Published May 16, 2017 11:31
We headed to Mississauga to meet Nicole Hanson along a beautiful lake trail for our latest cyclist profile. She is passionate about riding her bicycle to find new paths and navigate around the city. Her flower-decorated basket and bike provide her the perfect ride to take in the stunning views.
Nicole Hanson enjoying the view at LakeView. Photo by Danielle Griscti.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Nicole Hanson. I am an environmental cultural planner living in Mississauga.
This city is undergoing a tremendous amount of urban change and I enjoy exploring it at the petal of my bicycle. I have been a strong advocate for active transportation: cycling, rollerblading, walking and park equity for children. I grew up in both Lakeview and Cooksville and I am extremely passionate about pursuing active transportation in these areas of Mississauga.
When and why did you start cycling?
I started cycling since I was about 6 years old. I enjoy cycling to experience the city because it engages my senses of way-finding in a variety of ways. To me this means that I am able to move in neighbourhoods, streets, parks, parking lots and traffic by actively creating paths, routes and way-finding techniques at a whim. Every ride is an adventure. Unplanned rides take me one landscape experience to the next, and he rhythm of how I experience my urban environment is constantly changing.
What style of bike do you ride?
I ride a flowered commuter bike called Genesis. The front of my bike carries half a dozen roses and the basket located in the rear is canopied with floral arrangements. The frame of my bike has a low diagonal top tube design which enables me to wear dresses and skirts as a woman. I enjoy riding my bike based on my everyday urban experience and not conforming to “traditional cyclist” appearances. Riding this style bike advocates for people to get motivated and inspired to create the type of bike they want entering urban environments. Also being a mother allows me to experience childhood nostalgia in the way I dress and care for my bike in creating memories.
Tell us about some of the things you ride your bike for.
I usually ride my bike to get groceries, run errands, go on my favourite waterfront trails, ride with my daughter and explore neighbourhoods. People even take photos of my bike at times when I sit to enjoy the view!
Any favourite bike routes? What do you like about them?
My favorite bike route is through Lakeview and ending along the Lakefront Promenade. I like routes that allow me to explore the DNA of neighbourhoods, away from busy streets. I enjoy walking my bike through Lakeview, finding a spot to sit and read, and then get on my bike and cycle towards an endless waterfront. I enjoy the slopes of the terrain, and the views of different elevation levels are able to provide (and the calve workout too!).
Photo by Danielle Griscti.
What would you say is the greatest benefit you get from cycling?
As someone who recently battled cancer for four years, and now surviving it, cycling restores a tremendous amount of self-care and self-recovery. Pursuing this form of active transportation is a lifestyle, it is my health, it is my politics, it is my revolution to living well.
What's your most essential piece of cycling gear?
My most essential piece of cycling gear is my metal meshed basket.
It’s so big and functional. I can store shoes, books, water, backpack or a purse, veggies, snacks, blankets, you name it. I love the comfort of being able to pack what I need in my basket and go!
How will you be celebrating Bike Month this year?
To celebrate bike month, I want to do a pop-up bicycle flowering session at one of the parks in Mississauga.
What is your favourite thing about riding a bike in Mississauga?
My favorite thing about riding in Mississauga is that there are so many beautiful cemeteries (those which are passive recreational spaces) and parks to ride through and enjoy.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to try bike commuting?
Be safe! Because you are on bicycle, it does not mean you are indispensable. Drivers may not see you or hear you. It is important to hold eye contact with those in their vehicles when passing as much as you can. Obey all traffic signs and signals. If you feel unsafe, dismount your bike and walk until you feel much safer to mount it and ride again. Be patient with your experience as you ride, it will be different each moment.
Photo by Danielle Griscti.