Dick Louch isÂ a retired Bell Canada employee and avid cyclistÂ who would likeÂ to see more emphasis on cycling in Ottawa. Dick didn’t just sit around waiting forÂ that to happen – he’s the driving force behind Ottawa’s only bicycle festival, Capital VÃ©lo Fest,Â whichÂ will take place at Ottawa City Hall on Saturday,June 4th. One of theÂ planned activities,Â Tour la nuit, is a nighttime ride through closed off city streets, and Dick graciously supplied Frugal Fun Ottawa with two passes for a give away. (Congrats Stephan!)
I thinkÂ this bicycle festival isÂ a terrific idea -Â as I wrote in my previous post, I’veÂ been toying with the idea of biking to work, and finding the Capital VÃ©lo Fest website encouraged me to take the first steps towards makingÂ that happen.Â I imagined that putting togetherÂ a bike festival wouldn’t beÂ easy, and IÂ chatted with Dick about how he made it happen.
Dick told me that heÂ came up with the idea for an Ottawa bicycle festivalÂ while listening toÂ NCCÂ Chief ExecutiveÂ OfficerÂ Marie Lemay speak aboutÂ how the NCC wants to partner with private business to expandÂ festivals in the region.Â Dick hadÂ participated inÂ bicycle festivals in other cities and was surprised that Ottawa didn’t have one, soÂ he incorporatedÂ a non-profit organization,Â CapitalÂ VÃ©lo Fest Inc. and set aboutÂ putting together a great bike festival.Â He consulted City staff and receivedÂ support on various fronts, gettingÂ the help ofÂ an intern from Algonquin College, gettingÂ website hosting from the National Capital Environmental Non-Profit network, and receiving advice from the City’s Special Events Advisory Team on how to obtain permission to close off streetsÂ for Tour la nuit; not an easy taskÂ as the City, the NCC, OC Transpo, and the police department all have toÂ be consulted!
Dick’sÂ ownÂ experiences as a cyclistÂ also helped him bring his vision for Ottawa’s bicycle festival to life. In addition to being Chairperson for the MS Bike Tour organizational committee,Â Dick organizedÂ has been involved in a yearly bike rally that he started in 1984 for his friendsÂ (variousÂ participants now take turns organizing it).Â Now all cyclists in Ottawa can benefit from the work that Dick and his friends have put into their rallies, as the Capital VÃ©lo Rally will soon be available through theÂ Festival website (a sign up form is now available). Dick hopes toÂ continue adding additionalÂ routes to the site as time permits.
Dick’sÂ passion for cyclingÂ is evidentÂ when speaking to him, andÂ when reading Capital VÃ©lo Fest’s mission, which is toÂ inspire people of all ages to ride a bike more often byÂ providing interesting programs to encourage youth, families and seniors to ride;Â organizing and implementing cycling events and activities;Â partnering with cycling groups to provide educational programs related to cycling safety, bicyle maintenance and various cycling options; andÂ partnering with businesses and government agencies to increase the use of existing, and encourage the development of new, cycling infrastructure.
Dick, I think your plan to encourage cycling in Ottawa is working!Â I know that Capital VÃ©lo Fest andÂ the great comments I got on my previous blog post about it haveÂ motivated me.Â My bikeÂ has been tuned up, I’ve located the key for my lock, and I’m all set to start biking in to work tomorrow. I’ll let you all know how it goes :)