A group of cyclists make their way up 30th Avenue as they head to work during Bike to Work Week.

A group of cyclists make their way up 30th Avenue as they head to work during Bike to Work Week.

More North Okanagan residents take up two wheels

In just one week dedicated to cycling to and from work, North Okanagan citizens have made great strides.

In just one week dedicated to cycling to and from work, North Okanagan citizens have made great strides.

“I am excited for the City of Vernon and the North Okanagan Region that the provincial Bike to Work Week Campaign (May 28 to June 3) is increasing in popularity each year,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky. “A total of 59 Bike to Work teams registered with BTW-BC, with 516 team members (compared with 346 team members in 2011).”

Of those, 198 were new participants (71 per cent increase from 116 new cyclists in 2011).

Over 1,810 cycle trips were made during the entire week, compared with 1,155 trips last year (57 per cent increase).

This year, cyclists travelled 18,983.4 km, which is an increase of 42 per cent (13,337 km in 2011).

This translates into a 28 per cent savings of CO2 emissions.

All three Bike to Work Cycling Skills and Safety courses were also full this spring.

Coldstream Councillor Maria Besso says the event has made great strides to encouraging cycling.

“Since the inception of Bike to Work Week in Vernon, I have noticed an increased number of cyclists on the road taking part during that week and beyond,” said Besso.

“The event has raised awareness about cycling, and created a fun collegial atmosphere in the community that spawns some competitiveness and a desire to participate. Consequently, the feeling is contagious, and every year I have noticed more cyclists on the roads.”

Corporate sponsorship has played a major role in having a positive outcome and many businesses have gotten on board with the initiative in more ways than one.

“The promotion of biking is a viable method of commuting to work,” said Galina Labun, VantageOne Credit Union marketing manager. “Vantage One doubled their participation and we are pleased with that as it promotes good health for employees and is great for your mental processes.

“I really enjoyed that when biking, you actually see more of the business displays as opposed to driving where you are hurrying from point A to point B too quickly to read the displays,” Labun adds.

The overall winning teams were:

Large category (51 or more employees)

  • Gold: Downtown Vernon Parkade Businesses – 43 per cent participation, team leader: Dr. Mike Murphy
  • Silver: RDNO Pedal Pushers – 34 per cent participation, team leader: Dale Danallanko
  • Bronze: Kal Tire Commuters – 22 per cent participating, team leader: Jolene Campbell
  • Medium category (21-49 employees)
  • Gold: North Okanagan Cycling Society – 87 per cent participation, team leader: Cindy Garvin
  • Silver: Global Education Students – 84 per cent participation, team leader: Murray Sasges
  • Bronze: Vantage One Financial – 75 per cent participation, team leader: Mike Bellamy
  • Small category (11-20 employees)
  • Gold: Re-Cyclers, Vernon Water Reclamation Centre – 56 per cent participation, team leader: Andrew Marr
  • Silver: The Clear Cut Solutions, BC Ministry of Forests and Range – 33 per cent participation, team leader: Ward Strong
  • Bronze: Safeway Pharmacy Pill Pedal Pushers – 28 per cent participation, team leader: Andre Ortmayr
  • Mini category (three or more employees)
  • Gold: Spin, Family Physicians and Staff – 83 per cent participation, team leader: Alison LePage
  • Silver: B-Shift, Summit Environmental Consultants Inc. – 80 per cent, team leader: Allen Hanson
  • Bronze: CS-WEEEE, Correctional Services – 67 per cent, team leader: Darlene Wood

North Okanagan is one of more than 23 B.C. communities participating in 2012 Bike to Work Week through Bike to Work B.C., a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging people to cycle to work for fun, health and to lessen our impact on the environment.

For more information, visit http://www.biketowork.ca/north-okanagan