Pemberton suffering from a community-wide addiction… to bicycles

slow food event 049

Victoria, BC claims to be the Cycle Capital of Canada. Davis, California is the bicycle capital of the US. The Netherlands is the bicycle capital of the world … But a recent survey tallying bike ownership on a per capita basis in the tiny village of Pemberton, BC, north of Whistler has revealed a bike ownership of more than 3 bikes per household, throwing down a pretty serious challenge to claim its place as the spiritual heart of the bike-lovin’ universe.

An initiative of Caroline Lamont, the Village of Pemberton’s Manager of Development Services, (member of a 4 person, 12 bicycle household in neighbouring Whistler), the community Census aimed to increase the 2200-person’s town’s baseline planning data, by developing a better understanding of household make-up and service needs.

Survey results suggest Pemberton residents might be well positioned to flourish post Peak Oil, with most householders invested more heavily in bicycles than cars.

A 70% survey completion rate provided the following data, from 536 households :

  • 1825 bikes (3.4 per household)
  • 777 cars, trucks and motorcycles (1.45 per household)

The most hard core bike fetishist had seven bicycles to his name.

How will neighbouring Whistler, the heart of Crankworx, home of the Toonie Ride, incubator of the bike park phenomenon, respond to Pemberton’s claim to be heart of the bike universe?

Perhaps by riding out in force to the Slow Food Cycle Sunday, a pedal-powered farm fete, this August 15.

The yin to Crankworx’ yang, Slow Food Cycle is Pemberton’s annual farm-to-farm cycle tour and festival of food. 13 participating farms throw the farm-gates wide and host artisans, chefs, musicians and other producers.

Other indications that you’re in bike-lovin’ country, once you hit Pemberton:

  • parking spaces available, but bike racks packed, at community events like Canada Day.
  • membership in the Pemberton Valley Trails Society is one of the highest of any social club in town
  • RCMP have no incidents of road rage in Pemberton on file. Ever.
  • Pemberton Bike Co is the largest dealer of bike trailers in Western Canada.
  • A $10 PVTA membership in 2009 bought members $100,000 in trail upgrades.
  • Local members of warmshowers.org host cycle tourists and initiate them in the thrills of steep mountain road riding.
  • Newest trail boasts 101 switchbacks
  • For FUN, people ride their bikes to the top of mountains, either via Happy, Nimby, Let it Go, or via the Highline Hurley.
  • Locals generally embrace suffering as a form of recreation.

While it’s hard to say what may have caused this community-wide addiction to bicycles, public health officials has, of yet, expressed no major concerns.

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  1. […] The Sea to Sky corridor is a Mecca for the bike-addicted. […]

  2. […] much so that back in 2010 when the local government conducted a survey, they discovered there are more bikes per capita than cars or kids. (Given the baby boom underway, resulting in approximately 80 new babies born in Pemberton each […]



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