Sometimes living the city you feel like you are on an assembly line. Line up at the coffee shop in the morning. Follow the crowd cramming onto the SkyTrain. And let’s not forget the joys of sitting in your car at the back of an endless line of traffic trying to get to work.
That last one is the most soul-sucking, but as Float House Gastown co-founder Mike Zaremba discussed on his latest #VancouverSurvivalGuide podcast, more and more people are saving their souls by getting onto a bike.
Mike talked two-wheeling with Laura Jane from HUB, a non-profit group dedicated to improving cycling conditions in Metro Vancouver. Laura stopped in during Bike-to-Work Week to discuss why people should ditch their cars and start cycling more.
It turns out there are more benefits than you think.
Cycling is Social
When was the last time you smiled at another driver? There’s something about being in your car that becomes a fight-or-flight experience, complete with expletives and horn honking. By contrast, cycling means joining a community of like-minded people. As Laura told us, a recent City of Vancouver cycling report revealed cyclists are far more likely to have positive social interactions than other forms of commuting. “I think that affects people’s well-being,” Laura said.
So. Much. Cheaper.
Surviving in Vancouver means being able to afford Vancouver. One of the best ways is to stop paying for gas, insurance, maintenance, horrendous downtown parking fees, as well as that hefty monthly payment on a car loan. And you don’t really need to even buy a bike, as Vancouver now has its shiny new bike-share system set up with locations all over the city, plus the addition of safe new bike lanes.
If you looking to join a community – cycling is one of the best ways to do that. Vancouver has seen a 30% increase in cycling, with a host of groups like HUB connecting cyclists. Hopping on your bike makes it far easier to meet new people. You also learn more about your city by taking routes you wouldn’t normally see by car.
More than 10% of all trips to work are now taking by bike, according to Laura, with numbers increasing all the time. That’s taking cars off the road, reducing congestion, and benefitting the environment.
Give Your Mind a Breather
The most obvious benefit of cycling is improving your fitness level. Cycling works all areas of your body, of course, but it also is effective in reducing stress levels.
As Metro Vancouver's cycling education, action and events non-profit organization, HUB Cycling works with stakeholders and decision makers to improve cycling conditions and get more people cycling more often. As HUB Cycling's Director of Corporate Engagement and Events, Laura works to increase business support for better biking and encourages new people to try out two wheels through motivational events and marketing campaigns.
Laura began biking for transportation while at McGill University 12 years ago because it was the most convenient (and enjoyable) way to get around Montreal. She is a strong believer in the importance of building happy, healthy and inclusive urban communities and feels that the bicycle can play a major role in achieving these societal outcomes. Laura is also a Master's Candidate in Urban Studies at Simon Fraser University.