Wheels are turning in Smithers this week with daily events celebrating Bike to Work Week from May 25-31.
A total 423 riders and 46 teams from Smithers are currently registered for the 2015 event, up from 322 in 2014.
Daily lunches, free entry to exercise facilities and group cycling events are being held for participants this week and entries are still open for those who want to join.
Smithers is one of many communities throughout the province participating in the provincial initiative, which promotes cycling as a mode of transportation.
Participants Irene Waser and Diana Jex are part of a team of five WorkBC employees who registered under the team name Changing Gears.
Waser is cycling six kilometres and Jex is pedalling 11 kilometres return each day.
Waser said she didn’t usually ride her bike to work because she lived in a mountainous area but this week she was leaving from a friend’s house.
“I do live out of town about 45 minutes so I come with my car to a co-workers house and [cycle] back from there,” she said.
This year is the third time Jex has taken part in Bike to Work Week in Smithers.
She said the event was achieving its goal of recruiting more cyclists.
“I got my husband and my son involved this year for the first time so they are biking to school and he’s biking to work and they’ve never done that before, as far as participating and logging in,” she said.
Jex, who was impressed with the level of community involvement, said she was enjoying logging her kilometres and bike routes using the website.
“I think Smithers in general is a huge community [for] outdoors and physical activity but to bring this in and have buy-in from all the businesses and all of the service providers is huge,” she said.
The Town of Smithers is also promoting the event after City of Revelstoke mayor Mark McKee and former mayor Geoff Battersby challenged the town to a contest.
The winner will be the community with the highest total number of cyclists multiplied by the total number of kilometres.
Although Revelstoke has a larger population of more than 7,000 compared with Smithers’ 6,000, Bike to Work Week organizer Liliana Dragowska is confident the town still has a chance.
“I think if people are committed to clocking their kilometres and registering them online I think there is a good chance,” she said.
“We don’t have the same amount of people registration but it is [judged on] people and kilometres so I think that really counts.”
Dragowska, who is a town employee, has participated in Bike to Work Week in other communities but this is her first time experiencing it in Smithers.
She said the town’s scenic beauty and bike infrastructure made it very friendly to cyclists.
“It’s so beautiful to ride your bike here when it’s sunny, the scenery is fantastic, the roads they do a good job [of] maintaining … both the Town of Smithers and Billabong,” said Dragowska.
“There is a lot of bicycle infrastructure here, the town invested a lot with those bike racks and then the project with Bike Smithers that created the bike lane on Third Avenue I think raised a lot of awareness about it.”
Dragowska has also been impressed with the community spirit she has witnessed organizing the event.
“Just the volunteerism in this community, how people are just coming together to help create the event on a really organic level,” she said.
For more information about Bike to Work Week in Smithers or to register visit www.biketowork.ca/smithers/event-info. An end-of-week celebration with live entertainment will be held at Bovill Square from 5:30 p.m.