John Mayba has been living in the Alberni Valley for almost 40 years, and he still strives for innovation in the community.
Mayba and his family moved to Port Alberni in 1979. “I came here because of a job,” he said. “We decided to try it out, and it ended up being the rest of our life.”
Although Mayba retired four years ago, he has kept all of the committees he was involved in while working. One of these is the Alberni Valley Transition Town Society.
“The Transition Town is part of a worldwide network of community groups assisting communities to move to a point of greater sustainability, and decreased use of fossil fuels,” Mayba explained. The group has been going for about six years in Port Alberni.
Mayba wears “three hats” in the society, as a member of the board of directors, the chair of Cycle Alberni and a member of the Food Group.
But the Transition Town is only one of Mayba’s commitments, as he is also a member of the Alberni Valley Community Foundation, a member of the board of the Sproat Lake Community Foundation and a member of the city’s Food Security and Climate Change Committee.
He has also recently started attending traffic advisory meetings as a member of Cycle Alberni, looking at traffic in terms of cycling.
“We have a calendar in the kitchen,” he joked, when asked how he manages all his commitments.
Mayba also enjoys gardening in his free time, as he owns a small garden plot near McCoy Lake farm. He can often be seen riding his bike from the Sproat Lake area or around town.
“I do commute by bike whenever I come into town,” he said. He estimates that he has put about 7000 km on his bike in the last two years. Mayba has an electronic assistance bike that helps to even out some of the hills in town.
“That way I don’t mind going across town,” he said. “It makes it a lot more manageable. I find that since I got the electronic assist, it’s really encouraged me to keep cycling every day.”
Port Alberni has seen a lot of positive development for biking in the past couple months, in terms of grants for bike lanes, a new biking strategy developed by MP Gord Johns and a new bike rack project developed by the Young Professionals of Alberni Valley. Mayba said he thinks there is “great potential” for Port Alberni to become a cycling city.
“It’s really just a question of people getting out and trying it out,” he said. “You can say look, it’s healthy for me, it’s saving me money, and it’s good for the environment. There’s all kinds of benefits. People see that this might work, either for recreation or commuting.”
He pointed out that more and more people bring their bikes with them on holidays, and a bike-friendly community encourages tourism. “There’s a sense of welcome to your community to see that you have bike lanes,” he said.
“I’m really excited about the amount of participation we’ve had,” he said, referring to events like the Earth Day community bike ride. “It encourages people to try it.”
Bike to Work Week begins May 25, and will begin with an Urban Bike Skills training course to teach people how to cycle around town.
“I think it’s the next step,” said Mayba. “We really want people to know safety skills for riding in town.”
Mayba emphasized the importance of remaining highly visible while riding, whether you are wearing bright clothes or lights on the front and back of your bike.
For more information about city bike riding, an informational website to check out is bikesense.bc.ca. Cycle Alberni also has a Facebook page.
“Riding my bike around opened up a whole new aspect of Port Alberni to me,” Mayba said.
“I fully hope to still be riding around town when I’m 80,” he laughed.