Leave those car keys at home – May is Bike-to-Work Month
Don’t start that engine. Don’t rev that gas guzzler. Don’t put your foot on the pedal – instead, petal, petal, petal.
May is Bike-to-Work Month in Ottawa – and those who hop on two wheels to head to work could win some insane prizes from Glebe cycle shops Kundstadt Sports and Joe Mamma, among scores of other bike shops in the city.
“The Bike-to-Work campaign, as much as we want everyone to ride a bike, is all about encouraging people to ride a bike,” says EnviroCentre Community Outreach Coordinator Jennifer Stelzer. “We can tell them about the environmental impact and we can tell them they will save money, but at the end of the day, they need a real reason to try biking.”
Hence, the $10,000 worth of prizes including a brand new Kundstadt Sports Hybrid Bike, and top-of-the-line bike lights from Joe Mamma. All you need to do is bike to work just once in the month of May, and your name could be drawn as one of the daily prize winners.
Commuters are urged to sign up at biketoworkottawa.ca and begin logging their daily commutes online. Riders must log at least one trip to work to be entered into the daily prize draw. You could ride to work with a $500 Via Rail pass in your pocket, or a $300 gift card from Le Nordik Spa. Or how about night for two at the Wakefield Mill? A gift basket from Whole Foods? A Mrs. Tiggy Winkles gift card? Or, the new Hybrid Bike from Kundstadt Sports – the very first-ever sponsor of the Bike-to-Work initiative.
“Eric Kundstadt was one of our very first sponsors,” says Stelzer, adding that the initial support was what helped push the Bike-to-Work campaign from an idea, to a movement with momentum.
“He’s been with our campaign since the very year we first started this 8 years ago, Eric Kundstadt was the first person to donate a prize. He has been our longest standing supporter.”
This year’s campaign is all about targeting those who have never ridden a bike to work before – and last year, Bike to Work Ottawa managed to encourage 820 new commuters to trade in the car keys for a bike lock.
“We have great huge community of people who ride their bike for leisure, they ride their bike to the library, but they don’t ride to work,” says Stelzer.
“And we know that if someone bikes to work one time, they realize, ‘holy cow, that was fun, that wasn’t so bad, that was easy.’”
And Stelzer and her crew at EnviroCentre, the non-profit running the campaign, have heard every excuse in the book for why you can’t ride to work – everything from “I have kids,” to “I live too far away,” and everything in between. One she hears often is that some riders fear sharing busy roads with cars, and don’t feel safe zipping through rush-hour traffic. But she says if more bikers just get out there and do it, biking will become far less dangerous.
“The more people that bike, the safer biking becomes,” she adds.
“Although people are afraid to bike downtown, and in the Glebe and along Bank Street, it’s actually very rare for people to get in accidents in places where bicycles are expected. As we have more cyclists on our streets, cars are much more aware of them, and they are looking for them and driving a little more slowly.”
For cyclists in the Glebe, Stelzer points to the new safe crossing light just under the Bank Street bridge that allows bikers to access Bank Street from the Rideau Canal with ease. No more riding down the long stretch of Fifth Avenue to do some Glebe shopping.
“You can just hop off the canal now and go to Kettleman’s Bagel Company. Now you can just hop off your bike and go for lunch anywhere in the Glebe.”
“Especially for families in the Glebe, just to get on and off the canal safely.”
Look for the Bike-to-Work bike mobile throughout the Glebe in the month of May – including a special tour Stelzer will do during the epic Great Glebe Garage on May 27th. There will also be a commuter fuel station at Whole Foods on May 18 with free snacks and smoothies in the afternoon.
The Canadian Tulip Festival is also hosting Petal Petal, an “Epic After Work Networking Event” on May 16th inside the Aberdeen Pavilion where Joe Mamma will be offering free “quick tunes” for cyclists.
Sign up here and start logging your morning commute.
Check out the city’s cycling network and route information here.
If not for the environment, your health, or your wallet, Stelzer says do it for treats.
“I commute enough kilometers to eat 264 donuts a year. If nothing else, just do it for the donuts,” she laughed.