Greater Victoria’s 20th annual Bike to Work Week begins next week, and Saanich cyclist Andrew Morgan deserves be the poster child for the event.
“Well, let’s see,” begins Morgan, who rides his bike from Gordon Head to Vic West every day, rain or shine. “To and from work is about 10 kilometres each way, five days a week, times 50 weeks a year, not to mention all the other riding I do – it’s probably around 5,000 or 6,000 kilometres a year.”
Multiply that by Morgan’s 15 years of daily commutes, and you end up with approximately 90,000 kilometres in the saddle, or more than twice around the Earth at the equator.
Morgan, 44, works for the BC Oil and Gas Commission on Harbour Road, just across the Johnson Street Bridge.
The area, which features a view of enormous industrial sites across the Upper Harbour, doesn’t exactly scream “health” to the casual observer, but the dozen or so cyclists, joggers and roller bladers relaxing (in full athletic regalia) outside a nearby coffee shop on a warm April day seem to suggest the neighbourhood is a secret hub for Olympic hopefuls.
The building where Morgan works is just steps from the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, and he says his employer has always encouraged employees to use it.
“I’m thrilled with the way they encourage folks to ride to work,” says Morgan. “When I first started, they said, ‘We have showers, we have lockers, we have secure locks.’ They’re so supportive and it shows when you see all the bikes. Some days, there’s barely room to wiggle another bike in there.”
The employees at the BC Oil and Gas Commission are not alone.
Frank Hudson, executive director of the Greater Victoria Bike to Work Week Society, says nearly six per cent of Greater Victorians commute to work via a bicycle (about five times the Canadian average). Despite those numbers, most residents don’t see cycling as a viable option for commuting.
“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.
Bike to Work Week begins Monday (May 26) and runs to June 2.
Interested workplaces or commuters can register throughout the week, as the goal is to get more people riding.
“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.”
Throughout the event, Bike to Work Week organizers will set up celebration stations around the region where commuter cyclists will have access to free food, drinks, prizes and more. Celebration stations in Saanich include at the University of Victoria, Camosun College’s Lansdowne campus, Vancouver Island Tech Park, Saanich Municipal Hall and along the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails.
Morgan’s wife and two children are also avid cyclists. Though he recognizes the enormous health benefits of cycling for himself and his entire family, he says that the best part about riding his bike to work is the time it gives him to get centred.
“For me, it’s just a great way to spend a half hour before my workday starts, and then again when it ends. It’s the perfect way to clear your mind.”
To learn more about Bike to Work Week, the celebration stations, or to register, visit biketowork.ca/victoria.
– with files from Daniel Palmer