As Victoria proclaims itself Canada’s cycling capital, local pedals for positivity

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In B.C.’s capital, pedal power prevails.

“I ride everywhere, all the time,” said Angela Gabaldon, an avid cyclist. “There’s no place that I can’t park my bike that isn’t beautiful.”

Victoria is again taking the reigns as Canada’s cycling capital, thanks to a declaration approved by city council earlier this year.

“Once in, I believe, 2002, and again this year in 2024. And that’s based on a variety of statistics,” said Coun. Matt Dell, another cycling aficionado.

“Obviously, we’re in an incredible spot for year-round biking. We have a great AAA (All Ages and Abilities) bike network, and we’re really proud of our biking culture here.”

Statistics Canada found that Victoria had the highest rate of commuters who regularly walk or bike to work. About one in 20 people bike to work, and 29.5 per cent of downtown commuters walk to work, according to data released in late 2022.

“A lot of people love getting around that way,” said Dell.

“I work, I walk, I ride. This is my world. My bike’s name is Jewels,” laughed Gabaldon.

Going viral online

So she’s sharing her world with others, one photo at a time, in hopes that it’ll cause a chain reaction of positivity.

“I started this about three years ago during COVID. Just having a lot of extra time on my hands, and decided to start taking pictures with my bike in it,” she said.

“I change it often. I try to keep it fresh.”

Since then, Gabaldon’s feat has flourished. She’s garnered thousands of followers on Facebook, where she posts a new photo daily.

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Many comment that they enjoy the positivity, while others bask in the nostalgia.

“So I have followers from all over the world, and a lot of those people have had some kind of connection to this city,” said Gabaldon.

“I think a lot of the photos I use bring back a lot of fond memories of long-gone days, and I think that’s what a lot of people like.”

Yet, for her, it’s both.

“I feel like I see a good side of it. I live downtown, I’ve been here for seven years,” she said. “Downtown Victoria’s a beautiful place, and there’s still lots of good people and beautiful things to see.”

Because in the capital city, cycling sparks conversation.

“Cycling infrastructure is definitely one of the definitive issues in Victoria. People want to know whether you’re pro cycling infrastructure or opposed to it,” said Dell in an interview.

He’s highlighting the free Bike Valet downtown, which he says is helping to mitigate bicycle theft. The valet, located at city hall, first opened in 2022.

“It’s just been overall a huge success, so we’ve committed to ongoing funding in this budget,” he said. “And it is free year-round to use.”

More bike lanes on the way

The city has spent millions on bike lanes, including on Fort Street, where Victoria’s longest stretch of protected lanes cost $9.4 million.

But there’s still more work to be done, according to Dell, who adds that these lanes are much needed because “there are so many spots that are not safe” in Victoria.

“We just finished Fort Street, which is one of the most incredible bike lanes I’ve ever been on,” he added.

“Next up, it’s going to be Gorge Road, Blanshard Street and Shelbourne Street, south of Hillside.”

Gabaldon cycles through local streets day after day.

“I appreciate the bike lanes and the safety that they provide when riding around the city. I feel that I can get anywhere 10 times faster than cars, so it’s a beautiful convenience,” she said.

So she grabs her basket full of flowers and bikes around town, making the most of a hobby she’s grown fond of.

“I like riding a bike, I’ve been doing that all my life. And I like the independence of having that freedom to get on my bike and to get out and explore,” she said.

Because cycling isn’t just getting from A to B — for many, it’s a way of life.

“I bike to work, to city hall. I bike with my kids. It allows you to swerve around, see houses you may not recognize, bump into a friend, bump into other bikers,” said Dell.

“I see a lot of beautiful things. A lot of beautiful places,” added Gabaldon.

A lifestyle she wants to capture on camera for all to see. Follow her on Facebook here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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