Biking This Week – Healthy Cities & Healthy You

Bike to work week

Will you be biking next week? Monday, May 25th kicks off National Bike to Work Week. In BC this year, the week of May 25th is also the first ever Bike to School Week.

Bike to Work week is an annual event that is recognized across Canada.  What began in Toronto as a Bike to Work Day celebration in 1989, has now evolved into of the largest events of its kind on a  national, regional and local level.

bike to work weekBiking has a Green Side

Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and what better way to enjoy it than participating in the Bike to Work event.

Vancouver’s action plan and commitment to becoming  Canada’s Greenest City by 2020 is well underway. Local bike paths, lanes and routes have dramatically improved over the last few years and access to bike parking has grown to accommodate this change.

Future city plans include more strategically placed air pumps and the launch of conveniently placed, fee based, shared-use bicycle system will be made available for short-term use. There will be even more expanded trails and paths to add to Vancouver’s current 265 kilometer bike network.

Biking Culture

Although Vancouver doesn’t have the biggest cycling network, the long term plan is to build a more sustainable transportation future. The separated bike lanes have caused a significant increase in ridership. Today, more than 1 out of 8 of lanes, bikeways and paths are a separated lane.

Canada now has more cyclists than ever before and the fastest-growing segments of the cycling community are teens and adults. To respond to this uptrend, Vancouver is growing their cycling network. There are approximately 400 km total bike routes (330 km of which are on-street bike lanes) and more than have been since 2011. More lanes will be added in the future.

More Biking Facts

  • Vancouver’s low-cost, low-impact bikeway networks along light traffic residential streets has been duplicated by Portland, OR.
  • New York has the most miles of bike routes in North America – 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) of total bikes routes
  • Seville has built 120 kilometres of separated bike lanes in the last five years
  • Amsterdam bicycling culture sees 57 per cent of all trips are made by bicycle
  • Copenhagen’s ‘Cycle Tracks’ (separated bike lanes) support 40% of the city’s public transportation

As per Wikipedia, the amount of segregated cycle facilities varies widely across Canada.

  • Calgary: 960 km of total bike routes, including 355 km of on-street bike lanes (some which are not marked by lines painted on the road, only by signs)
  • Edmonton: 117 km of on-street bike routes (12 km of marked bike lanes, 105 km of signed but unmarked bike routes), plus 275 km of routes shared with pedestrians (including sidewalks and 160 km of paved multiuse trails), and 450 km of unpaved trails; 500 km of new bike lane and paths planned over 2009-2019 period
  • Halifax: 75 km of bike lanes and 11 km of “wide curb” lanes shared by cyclists and motorists
  • Montreal: 530 km of bike lanes and shared routes, more concrete barrier-protected lanes and plans for 800 km total network by 2015
  • Ottawa: 140 km of lanes reserved for bicycles and 205 km of paved shoulder used by cyclists and for on-street parking.
  • Regina: five total bike routes, both shared and bike-only
  • John’s: first bike routed scheduled to open in August 2011
  • Toronto: 117 km of bike-only lanes, 145 km of shared roadways and 168 km of off-road paths, plans for 500 km of bike lanes, 249 km of off-road paths and 260 km of shared roadways, some bike lanes removed in 2011. Bixi shared bikes introduced in 2011.
  • Winnipeg: 149 km total, including 13 km of bike-only road routes, plans for 375 km of active transportation routes, which includes multi-use pathways, neighbourhood pathways bike lanes, sharrows and bike boulevards

Bike to work weekBiking Snobs – Benefits of Bike Ridership

  1. Save money on gas, tolls, parking, and wear and tear on your car
  2. Help the environment by eliminating exhaust and carbon emissions.
  3. Improves physical and mental health
    • good for the cardiovascular system; accelerates breathing and heart rate
    • boosts Vitamin D levels from the sun
    • encourage better and deeper sleep more deeply – studies show the time it takes to fall asleep is reduced by half
    • decrease the time it takes food to move through the body
    • immune cells become more active and are ready to fight off infection
    • excellent stress management tool as it helps rid the body of cortisol, the stress hormone
    • improve mental tests and helps ward off Alzheimer’s
    • maintain a youthful appearance by increasing with oxygen and nutrients being delivered to skin cells and creating an ideal environment to optimize collagen production
    • maintain or lose weight; get fit or keep in prime shape by burning more fat and calories
  4. Reduce traffic and the frustration of sitting in a parking lot disguised as a highway.
  5. Proven safer than driving in a car
  6. Efficient means of transportation, particularly during high traffic tourist season

Have some time to explore a few online links about cycling? 

Take a look at these

BC Lower Mainland Maps & Route Planning

Huffington Post published their list of Best Bike Trails in Vancouver and Beyond

Easy Rides Near Metro Vancouver

Fifty Good Reasons for Cycling

Road Cycling for Beginners

Cycle Chic

Get ready for next week, take a look at some online maps and have fun!

Pre-trip route planning is important. Download a map

Ride Safe Rules

For everyone, in any locale, that regularly cycles, is new to cycling or just gets on a bike once in a while, it makes sense to be observant of there are a number of Ride Safe Rules published by the City of Vancouver.

  • Always come to a full stop at stop signs. Not stopping is illegal under BC’s Motor Vehicle Act, and you can be fined $167. Watch the above video to learn more.
  • Never assume that another cyclist, driver, or pedestrian sees you. Make eye contact with other road users.
  • Take care when passing parked cars to leave enough space for drivers and passengers to open car doors.
  • Cycle in traffic safely and predictably. Signal before turning, and learn the skills needed to control your bike.
  • Yield to pedestrians crossing the street, and to buses when they are leaving a stop.
  • Do not ride on sidewalks or crosswalks unless signs posted allow you to. Walk your bicycle on a sidewalk or a crosswalk.
  • Maintain your bike in good working order. Equip it with a warning bell and use front and rear lights on your bicycle after dark, as required by law.
  • Helmets must be worn according to Provincial Law, and safety vests or reflective clothing are recommended. Do not wear headphones that cover both ears.
  • Take extra care when it’s wet because it will take longer for your brakes to grip and stop your bike.

In Summary

Bicycle advocacy groups are encouraging people to try bicycle commuting as a healthy and safe alternative to their regular form of transportation for one week  at the end of May each year. This biking effort can be made in a variety of ways – to work, school or for personal reasons – so get out there!

OK – if you are not going to Bike to Work next week, maybe a Saturday and Sunday afternoon ride with the family is a better option for you.

AND if that still doesn’t work for you either, here are the TOP 5 -SMART PHONE CYCLING GAMES  You can still take part in the event next week!

On a closing note – for the guys – Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead said

“Bicycles are almost as good as guitars for meeting girls”

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