A new trend in hairstyles is likely to emerge in workplaces across the country during the first week of June: helmet hair. From May 30th to June 5th, Canadians will be hitting the pavement and the trails on their bikes as part of Bike to Work Week, which challenges individuals to leave the car at home in favour of a healthier and more environmentally-friendly commute.
While many of us go cycling on weekends and evenings for fun and fitness, Bike to Work Week promotes cycling as a practical and viable mode of transportation in our daily lives.
The City of Whitehorse, which is sponsoring Yukon’s Bike to Work Week in partnership with Yukon Energy, is encouraging Yukoners to take advantage of the 150 km of city trails and 700 km of neighbourhood trails, bike lanes on several downtown roads, and bike racks on city busses, and choose cycling as a means of transportation more often. “Currently, 56 per cent of Whitehorse’s emissions are related to transportation,” says Shannon Mallory of Yukon Energy. “We could be doing a lot better.”
Her counterpart at the City of Whitehorse, and co-organizer of Yukon’s Bike to Work Week event, Glenda Koh, explains that the City is actively working on a campaign to reduce the number of single-occupant vehicles in daily commuting. As it stands, 75 per cent of all commuters to and within the city travel in single-occupant vehicles. The goal is to reduce that to 50 per cent by 2036, with the other 50 per cent using alternate modes such as cycling, walking, carpooling and public transit.
The annual Bike to Work Week event, though only a week long, can have a lasting, significant impact on attaining such goals.
“Not only does it increase awareness about alternate modes of transportation and the environmental implications, but it also creates a sense of community around the cause and gets people to have conversations about how we can encourage cycling and alternate modes of transportation beyond this one week,” Mallory says.
On the practical side, one of the main advantages of Bike to Work Week is that it gives individuals the opportunity to try it out and see how they may be able to make biking to work, for example, fit in with their daily routine.
Events throughout the week such as group commutes from different neighbourhoods and a free bike repair clinic will provide new bicycle-commuters with some tools and tricks to get started. Prizes will also be awarded in different categories for individuals, workplace teams and school teams, and while there will certainly be friendly competition for most kilometres ridden, you don’t have to commit to biking to work every day in order to participate.
“If we can encourage people to try it even once throughout the week, that’s great,” says Koh. “Even in the long run, riding your bike instead of driving your car to work even just once a week means you’re reducing your personal emissions related to commuting by 20 per cent. It makes a difference.”
What about the other days of the week? And what about those who don’t have the option of cycling or using another alternate mode of transportation in their daily commute?
“Drivers can help out by being good role models,” suggests Koh. “Be a good driver and be accommodating to cyclists. Obviously cyclists also need to follow the rules of the road and be good ambassadors, too.”
Bike to Work Week is May 30th to June 5th. Sign up as an individual or get together with your colleagues to register as a workplace team at YukonBiketoWork.ca.