Victoria now has a 'bicycle mayor' and it’s not Lisa Helps
She’s not the actual mayor, she doesn’t hold a seat at council – she’s not even on the city’s payroll. But the City of Victoria has a new appointee on its team and she goes by the title "bicycle mayor."
In what’s being called the first position of its kind in Canada, Susan Stokhof, a local business owner and IT Project Manager, is being voluntarily tasked by the city to accelerate Victoria’s approach to cycling.
Created by an Amsterdam-based social enterprise known as BYCS, bicycle mayors are active on every continent. According to the international group, "they identify and lead projects that increase cycling to uncover massive economic, health, and environmental benefits."
"It’s time for our citizens and our city to think beyond the automobile and join the cycling revolution that’s spreading across the globe," said Stokhof.
Stokhof says her first task as bicycle mayor will be to normalize cycling and make it an everyday activity for people, particularly children. She also intends to focus on cycling in the media and the way people speak about the activity.
The international network of bicycle mayors also has a mission called "50x30." The goal is to get 50 per cent of all city trips to be taken by bike by 2030.
"Taking ourselves out of the car bubble and onto the streets as cyclists and pedestrians allows for a stronger connection between citizens," says Stokhof.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is expected to announce the appointment during the city’s annual Bike to Work campaign.
"I am thrilled that the City of Victoria has Canada’s first bicycle mayor," Helps said. "I love that citizens are taking it into their own hands to inspire others to ride and reap the benefits that come with this mode of transportation."
Stokhof is also the founder of bicycle accessory lifestyle brand Le Vélo in Victoria.
She says she will be reaching out to city hall to hopefully collaborate on future initiatives.
The City of Victoria is currently working to complete the first phase of its All Ages and Abilities Bike Network.
Once finished, the project will see a 32-kilometre bike network criss-cross the city.
The first two protected bike lanes have already opened on Pandora Street and Fort Street. The next two lanes on Wharf Street and Humboldt Street could be completed in August.