In the spring of 2014, the Canmore Community Cruisers successfully applied to Alberta Ecotrust for a grant to establish “Bike Friendly Canmore.”  Working in partnership with the Town of Canmore, Canmore Business and Tourism, the Canmore Folk Festival, and the Biosphere Institiute of the Bow Valley, 43 businesses signed up to be involved after an inspirational CBT “Lunch & Learn” with North-American expert in the development of bicycle friendly business districts, April Economides.

What we were most proud of, is the enthusiastic way in which businesses of all shapes and sizes have embraced the project, not only tourist accommodations, restaurants, cafes, and bicycle businesses, but a real estate firm, accounting firm, golf course, and in a spectacular fashion, the Canmore Folk Music Festival.  It was fantastic to see some of the wonderful bicycle friendly services being offered, including discounts on merchandise and services, free delivery of groceries and purchasers from retailers if they couldn’t be managed by bike, rolling real estate tours, the purchase of bike racks, providing perks to staff who bike to work, etc.

In concert with Bike Friendly Canmore, the Town of Canmore launched www.bikecanmore.ca to create awareness about cycling in Canmore and the surrounding area and to promote Canmore as the most bicycle friendly town in Alberta. The website is a showcase for all aspects of Canmore’s exceptional bike culture, including the ongoing Bike Friendly Canmore program which is being sustained by Canmore Business & Tourism.

The Cruisers had a regular presence at the Thursday Canmore market, promoting the Bike Friendly Canmore project and encouraging people to use their bicycles for active transportation. We arranged for additional bike parking at the market and saw a dramatic increase in people biking to the market.

We were able to purchase two “townie” bikes for people in the downtown core to loan out to run short errands….. much faster than walking and better by far, than driving a car!  The bikes, outfitted with their Bike Friendly Canmore logos, are available at the downtown visitor information centre.

It was thrilling to have the Canmore Folk Music Festival as our first Bike Friendly Event.  With just a little lead time, we were able to encourage people to bike to the Festival in droves!  We can hardly wait to see how that translates into more bikes parked in 2015!  It is THE best way to get to the ‘Fest! As a result of the Bike Friendly Canmore project, we were fortunate to receive a donation of special event bike parking racks from the Calgary Folk Festival (with a valuable in-kind donation by Canmore Courier), which we will plan to make available for Town special events moving forward.

In conclusion, the Bike Friendly Canmore project was a huge success: stimulating interest in bicycling from local businesses, building interest for cycle tourism and cycling as a sustainable mode of transportation, being part of a successful collaborative effort, and increasing the visibility of the Canmore Community Cruisers.