By Mathew Varela and Sarah Nguyen
Newmarket Cycles hit the ground running this year with group rides, workshops, a bicycle lending library, and other programs to cultivate a love for biking in Newmarket and the surrounding area.
Wrapping up the first year of operating a brand-new bike hub in Newmarket has put us in a reflective frame of mind. After six months of programming, we couldn’t be more proud of the positive impact Newmarket Cycles has had on the community. Some participants became confident in using bikes to run errands and commute across Town. Others gained the confidence to pedal up steep hills or buy themselves a new bike after enjoying one they borrowed from us. A sense of community steadily grew as strangers became friends who stopped by to say hello or drop off treats to thank us for helping them.
There were definitely some hiccups and road bumps over the course of the year. As we began providing programming, some COVID-19 restrictions on indoor gatherings were still in place. This created some challenges as we had to adapt programming to meet the needs of both in-person and online participants. As the year progressed, more of our programming shifted to in-person events, but there is still a demand for online and hybrid events. We haven’t quite figured out the ideal way of balancing these needs, but it’s something we recognize as important to plan for as we start thinking about Newmarket Cycles’ 2023 programming calendar.
We also encountered a bit of a setback in securing a long-term home for Newmarket Cycles. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to secure a permanent location for our bike hub this year. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to operate out of NewMakeIt over the past year, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have them as a partner. We’ve been able to provide some fantastic programming with their support and by remaining mobile and flexible with our equipment and bike repair setups. That being said, a goal for the upcoming year is to work with the Town of Newmarket to find a long-term home for Newmarket Cycles.
One of our biggest aspirations is to change the public perception of riding in the winter by educating and providing opportunities to practice riding in a friendly, supportive setting. Hopefully, an increase in bicycles on the road this winter will lead to better snow clearing and awareness. It’s going to be an uphill battle, and Newmarket Cycles is already geared up for the challenge!