Bikes are a Win-Win-Win Situation! (Time-Health-Environment)
June 1st marked the beginning of National Bike Month in Canada!
Cycling is one of the important ingredients for a healthy urban lifestyle. It contributes to the sustainability of our cities and to the wellbeing of its commuters.
Did you know that cycling can be “twice as fast as driving to work in traffic”? Kiplinger editor, Amanda Lilly states that even with no traffic, “bike trips of three to five miles take less time or the same amount of time as commuting by car.”
What if you work in a downtown hub, but live a considerable distance from the office, or in the suburbs? Well, CUTA and its members are constantly working towards a vision of integrated urban mobility. Many subway, bus and train stations are equipped with bike racks and bikeshare stands – allowing you to bridge the distance between your home and the transit hub via bicycle. Pick up your own bike or borrow one through a bike rental service, ride down to the station, take the subway downtown, and arrive at your workplace quickly and efficiently. And if you need to, you could hop on another bike share from the station to the office.
Truly integrated urban mobility includes walking and cycling as valid means of linking your home or office with public transit hubs. A study conducted by the STM on GHG emissions revealed that, thanks to less congestion, modal shift and denser urban development, public transit in Montreal saves 20 tonnes of GHG emissions for every tonne that it emits.
But there are plenty of good reasons to cycle and take transit to work beyond the environment. For example, the average bike commuter loses 13 pounds in their first year of cycling alone. According to a study on the effects of cycling reported by Forbes magazine, “Commuters who cycled to work […] had a 46% lower risk of developing- and a 52% lower risk of dying from- cardiovascular disease, and a 45% lower risk of developing and a 40% lower risk of dying from cancer.”
Reducing your carbon footprint and gaining health points? Sounds like a win-win situation! Citizen-led environmental action programs, such as Montreal’s Eco-quartier Parc-Extension event, held an ‘affordable second-hand bike sale’ on World Earth Day this past April! And aren’t we lucky that our governments and municipalities are catching on quick, too? Canadians are being encouraged to ride their bikes to work and for leisure this month, as incented by a number of rewards programs and contests such as Bike Month Toronto, Velopalooza in BC, and even this City of Wolfville initiative.
Business Insider called it a “free gym on wheels.”
Last week, Canada Bikes held its first National Bike Summit on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and it was attended by members of parliament, active transportation stakeholders and all manner of cycling enthusiasts.
Presenting at the event were several prominent figures including Lisa Helps, the Mayor of Victoria, as well as Kim Perotta, Executive Director for the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. The event also featured 13-year old youth-cycling activist, Anna Sierra Heffernan-Wilker, who read out a touching poem on the role of cycling in her life. The event pushed for increased commitment from government towards cycling programs, and aimed to raise awareness on cycling nationally.
On the federal funding front, the Ontario government has revealed a $50 million-dollar cycling infrastructure plan derived from the cap and trade carbon program. The program aims to provide Ontario municipalities with reliable funding to update and improve bike routes and dedicated bike lanes in the hopes of “getting people out of their cars and onto bikes for their daily and frequent trips.”
The first year’s $ 42.5 million from this program, to which all Ontario municipalities will be eligible annually, will support up to 80% of costs related to dedicated commuter cycling projects. Applications for funding have now gone online, and the only criteria is that municipalities must have a cycling plan. The application deadline is August 18, 2017.
Supporting the evolution of integrated urban mobility is our Vision here at CUTA. We believe that moving people is a collaborative effort reflecting the diversity of our fellow commuters, their needs, and the landscape they inhabit.
With Summer just around the corner, consider picking up a bike, subscribing to a rideshare program, or asking a colleague who commutes by bike about their experience. In the end, the scent of a fresh morning breeze beats fuming traffic jams any day.
For some tips and tricks on getting started with bike commuting, check out this guide to bicycle commuting from The Guardian, and this article from Bicycling.com on the many ways to stay cool while riding your bike to work and back!