I have a lot in common with Derek. He was born a generation before me in a different country, but we share a strong maternal influence, and our ways with words on matters of great emotional significance.
Before it became impractical or maybe impossible, Derek's mother bicycled with his father. But times were different for women of her generation, and...
Mother basically gave it up. And she totally regrets that. Totally regrets that.
It's something that she's encouraged me since never ever to do. Never ever stop riding a bike.
Not until you fall off, basically. It's good mentally, good physically.
Good to get out on your own. You've got your own space, your own time.
A moveable room of one's own, perhaps. And advice Derek took to heart, during his childhood on the Isle of Wight. Off the coast of Portsmouth on England's southwestern belly, the Isle of Wight is about the size of Surrey and Langley combined.
I was brought up around bicycles. As soon as I could get on it, pedals on the front wheel, a three-wheeled tricycle, a kick scooter. We used to build soapbox carts.
We were always out — always, as kids. Always on a bike, pedal cars, all those things. And then as soon as I could ride a two-wheeled bike, that was it. The world opened up. I was gone.
I used to go to school on my bike, I used to go down to the playing field on my bike. I joined an aero-modelling club which was six miles away from home, and I used to go there by bike, carry the aeroplanes by bike. I used to go fishing by bike.
Derek came to BC with his wife Chris and family in 1981, and quickly realized his sons wouldn't have quite the same childhood he had on the Isle of Wight.
Somebody introduced me to a person that used to run a bicycle store in Cloverdale. So I went down to the store, and he showed me these bikes. And I thought, ah bicycles, I would love to do that again.
So we ended up doing the whole thing — down to the Gulf Islands, bicycle camping, all that stuff.
I loved to be on a bicycle, but realized that cars didn't like me being on a bicycle. So we'd end up putting the bikes in the car, and driving somewhere it was a bit quieter.
It just felt like, my god, we gotta get off the street.
Derek and his wife eventually moved to Richmond, and that's when his advocacy activity began.
It wasn't until the kids were doing their thing...I would go for a ride on a Sunday, maybe in the evening after work...somehow it came to me all of a sudden. Why pay all this money and have a car but I'm not using it today, I'm on a bike.
Why can't I have the same right on the road at that time? I mean I pay money, I'm just now riding a bike instead of driving a car. It's not right, I thought, I've just transferred the vehicle.
You start to look at what they got in the Netherlands and you think, my God what's wrong with this place? This is a new country.
And Richmond is a new town. We got wide roads. Why the hell have we got all these problems?
He's plain spoken, even bluntly honest, but not brutally. While I think it's another trait we share at times, this emotional honesty, I think he does a much more elegant job channeling it.
He's fun to listen to, with a pint or maybe a coffee, even when ultimately discussing a very serious topic.
Before retiring, Derek was a cabinetmaker in the yacht industry. His former working life had him riding back and forth along Westminster Highway between shop and home, which led him to City Hall's Active Transportation Committee, and ultimately to become the founding chair of the HUB Cycling Richmond committee
Derek is one of small a handful of people talking about and working for transportation cycling in the island city.
You asked me just now what keeps me going. I guess the fact that you just can't give up. I love to ride bicycles. It will never be perfect. But the more people that physically get on the bike, the more say we will have.