It’s that time of year again – time to dust off your bike and change your commute perspective. Bike to Work Day (Monday, May 30) is all about exploring cycling as a commute option. It is a sustainable option with countless benefits – why not give it a try?
You may think that your commute is too long, too far or too scary to manage by bike. However, if you are willing to take a chance and try it – even just part of the way or once a week – you could be surprised at how those barriers simply fade into the background with each pedal forward. We found two suburban cycle commuters who wanted to share their stories.
Tish has worked at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ontario for 14 years. Over all those years, she has only missed two days of work due to illness. What is her secret? Cycling to work!
Before working at Southlake, Tish drove to her job in downtown Toronto every day. After seven years of sitting in traffic day after day, Tish was fed up and vowed to make a change. With her new job much closer to home, it was the perfect opportunity, to transition from recreational cycling to daily cycle commuting. She also received support from her new employer, because as a Smart Commute workplace, Southlake encourages active commuting and provides on-site shower facilities for those that do.
Tish changed her commute perspective and has never been happier. She wakes up every morning at 5 am to take her new puppy for a walk and feed her cats. Even though she gets 40 minutes of exercise each morning with her puppy, she still has the desire to bike to work.
Tish is not your typical commuter opting for the fastest option; she instead makes her commute as long as possible! Rather than biking along the roads for a 10-minute commute, she hops on the Tom Taylor Trail in Newmarket, which takes her a total of 25 minutes. She prolongs the commute simply for the love of cycling and enjoyment of the lush parkland route. Aside from the scenery, Tish is passionate about the many benefits cycle commuting provides. The health benefits are abundant – her lack of sick days can attest to that, and Tish knows that cycle commuting is the most sure-fire way to ensure long term overall health. Cycling also allows Tish to maintain her mental health by providing peace of mind; as Tish describes it: “your thoughts simply sort themselves out during the ride.”
For those who have yet to try cycle commuting, Tish recommends starting out small: “just try it one day a week, especially when the weather is nice – your body will thank you for it,” she says. It’s easy to find excuses not to, but if you simply give it a try like Tish, it could become part of your routine.
Debbie is another cycle commuter who works at Southlake, but instead of making the switch from car to bike, she has always been an active commuter. Debbie’s 15-minute morning ride is a straightforward route along Queen Street in Newmarket. But on the way home, she opts for a more scenic route to avoid the frantic afternoon traffic. A colleague suggested the Tom Taylor Trail and although it means going out of her way, she finds the extra time spent riding a pleasure.
Debbie is a very dedicated cycle commuter. She will ride in any weather, and when her son needs a lift to school, instead of driving straight to work afterwards, she returns home and hops on her bike. When she can’t ride she feels guilty; exercise is so ingrained in her lifestyle that she takes every opportunity to do so.
The reason Debbie commutes by bike is multi-faceted. It allows her to do her part in protecting the environment, save on parking costs, provides the opportunity to get fresh air and exercise and
she reaps endless physical and mental health benefits in return.
Holistic is how Debbie describes her commute, because she is able to travel to work in a way that starts her day off on a positive note, while allowing her to squeeze in that daily dose of exercise. “The health benefits help me work better, live better and think better,” Debbie states. “I can feel the stress blow off.”
Debbie admits that biking to work takes a bit of coordination to factor in timing and any after-work responsibilities; however, it is well worth the effort. Debbie has family and work commitments, but has worked out a routine that ensures she can still fulfil them.
Debbie discovered Smart Commute in 2008 while attending a Bike to Work Day celebration at Southlake. Although she was already a cycle commuter at this time, Debbie appreciates that her workplace supports healthy commute choices, and shares her experiences with colleagues looking to get started. Her advice? “If you’re thinking about it, you’re half way there – just do it!” It’s as simple as that.