May 25, 2015, was the first day of this year’s ‘Spring Bike to Work Week’. Media coverage of this event, now in its ninth year, was saturating to the point where even those who have not embraced cycling as a viable mode of urban transportation must at least be aware that cycling is more than a passing fad, and that cycling advocates have won the day.
Cycling is fun, an opportunity for healthy, low impact exercise, and a reasonably practical and cost-effective way of getting around the city. That it is also a pollution free activity is almost, now the icing-on-the-cake even though, ironically enough, this was one of the key motivators for the nascent cycling movement back when our collective infatuation with the car began to wane.
Challenges remain, however. Cyclists are amongst the most vulnerable of all road users and, perhaps, the least ‘appreciated’ of all road-sharers. Mix cyclists with drivers and the tensions on both sides —provided drivers even see the cyclists—are palpable; mix cyclists and pedestrians on dedicated/restricted pathways—cyclists can be menacing in their own right.
Hence the growth of volunteer organizations like Vancouver’s HUB Cycling—formerly the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition—dedicated to making cycling much safer and therefore more enjoyable and thereby more appealing to those who otherwise continue to rule it out as a viable transportation mode for them.
HUB Cycling has related organizations in cities throughout British Columbia, which, in turn, belong to an umbrella organization, the British Columbia Cycling Coalition (BCCC). BCCC’s stated goal is “to enable more people to ride bicycles more often for transportation, recreation, and tourism.”
To achieve its’ goal HUB works with cycling groups, governments, businesses, and organizations across the province to secure more funding for cycling paths, protected bike lanes and better cycling facilities on highways; to ensure that new and existing road and bridge projects include cycling facilities; to encourage the implementation of provincial cycling education initiatives; to build support for updating the Motor Vehicle Act to ensure it reflects best practices regarding cycling safety; and to support provincial initiatives that support cycle tourism.
HUB Cycling’s website and BCCC’s website are both exhaustive sources of information about their respective organizations, the promotional events, and efforts they sponsor, including Bike to Work Week on the HUB website, and bike safety in general. The ‘Resources’ page of HUB’s website under ‘Bike Smart’ links to the Bike Sense Manual— bikesense.bc.ca/bikesense-manual— developed by the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition (GVCC).
At 36 pages in pdf format, the Bikesense manual covers the following topics: equipment, visibility, cycling and traffic skills, who to call with bicycle-related safety concerns and issues, public transit, what to do in case of a traffic accident, the most common cycling collisions, cyclists and the law, bicycle security, and cycling advocacy. This manual is said to be essential reading for anyone currently contemplating taking up the challenge of the Spring 2015 Bike to Work Week, indeed for anyone who may have opted, gamely, for a work commute by bicycle.