Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Hammer is Raised

Another big day. It turns out that the video I shot yesterday didn't work out as well as I'd hoped, so, with a revised concept, I zipped back out to Christie Lake to reshoot a new one, which turned out great. I should have it uploaded to YouTube by tomorrow.

When I got home, I found a fresh new copy of the Dundas Star News on the front porch. It was jammed with election ads, including a huge banner for Brad Clark. I was quite happy to find my ad top left on page 4, looking just as I hoped it would.

The other thing I did this morning was submit a commentary piece to Raise the Hammer, a local alternative news site that is generally concerned with urban issues. They'd solicited pieces from the candidates and I had a great topic plus it included a new campaign pledge (follow this link to see the page and read the comments:!

I'll save you the click and post it here in its entirety:

Riding Bikes for Fun (Candidate Submission)

If only we could all just remember what it was like to be a carefree ten-year-old riding a bike around town or somewhere far off in the woods.
By Marc Risdale
Published October 02, 2014
Hamilton loves to politicize cycling. Even I made a big deal out of submitting my nomination papers to City Hall by bike. True, there have been some major wins like the Cannon Street cycle track and the new Hamilton Bike Share.
But for every one of those, we still have letters to the editor espousing non-starters like special licenses and taxes for cyclists.
If only we could all just remember what it was like to be a carefree ten-year-old riding a bike around town or somewhere far off in the woods.
I entered the "field" of politicized cycling after a lifetime of riding bikes for fun. In fact, the very reason I got political in the first place was because I wanted to have even more fun.
Via social media, a large group of mountain bikers from across Hamilton wanted to build some sanctioned single track trails somewhere inside the city limits. There are several kilometers of fantastic multi-use paths in Hamilton but all of our mountain bike trails up to then had been what we call "rogue" builds.
We joined together and started lobbying any organization that owned a sufficiently large chunk of land. I managed our advocacy efforts and took it upon myself to start attending Cycling Committee meetings as a citizen.
That was about six years ago and here I am now, Vice-Chair of the Cycling Committee, having built nearly ten kilometers of trails at Christie Lake Conservation Area and I'm running for a seat on Council to represent Ward 13 (Dundas). You never know where a simple bike ride might take you.
Yet, I remain a staunch advocate of riding your bike for fun. I just need to be reminded of it from time to time.
I recently took a Friday afternoon off of canvassing to go for a much-needed bike ride. I left Dundas along the rail trail, crossed the 403 and made my way to Cannon along Dundurn, Herkimer and Hess. I rode the new cycle track all the way to Tim Horton's Field and back to the new James North GO station. Finally, I looped back home along the Waterfront Trail, through Westdale and Mac. It was great way to experience the city and I arrived home completely reinvigorated.
Soon after that, I was canvassing a quiet little court not far from my house. I ran into a gentleman unloading a car in a driveway. Anyone who has ever done a little bit of canvassing can tell you that you never know what you are going to get when you strike up a conversation on the campaign trail.
Things were going well. The man was a retired teacher for the Catholic board and moved to Dundas a few years ago from Hamilton. We were having a great conversation when all of a sudden, he asked, "Have you ever thought about building a skatepark in Dundas?" Though I had something of a hard time picturing him on a skateboard, I responded, "Of course!"
He excitedly dragged his son out of the basement and made a quick introduction. The young man's eyes lit up at the possibility. I had made a connection. It's worth noting that the two nearest skateparks to Dundas are in Waterdown and Beasley - not exactly ideal for kids in Dundas.
I remember sitting near the bandshell in the Driving Park on Canada Day, the day I committed to run for Council, and turning to my wife to say, "Dundas needs a skatepark." I figured that while this was a great idea, there was no way to make it a platform plank. It's not the sort of thing you can promise unilaterally.
At this point, you might be asking what a skatepark has to do with riding your bike. The answer is everything! The great thing about skateparks is that they do double-duty as bike parks, and properly located and managed, they can be hubs for youth in the neighbourhood.
Getting kids outdoors, active and involved is very important to me because it leads to a lifetime of happiness and achievement.
With that in mind, I hereby pledge to do everything I can to bring a skatepark to Dundas. Now, get out there and go for a bike ride!

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to say thanks for working to expand the trail network! Don't forget that us long distance runners love bike trails too! Access too good trails is one of the reasons I love Dundas and was a part of the reason I moved here, so I can hop on a good trail without much city mess to navigate.