Bike to Work Week

Last week, I proclaimed Cycling4Diversity Week, and joined the organizer at their presentation to Queens Park Elementary School. We rode our bikes from City Hall to the school and received a rock star welcome with the kids lining the fence, walkway and swarming for autographs. The group had different speakers talking about cultural, social and physical diversity, and how to make people feel accepted. It is good that we use different strategies and opportunities to talk about youth self-esteem and are open to embrace other cultures into our lives.

This week is Bike to Work Week and it is our hope people consider cycling to work or play. We hope people who have a bike but never use it consider riding to work this week. It is so much easier to drive your car, but you'd be amazed on how enjoyable getting fresh air and exercise is. A healthy mind is a happy mind, so we encourage weaving in some activities to keep yourself active instead of being a slave to the desk and no exercise.

Every year, staff from the City of Penticton challenges the RDOS (Regional District), to see who can get the greatest participation of their staff to cycle, walk, use transit or car pool to work. Last year, the City finally won the challenge and presented the RDOS with a blinged out tricycle to display in their staff room to remind them of their humiliating defeat. On opening day this week, the RDOS staff posed for a picture in front of City Hall with their banner, while we literally rode circles around the RDOS building to signify our impending victory. Hopefully other businesses challenge other businesses or teams to make it fun and build corporate culture and morale.

There a several studies that indicate approximately 35% of people will never ride a bike despite what we do or tell them. Half of people understand cycling would be a good form of exercise, biked as a kid or have access to a bike, but are afraid of traffic. Nine per cent of people bike regularly and use bike lanes, and 6% of people are fearless and ride anywhere. We seem to focus our attentions to the 15% of people that ride regularly, but what if we focused on the 50% group and the potential they could bring. The reason why the KVR Trail system is so popular is because it is a protected pathway and users don't have to fear cars zooming by. If we created safer routes, more people would use them. Safer doesn't mean new expensive construction either; it could be some green paint or having lanes designated: sidewalk, bike lane, car parking, and then drive lane.

Whatever you think about cycling in general, Penticton is well-positioned to capitalize on the fact we have something for all types and levels of riders. Cycling is an important spoke in our tourism and economic development strategies. We have outstanding road cycling with stunning vistas and country roads, and have become a destination for top-level athletes looking to invest time and money to train in the South Okanagan. We have world-class mountain biking including the Three Blind Mice area, and have recreational cycling utilizing the Kettle Valley Railway line with easy access and beautiful views of lakes, vineyards, nature, and historic landmarks. The number one question at the visitor center is about locations for hiking and biking. Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association is also investing in creating the experience for cycling in their marketing and branding of our area. I feel our cycling precinct concept is gearing up from being self-proclaimed to being provincially recognized. Cycling is the new golf as people turn to the sport or leisure activity as an alternative to impact sports or a simple affordable family fun activity.

Regardless I hope you get motivated to dust off your bicycle and put the wheels in motion for a healthy lifestyle choice.