Five reasons to consider pedal power

Bike to Work and School Week kicks off on May 28.

Bike to Work and School Week kicks off on May 28. It’s a great opportunity to dust off the bike that’s been collecting dust in your garage, pump up the tires and take part in this fun week-long community event.

In the spirit of getting you geared up, here are five reasons you might want to consider pedal power for your daily commute:

1. It’s exercise. Bicycling gets your body moving in a low-impact way that’s easy on your joints. A study by the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands found that every 75 minutes spent cycling each week equates to living six months longer. Smithers is pretty flat, which means you can get to work or school without breaking a sweat. No spandex required.

2. It makes you happy. A study by the YMCA revealed that physically active people having a well-being score that is 32 per cent higher than those with inactive lifestyles.

3. It’s easy on the wallet. Get within 20 feet of a gas pump these days and you can feel the funds draining from your bank account. Beyond scrambled eggs and the odd tune-up, biking is virtually free. And if biking allows you to become a one-car household, CAA estimates you will save an average of $9,500 per year (cost of compact car ownership in Canada). The savings don’t just accrue to individuals, either. The Danish government calculated in 2012 that every trip traveled by bike was a $0.42 economic gain to society, while one mile driving was a $0.20 loss.

4. It’s zero emissions, which means it’s better for the climate and local air quality.

5. It’s social, and ridiculously fun. Being on a bike allows you to interact with those around you in ways you can’t when you’re behind the wheel. Plus, there’s something uniquely joyful about whizzing about on two wheels — a kind of magic that most adults only vaguely remember from childhood. Swing your leg over the crossbar and push off on the pedals and you’ll find that the magic is still there. Dare you not to smile.

If you’re interested in giving Bike to Work and School Week a try, visit gobybikebc.ca/Smithers and sign up. The site’s cool map feature allows you to plot your route and track your kilometers.

Our volunteer committee has again lined up a great schedule of events for the week. Like last year, it all starts at noon on Monday, May 28, at Bugwood. Then, each day that week features a different celebration station with free food, music, and fun. It all wraps up on Friday at noon with the grand prize draw: a brand new Norco Storm mountain bike generously donated by McBike & Sport. You can find the entire schedule on the website and on Facebook.

If you’d like to start the week early, come to the Old Church on Friday, May 25 at 7 p.m. for a screening of the new film, Why We Cycle. It looks at Dutch bicycle culture and the potential of ordinary bicycles to transform communities.

See you out there!

P.S. In the interest of peace and harmony, please respect stop signs, use your signals and keep off the sidewalks. Recent studies show it makes people less angry.

-Michelle Larstone, Jeremy Shriber, Nick Meyer, Liliana Dragowska and Sheena Miller are members of Smithers Bikes!, which organizes Bike to Work and School Week each year.

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