Bicyclists hit the books

A volunteer with the Toronto Cyclists Union says workshops running through the summer are beneficial for both avid and recreational cyclists.

Bikes and Books: Street Smart and Bike Repair for the Novice is a two-hour how-to workshop focusing on bike repair and bike safety for riders around the city.

Run by the Toronto Public Library (TPL) partnered with the Toronto Cyclists Union, the workshop hopes to educate people about the rules of the road.

“The main reason that we do this is to promote safe streets for bikes and to also make sure that we educate cyclists. So we do these workshops in libraries and in schools to inform people,” said Siva Vijenthira of the union.

The workshop is divided into two parts. The first hour focuses strictly on maintenance, including how to change a flat and when to oil your chain, while the second goes over regulations and rules about how to cycle safely.

The Cyclists Union exists almost entirely on a volunteer basis, so individuals teaching are there on their own time.

At a recent session at the Jones branch of the TPL, Jane Story, an avid bike rider, said she wanted to know primarily how to service her bike when she’s stuck without a mechanic.

“It’s really important to me to know the basics of keeping your bike in good shape and also it’s good to know as a female cyclist,” Story said.

The group at the Jones branch ranged from old to young, and many were actively engaged.

Lynn Rice, a recreational cyclist, said she came to educate herself a little bit more.

“I’m not a big rider. I usually just throw my bike in the car and ride in Algonquin Park. But even if I’m just going to ride here and there I might as well know how to look after my bike or even how to tell when it should be looked after,” Rice said.

Contact your local library branch for more information, or visit the Toronto Cyclists Union website to request a workshop.

“We do these workshops in libraries, schools, and even in the workplace. We call them lunch-and-learns. If there’s a demand, we’ll be there,” Vijenthira said.