By Jessie Foster
VANCOUVER – There’s never been a greater need for occasions that celebrate and relish in the joys of getting outdoors and staying active. Bike to Work Week (BTWW) is one of the many ways local non-profit organization Bike Hub promotes healthy lifestyles and works on developing new and improved infrastructure in Vancouver. The community fun begins this year on May 28 until June 3.
Tom Skinner from Hub Cycling and manager for BTWW finds biking a safe, easy and seamless way to get almost anywhere in the city.
“It all comes down to convenience. The nice part of it is not having to look for parking, being able to lock up right in front of your work space or potentially even bring your bike inside makes it a pretty quick option,” says Skinner.
BTWW collects data yearly from its average 18,000 online participants, which is then run through their municipal partners and helps plan real inner-city growth where updated infrastructure might be needed.
“We do take all the data and track commutes, then compare it over the previous years and track route choice changes, where they’re going,” he says.
They run 80 different Celebration Stations throughout the week in Metro Vancouver. These offer cyclists free coffee, snacks, tune-ups as well as ballots to win station prizes, bikes, gift cards and even a trip to Portugal. From 2012, the number of bikers participating in the event has more than doubled from 19,000 to 44,000 and is expected only to rise.
Tracking personal progress through the Bike Hub website can offer details such as how many calories you’ve burned, distance travelled, as well as greenhouse gases reduced.
Looking to New Zealand for inspiration, where certain employers have adopted a system of paying their employees to bike to work, Vancouver might be on the right track but the city still has a long way to go. The daily activity is proven to heighten mood, alleviate stress and boost how alert and awake the staff are upon arrival.
“We find once you get people on their bikes and they find out how easy it is (and fairly simple and enjoyable) that’s how we get people converting how they’re moving around,” says Skinner.
For more information on how to participate in BTWW, visit www.bikehub.ca