by Jen Seltzer, EnviroCentre
EnviroCentre’s Bike to Work Month, a program that encourages people to try cycling to get to and from work, is celebrating it’s 10 th anniversary this year. Started in 2010 by Elyse McCann, director of community sustainability programs at EnviroCentre, this program has grown from a week long campaign with just over 500 participants to a
month long celebration that saw more than 4000 people commit to ride to work last May!
The key to it’s success is fun and companionship. There are events, workshops, and pop-up celebration stations where you will find EnviroCentre staff out in the community cheering cycle commuters on, handing out resources, and giving high fives! Once a participant has signed up and logged a commute they are eligible to win one of the many daily prizes offered. These prizes are all donated by Ottawa businesses. This year they range from Mayfair movie tickets to a brand new Pedal Easy e-bike.
Participants sign up online and can go it alone or start a team at their workplace. Some workplaces have interdepartmental challenges to see who has cycled to work furthest or the most times. It’s all in good fun as people who already bike to work encourage and help those that might try for the first time. The bike buddies that naturally form are truly inspirational. Last year alone, over 860 people reported biking to work for the first time because of the Bike to Work Month Program.
Over the past 10 years, EnviroCentre has encouraged an estimated 3985 brand new cycle commuters through the program. Behavioural science shows that it takes approximately one month to form a habit and EnviroCentre knows through follow-up survey data, most have or plan to continue to bike to work. Once people bike to work a few times they quickly realize the personal benefits. It costs almost nothing, it feels great, you connect with your community, and you get a little exercise before and after work. What’s not to love about that?
For those that live too far to bike the whole way, EnviroCentre encourages them to bike to their local transit stop and hop on a bus, try a Rack and Roll if you want your bike at the other end too, or bike your children to school beforeheading off to work. Any part of a daily commute counts and makes a difference to our environment. Because, from
EnviroCentre’s point of view, that is what matters most: reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Ottawa. The website will show you what your personal impact was, your team’s impact, if applicable and at the end, the impact of the combined effort of all the participants through choosing to bike for one month. In May of 2018, participants cycled 555,216 km and averted 141 580 kg of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the same as driving around the world almost 14 times!
Be part of the impact for 2019. Sign up and log your commutes at http://www.biketoworkottawa.ca. You can join anytime in May for your chance to win great prizes and see the difference YOUR bike ride makes!
Join in the fun at one of these free events and follow @BikeToWorkOttawa on Facebook to keep up-to-date on more!
Urban Cycling Workshop, Main Library, May 1, 5:30-6:30 pm
Bike-in Breakfast; Bank and Laurier, May 7, 2019, 7-9am
CycloFusion; a celebration of biking in Ottawa-Gatineau, SJAM Parkway at Remic Rapids, May 19, 9am-1pm