Putting the Pedal to the Metal with Leila Oozeer from the Town of Richmond Hill
By: Samantha Maurice
July 4th, 2017
Happy Bike Month readers, and welcome to the first edition of Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill’s Cycling Superstar series, which will offer an in-depth look at local Smart Commute MRH workplace employees who cycle to work!
From June to September, Smart Commute MRH will feature monthly stories and interviews from cyclists as part of our Cycling Superstar series. Whether you’re a first-time cyclist or an experienced rider, these stories offer an inside look into the world of cycling directly from a cyclist’s point of view!
So pull up a chair, sit back, relax and picture this …
It’s a warm Monday morning in June; the sun is shining brightly in a clear, blue sky and no rain in sight. You’re cycling along the Highway 7 bike lanes, preparing to start the work week while thinking of your productive and memorable weekend. You’re not sitting in traffic, stressing about arriving to work on time, or contemplating the work you’ll need to accomplish before the week’s end. Doesn’t this seem like an ideal way to arrive at work, feeling fresh and motivated? What if you could commute like this every day, just by choosing to cycle as a sustainable option to commute to work?
For Leila Oozeer, she turned this dream into reality.
Smart Commute MRH had the opportunity to interview Leila, the Waste Management Analyst from the Town of Richmond Hill, about her cycling story, including her motivation to cycle, her route, the amenities her workplace offers and her advice to first-time cyclists or those who are thinking about cycling to work:
Leila, how do you usually commute to work?
Leila Oozeer: My main form of commuting to work is cycling.
How frequently do you cycle to work?
LO: I cycle about three times a week.
Wow, three times a week! So how long have you been cycling to and from work?
LO: Although I don’t cycle to work every day, I have been cycling to and from work for about three years now.
So what, in your opinion, is the main difference you’ve found by cycling to work as opposed to using other modes of transportation (i.e. driving, public transit)?
LO: The main difference I’ve found, as opposed to driving or taking public transit, is that I feel I have a lot more energy throughout my day!
You mentioned that you cycle for health and environmental reasons. Could you elaborate on that?
LO: Cycling is a great way to kick start my morning in a healthy and active way. I find that by getting on my bike, instead of sitting on a bus or in a car, my metabolism gets a boost and I feel more energetic as I’ve previously mentioned. On top of health reasons, I feel proud to know that I am not causing any emissions on my way to work and that I’m doing what I can to preserve and respect our environment!
Those are really great reasons for cycling! Now that we know all about why you cycle and what motivates you to do so, could you describe your route to the readers for us?
LO: My route begins at Green Lane and Bayview Ave. I take Green Lane to Leslie. I then make a left onto Leslie and head north to Highway 7 until I arrive at the Town of Richmond Hill’s main municipal offices.
Thank you for sharing your route with us. I think it’s great for the readers to hear it and will encourage them to take major roads and see that it’s not so scary. So what amenities are at the Town of Richmond Hill for cyclists (i.e. bike racks, showers for cyclists, etc. …)? Do these play a factor in your decision to cycle to work?
LO: Since I started cycling three years ago, the Town of Richmond Hill has always had great amenities for cyclists, which include a dedicated bike cage, where I can safely lock my bike and a bike pump, which is definitely a positive and makes my decision to cycle to work that much easier. They also have a shower for cyclists!
You mentioned that you’ve been cycling, avidly, for three years. What tips and tricks have you learned along the way from cycling to work? What were the easiest and hardest to adapt to?
LO: I’ve learned to keep things at work, such as personal hygiene products and my work shoes. I do this so I don’t have to constantly transport these items back and forth. I also added a rear rack to my bike to strap down my lunch bag and change of clothes. When I first started riding, I’d carry my things in a backpack on my back. I found this not to be feasible for me as I quickly found that the backpack was causing chronic shoulder pain.
The transition has not been difficult; it’s just about being prepared and planning ahead!
Preparedness is key! For individuals who are first-time cyclists or looking to start cycling to work, what words of encouragement would you offer them just based on your cycling experience?
LO: For first-time cyclists or individuals who want to start cycling to work, I would say that it’s not as hard as you may think, and planning ahead makes the experience that much easier and enjoyable.
Additionally, have you attended any cycling training (a CAN-BIKE course) or attended any cycling workshops (i.e. basic cycling techniques) before?
LO: Yes, I have attended cycling training before, which was held at the Town of Richmond Hill.
Lastly, if you could describe your cycling experience in one word or sentence, what would it be?
LO: There are three words to sum up my cycling experience: healthy, fun and rewarding!
Well readers, there you have it! We hope you’ve learned as much from Leila’s cycling story as we have! Firstly, we’d like to thank Leila Oozeer for submitting her story and providing us with additional answers to our questions. Leila, we cannot thank you enough for being our first Cycling Superstar!
We’d also like to thank the Town of Richmond Hill for being a leader in the community by providing their employees with amenities that promote sustainable commuting options to enhance the well-being of their employees and the environment.
Lastly, we’re calling for our readers who work at a Smart Commute MRH workplace to submit your cycling stories! If you have a story you’d like to share with us, simply submit it at this link: https://explore.smartcommute.ca/s/cyclingsuperstar. We look forward to hearing all your cycling stories.
Until next time ….