Duncan Wilcock


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Saturday, July 15, 2023

Making Change in NorthVan - for People on Bikes

I didn't think I would become a cycling advocate.

However, it doesn't take a lot of riding a bike on the roads of any North American city to have some conflict and frightening experiences that can leave you feeling angry.  (To be clear - I do believe it is safe to ride bikes in Metrovancouver see footnote 1 below.)

I got into advocacy to channel that anger into something productive.   We're lucky in Metrovancouver in that a structure is already in place to work through as part of team - it's called HUB Cycling.  This link is the NorthShore HUB group.  

I'm writing this as a "how-to" get more involved, with my suggestions for getting started, as well as how I have learned to use the the tools to make it fit in my life, and not be too overwhelming or time consuming.  I'm likely to have shared this with you as a link & as summary.  I hope it's helpful.

1. Facebook Group

The easiest way to start getting involved is join the North Shore People on Bikes Facebook Group.   As of July 2023, it gets about a post per week on average I'd say, and is a good place for some discussion in public.  I visit and post from time to time, and think it's great.

2. Groups.io

Aside from coming to meetings & volunteering, groups.io is one of the best ways engage with other people on bikes in North Van.  I had a tough start with it, and wanting to share how I use it is one of the primary reasons I am writing this post.  

 It's a group email list, and my key learning to make it work for me is to access it on the web, and to only get a 1 per-day email-digest.   

By using group.io on the web, it's more like a "message board" or "forum" for me.  When I first signed up for it I think I ignored it for literally years due to too many emails.   You-do-you, but I get a lot of emails in my day job, and I work at keeping the inflow to my personal email inbox to only a handful of emails per day.  

Once I changed to the once-per-day digest, and access it on the web, as well as through their dedicated iPhone & iPad apps - it changed my relationship to groups.io and it became much more effective, as well as sometimes even fun.

The setting to change to "once-per-day digest" is in Subscriptions->Email Delivery->Daily Digest.  See this screen snip of that setting:

Screenshot of setting

Also, hot tip:  

You can permalink (permanently-link) discussions from groups.io with the little chain icon in the top left (and message number).  For example #3480 in this image, that links to this example message. So if there is a good discussion you want to share on social media, or link back to in a past discussion, you can use that to do so. 

3. Attend a HUB meeting

No pressure.  If you start with some facebook and/or groups.io - excellent.  

After a time however, I found I wanted to meet some people in person, and have some more full conversations.    The meetings are a great way to dig in a bit deeper, and also to relieve your family & friends from hearing you talk about bikes-bikes-bikes, as I confess has happened in my family...

Since the pandemic, online participation is way more feasible, and a part of every meeting - so if you're a busy parent and evenings out are precious, or for whatever reason - this lowers the barrier to trying it out..  I have a 5 year old, and I was able to start in with online attendance when he was younger.

In person is even better of course, because we often go for beer after

  • Time:  First Thursday of every month
  • Location: CNV Library, off Lonsdale.   
  • Full details linked here, including online meeting link.

4. Volunteer, and perhaps attend some City Council Meetings

Again - no pressure.  Doing 1 or 2, and maybe 3 can be enough.

It took me a year of attending meetings before deciding to take on some greater responsibility.  I was attending some of the DNV council meetings already, and it wasn't much added time.     I haven't had to attend every council meeting, and many parts can be viewed online either live, or later as recorded video - so the work on council meetings is more doable than it was a decade or more ago. 

5. Consider joining my email list

Only if you are a DNV resident (District of North Vancouver) - I'm starting now on an email list for the electiions in 2026.   Local government can have some of the greatest impacts on your daily lives, but only around 20% of people voted in October 2022.   I am gathering emails now looking to unite progressive minded folks like me and you.   Have a look here and consider adding your email to the list.    


Thanks for reading!  I hope we can work together to make NorthVan safer and better for everyone by prioritizing safe ways for all ages to get around by walking & biking - ride safe!


Footnote 1:  Here is a study that convinced a very stats & logic focused friend of mine that biking in Vancouver is safe!   Perhaps safer than walking.  In fact, not biking is hazardous to your health if you consider in-active transportation in cars.   Anyway - I digress (welcome to my blog).