The good weather is here and with it comes the loss of a whole lot of excuses of why you can’t bicycle to work.
Taking advantage of this is the Bike to Work Week event, currently being celebrated this year in 26 communities throughout the province from Monday, May 28 to Sunday, June 3.
The West Shore is part of Bike to Work Week Victoria. Despite the distances for those who work downtown, there have still been many people hopping on their two wheels and heading to work.
To kick off the campaign on Monday, organizers of Bike to Work Week hosted a Celebration Station on the Galloping Goose trail in Colwood.
Executive director Frank Hudson handed out juice and snacks to commuters at the temporary pit stop. Bike mechanics were also available for those who needed a tune up or air in their tires.
Hudson lives in the Glen Lake area and commutes by bicycle. He said it’s good to see cyclists commuting from the West Shore and taking advantage of the infrastructure that exists.
“When you think of the trails, when you think of what Langford has done with … all of the bike lanes, it’s fantastic,” said Hudson. “You arrive at work a lot fresher, you save a ton of money and it’s better for the environment.”
Another Celebration Station popped up at Veterans Memorial Park on Thursday.
Cyclists beat motorists
On May 23, Bike to Work Week held a Commuter Challenge, which compared times for people getting to work by bicycle and by vehicle.
One Langford couple, Amy and Curtis Dearden, took part in the challenge and, on their bicycles, raced two vehicles to their respective destinations in and around downtown Victoria. The couple won by about six minutes. Amy said their vehicle opponents got about as far Thetis Park before hitting heavy traffic and slowing to a crawl. Even with taking a break to help a third teammate who had a flat tire and had to bow out, the couple still managed to reach their destination faster.
“Shows you how slow the crawl can be,” Amy Dearden said.
They each reached their respective destinations in about 22 minutes. Granted, both have experience with bicycle racing, but they promise that even the most amateur of riders are capable of making it to work within 15 minutes of when they would arrive by car.
Throughout the year the Deardens can be found commuting to work by bicycle. Heavy snow is about the only thing that stops them, or after-work chores that require a vehicle. By cycling, they have managed to go from owning two cars to one, and are clearly noticing the money saved in fuel costs.
“Most mornings, it doesn’t matter the weather, I don’t even think about it, I just get on my bicycle,” said Curtis Dearden. “Sometimes, when you have to drive, you kind of miss it. You get to work and you haven’t had the fresh air, and you haven’t had that little bit of exercise.”
“I think it’s the fresh air, it’s just so much nicer. I feel like I’m more awake when I get to work,” Amy Deardon said.
During the winter the couple typically only see a few other people cycling to downtown from the West Shore. The volume picks up in the spring and into the summer, when the weather is better and you can cycle to and from work in the light of day.
“Try to start around now and even just make a target of two or three days a week,” Curtis Dearden said. “Get into it over the summertime.”
“You’re more likely to do it if it feels good, right?” said year-round cycling commuter Amy Dearden. “So having the right equipment is important.”
• A helmet is a must. And lights, if you are going to ride at night.
• Having a road bicycle, versus a heavier, harder to ride mountain bike, will make for an easier commute.
• Make sure to have fenders and rain gear for less-than-ideal weather
• Be sure there’s enough air in your tires, for a smoother and easier ride
• Look out for vehicles. Assume they don’t see you and be careful when passing cars on the right.
• Choose a good route, give yourself enough time and enjoy the journey.