Penticton’s bicycle lanes are about to get a whole lot busier. May 28 to June 1 will be Penticton’s fourth Bike to Work Week, an initiative to get people out of their cars and onto their bikes in an effort to promote healthy living and sustainable transportation.
To this end, Bike to Work Week has business around the city signing their workplaces up. Their goal is to get as many people as possible leaving their cars in the driveway and biking to work.
A city like Penticton is great for a Bike to Work Week event, said Rowena Tansley, president of the Penticton and Area Cycling Association, the group hosting the event.
“Penticton just has a great setup for biking,” she said. “It’s got a great climate for eight months of the year, mostly it’s flat, it’s kind of compact so you can get around fairly easily on your bike.”
The purpose of the event isn’t competition, but rather opening people’s eyes to the option of using their bikes to get to work, said Tansley.
“It’s just a way to encourage people just to try it, even just one day a week,” she said.
In order to encourage people to try the bike lanes, there will be Celebration Stations set up each from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. each morning during Bike to Work Week where cyclists can grab breakfast snacks, have their bikes and helmets checked for safety by the Bike Barn and Freedom Bike Shop and enter draws to win prizes. The stations are held at different locations on each day of the festival.
As well, the City of Penticton has joined efforts with Bike to Work Week, and will be incorporating the development of its own bike plan into the Celebration Station events. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, people can visit the Celebration Stations to see a draft of the bike plan.
Thursday, the city will be launching the next phase of the bike plan process by taking comments and thoughts from participants at the station. Andreas Rohl, manager of Copenhagen’s bicycle program will be on hand to meet participants and answer questions. Later that night, the city will hold a public meeting where Rohl will be giving a presentation regarding the bike plan, as well as taking questions from the audience. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. on May 31 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
While the event isn’t competitive, that hasn’t kept some local organizations from using Bike to Work Week as an excuse to stoke the fires of rivalry.
A long-running competition between the City of Penticton and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen saw mayor Dan Ashton riding a tricycle down Main Street as punishment after the employees of the city logged less kilometres than their counterparts at the regional district.
Jake Belobaba, planner with the City of Penticton, said the rivalry is a great way to both make the event more fun while raising the public’s awareness.
“I think it certainly makes it more fun and amusing,” he said. “It also raises awareness. We received front page news when the mayor rode his tricycle down Main Street last year, so it brings in a very fun way awareness to the issue of alternative transportation and the need to use cars less and alternative transportation more.”
As for what the city’s wager with the regional district will be this year, Belobaba said with a laugh, “Let’s just say we’ve found a slightly bigger bike than we had last year.”
A bigger bike indeed — this year’s loser will have to wear an old-timers outfit, and ride a penny-farthing, a high-wheeled bike popular in the 1800s, down Main Street.
To sign up a team, or for more information on Bike to Work Week, visit www.biketowork.ca/penticton.