Islanders turning to bikes, transit as gas prices hit new records

Islanders turning to bikes, transit as gas prices hit new records

Victoria’s Lynn Parten started taking public transit six months ago partly due to rising gas prices, even though the 75-year-old already drives a Prius hybrid.

“I’ve been quite amazed at the bus service I never knew it was so incredibly good,” she said.

And with gas prices in the region hitting record highs Parten isn’t alone. BC Transit says its ridership has increased noticeably just in the past week, adding it could be due to multiple factors including people resuming work or activities or becoming less hesitant about COVID-19.

To get even more people on board, Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau has suggested making transit free for the month of March and then increasing funding to expand the service, especially for those who live outside the city.

“These can’t be running a couple times a day for the transit to be useful it has to be regular, reliable and affordable,” Furstenau said.

As people pump more of their hard-earned income into their gas tanks some thoughts turn to two wheels.

“Personally if I’m not going to take my car I’m going to bike,” said Victoria resident Alex Geoffroy. “I think it should be a wake-up call that gas is expensive and it’s something you need to be cautious of.”

And that’s keeping bike shops busy as people start pulling their bikes out of storage.

“Sunny weather always gets people on their bikes but the gas prices has definitely been a part of the conversation,” said Malcolm Gaylord at Oak Bay Bicycles.

E-bike sales now account for 50 per cent of all bike sales at the shop said Gaylord, and families are also turning to cargo bikes.

“So getting two to three kids into a bike whatever that configuration looks like, is quite an easy option especially going forward as bike technology changes,” Gaylord said.

“It’s been nice to just ride past gas stations and we’ll actually take longer rides go out to Thetis go all around and go for hikes,” said Bruce Penner who recently bought a cargo bike he uses to haul his dog Axel around in.

Another option being tossed around to help people avoid the pump is to help them avoid the commute altogether even after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

“Working from home is an option that works for a lot of people it’s a way of again decreasing costs, decreasing emissions,” Furstenau said.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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