With the warm weather finally here, now is a great time to celebrate the sunshine and embrace a healthier lifestyle. Each spring, Smart Commute helps kick off Bike Month with Bike to Work Day* in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas of Ontario. And each year, thousands of people get on their bikes to ride to work and school to show their support. In fact, a group of Allstate employees from our Markham head office join over 100 cyclists in the community to ride around the neighbourhood.
To help you get into the cycling mindset, I chatted with Sonya De Vellis, Marketing & Communications Coordinator of Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill (Smart Commute MRH) about the benefits of cycling.
Why should people bike?
SDV: According to our Smart Commute MRH cyclists, biking enables them to arrive at work feeling more energized and mentally alert. Not only that, but cycling can be a healthy, affordable, and environmentally sustainable form of commuting. Nearly everyone can do it! Replacing even just a few car trips with cycling can yield significant results.
For example, cycling to work for an eight kilometre round-trip twice a week for a month would result in a savings of $30 in driving costs, burning 1,936 calories, and 14,248 grams of CO2 emissions saved! You can check your commute at explore.smartcommute.ca.
How can someone get started with cycling?
SDV: The first step is to get a bike in good working condition and ensure you have proper safety accessories such as a helmet, light, and bell. If you’d like to improve your skills, look into Cycling Canada’s CAN-BIKE programs. They offer courses for various skill levels in locations across the country.
How can we make cycling a habit?
SDV: You don’t have to cycle every day to see the benefits. Refer to your regional cycling resources and maps, and find a safe route to try on the weekends or evenings before cycling to work. Cycling with a partner or a group can ease beginners into the habit and build confidence for new cyclists. Find out if there is a Bicycle User Group or club (examples: Toronto or Nova Scotia) around you.
If you live far from your workplace or school, try cycling for part of the journey. Cycle to a transit stop and place your bike on the racks on the front of buses, or carpool part of the way with someone who has a bike rack on their car. Finally, check to see if your workplace has amenities to help make cycling to work easier. Some offices may have showers, bike parking, or lockers for you to use.
Can cycling be fun?
SDV: Of course! There are many ways to make cycling fun – whether you’re cycling to work, school, or for recreation. Set up friendly challenges among your colleagues to see who cycles the most or furthest in a week. Or ask your workplace to get involved by posting challenge updates or sponsoring a prize.
You can also aim to try a new route in your community each week or participate in guided tours. By trying a new route, you may discover a new restaurant or park that you would otherwise not have known about. York Region lists a series of cycling-related events and rides on their website that are open to the public. Check your region or municipality’s website for information.
Sonya shared some great insight on the benefits of cycling and how to make it more fun. Make sure you also review our safety tips before getting on your bike this season.
* Smart Commute MRH is hosting their 10th anniversary celebration of Bike to Work Day on May 29, 2017! The event is free to attend and features breakfast, networking opportunities, and prize giveaways. More information about Bike to Work Day is available at smartcommutemrh.ca.