Fifty-four cyclists took to Prince Rupert’s roads in last year’s Bike to Work Week, a fitness and environmentally conscious drive that’s held all over B.C. annually, and organizer Juliane Mark is hoping to smash that total with 2015’s instalment.
The initiative, taking place from Monday, May 25 until Sunday, May 31, has gotten motorists out of their cars and tallying kilometres on two wheels instead of four.
Once registered at www.biketowork.ca/prince-rupert, participants tally the number of kilometres that they’ve travelled during the seven days and submit the information to organizers to determine the number of calories they’ve burned and number of kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions saved.
“Registration is already open and people can register at [our opening party during] the Last Minute Market at the Moose Hall on Saturday, May 23,” said Mark.
There, Bike to Work Week will have an informational booth outlining details on bike and helmet safety and will hold a bike clinic, enabling people to get help fixing up their bike as well as register.
“You can either register as an individual or you can find friends and create a team or get your coworkers to join so you can sign up as a workplace.”
Last year, 54 riders cycled 506 km, burned 15,180 calories and saved 110 kg of greenhouse gas emissions (or 41 litres of gas) in Prince Rupert. Northern Savings Credit Union took top spot in the team category with 97 km, followed by Prince Rupert Port Authority (77 km) and the Friendship House Association (60 km).
For Mark, the ridges and hills of Prince Rupert remind her of where she grew up and also give cyclists an informative gauge on how well they’re doing based on their endurance levels each time they tackle the hilly landscapes.
“It’s really fun … You really see how much you improve and after one week, the hills seem to get smaller and its easier for you to get from Point A to Point B,” she said.
Aside from the health benefits that cycling offers, Mark explained that the social and even mental health benefits makes the motor-less choice the best one.
“It’s de-stressing because I always find when you take your car out, you’re out looking for parking, you’re stuck with streetlights and all that. When you’re on a bike, it’s more fun – you’re out in the fresh air and what’s really great is you meet a lot of people and you say hi and chat. Sometimes you see your neighbours. I’m almost late [to where I’m going] sometimes,” she said.
The closing party for Bike to Work Week will be held again at Moose Hall’s Last Minute Market on Sunday, May 30 for a prize draw and barbecue.
And not only is Mark organizing Bike to Work, but starting on May 31, she’s looking for participants for the B.C. Commuter Challenge – a similar challenge for those without bikes that tracks individuals’ and workplaces’ efforts. But instead of biking, participants can walk, take public transit, carpool or work from home. Calories and greenhouse gases are also tracked. For more information, visit www.commuterchallengebc.ca.
To coincide with Bike to Work and the Commuter Challenge, Mark and the Kaien Anti-Poverty Society (KAPS) are developing a KAPS Bicycle fund for those unable to afford a bike for themselves or their family. The challenge is for Bike to Work participants to donate as little as $0.01 to as much as they’d like per kilometre cycled for the fund.
“It’s an event where people can do it for their health and to experience the fun of biking, but they can also do it for the sake of an entire community and get some money together for a project,” said Mark.
Farwest Sports is also offering free bike inspections during the rest of May to support the initiative.
Interested participants can email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BTWWprincerupert, or visit the previously-mentioned websites to register for the challenge.