At the beginning of 2015, Orlando Schmidt the president of the Bike to Work BC Society and a regional manager at the BC Ministry of Agriculture, set a goal to cycle to work 150 times during the year.
This goal may sound far-fetched and unachievable to many; but not for Schmidt. Schmidt biked to work 159 days last year; a commute that takes 30 minutes to bike, or 15 minutes to drive, or 40-60 minutes to bus.
“It felt awesome to achieve the goal,” says Schmidt, “with our climate, as long as you have good rain gear, it is quite easy to bike all year long.”
Inspiring him, apart from the obvious health and environmental benefits, was the fact that his family downgraded to one vehicle over the winter months so he was faced with the decision to either ride his bike or take the bus to work.
“I did take the bus several times and appreciated the option, but from where I live it was quicker to bike and I really enjoy arriving to work refreshed from the fresh air and exercise.”
This week is Bike to Work and School Week. Event coordinators realize that it’s not feasible for everyone to bike to work or school, so they are encouraging people to try biking somewhere during the week that they’d normally otherwise drive to.
“Some people work from home offices, many are retired, and others have more than 50 km commutes, and so we are encouraging people who can’t bike to work or school to try biking to their work-out, or biking to meet friends, or biking to run errands, or biking to get somewhere instead of driving a vehicle,” says Terri-Lynn Gifford, Program Coordinator of Bike to Work BC and Event Coordinator of Bike to Work Fraser Valley.
To get people involved, Mayor Henry Braun and Coun. Dave Loewen will be hosting two separate bike rides through Abbotsford Tuesday morning. Both will finish at a Celebration Station at Canadian Tire on South Fraser Way where you can enjoy free snacks; coffee; bike safety checks; and Abby PD will be there teaching safety and doing a draw for bike locks; and there will be free safety gear giveaways. If you can’t join a ride, then stop by the Celebration Station anyway between 7:30 to 9 a.m. and celebrate commuter cycling.
Braun’s ride through West Abbotsford starts at Walmart goes as follows:
-Starts in front of Walmart at High Street (leave at 7:00 am)-Stop at SW corner of Maclure and Livingston (meet up point where people can join 7:10 am)-Stop at corner of Peardonville and South Fraser Way (meet up point where people can join 7:20 am)Arrive Canadian Tire – 7:40 am
Loewen’s ride runs as follows:
-Starts at Abbotsford Christian Secondary School (leave at 7:00 am)-Left on Ash ~7:12-Right on George Ferguson ~7:15-Left on Montrose ~7:21-Right on MacDougall (becomes Bevan) ~ 7:25 (stop at Abbotsford Community Services)-Left on Primrose ~7:35 (short stop at Bevan Park)-Right on Marshall ~7:40-Right on Emerson ~7:45-Right on Peardonville ~7:50-Left on Gladwin ~7:52-Left on South Fraser Way ~7:56-Arrive at Canadian Tire — 8:00 am
Husband and wife—Spencer and Amelia Koop—choose to bike to church. Spencer lived in Espelkamp, Germany, for eight months where he enjoyed the cycling culture and cycling on their infrastructure, “biking to and from work was really no big deal, and was seen as a more encouraged form of transport rather than just taking your car everywhere. Bike lanes were very well thought out and took both the safety of the cyclist and driver into mind,” he says.
The Koops enjoy cycling to church together because it gives them time to spend together—time that they don’t have during a hectic work-week.
“I also like biking to church because it gives me time to fully awaken so that I can pay better attention at church,” says Amelia.
One of the main reasons people choose not to bike to church is fear of arriving sweaty, messy and stinky. If you are one of those people, Amelia has some advice for such riders:
1. Get a basket or saddle bags, to bring your purse, jacket, bike lock and any other items.
2. Helmets aren’t the most attractive, but it helps if you can find an attractive one. “I love my Sahn helmet because it looks more like an equestrian helmet than a bike helmet,” Amelia says.
3. For women, braids and low ponytails are your friends. “Although I will say if you have bangs, you’ll almost always need to touch them up once you remove your helmet.”
4. You don’t need to dress in athletic wear for biking. “I’ve worn dresses, heels, blazers, jewelry, you name it! I have a pair of black spandex short shorts that I always slip on if I want to wear a dress, but tights also work well.”
5. “I’ve never really needed to freshen up much after commuting by bike, but I do bring along a comb and a stick of deodorant just in case.”
People who choose to bike somewhere rather than drive can register free at www.biketowork.ca. If they log a trip cycled during Bike to Work Week, they are entered into a prize draw for lots of great prizes, including a grand prize 14-day cycling adventure in Vietnam.
For more information about local events that are being planned during Bike to Work & School Week, visit www.biketowork.ca/fraser-valley and click on “Event Info.”