‘It’s green, it’s economic’: Victoria cyclists gear up for GoByBike Week

'It's green, it's economic': Victoria cyclists gear up for GoByBike Week
Photo credit: Capital Bike
Spring GoByBike Week is happening June 3-9, 2024.

Spring GoByBike Week is about to roll into Greater Victoria, where organizers are hoping people will helmet up and take part in the 30th annual event.

“You might like it. It’s good for your physical health, your mental health, your community. It’s green, it’s economic, the list goes on,” said Kristin Kain, events manager at Capital Bike, which is organizing the event for the Victoria area.

The feat originated in B.C.’s capital but is now provincially known, according to Kain. She says members of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition got things started in 1995 before the Bike to Work BC Society took over.

Then, it was like a chain reaction to get more people on bicycles.

“It’s grown to a provincial event,” said Kain.

“And then in 2020, I believe, or 2019, the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition and the Bike to Work Society merged to become Capital Bike,” a local Victoria charity.

“We do education, celebration and advocacy,” explained Kain.

GoByBike Week 2024, formerly called Bike to Work Week, is happening June 3 to 7, and participants are encouraged to sign up via this website.

“It’s a completely free event. It’s encouraging people to try cycling. I mean, most car rides in the city are less than five kilometres, and that’s like 15 minutes on a bike. It’s easier than people think it is,” Kain told CHEK News Monday.

“We run this event to encourage people to try it for a week.”

More than 61,000 British Columbians took part in last year’s winter, spring, and fall GoByBike Weeks, logging a combined 2,313,928 km, says GoByBike BC.

Bike-lane boom

The event comes as Victoria’s AAA (All Ages and Abilities) bike network continues to grow, helping the city claim the title of Canada’s cycling capital.

“Once in, I believe, 2002, and again this year in 2024. And that’s based on a variety of statistics,” said Coun. Matt Dell, a cycling aficionado in a previous interview.

Statistics Canada says Victoria has the highest rate of commuters who regularly walk or bike to work. About one in 20 people bike to work, and 29.5 per cent of downtown commuters walk to work, according to data released in late 2022.

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“It’s great to see,” said Kain.

“I think that’s because we have this ever-expanding bike network, and our weather is so nice. It’s usually a pretty good temperature and that sort of thing.”

She says people who don’t currently have a bike can purchase a used one from places like local upcycle shops or even Facebook Marketplace.

“If you’re looking for an entry-level bike, you can get a good bike for $200, and it sort of goes up from there. There’s Facebook Marketplace, lots of good bikes there. Or Recyclistas, a shop that upcycles bikes,” said Kain. The latter is located at 25 Crease Avenue, along the Galloping Goose Trail across from Uptown mall.

Bike then bus

Next week, local cyclists can also take the bus for free.

BC Transit and the Victoria Regional Transit Commission are offering rides at no cost to customers who use the bike racks or show their helmets from June 3 to 9.

“All conventional BC Transit buses are equipped with bike racks on the front of the bus, making it easier for cyclists to combine two forms of sustainable transportation when travelling longer distances – or when the weather changes throughout the day and makes cycling less desirable than it was first thing in the morning,” it says.

However, space for bikes on buses is limited. “Bike space is limited and cannot be guaranteed,” BC Transit said in a news release Monday.

‘Valuable’ for the community

Kain is encouraging people to register now before GoByBike Week kicks off. She says those who do help prove how important an event like this really is.

“How you participate is you go on GoByBikeBC.ca and you sign up and log your rides throughout the week. You’re entered to win hundreds of prizes from Capital Bike and even more prizes from GoByBike B.C.,” said Kain.

“Registration helps us get funding for the event, and it’s an advocacy tool for us. The more people participate in the event, the more that these sorts of events are seen as valuable for our community,” she explained in an interview.

Celebration stations will also be set up along popular cycling routes across the Greater Victoria region, and Kain says there’s no minimum number of rides required to take part.

“You can just go for a bike ride and only do one ride and that would be fine, or you can participate the whole week through. And you can sign up up to a week after the event finished and backlog your rides,” she added.

Currently, more than 7,900 riders and 1,900 teams are signed up for the 2024 springtime event, and all the details can be found online here.

Fall GoByBike Weeks then returns from Sept. 23 to Oct. 6.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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