2015 Bike to Work Week – Spring Edition
photos and words by Oliver Gaskell
The last week in May was Bike To Work Week and, for once in Vancouver, the weather co-operated to bring plenty of people out on their bikes! HUB’s online dashboard boasted over 10,000 participants, 2934 of which were new to Bike To Work Week. As one of those new participants I decided to jot down some of my thoughts on the event.
Aside from the fact that I love riding my bike and getting to be outside on my commute to the office, it’s actually faster for me to get there on a bike than it is to take transit, a fact HUB were touting for much of the week.
From the beginning I was super impressed with the way everything was set up for Bike To Work Week. The HUB website was easy to navigate and very informative in terms of how to log routes, where the celebration stations would be located and how you could win prizes. One of my favourite features was the group and individual stats on the dashboard page as it really put into perspective the benefit of cycling to work. I’d never really thought about how far I cycle in any given week but I was shocked to find out that it’s around 70km just for riding to and from work; those little trips sure add up fast!
Throughout the week I only saw a slight increase in the number of riders on my usual route but, as I rode to the free BBQ on Friday, there was almost a bicycle jam on 10th Ave. There were so many people out riding! From the buzz I heard from other participants it sounded like there was a definite uptick in the number of people cycling around Downtown and plenty of inter-office competition which can only be a good thing for the state of cycling in Vancouver!
I think the celebration stations are a great idea and a great initiative for an event like Bike To Work Week. There’s nothing like the incentive of a free coffee or free snack to motivate people to stop by and chat on their way to work. Although there weren’t a huge amount of stations south of 10th Ave, I made sure to detour to stop at one in Mt Pleasant for a coffee, free water bottle and protein square! Although the freebies seem like a small gesture it was definitely appreciated and I know it encourages more people to engage with the initiative as well as enhancing the experience of those who don’t usually ride to work.
The final event of the week was the BBQ in Creekside Park which again was a really well run event. There was a nice range of sponsors there, from bike wrenching stands to free food, raffle tickets and cycling gear. The BBQ line up was pretty busy the whole time but the ladies running it were lovely and patient and it was great to just sit down and soak in the atmosphere on the grass.
In the future I’d love to see Bike To Work Week grow further. It would be great to see increased visibility and advertising before the event. I saw very little local news about Bike To Work Week in the days leading up to the event. It would also be great to have celebration stations more evenly distributed throughout the city to encourage riders south of 10th Avenue.
In all, I had a wonderful first Bike To Work Week and it’s an experience I’d happily participate in again. Although the gorgeous weather definitely contributed to turnout, if even 10% of the participants decided to bike to work more often we would have a much happier and healthier Metro Vancouver!