Cycling Advocates takes Wheels of Change Award

Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha, left, congratulates Guy Nielen and Maja Mielonen for winning the Wheels of Change Award at the Share the Road bike summit in Toronto.

TORONTO – Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) was the recipient of the 2019 Wheels of Change Organization of the Year award at the two day Share the Road Bike Summit April 1-2 in Toronto. 

MICA’s President Maja Mielonen says she felt honoured to receive the award on behalf of the not for profit organization she has presided over since 2010. “It is an honour to get recognition from peer organizations that we have been working with for nearly a decade.” 

“Together we have now successfully connected the cycle world from the north to the south with safe road infrastructure for all road users,” Ms. Mielonen continues. 

MICA’s intense lobby efforts have resulted in safety infrastructure in the form of paved shoulders along Hwy 6 in 2010, Hwy 551 in 2015, Hwy 6 from Ten Mile Point to Little Current in 2018, Little Current to Honora Bay in 2018 and Honora Bay to Kagawong in 2019. 

MICA’s 2012 vision for the 1,000 km Georgian Bay Cycle Route concept is now signed by The Waterfront Regeneration Trust as part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail from Parry Sound to Midland to Owen Sound all the way to Espanola and west to Sault St Marie as well as east to Sudbury. Partnering with Destination Northern Ontario and FedNor made erecting eight trailhead kiosks along with 60 information signs possible in spring of 2018. 

The 4th edition of MICA’s beloved Cycle and Road map has sold over 11,000 copies so far and is available online on its bilingual MICA website www.manitoulincycling.com.

“We have increased the cycle count on the ferry from 1,200 in 2012 to well over 5,400 cycles counted each year in the past five years,” Ms. Mielonen says. “Our Manitoulin Passage Ride event draws folks from all over Ontario, Quebec and the USA and our all inclusive tour packages are filling up quickly for 2019. Manitoulin is now well-known as one of the best cycling destinations in Canada. The March 2, 2019 Globe and Mail article ‘Five Provinces, Two Wheels’ featured Manitoulin alongside the company of the well-known trails like P’tit train Du North, Quebec, On and Off The Trail in the Okanagan Valley, BC, The Viking Trail, Newfoundland, Prince Edward County and the Ice Fields Parkway in Alberta.

“It is very good to see our efforts attracting this new cycle tourism to the Island as they leave no trace other than economic stimuli often in the shoulder season,” Ms. Mielonen adds. “Seeing so many cyclists along the roadways over the years has resulted in local residents picking up cycling as well. We are very happy to see that more and more children are cycling to school as well. MICA encouraged all municipalities to include mobility plans into their strategic planning that consider the safety for all road users to make the road safe for people between 8-80 years of age. Please join us at MICA’s AGM on Monday May 6 at 7 pm at the CMPS library. Find out how you can make your business cycling friendly and benefit from cycle tourism this coming season and many more to come.” For more info see www.manitoulincycling.com.