours

  1. What’s a study lock? Maybe you meant sturdy lock! Told you I’d make a great proof reader anytime!
    Great blog! Since I had left home, I now learn what I missed!


  2. Yes I do believe there must be someone out there who could run a contest with the city with the most potholes. I’m sure Summerland would be in the top 3!!
    Also thanks to Juno for the latest on his new dog park in Summerland!


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