Dispatches from the Canadian Prairies (1 of 3)

Photo Credit (Instagram) @thebbcreative

Photo Credit (Instagram) @thebbcreative

Saskatoon, a small prairie city in the heart of Canada, has been setting its sights on promoting cycling and walking over the past several years. In 2016, the City created the Active Transportation Plan which  included several goals to increase cycling infrastructure and percentage of bicycle users. One key finding in the 2016 AT Plan is that 46% of Saskatoon residents want to cycle more, both for recreation and transport purposes. In order to find out more, and in close collaboration with 8 80 Cities, the Copenhagenize team conducted workshops, pop-up engagements, focus groups and an online survey to collect information on Saskatonians and their thoughts on cycling in the city. We found that residents think positively about bicycle users, but very few think of them as “regular people,” such as their friends, families, parents and children – the perception of bicycle users as lycra-suited, sporty riders still persists. 

In order to help shift this narrative, our team created a communications campaign for the City using people of all ages riding their bikes to everyday destinations: from the pool, to the home or school. Using a playful reference to Saskatoon’s airport code, YXE, the hashtag #BYXE has been plastered along cycle paths, on buses, transit shelters and throughout social media to encourage users to tag and share photos of their bicycle trips. A simple search of the hashtag on social media and it’s clear the bicycle truly is for everyone: from a penny-farthing bicycle rider, a family of nine travelling down a cycle path, to a young BMXer going top speed downhill in a tutu. 

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Saskatoon is a city of festivals, and throughout the summer Saskatoon Cycles runs a Free Bike Valet which was set up at different events and festivals around the city. The Bike Valet not only provided a bicycle parking service, but also distributed free #BYXE branded bicycle lights and seat covers to festival-goers. 

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Part of the campaign also aimed to create an education portal that Saskatoon residents could use to learn best practices for cycling around the city and encourage the safe use of cycle paths, lanes and shared roadways. These new cycling tips can be found on the City of Saskatoon’s website, showcased in bright, positive and easy-to-follow graphics. Residents can also find other information the City has made available such as the Cycling Guide and Map, bike registration details, and a how-to video for loading a bike onto a local bus. 

The campaign will continue into the Fall and early Winter, and we look forward to seeing more #BYXE trips around beautiful, sunny Saskatoon.