With gas prices skyrocketing, bikini and swimming shorts season coming up and global warming on everybody’s minds there are few excuses to not jump on a bike for the commute to work.
That’s the message organizers of the second annual Bike to Work Week Powell River are going to hit the streets on two wheels to promote and they ask for any and all to join in. The week, which runs from May 30 to June 5, is intended to raise awareness and maybe change some minds to the benefits of leaving the car at home, rolling up that suit pant leg and cruising to work.
Co-organizer Russell Brewer said support for the initiative has boomed for this year’s event, with many businesses signing on to provide Celebration Stations for cycling commuters. These stations will provide water, snacks and some will award prizes for those who stop by. Frank Chrinko from Suncoast Cycles will also be on hand at one station per workday providing mechanic tips and free tune-ups.
The City of Powell River will kick off the first day of biking to work with its own Celebration Station from 8 to 10 am at city hall. Staff and city councillors will be on hand with information on bike lanes and the bicycle network plan.
Schools will also take part this year as the scope of the event is broadened to include biking to school. Brooks Secondary School’s Bike to School program will host a Celebration Station on Thursday and Friday and award its grand prize of a bike worth $1,000 from Suncoast Cycles at an assembly at noon on Friday, June 3. Students were able to submit their name for the draw every time they biked to school.
Individuals, families, organizations, businesses and anybody else who wants to take part can register online at www.biketowork.ca by clicking on the “Register Team” icon and checking off Powell River as the location. During the week participants can keep track of the number of kilometres biked over the week to determine a grand total at the end.
“That’s what we’re really encouraging now, someone to take the lead in their workplace and get a team registered and then go around and bug their colleagues to bike to work,” said Brewer.
The spirit of the event ties in well, according to Brewer, with the Powell River Cycling Association’s campaign to get bike lanes in the city. Brewer said there is some frustration over how long it is taking to get bike lanes in the city but that a public session at the end of March and general continuing discussions are a positive sign.
“I understand stuff takes a while, you have to plan properly, but there are people getting frustrated that it’s been almost two years since we started pushing for this,” said Brewer. “I don’t think you can wait for the number of cyclists to increase before putting the infrastructure in. I think once you put the infrastructure in the number of people willing to bike will increase.”
Tully Kurtz, city engineering technologist, said that recently signs have gone up to indicate bike routes and advise motorists to share the road. Stencils will soon be painted on some roads to indicate sharrows along Manson Avenue from MacGregor Avenue to Abbotsford Street, delineating areas of the road shared between cars and bicyclists. The official city bike route runs from Poplar Street in Townsite to Manson Avenue in Cranberry before turning onto Joyce Avenue and running the length of Joyce to Highway 101. A biking master plan is being prepared by the city and will go before council in the near future, said Kurtz.
Ultimately, the week is meant to highlight the benefits of biking to work and encourage those who have never done it before to give it a try and maybe realize what they have been missing, said Brewer. For many it would be faster to get to work by bike than car due to traffic, and for everyone biking to work or school saves money on gas, fits some exercise into the day and helps reduce carbon emissions.