With the weather brightening up for the most part and the McKenzie interchange project looming large, the timing of Bike to Work Week in the Capital Region seems perfect.
Next week’s community event, in which West Shore residents can play a critical role, encourages people to get out of their vehicles and try pedalling to work instead of being part of the congestion that happens five days a week – and only seems to be growing.
Now, this annual celebration of bicycle commuting is meant to inspire people around the region to set aside the car keys for a time. If you’re not already doing so, why not test out how biking can fit into your schedule and lifestyle?
On Wednesday of this week, Bike to Work Week organizers held the annual commuter challenge. It’s a race between cyclists and drivers who start from the same point to see who can reach the downtown corner of Blanshard and Fort streets first.
While the cyclists historically have a winning record, especially those who begin on the West Shore, this week’s race was virtually a no-contest due to a relatively minor traffic incident in the southbound lane of the Trans-Canada Highway between the Colwood and Helmcken on-ramps.
Vehicles were hugely delayed as emergency crews helped those involved to safety and cleared the area so traffic could pass through at the regular rate, even if that is snail-like during the morning commute.
The scenario made one think, not only about how cycling to work could be a good idea, especially at this time of year, but about how the McKenzie interchange would not have affected the flow of traffic further up the highway.
It reminded one of how a crash on the Malahat can snarl traffic for what seems like forever, although vehicles were squeezing through eventually.
When we know alternate routes are not going to be expanded, such as Island Highway through View Royal and Burnside Road through Saanich, it behooves people to ether choose alternate means of transportation or maybe focus on driving more safely and alertly while on the highway.
It also showed how spending tens of millions on building a traffic solution down the road will only take you so far, when accidents seem inevitable on the main vehicle route out of the still-growing West Shore.