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A look back on 10 years of publishing as Vancouver-based Momentum Magazine pops the champagne on its 50th issue.
This spring, with its March/April 2011 issue, Vancouver-based Momentum Magazine marks a major milestone: The first magazine to focus on urban transportation cycling in North America is celebrating its 50th issue.
Monday, March 14, 2011
238 Abbott St, Vancouver
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The North America-wide magazine has come a long way since its launch in 2001 by a team of dedicated ladies with a few thousand dollars and a desire to see bike culture grow in Vancouver and other parts of BC.
The 50th issue also unveils Momentum’s new look, logo and tagline: “smart living by bike.”
Momentum, a bimonthly lifestyle cycling magazine, speaks to a North American audience today, but its Vancouver roots remain strong. No wonder, considering the magazine’s headquarters are still in the Old Electric Building on Pender Street, where it was first launched as a non-profit organization by co-publishers Carmen Mills, Amy Walker and Joelle Paton. Today, the outfit is skillfully managed by publishers Mia Kohout and Tania Lo; same building, different office.
I started my journey with Momentum as the BC editor back in February 2009 and, let me tell you, I was on cloud nine when I accepted the position of editor, starting in January 2010.
Momentum is a labour of love run by a small core group, several part-time contributors and many wonderfully generous volunteers. And it owes a lot of its success to the supportive Vancouver cycling community, as you will see…
Click through the slideshow for a selection of pivotal magazine covers and historical snap-shots as we take you on a ride through Momentum’s journey—from small local-interest newsprint magazine to growing North American print and online publication with readers around the globe.
And don’t forget to attend the Momentum 50th Issue launch party, co-sponsored by our friends Granville Online, on Monday, March 14, 2011, 5–7 p.m. at the Revel Room (238 Abbott St) in Gastown. Expect beer and wine specials and prizes!
Momentum Magazine was launched by co-publishers Carmon Mills, Amy Walker and Joelle Paton to fill the need for a publication reflecting the transportation bike culture in British Columbia.
At that time, the free, bimonthly magazine also discussed the broader issues of alternative transportation, art, innovative ideas and emergent culture.
Fifteen thousand copies were printed in a tabloid format on newsprint and distributed throughout Vancouver, Victoria and the Sunshine Coast. The first issue, April/May 2001, included an article about setting up a fixed-gear bike and a story about a two-wheeled wedding.
In 2002, Vancouver lacked bike lanes, bike parking, etc. Basically, the city didn’t have the network of bike facilities that it does today.
The cycling community was suffering from severe fragmentation. Several different organizations were trying to promote cycling in the city, but weren’t necessarily collaborating.
The negative perception of cycling that was held by the general public was also a challenge. Cycling was seen by many as a sport or as a non-issue. The bike industry was focused on the past boom of mountain biking and road riding, largely ignoring city riding for transportation purposes.
Momentum’s mission continues to be to create visibility and consciousness around urban transportation cycling.
The magazine grew its readership by launching a website, handing out copies of the magazine on the bikeways, encouraging people to ride and spreading the word.
Momentum created a presence that people began to recognize. It gave local cyclists a point of pride. People whose stories glossed Momentum’s pages had something to share with their friends. It was a discussion-starter. It was about making connections in the community and showing an interest in it.
City hall started to acknowledge the magazine, too. Planners and council members said they read the magazine and that it expressed an important point of view—some of them even started attending Critical Mass as well.
David Hay, a Vancouver lawyer with a special interest in cycling-related law, began collaborating with the magazine, penning a column, Legal Brief, which appeared on the pages of Momentum for many years.
A growing challenge was the magazine’s success. Demand for Momentum was on the rise and keeping up pace was becoming difficult for the three women to juggle with their day jobs.
Funding was also an issue that kept cropping up. For the magazine to grow, it needed to be financially viable. But achieving that required more hours than the women could afford to spend at the time.
The magazine was cancelled at the end of 2003, making October/November 2003 the final issue of Momentum as a non-profit.
Fortunately, it turned out to be a hiatus instead of a finale.
Amy Walker entered a self-employment program, did a business plan and re-launched Momentum as a sole proprietorship. The magazine’s first for-profit issue, number “16.5,” was released in June/July 2005.
The sexy rain gear cover of the October/November 2005 issue grabbed quite a bit of attention and is still remembered as a favourite by many longtime subscribers.
Regular columns Gleanings by Ron Richings, Shawn Granton’s comic and Mitey Miss by Ulrike Rodrigues all made their first appearance in the November/December 2007 issue.
In the January/February 2008 issue, Momentum shifted to a North America-side focus and was distributed to 20 cities across Canada and the United States.
The expansion enabled the magazine to serve its readers by comparing and sharing knowledge from cities across North America. It was also important for the financial stability of the magazine to spread its wings and reach out to new markets.
The regionally focused Vancouver/Victoria section insert was launched in the March/April 2008 issue; it has since been discontinued.
Lance Armstrong, and his urban cycling bike shop, was the subject of the cover story in Momentum’s May/June 2008 issue.
“It is pretty easy to come up with excuses on why people do not ride. And some like safety are valid ones for sure, but if specialty dealers can entice people to ride with things like storage and showers it could eliminate one or two of the excuses,” Armstrong told Momentum.
Momentum has long promoted cycling as a lifestyle choice and something that can be done in style. The September/October 2008 issue put Momentum’s stylish cycling mission front and centre.
Local photographer David Niddrie became the magazine’s photo editor starting with the November/December 2008 issue.
Kristen Steele’s regular column, The Advocate, first appeared in the March/April 2009 issue.
Momentum was nominated for an Utne Reader independent press award in May 2009.
Mia Kohout and Tania Lo joined Amy Walker as co-publishers in September 2009.
Dan Goldwater’s D.I.Y. column made its first appearance in the September/October 2009 issue.