Penticton cyclists gear up for a pedal power challenge

The challenge has been issued and the Mayor of Penticton expects to take the Bike to Work Week title again.

Co-owner Paul Grewal of Freedom the Bike Shop works on a cycle in preparation for the 2014 Bike to Work Challenge which is happening again this year from May 25 to May 31. Residents of Penticton are encouraged to join others in the province in leaving the car at home and using pedal power to get to their destinations.

Co-owner Paul Grewal of Freedom the Bike Shop works on a cycle in preparation for the 2014 Bike to Work Challenge which is happening again this year from May 25 to May 31. Residents of Penticton are encouraged to join others in the province in leaving the car at home and using pedal power to get to their destinations.

The challenge has been issued and the Mayor of Penticton expects to take the Bike to Work Week title again.

“The City of Penticton is looking forward to riding circles around the Regional District of South Okanagan again,” said Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. “Last year was the first year that the city won and they still have a pimped up tricycle sitting in their office to remind them of their humiliating defeat.”

The special week runs from May 25 to 31 this year, and calls on commuters of all ages to represent their community by choosing two-wheeling for transport.

The event is in its seventh year locally and has been growing fast. In Penticton, there were 450 participants last year — which was an increase of 150 of the year before, said Karina Chambers, Bike to Work Week co-ordinator in Penticton.

“You get that blast of sunshine and fresh air before you have to go into the office and work away from sunlight and it helps to decompress on the way home,” she said about cycling to work. “It wakes me up.”

Local students can look forward to Bike to School Week, which is new this year. Chambers said the offshoot program focused on safety and making new riders feel comfortable on their bikes. Skaha Middle School, Pen High, and all of the local elementary schools are taking part, she said.

Cycling is especially fun during the designated week as celebration stations will be set up around town to share with riders some morning snacks and swag.

The celebration stations run from Monday to Friday during Bike to Work Week, and Chambers said the local locations can be found at the Bike to Work webpage.

Participants are invited to a free barbecue supper at Gyro Park on May 29 from 4 to 6 p.m.

At the barbecue, kids will learn more about cycling at a safety training village for bikes, and Hoodoos Adventure Company will be setting up a mountain bike skills training course.

Prior to Bike To Work Week, on May 23, Chambers can be found in a booth at the Penticton Community Market, where she’ll be encouraging cyclists to get a head start on decorating their rides with stickers and reflectors. Plus there will also be a draw to win prizes.

“Just to be able to cycle once or twice a week to work is a big difference in their health and state of mind,” Mayor Jakubeit said, adding that he often walks or rides his bike to work, which is about four or five kilometres.

“Penticton is a very walkable and ridable community and is reasonably flat. We have an easily accessible and strong bike network already in place, as well we have a car culture that’s used to cycling.”

To help defeat your rival community, sign up at biketowork.ca/penticton and be ready to log your commutes. To judge each community’s rate of participation, the scoring system takes into account the distance travelled and each municipality’s varied population. For students and teachers, Bike to School Week is being overseen by HASTE – the Hub for Active School Travel (visit goo.gl/BMmUOK).

“We’re making a big push to promote cycling in our region and show ourselves to be a cycling precinct,” Mayor Jakubeit said.