Getting into Gear with Mark Siu from the City of Markham
By: Samantha Maurice
July 19, 2017
Welcome back readers! If you’re reading this, it probably means you read our first Cycling Superstar series on Leila Oozeer from the Town of Richmond Hill and came back for more (if you haven’t, there’s always time to go back and check out Leila’s story, and let me be the first to welcome you to the party!).
Although Bike Month has ended, the month of July is also significant in the world of cycling. Not sure what we mean? We’ll give you three words:
Tour De France.
Over the course of 22 days, from July 1 to 23, 198 cyclists compete for the highest cycling title in the world. As one of the oldest sporting events (it’s 104 years old to be exact), cyclists from all over the world cycle 2,200 miles for the prestigious title. But you don’t have to go to France to experience the Tour De France. You might even be surprised to learn that there are similar events right in your own backyard. For example, on September 24, the Tour De Markham is open to cyclists of all skill levels!
So why did we bring up the Tour De France in an article that interviews cycling superstars from local Smart Commute MRH workplaces? To remind you that it’s okay if you don’t aspire to be the next Tour De France champion. Our point is to show you that we all have to start somewhere, and even the smallest contribution can make the biggest difference.
For Mark Siu, a Senior Transportation Engineer from the City of Markham, getting into gear has made all the difference.
Photos: Mark Siu from City of Markham
We had the chance to interview Mark and talk about his cycling journey:
Mark, thank you for taking the time to share your cycling story with us. My first question to you is what mode of transportation do you frequently use to commute to work?
Mark Siu: My frequent mode of transportation is driving!
So what motivated you to try cycling in the first place?
MS: When I started cycling, I found it faster and much more fun. Plus it’s that extra little bit of exercise!
And how long have you been cycling to work?
MS: I started cycling to work in 2016, and have been commuting this way one to two times a week.
One to two times a week is great! So what, in your opinion, is the main difference you’ve found by cycling to work as opposed to driving?
MS: Aside from being a little sweaty, I find myself more productive in the morning. When I get to work, I’m already ready to start my day.
Aside from productivity, you mentioned that you cycle because it’s faster, more fun and gives you that little bit of exercise. Could you elaborate on that for our readers?
MS: Well, it’s fun because you can really take in the sights of the community. You’re able to smile at people, look at decorative lawns and see new shops that have opened up. I’m lucky that part of my commute passes by Main Street Unionville. There have been many times that I’ve been tempted to get off my bike and get some baked goods in the morning!
Cycling is also faster, especially during rush hour, and my bike trip takes me the same time as driving or less!
Lastly, it’s great exercise! I spend 40 minutes back and forth on my bike, thereby contributing to my overall fitness and keeping off the pounds!
I think all of your reasons will definitely get people to try cycling! Now that we know about all your reasons for cycling, could you describe your route for us?
MS: The main roads I ride on are Kennedy Road, Main Street Unionville and Warden Ave. I also cycle along Fred Varley, Amberwood, and then Landmark to Glen Clove. I plan to take the Highway 7 cycle tracks between Warden Avenue and Sciberras Road when construction is completed.
Thanks for sharing your route with us, Mark. I think it will resonate with readers, especially because you are a fairly new cyclist and are continuing to push yourself to get comfortable on major roads. With that being said, what amenities does the City of Markham provide you and other cyclists?
MS: The City of Markham provides their employees with bike racks, change rooms, on-site bikes and showers at the Markham Civic Centre. Although I don’t use the shower facilities, I do use the bike racks quite frequently.
It’s wonderful to hear that the City of Markham provides their employees with these amenities. Since you’ve been cycling to work for a year now, are there any tips and tricks you’ve learned?
MS: There is a stigma regarding riding on the sidewalk but, during rush hour, the Regional roads are too busy for me too feel comfortable on. On my route, I’ve noticed only one individual biking on these roads during peak hours. I find more people use the sidewalk. So my advice is if you plan on riding on the sidewalk, be mindful of pedestrians and make sure you make eye contact with drivers; especially when approaching a driveway or intersection!
Those are some great tips for future cyclists or beginners. Are there any words of encouragement you’d like to extend to those who may be reading this interview?
MS: It took me awhile to get started. I didn’t own a bike, plus I am not athletically inclined. So, my advice for all those who don’t have a bike but want to try cycling is to try your hands on a bike! On a weekend, ride your route and see if you can imagine yourself doing it during the week. If you are mentally ready, any issues that arise later on will be easy to overcome.
I think you’ve just offered our readers some great words of encouragement. Have you ever attended any cycling training (a CAN-BIKE course) or attended any cycling workshops (i.e. basic cycling techniques) before?
MS: Yes, I have taken cycling training and attended cycling workshops. I have done them at [City of Markham] and other places that have offered these programs and workshops.
Finally, if you could sum up your cycling experience in one word or sentence, what would it be?
Well readers, we hope we’ve offered you another perspective into the world of cycling! Firstly, we’d like to thank Mark Siu for taking the time to answer our questions, as well as providing more insight into his cycling journey. Mark, thank you for sharing your journey with our readers and changing lives in the process!
We’d also like to thank the City of Markham for their continuous support to provide cycling amenities for their employees, and for being an advocate within the Markham community for sustainable commuting options. We look forward to our continued partnership.
Lastly, to all our Smart Commute MRH workplace employees, we’d love to hear your stories! Please submit your cycling stories at https://explore.smartcommute.ca/s/cyclingsuperstar. We cannot wait to hear your story!
See you next time readers, where we interview Andrew Roberts from WSP Canada!