Earth Issues

Need some pep? Bike to work!

 | May 30, 2011

It’s time to dust off your helmet for Bike to Work Week!

Commuting to work by bicycle is great exercise, saves money on parking and gas and has been shown to build staff morale. Plus, it’s fun!

Bike to Work Week is an annual event—May 30 to June 5 this year—focusing on increasing the number of cyclists commuting to work. Teams sign up online at www.BiketoWork.ca and enter statistics pertaining to their commutes. While this is Kamloops’ fourth year at it, Bike to Work Week has been around for 17 years!

David Cubberley is one of the founders of Bike to Work Week and served as its president for 10 years. Cubberley, also a former MLA for Saanich South on Vancouver Island, has been integral to the building of Victoria’s Galloping Goose cyclist trail. Cubberley began Bike to Work Week as part of a government incentive to improve health in the workplace. With a lot of careful planning and media interest, the event has grown enormously.

In Victoria, where Bike to Work Week was founded, there were over 500 teams registered in 2010 and 828 of the 5,738 registered commuters were first time participants. It’s quite an achievement, something Cubberley says is not necessarily important for the environment or money saving but for well-being.

“It (biking to work) is a tool for employee engagement and has a productivity benefit,” he explains about the positive impact the activity has on the workplace. “People are more physically fit, have less sick days and a better sense of well-being.”

You can certainly see how it can be good exercise. Sun Peaks and Kamloops are full of hills! While this is great for the gams, many people still balk at cycling to work because they believe it’s too far, or it would mess their hair up before work. While biking does present challenges, Kamloops Bike to Work Week co-ordinator Johanne Rene says the benefits are more important.

“Biking to work is a great way to get in shape, save cash and to reduce stress on yourself as well as on the environment,” she says.

Rene will be co-ordinating related events throughout the week, including the annual Commuter Challenge where a cyclist and a vehicle driver travel from the same point to the same destination at the same time to see who gets there first. In a lot of these challenges, cyclists in larger cities find that they can beat vehicles, or nearly match them!

Bike to Work Week is also about building community. One way this has been promoted is through the use of Facebook, where cyclists can join their local groups to share preferred routes, cycling safety tips and articles that promote cycling. Because cyclists are also outside they’re more able to socialize with other cyclists and pedestrians. Sometimes nothing is better than a “good morning!” on the way to the office.

Whether you feel like you’re overdue for a week of spring conditioning or want to liven up the workplace a bit, involving yourself in wellness activities like Bike to Work Week can be a great way to shake things up. Just remember your helmets!

For more information, visit www.biketowork.ca/kamloops.

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