Board the bike bus

Alyssa Leonard
By Alyssa Leonard October 6, 2017 12:59
Justin Lafontaine is a recognized cycle tourism advocate. (Photo used with permission)

Justin Lafontaine is a recognized cycle tourism advocate. (Photo courtesy of Justin Lafontaine)

By Alyssa Leonard

 

Bicycle enthusiasts in Windsor will have a new opportunity to ride on the many trails around Essex County.

A pilot project, known as WEBikeBus or Windsor Essex Bike Bus, will launch later this month, where residents and tourists in Windsor can take a bus ride with their bicycle out to different areas of Essex County for the day. The first two day trips will be to Kingsville and Leamington.

People will be able to ride the bus while their bicycles are in a truck following behind them. The bus will make its first stop in Kingsville to allow some riders to get off and spend the day there, and will continue on to Leamington/Point Pelee to drop off the remaining passengers.

Justin Lafontaine, 42, leader of the WEBikeBus initiative, is a recognized cycle tourism advocate. He has been working in tourism development for more than 10 years, leading several cycle tourism initiatives, including the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail which takes cyclists along the shorelines of Lake St Clair, the Detroit River and Lake Erie, connecting to a 1600 kilometre cross-provincial trail.

Lafontaine recently moved to Windsor from Toronto and said he has enjoyed riding several times over the summer between the city and county.

Windsor and Essex County currently has many kilometres of bicycle and multi-use trails available, with the County Wide Active Transportation System and the Essex Region Conservation Area working towards reaching close to 800 kilometres of pathways in the county over the next two decades.

“In my head I was thinking, I wish there’s a bus that could get me to where the wineries are and the north shore of Lake Erie and Point Pelee,” said Lafontaine.

“Instead of spending my whole day riding all the way to the county, seeing the lake and turning around and coming all the way back, I’d rather spend the afternoon touring and experiencing all the best the county really has to offer.”

Lafontaine said he has received many positive responses so far on social media about the project and hopes to be able to continue it into next year for the spring, summer and fall seasons.

“At the end of the day we want to create a connection between the city, the wineries, Kingsville and Point Pelee National Park.”

He said he also hopes to have a bicycle mechanic on hand to assist with any minor issues a rider may encounter.

According to Statistics Canada, from 2013-2014 an estimated 12 million Canadians, ages 12 or older, reported they had cycled in the previous year. Cycling was found to be more common at younger ages ― 82 per cent among ages 12 to 14 compared to 27 per cent by ages 50 or older.

Michael Haggert, a 49-year-old resident of Windsor who takes his bicycle for an approximate  15-20 kilometre ride once a week, said he is interested in the project and if the weather holds out, he will attend one of the dates.

“I don’t drive and the connections from Windsor to the county infrastructure is poor. It makes the ride a bit riskier than I would be comfortable with,” said Haggert, adding that he only bikes out to the county a couple of times a year.

Haggert said with the new project, instead of two to three trips a year, he may make up to six or more.

“If I could take my bike on transit to Amherstburg, then ride to Harrow, then transit back into the city, or other similar destinations, then I could see doing this almost weekly.”

The pilot dates for the WEBikeBus are Sunday, Oct. 15 and Sunday, Oct. 29. The pick up and drop off spot in Windsor is located at Church Street and Pitt Street West with the departure time at 10 a.m. and returning at 6 p.m. The cost for the round trip will be $25 for adults and $20 for those 18 and under. For more information, check out www.webikebus.com.

Alyssa Leonard
By Alyssa Leonard October 6, 2017 12:59

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