Cycle into Action with Justin Cao
By: Samantha Maurice
Tuesday, September 5 2017
It’s the most wonderful time of the year … for parents at least!
With summer 2017 coming to a close, many parents are gearing up for the new school year on September 5. For some parents, the first day of school can be a little nerve wracking, especially if this is their child’s first day of kindergarten, high school or even college. Regardless of what grade or where your child(ren) are headed this school year, there are still ways to make the most of the cycling season! A great way to do that is biking with your child or allowing them to bike to school with their fellow classmates (if they’re old enough to do so!).
If you’re like me, school may feel like a distant memory but I will never forget the fun I had biking to school with my brother and neighbours. (If I may, I’d like to take this moment to issue an apology to my Mom for having to bring two bikes back on her walk home. I’m really sorry Mom!) But having your child(ren) cycle to school is more than just a fun experience; cycling has additional health and environmental benefits that your child may remember all throughout their school years and into their adult life. You may also be hesitant to allow your child to cycle to school, but fear not: check out these three steps to prepare your child for cycling to school.
I understand that cycling to school may not be the most convenient for your family and I’m here to tell you that it’s okay! There are still plenty of ways to be active and cycle in your community. For instance, participate in one of York Region’s Discovery Bike Rides taking place from April to October, which provides a great opportunity for families to explore and cycle York Region together. It also allows individuals to learn great cycling skills that can be used to try sustainable commuting.
There are also other alternatives to learn great cycling skills. For instance, sign up for a CAN-BIKE session to learn the fundamentals of cycling or implement a workshop at your workplace for you and your peers. In addition to learning about cycling in your community, CAN-BIKE lessons are a great way to build relationships and try a new, sustainable way of commuting (who doesn’t want to reduce their carbon footprint while living a healthier lifestyle? Am I right?).
Another great and final way to learn about cycling is by reading our latest interview with Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill’s workplace ambassador Justin Cao, a Process Engineer-in-Training from WorleyParsons.
Justin Cao of WorleyParsons
Hi Justin, thank you for submitting your cycling story. Let’s get started … what mode of transportation do you currently use to get to work every day?
Justin Cao: My main mode of transportation is cycling. I cycle every day as long as weather permits me to.
You cycle every day! That’s great to hear! So what’s your motivation to cycle every day?
JC: Cycling motivates me to get outside, take in the fresh air and also get some exercise into my daily routine.
It’s always great to get out and enjoy the fresh air and exercise in the morning. I find that it just makes you feel more refreshed in the morning. How long have you been cycling to work?
JC: I’ve been cycling to work, every day, for about four years.
And what is the main difference in your mood, that you’ve seen by cycling to work?
JC: By cycling, I am happier because I spend more time outside and less time in traffic.
You mentioned above that you cycle because it’s good exercise, but it can also be fun and faster. Could you elaborate on that for our readers?
JC: By cycling to work I feel refreshed and energized. During rush hour, it can be faster especially during the afternoon. My cycling time is remarkably consistent and is almost never affected by bad traffic.
Knowing that your commute is rarely affected by bad traffic is a great for our readers and may get more individuals to try cycling. Could you also explain your route to our readers?
JC: There are many roads/side roads I take on my commute to work. My route consists of Karma Road, Austin Drive, Victoria Avenue, Main Street Unionville, Fred Varley, Fitzgerald, Village Parkway, Birchmount, Verclaire and Rouge Valley. I also take park trails along with the main and side roads.
Because you’ve been cycling to work for so long, you definitely have your route perfectly tailored to suit your cycling needs. Since you cycle so frequently, what amenities does WorleyParsons offer to their employees who cycle?
JC: Currently they offer an outdoor bike rack for cyclists. I’m hoping to see more amenities in the future such as showers and a secure bike room for cyclists.
I think it’s important to know what their employees needs are so thank you for sharing your feedback. It’s great to hear that they offer an outdoor bike rack! Since you’ve been cycling for four years, what tips and tricks have you learned along the way?
JC: I’ve learned to take the whole lane when it comes to passing cars safely (i.e. on Main Street Unionville, when making a left turn at a stop sign). This was the most difficult habit to make. I’ve also learned that sometimes the best routes are not always highlighted on Google Maps, therefore it takes some trial and error to explore the best route. I know if there are no designated bikes lanes, I prefer to take quiet side streets or trails.
Some great tips and insights for our readers to resonate with. Is there any advice you could offer to our readers who are cycling to work for the first time or may be hesitant to do so?
JC: It’s not as bad or scary as it seems. Most drivers give you plenty of space [when cycling on the road]. My advice when cycling on the road: be defensive and always assume you haven’t been seen. If you’re hesitant, start on quieter streets and roads to practice skills and build your confidence.
Those are great words of encouragement that readers will appreciate, especially those who may be hesitant to start cycling. Have you done any cycling training? If so, where?
JC: Yes, I have had cycling training. Some of my training has been outside of the workplace but I also did a quick CAN-BIKE course during Smart Commute MRH and the City of Markham’s Active Transportation Expo at the Markham Civic Centre on June 9!
Before I let you go, what is one word of sentence you would use to sum up your cycling experience?
For summer 2017, Justin is our final Cycling Superstar! I hope each and every one of you has learned something new about cycling and that these stories have inspired you to try cycling as a sustainable mode of transportation. If these stories have impacted you in any way, please share your thoughts and stories in the comments below!
I’d like to thank Justin Cao for taking time out of his day to submit his cycling story with Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill. Justin, it has been a pleasure to learn more about your cycling journey and for providing our readers with great tips and insights to help them start their cycling journeys. As a Smart Commute MRH workplace ambassador, you truly lead by example.
We’d also like to thank WorleyParsons for offering amenities to their employees to try sustainable forms of commuting. We appreciate your commitment to making sustainable modes of transportation an accessible option for your employees.
Readers, you didn’t think this was the end of the story … did you?
Stay tuned in September for our Sustainable Superstar series to celebrate Smart Commute Month! Every week you will read a story about a Smart Commute MRH workplace employee who commutes to work using a different mode of sustainable transportation. If you are a Smart Commute MRH workplace employee, click here to submit your Sustainable Superstar story (this also includes teleworking!).
We’ll see you in September!