Blanka Bracic is riyoko's March Sister Cyclist. She is 'making Calgary a more liveable and humane place by improving the walking and biking experience'. She is a transportation engineer that works with the City of Calgary, and she is a well-spoken advocate for alternative transportation. As with all of Riyoko's Sister Cyclists, she is truly inspiring.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I love colour, city life and being outside. And sweets.
Can you tell us a little about your job?
I manage a group of planners and engineers that plan bicycle projects like cycle tracks, bike lanes and routes on quiet neighbourhood streets. I'm transitioning to another job in which I'll manage planners and engineers that work on pedestrian strategies, community traffic improvements and commuter travel options. I'm trained as a civil engineer and started working on pedestrian and bicycle planning in the Transportation Planning business unit at The City of Calgary ten years ago.
What got you interested in the focus on alternative transportation infrastructure?
I'm fascinated by cities and sustainable urban living. Walking, cycling, and public transit provide opportunities to interact with others and our surroundings. I like the metaphor of joining with strangers for a short time to ride bikes for a block, take the LRT two stops, or walk a pathway. You might never see them again, but you shared a time with a common purpose.
Tell us a little about your bike.
It's a step-through city bike - mountain bike hybrid. I bought it in 2007 or so, before there was much of a selection for city bikes in Calgary. It's now my year-round transportation machine. It's got fenders, a coatguard, a folding side basket on the rear and leafy decorations on the handlebars. I'm using studded tires for the first time this winter and lament the lack of snow!
What started you biking?
I started biking to get a better understanding of the bike route projects I was managing at work. I was afraid to ride on the roads at first, but I've become a confident rider. I keep biking because it's fast for short inner-city trips, it's healthy and it's fun.
What do you like best about travelling in your city?
I like that every trip shows me something different. The weather is different. It could be sunny, cloudy, snowing or dark because it's evening. I like that the air feels different on my face at different times of the day and in different seasons. WhenI bike on the river pathways, the riverside view is different. The water could be flowing quickly, frozen solid, or carrying ice floes.
Of all the cities that you've traveled, which one(s) have you liked traveling through the most and why?
I prefer travelling in cities where there are many choices and biking is easy, of course. I visited and biked around Rotterdam and Copenhagen two summers ago. I liked travelling in those cities because the train is easy to use and convenient to the city centre. Space has also been retrofitted into the streets for everyday transportation bike riding. I also liked the solidarity of biking with many other people in street clothes. However, I like Calgary for its potential. It's already got fantastic riverside pathways that I've not seen anywhere else in Europe, Canada, or the U. S. We've got a sunny climate. We've got a pioneering attitude. And we're about to open a downtown network of separated bike lanes for a one-year pilot period. I'm confident the network will change the downtown's transportation picture.
Do you have a favourite riyoko piece? (and if so, what do you wear with it)?
I'm crazy about the Pink Floral Lace Tights I bought at the New Craft Coalition Show last summer. I even wore them with a purple fancy dress for the Bike Prom!
Tell us a trick or tip you have for (1) cycling (2) traveling
1. You can.
2. There is always a way to take it along on your bike.
What is your philosophy?
Let your passion out.