Riding all for Bike to Work Week

City's commuter challenge adds fresh fun

Mike Youds / Kamloops Daily News
May 27, 2013 01:00 AM

Jim Gudjonson, TRU director of enviroment and sustainability, with his hybrid electric pedal assist bike.

A Ferrari wouldn't normally be expected at a Bike to Work Week kickoff, but organizers this year hope to put some spin on the participatory event.

As commuters take to their bicycles for better personal and environmental health this morning, a set of different wheels is set to roll this afternoon.

Franco Anicchaiarico's hot red Testarossa will be at the start line this afternoon - along with MLA Terry Lake in his new, electric Chevy Volt, Jim Gudjonson on his Giant electric bike, Richard and Fearon Blair on their tandem bike and Coun. Donovan Cavers on his 18-speed Trek - for the inaugural Commuter Challenge.

The event begins at the height of rush hour - or what passes for rush hour in Kamloops - at 4:50 p.m. Participants will go through five secret checkpoints before reaching the finish line on the north side of Overlanders Bridge. A safety talk precedes the challenge.

"The whole point of the challenge is to raise awareness about the benefits of bike commuting, learning to share the road and showing respect for all types of transportation," said Trevor Dinn, one of the organizers and a diehard bike commuter.

"And having some fun!"

"It's a timed event," added James Gordon, co-organizer. "We hope to be able to calculate, to some extent, the CO2 outputs of these different modes of transportation."

A similar, multi-modal event was held two years ago during The Great Green Transportation Tune-up, when an electric bike won, followed by a conventional bike.

Gudjonson, interim director of environment and sustainability at TRU, will ride in the challenge towing his daughter in a chariot.

"It will be safety first," he said.

He regularly commutes to TRU from the West End, which takes 12 minutes on his e-bike.

"I find it clears my head and also I'm much more productive."

Two similar e-bikes are provided for loan to TRU students, staff and faculty.

"I'm quite often surprised by how far I can get around on a bicycle," Gudjonson said. "If it's not as fast (as a car), it's almost as fast. Certainly, it's way easier in terms of parking."

"Another vital consideration with this type of challenge is the environmental difference between cars and bikes," said Anne Grube, a dedicated cyclist. "In this day and age, this is an important distinction."

Plus, bikes are way more fun, she added.

And fun is more than a frill for Bike to Work Week. Organizers have sought to put a friendly, welcoming face on bicycle commuting to attract wider participation. Lecturing people about greenhouse gases, climate change or the alarming rise of health problems caused by sedentary lifestyles doesn't work as well.

"We've been trying to stress throughout the buildup that the event is about personal health, the health of the environment and the health of the planet, and we think bike commuting can help on all three fronts," Gordon said.

They hope to have 150 teams signed up to cycle at least part of the way to work this week. A team can be one individual or 100 co-workers. They haven't given up on reaching goal, although only 86 teams were registered by the weekend.

"Kamloops is so last-minute, and they can sign up during the week. Registration is free and they can do it online."

They've expanded the Bike to School part of the event and will hold a kickoff event today at Kay Bingham elementary.

Celebration Stations will be set up again along main routes to offer refreshment and encouragement each day. Runner's Sole on Hillside Drive is offering its own mini-station, including product samples and a gift certificate giveaway. Pedal to The Art We Are with your helmet on and you will receive a free iced tea.

An after-work barbecue wraps up the event on Friday.


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