If you live in Waterloo Region and can write a compelling short essay on how a new bicycle could change your life, you could win a commuter bike.
Ziggy's Cycle and Sport of Kitchener is celebrating its 25th year of business by giving away 25 mid-range hybrids to 25 area residents. Owner Margaret Pachnik is extremely excited about the Waterloo Region Freewheels Project, which was introduced on Thursday night by Ziggy's employee John O'Reilly at an invitation-only open house.
O'Reilly is a fourth-year urban planning co-op student who has been hired by Ziggy's to work at their store and to co-ordinate and monitor the Freewheels Project for his course work. Successful bike recipients will be asked to blog on their experience and will be interviewed on their perceptions of cycling in the community, changes in attitudes to fitness and any overall health impacts.
According to the project info sheet, "The central ambition of the project is to create meaningful change in the community through the promotion of physical fitness and environmentally sustainable lifestyles."
Basically, Ziggy's is trying to influence attitudes and encourage the cycling culture by giving bicycles to people who do not now ride bicycles. It's an echo of Bicycling magazine's Bike Town projects, where bicycles are given free to selected participants in different towns each year. The intention in both undertakings is the same: to encourage cycling, and thereby reduce pollution and congestion, change attitudes and encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Starting soon, you will be able to get project details at the Ziggy's website, but at the core is a 300-word essay on the subject, "How a new bicycle would change my life." Successful applicants would be expected to ride their bicycles from receipt (in June) to the end of the cycling season (not really specified, but probably late September, early October).
The bikes will be mid-range, flat-bar, commuter hybrids (like a Trek 7200, for instance: three chain rings, possibly some suspension, platform pedals), with a bell, front light and helmet. Ziggy's staff will provide several hours of support and instruction.
Pachnik said, "We are investing a lot of money in this, and we feel so good about it."
It's a pretty exciting project. Ziggy's had wanted to do something like this four years ago, but had been unable to find sponsorship to help cover the cost of the bikes. They decided to do Freewheels without sponsor assistance this year, on their 25th anniversary, and are basically carrying the cost on their own. If a potential partner likes what they see here and wants to come on board, then it could become an annual undertaking.
I'm looking forward to meeting the Region's newest cyclists in June.