Arts

The Capital Vélo Fest invites cyclists to enjoy bike-exlusive street ride

Photo: CC Millenion Design

Ottawa’s short biking season is almost over, but the Capital Vélo Fest wants to help the community go out in style. The annual biking festival invites both seasoned and budding cyclists of all ages to come bike through Ottawa at night on bicycle-exclusive roads for Tour La Nuit 2015.

The festival brings together cyclists for a unique, bright night around town. Every cyclist receives a colourful bike light to put on his or her wheel. The route starts at city hall, goes down the canal, through the experimental farm, and back.

Inspired by Montreal’s Tour La Nuit event, president Dick Louch founded Capital Vélo Fest, the cycling organization that hosts the annual festival, which will be celebrating it’s fifth anniversary come September.

“Our mission is to inspire people of all ages to ride a bike more often,” says Louch, “We do that by organizing events, and activities around cycling that have elements of education and entertainment.”

Capital Vélo Fest participants are invited not only to cycle, but to enjoy the live music that will be offered at city hall to encourage people as they ride along.

Attendees are also encouraged to decorate their bikes, for example, last year, one participant turned their bike into a giraffe, and other cyclists turned their bikes into a pirate ship.

“The view through the farm is amazing. You see this long line of bikes all lit up across the darkened fields and it’s quite a unique experience,” says Louch.

The organizers hope to demonstrate that riding a bicycle at night is not a scary activity, but a peaceful one.

“The educational component is that a lot of people feel nervous about riding at night, and so by closing the roads we hope to demonstrate to people who have that feeling that it’s not really so bad once you get out there.”

Capital Vélo Fest has partnered with the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) Bike Co-op to bring the event to the university community. For many students cycling is their main form of transportation.

“We share the common goal of helping individuals take control of their transportation,” said SFUO Bike Co-op coordinator, Laura Miller.

Not a bike enthusiast? Don’t worry. You don’t have to be a cyclist to get involved. Students can volunteer as part of the hype, ambassador, or road safety teams. Volunteers also get a ton of cool swag, says Louch, including SMOOCH, a bicycle-powered smoothie maker.

“It’s really fun,” says Louch. “The people who come in come back year after year and it’s the type of thing that once you go in it, you want to go in it again.”

Capital Vélo Fest takes place on Sept. 25, starting at city hall. To volunteer, sign up at www.capitalvelofest.ca. Tickets are available online for $15, and are available at the SFUO Bike Co-op office at 50 per cent off for students.