For those who choose to commute on two wheels, or those who have good intentions to do so, a big milestone is coming up starting May 27.
Bike to Work Week, an event devoted to encouraging and celebrating pay cheque peddlers, started right here in Victoria 25 years ago and has since exploded in the number of participants, while also spreading to communities throughout BC.
The idea was simple: encourage commuter behaviour change by hosting a free and fun event designed to raise the profile of cycling as a means to get to work. This is achieved through building a spirit of community around cycling, with events designed to bring bikers together and friendly competitions to generate team building in the workplace.
Each year, Celebration Stations are rotated throughout the region over the course of the week, offering cyclists a place to gather, have a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, get their bicycle checked out or serviced for free and meet others peddling their way to work.
To further get in the cycle spirit, workplaces are encouraged to form teams and challenge themselves and other teams to collect as many cycled kilometres over the course of the week.
It’s a way to celebrate current cyclists and entice others to join their ranks. The event does this not through shaming or scare tactics, but by offering a positive experience that focuses on the intrinsic benefits of bicycle commuting, such as improved health and cost savings.
This year, the event is looking back on its massively successful history.
In 1997, in the days before bike lanes were commonplace, Bike to Work Week had 50 teams and 500 participants; by 2018 the event attracted over 800 teams and more than 7,000 participants. Since its inception, the event has drawn more than 100,000 cyclists and has introduced more than 14,000 new riders to commuter cycling. This year they are aiming for 10,000 participants.
A warmup to the official week happens Wednesday, May 22 when the annual Commuter Challenge takes place, with cyclists racing co-workers in to Victoria from the West Shore, Saanich and Oak Bay. Traditionally, the cyclists have achieved faster times into town than their driving counterparts.
Greater Victoria Bike to Work Week launches Monday, May 27 and runs until Sunday, June 2. For more information and to register your work team, visit biketoworkvictoria.ca.