The present and future benefits of and improvements to Victoria’s active transportation infrastructure were commended Wednesday, during the kickoff for Spring Go By Bike Week.
Victoria’s Capital Bike is pleased to bring back the Go By Bike initiative in full force following a two-year stall, representative Rebecca Freedman told a crowd gathered April 20 at Johnson Street’s Market Square.
The initiative, formerly known as Bike to Work Week, has a number of grand prizes up for grabs for riders who log at least one bike commute between May 30 and June 5. Draw prizes include an e-bike from Oak Bay Bicycles, a commuter bike from BC Transit, and a two-night stay or tea package from Fairmont Hotels.
Mayor Lisa Helps called the active transportation encouraged by Go By Bike Week and the city’s cycling community “life-changing.”
“Bike lanes are saving people money because they’re not paying for insurance. They’re not going to the doctor as often because they have better heart conditions … Bishops Family Cycle recently opened along the Pandora bike lane. Would that have been there if we didn’t put in the infrastructure? I’m not sure.”
B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure and Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming applauded the enthusiasm of the region’s’s cycling community for its role in improving the Lochside, Galloping Goose and E&N Rail Trail networks. A recently announced trail bridge to connect separated sections of the Galloping Goose in Colwood – a project worth an estimated $3.6 million – will upgrade a hazardous section where the trail is interrupted by Island Highway.
“Those are the kinds of projects we need … if we’re going to have 30 per cent of trips in our province by 2030 done by walking, cycling or rolling,” Fleming said. This year’s active transportation budget is two-and-a-half times that of 2021, he said.
Improved opportunities for biking drastically improve local health, said cyclist and Island Health’s new medical health officer, Dr. Mike Benusic. One study from the U.K. showed those who bike to work every day were half as likely to develop heart disease or cancer as those who didn’t. As such, Benusic said it’s critically important that future biking infrastructure is designed with accessibility in mind.
“Those who are able to really enjoy biking are often those who live closer to work, who have the time and ability to invest in cycling. Too often, cycling infrastructure is set up where they’re not interconnected,” he said. “Creating cycling infrastructure that really is low barrier is crucial.”
As of Wednesday, nearly 700 riders and more than 200 teams had registered for Spring Go By Bike Week. For more information, visit gobybikebc.ca/greater-victoria/.
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