May 30, 2016

Get in gear for the 10th annual Bike to Work Week

Bike the Blossoms riders (2014)
Enjoying Bike the Blossoms in Vancouver

I have to admit, I miss my bike commute. (I bet you’ll rarely hear a driver say that about their car commute!) I cycled to work during the warmer months for about three years, which was, for the majority of that time, 21km each way. (Yes, it’s doable!) Sometimes on my morning ride, I took the False Creek sea wall and really enjoyed it. If you haven’t yet discovered the bliss of biking to work and your commute is under 25km, this week is a perfect one to start. Today is Bike Day in Canada and the start of the 10th annual Bike to Work Week spring edition, ending June 5. While I don’t get to enjoy the thrill and freshness of an early morning ride anymore, I can attest to how awesome biking to work is. Here’s my take.

No afternoon slump. Biking to work gave me so much energy (versus taking transit) that I didn’t need to snack in the afternoon in a consistently futile attempt to give my energy a boost. I was sleep deprived during those years, so the cycling was a huge help. Once on my bike in the morning, I forgot about how groggy I may have been upon waking, and stayed alert throughout the day. Employers take note!

Excuses to eat more sushi? Go ahead and eat an extra sushi roll at lunch, if you have room. But you probably won’t need it. Be careful not to over-compensate.

One can save a lot of money switching to cycling from driving or taking transit. In the summer months, I ditched my bus pass and used FareSaver tickets for the occasional trip. (Now “Stored Value” on a Compass card.)

The benefits of cycling outweigh the risks — benefits to physical and mental health and a deeper social connection with one’s community. Cycling is a great stress reliever, as opposed to driving and taking transit which often cause it, and can also contribute to reducing depression. A study done in the Netherlands (read Happy City) showed cyclists there to be the happiest commuters, which I don’t doubt one bit.

Cycling is a fun and efficient way to get around. I was stuck making errands by transit this past Saturday when it rained buckets, and every leg of my trip in the city would’ve been at least 10 minutes faster by bike than by bus. When I worked in Kitsilano, getting to Burrard Station by transit at rush hour often took half an hour (including waiting). I could do this by bike in 12 minutes and pass cars stuck in bridge traffic on the way. (Such a satisfying thing.) You’ll know with good consistency how long it will take to get to work and rarely have to worry about finding parking.

What a champ! If you have a long and/or steep bike commute, you can feel like a champ when you finish your ride. Over time you’ll notice it gets easier, and you’ll feel impressed with yourself for climbing that hill in a higher gear or shaving five minutes off your trip time. Sometimes you’ll have a tough day, though, and feel sluggish on your horse. That’s okay. Take a 2 minute break to refresh and don’t be too hard on yourself about your performance.

There’s a huge community of people riding bikes awaiting you. With 10% of trips to work in the City of Vancouver now made by bicycle, you’re sure to find some company along the ride.

Look for celebration stations this week to power your ride with free coffee, snacks and tune-ups. And don’t forget to register so HUB can keep track of numbers.

Check out this article in The Georgia Straight about how cycling has increased in the region in the last two decades and tips for a safer commute.