10 solutions to help you cycle to work

My newfound respect for barriers against -real and perceived- was recently rekindled. Despite being a cycling commuter in this region for over two decades, I planned to bike from VGH to LGH this week, and it was going to require my first ever bike ride over the Lions Gate Bridge. Although I was apprehensive and just-a-bit-worried about i) the incline and windiness of the bridge, and ii) the incline of North Vancouver, I am pleased to report that it was actually rather easy.

Many VCH staff see cycling as a fun, invigorating and reduced-stress commuting option. However, according to recent survey data, about 8% of VCH staff bike to work. Whether it is hills, sweat, security, gear, rain, traffic, time or vehicle exhaust*, barriers exist. However, numerous resources and solutions are available to help VCH staff commute to work by bike.

Barrier #1: I’m too unfit

For the first time ever, VCH is offering the direct support of a personalized trainer. Five lucky respondents will be partnered with a Kinesiology student and a Bike Fit expert to help plan your preparation to ride: email us to request a sign-up form for this free service! For the later respondents, copies of the training programs and findings will be shared so that more new cyclists can benefit.

If you’re not fit enough, don’t despair. Unlike mechanical vehicles, the human body gets stronger the more you use it; the more you commute, the easier it’ll become. The average person loses 13 lbs in their first year of cycling to work. If you can get the bike and bank the miles, you’ll be flying along before long.

Barrier #2: I’ll get all sweaty

Chances are that your site might have a shower or two tucked away. If not, please let us know so that we can add this to our list of upcoming bicycle facilities across the VCH network. In the meantime, to best benefit from a showerless commute, cycle it a bit slower and enjoy the view.

Bonus solution: Maybe an e-assist bike could extend your ride? Many bike shops offer electric bikes or a motorized front wheel to assist with the hills, distance or maintaining the quick pace you need to commute on time. Even with an e-bike, the NY Times claims that riders “were healthier and more fit, with significantly greater aerobic fitness, better blood sugar control, and, as a group, a trend toward less body fat.”

Barrier #3: The dress code is pretty strict

Although it is possible to cycle in a suit, some people will prefer to pack away their office clothes so that they emerge good-as-new. Our good friends in the bike gear world have offered a few loaners of the Classic Garment Bag which VCH employees can purchase at a discount! Request to borrow one for a week or two and give it a try!

Barrier #4 & 5: Theft!

Chances are that your site might have a secure bike rack/room. If not, please let us know so that we can add this to our list of upcoming bicycle facilities across the VCH network.

Barrier #6: I have errands to run before/after work

Depending on your site, we might have contacts with nearby bike shops who offer discounts to VCH employees. Bike panniers etc. can help in carrying groceries, or children.

Barrier #7: Rain!

The Art of Riding in the Rain … and stay tuned for our autumn workshops.

Barrier #8: Nervous about traffic

A Ride the Road bike safety course is a good idea for every cyclist – otherwise, without the skills modelled from an expert, we are simply riding on instinct. I am interested in signing-up for a bike safety course.

Bonus: enjoy the benefits of bulk purchased high quality bike lights – save up to 45% on a Blackburn light set. Email us if you would like to save $40+ on the bike light set. Even more savings for members of the Cycling Centre.

Barrier #9: Time – surely cycling is too slow!

Check the time and distance with Google maps …and don’t forget to account for the time you save in skipping visits to the gym.

Barrier #10: Vehicle exhaust?

As a cyclist, you can choose a route that is apart from vehicle traffic to maximize your time under the blossoms. And for the time when you need to be behind vehicles; a study by Imperial College London showed that cyclists breathed in just 8% of the average amount of fine pollution particles that car drivers and bus passengers actually breathed in.

Still reading?

Lucky cyclists who lead a Bike to Work Week team of at least four others will receive an awesome, high quality merino wool t-shirt: I plan to create a VCH BtWW team of at least five cyclists!

* A review of the top 10 perceived barriers to cycling

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