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Cyclists, motorists need to respect each other on Winnipeg streets, mayor says

With summer-like weather and Bike Week only a month away, Winnipeg cycling enthusiasts are encouraging their fellow residents to leave the car keys at home and hop on two wheels.

Patti Wiens, a year-round cyclist who was recently named the city’s first-ever ‘bicycle mayor’ — part of a growing network that includes more than 30 countries — told Global Winnipeg her role is really about raising awareness.

“The bicycle mayor network is basically a network of people who are advocates for better cycling all over the world,” Wiens said.

“My role is to bring more awareness to safer cycling, to people who like to bike-commute and to advocate for a more connected bicycle network in our city.”

And while cycling in freezing temperatures might seem like a nightmare to some, Wiens said hitting the road on a bike in the dead of winter did wonders for her job as an advocate.

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“There’s no better way to become an advocate for safer cycling than to ride your bike in winter — you all of a sudden realize how disconnected everything is, and how the priority really is for people who drive.

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“The streets get cleared faster if you’re driving a car. The bike paths kind of take a back seat.”

Wiens said the city’s priorities seems to be experiencing a bit of a shift lately, however, due in no small part to having a mayor — a proper, elected one — who enjoys commuting to and from city hall on his bike.

Click to play video: '‘My role is to bring awareness’: Winnipeg’s bicycle mayor'

‘My role is to bring awareness’: Winnipeg’s bicycle mayor

“I try to ride as often as I can in the summertime, at least twice a week,” Mayor Scott Gillingham said.

“It’s about a 35-minute ride for me from my house to city hall, so that’s good in the morning to get the blood pumping and the oxygen flowing to my brain … and then on the way home, it’s a really good ride just to decompress.”

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Gillingham said the city has become involved in initiatives like 529 Garage — an international registration service — to help cut down on bike theft.

Overall, he said, to make Winnipeg a more bike-friendly city, everyone who uses the road needs to respect each other.

“Motorists, please be aware of cyclists who are out there, especially in the summertime … and pedestrians as well,” he said.

“Cyclists need to be predictable as well for the sake of motorists, so I think all of us have a job to do in sharing the road and make sure we can do it safely.”

Click to play video: 'Bike registration system could boost cycle use in Winnipeg, advocate says'

Bike registration system could boost cycle use in Winnipeg, advocate says

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