Oak Bay Bikes technician Emma Ullrich offers a tune up during the 2016 Celebration Station on Oak Bay Avenue. Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News

Greater Victoria cyclists kick off Bike to Work Week

Oak Bay municipal hall hosts celebration station in the annual event

Tim Collins

Special to the News

In Oak Bay we see them year-round – those intrepid souls who strap on their helmets and take to the road to make their way to work every morning. They’re the same happy people-powered commuters who, at the end of the work-day, go whizzing by the lines of cars stuck in one of the routine traffic snarls that are part of life in the region for the less enterprising of us who still use our cars to get to work.

In spring cyclists come out in full force.

It’s why the Greater Victoria Bike to Work Society chose May 29 to June 9 as the dates for their 23rd annual Bike to Work Week.

The event was formally announced on April 12 at Centennial Square.

“We take the six weeks to spread the word and get people excited about the event. It’s a chance to get people informed and motivated to join the thousands of people who travel to work on bikes,” said Amelia Potvin, the executive director of the Greater Victoria Bike to Work Society.

It’s a strategy that seems to be working as the numbers of participants in the annual event keeps rising.

“We are definitely seeing steady growth in participation. In the early 2000’s we experienced a jump from a few hundred people registered in the event to many thousands. This year we anticipate somewhere around the 7,200 mark, but we’d be happy to see more,” said Potvin.

Oak Bay hosts one of the 23 “celebration stations” at municipal hall on May 31. Celebration stations allow cyclists to celebrate, meet other cyclists, qualify for prize draws, have their bike’s checked by experts in bike maintenance, and enjoy complimentary snacks and beverages.

Those wanting to participate in the week’s festivities have a number of options, including registering as an individual, starting a team at their workplace and becoming a team leader, or simply by registering their workplace as a supporter of the program.

Potion recognizes the difficulties facing some commuters who may find their circumstances don’t allow for a daily ride to work, but said the society is prepared to help individuals figure out a way to incorporate cycling into their daily routine.

“We know that it’s not feasible for everyone to make a very long ride into work, but we can help identify some options. There are park and ride possibilities, for example, and some very good transit options that allow cyclists to take public transportation for a portion of their commute while transporting their bike on the special bike racks on buses. We can also help identify the best routes for riders who are concerned with traffic safety,” said Potvin.

Safety-education is part of bike to work weeks goal.

“We really promote our bike skills programs during our run-up to bike to work week. We offer bike safety courses for all ages and skill levels –how to cruise with courtesy, what the traffic rules are and even what to pack when planning your commute. A lot of people think that just because they know how to ride a bike, they know how to ride in traffic. That’s not really true.”

Visit biketoworkvictoria.ca to register for the event or courses.

editor@oakbaynews.com