Few sports bring all ages, skill levels and neighbourhoods together in Greater Victoria quite like cycling.
And while nearly six per cent of Greater Victorians commute to work via bicycle (about five times the Canadian average), most residents don’t see cycling as a viable option for commuting, said Frank Hudson, executive director of the Greater Victoria Bike to Work Week Society.
“There’s actually not much of a difference between taking a bike or a vehicle into downtown (Victoria), even from as far away as Colwood corners,” he said.
To prove the point, Hudson and his team organize an annual commuter challenge in the run-up to Bike to Work Week, pitting cyclists against drivers on their morning commutes.
Colwood Coun. Judith Cullington works from home most days, but is jumping in her electric Nissan Leaf to challenge Colwood resident Randy Scott to his workplace in downtown Victoria.
“I may drive an electric car, but I’m also an avid cyclist,” she said. Cullington often makes the quick trip to city hall via bicycle, but said longer distances do require more than a willing rider.
“If you live on the top of Triangle Mountain, you’re not going to want to make that trip home every day from Victoria,” she said. “It also depends on what’s on the other end. If you arrive at your office and there are showers, that makes a big difference. All these pieces need to come together.”
The Bike to Work Week commuter challenge takes place today (May 21), while Bike to Work Week runs May 26 to June 2.
Organizers will have four celebration stations on the West Shore this year at Crossroads Park Station in Langford; Sooke Road and Aldeane Avenue in Colwood; Portage Park in View Royal; and near Victoria General Hospital on the Galloping Goose trail.
“We had about 7,000 cyclists participate last year, and we want 1,000 more this year,” Hudson said. “If people are uncomfortable riding, they can take one of our bike skills courses. They’re $20 for a four-hour session, and they’re a bargain. I took one years ago and I was surprised by how much I learned from it.”
To learn more about Bike to Work Week, visit biketowork.ca/victoria.