This August, I had the pleasure of joining more than two thousand cyclists from Quebec on a tour of the Niagara Region. Visiting for the Grand Tour Desjardins 2014, one of the largest organized multi-day cycling tours in Canada, cyclists enjoyed mobile bike shops, shuttle service, full catering, and even massages! The Grand Tour really is the apex of cycling holidays. Plus, this year all of these tourists took their bicycle holiday in the Greenbelt.
The reason I was at the Grand Tour was to promote the Greenbelt Route, a 480km signed and mapped cycling route the will traverse Ontario's Greenbelt from Niagara to Northumberland. Thanks to some heavy lifting from our grantees at the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, the Greenbelt Route will be launching next summer with a similarly organized six-day cycle tour called the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure: Greenbelt Route Special Edition!
With a draw for a chance to win a cycling holiday for two to the launch of the Greenbelt Route next year, I certainly caught the ears of attendees! The Québecers were thrilled to hear that we are working on new long distance cycling routes in Ontario. They expressed a real desire to see a robust network of routes develop in Ontario. You see, Québec is often considered to be the leading jurisdiction in North America when it comes to all things bike. It's a position that is well deserved when you consider the extensive work of their provincial cycling advocacy organization Vélo Québec.
Last week, I caught up with the Waterfront Regeneration Trust at this year's Great Waterfront Trail Adventure (GWTA), an event they hold every summer. I met hundreds of bicycle riders in Iroquois, Ontario as they were preparing for their final day of a fully supported five-day tour. Each year the GWTA explores a different segment of the Waterfront Trail, which now extends along the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie from Quebec, all the way to Windsor/Detroit!
This year the tour was along the section from Brighton to Cornwall, offering stunning views across the Thousand Islands and stops at historic sites along the way. It followed many kilometres of trail, fully separated from vehicle traffic, and with the same kind of royal treatment as that was provided on the Grand Tour, these folks were just whizzing down the shore of the Saint Lawrence River!
It's such a pleasure to be involved in the Greenbelt Route project, what I see as being a critical part of a growing network of cycle touring routes in Ontario. Cycle tourism is growing quickly worldwide, and with more and more Canadians living in cities, protected peri-urban landscapes like Ontario’s Greenbelt provide an obvious choice for retreat when it comes to day or weekend trips.
The cycle tourists are coming. Let's be ready for them!
-- Communications Assistant