Kick-Off to Mississippi Mills Bicycle Month

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 by Edith Cody-Rice

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Last Thursday evening, May 10, the Mississiippi Mills Bicycle Month kicked off with a presentation at the Old Town Hall in Almonte. To start the festivities,  MM councillor Val Wilkinson, Ed Sonnenburg from Carleton Place and Brian Stewart (the winner) from Lanark Highlands staged a slow bike  race, meaning the slowest person to cycle the short track in the parking lot of the OTH wins the race.

Slow bike raceVal Wilkinson of Mississippi Mills, Ed Sonnenburg from Carleton Place and Brian Stewart  from Lanark Highlands ride s-l-o-w-l-y.

 The evening featured speaker Eleanor McMahon, CEO and founder of the organization  Share the Road Cyclist Coalition www.sharetheroad.ca. Share the road represents over 3,000 stakeholders across Ontario. It is a network of local experts, municipal officials, advocates, business and tourism officials and other members of the public who are dedicated to improving road safety for cyclists and pedestrians. It held its fourth annual bike summit in Toronto in April of 2012. Ms. McMahon started Share the Road after her own husband, OPP Sargeant Greg Stobbart, was killed by a suspended driver while enjoying an off duty bike training ride.

Polling has shown that 60% of Ontarians would like to cycle, but are afraid to do so which only strengthens Share the Road's resolve.. As well as health benefits, Ms. McMahon indicated that there are huge economic benefits associated with cycling. Both Quebec and B.C. has taken measures to significantly increase their cycling infrastructure.

A signature art work by local artist Jill McCubbin was unveiled.

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 Events of Bicycle month include the opening of the BMX pump track last Saturday, May 12 at Augusta Park,  a new cyclists map for Mississippi Mills. This year, Bike month will add cycling races and there will be a community ride on Thursday evenings.  Weekly bike events will include a whole day of events on May 23. The Slow Food Ride will be repeated. This is a ride which passes farm gates where riders are invited to sample local wares along the way.   Go to website http://mmbicyclemonth.ca/ for a calendar of activities.

BIke tourism is becoming a significant factor in the summertime activities of Mississippi Mills. WIth the charm of the countryside added to that of the town of Pakenham, the hamlets of Blakeney, Clayton, Appleton, and the availability of all of Almonte's shops and restaurants,  it is a draw to athletic visitors who want to enjoy the summer outdoors.

 The major sponsors of Mississippi Mills Bike Month are NeilCorp, the Mississippi Mills Council and the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit. A significant number of other sponsors sponsored events or offered in kind services. A full list of sponsors is available at http://mmbicyclemonth.ca/sponsors-2012/

 A card was presented to Nicole Guthrie, Mississippi Mills Community / Cultural Programmer, who is leaving her position this month. Jeff Mills, Coordinator of Community Development at the Mills Community Support Corporation,expressed the appreciation of the community for her dedication.