Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Bike to Work & School Week & Bike to Shop Days Results

Bike to School Week ridealong with Deputy Mayor of Vancouver Lisa Dominato & School Board Trustee Janet Fraser

Bike to Work Week 2019 celebration
Did you bike to school &/or work last week? This year's Bike to Work & School Week (BTWW) was one of the most successful yet, with record breaking numbers of new riders. 3,292 new riders signed up to participate, which was an 87% increase over last year! 11,400 people registered for BTWW this year, logging 61,059 trips & riding 578,188 km across Metro Vancouver in a single week. More details here on the Bike to Work Week page.

"The continued growth in participation shows that the ongoing investment in cycling infrastructure & education across the region is having a direct impact on the number of people commuting by bike. It’s really great to see such a measurable increase (+87%) in the number of participants who are brand new to biking to work this year" explains Rowena Farr,  Bike to Work Week Manager. “Many Celebration Stations were located near recently improved cycling facilities,” she adds.

The bike racks were stuffed full for Bike to School Week
124 Metro Vancouver area elementary & middle schools registered in Bike to School Week this year. Schools organized morning celebrations, breakfasts (we continued the tradition of the waffle breakfast this year), cycling skills events, bike parades, family biking workshops & more to celebrate cycling & active travel.

“We really see school communities come together this week & it's because they recognize the benefits of active travel, like school zones being less congested & students arriving energized & ready to learn” says Jel Kocmaruk, HUB Cycling’s Bike to School Week Coordinator. "& the beauty of Bike to School Week is that every school celebrates in a way that keeps with their school culture & needs”. Our school typically has a dozen or so bikes in the racks, with another dozen or so parents dropping kids off by cargo bike, trailabike, etc. In May & June these numbers swell to fill up the large bike corrall & racks at the other side of the school.

Tracking bike trips to school for BTSW
As part of wanting to connect directly with students riding to school to hear about their experiences, HUB Cycling hosted the inaugural Bike Reels: Student Video Contest as part of Bike to School Week this year. Prizes for top student videos in all age categories to be announced next week on the Bike to School Week page.

School results are still coming in, but HUB Cycling anticipates that students took over 33,000 trips last week, with winning schools likely reporting participation rates of up to 71% of their school population & up to 55% cycling mode share throughout the week! Our school had the Bicycle Valet for the day on the Biker's Breakfast day & checked 72 bikes, with more kids & parents locking up in the racks.

Bike to Shop Days participation increased 34% since last year. For the first time, Bike to Shop Days was made a part of Bike to Work Week, encouraging people to continue making trips by bike throughout the weekend. The event hosted four guided rides, discounts at local shops & farmers markets. Celebration stations were set up across Metro Vancouver where participants could get their bike tuned up & get tips on carrying items by bike. “The event shows people that cycling to their local market, to get groceries or do their daily errands can be easy, fun, & comes with free parking!” said organizer Tracy Wilkins. Get further details about Bike To Shop Days here.

Bike to Shop Days station
Bike to Work & School Week & Bike to Shop Days successfully encourage people to try active modes of transportation & the hope is that participants continue to use their bikes to get around beyond these events. “Our surveys show that more than 70% of people who hadn’t biked to work before Bike to Work Week are still biking to work two months later,” adds Farr. “We encourage people to continue using their bike for all sorts of trips - not just the commute to work, but trips to the store, to visit friends. Getting around by bike saves money, supports an active lifestyle, & helps us connect with our communities.”

A little more info about HUB Cycling:
HUB Cycling is a charitable non-profit that has spent two decades removing barriers to cycling in Metro Vancouver, while cultivating the health, environmental, & economic benefits that active transportation can bring. HUB Cycling has educated thousands of people, motivated thousands more, & championed improvements that benefit current & future cyclists. HUB Cycling’s mission is to get more people cycling more often. For more information, visit

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

8-year-old Niobe writes to the Mayor & Council about Bike Safety

Niobe in City Hall after delivering her letter to Council.
A friend's daughter decided to spend her free time during Bike to School Week carefully composing a letter to the Vancouver City Council detailing her concerns about biking to school in Vancouver. She eloquently describes her own experiences & makes a very good suggestion for a policy change to make cycling on the city's neighbourhood bikeways safer.

Here's the text of her letter:

Dear Vancouver Mayor and Councillors, 
My name is Niobe and I am eight years old. I am a very good bike rider but riding in Vancouver is really scary. 
I only ride to school on marked bike roads (10th and Heather) but there are so many cars and delivery trucks and construction trucks and taxis on these roads. 
When I ride in front of my mom, cars can't see me, so when they choose to pass, they don't leave enough time or space and end up coming way too close and go way too fast.
When I ride behind my mom, cars still try to pass us but often end up not having enough time and pull over between me and my mom! That's super scary.  
Once, after going up a hill, a car came by and made a really loud noise that surprised me and my bike slipped and I fell on the road. No car stopped to see if I was okay, they kept driving past us while my mom got me and my bike off the street.  
The best part of my ride is past the hospital where I get to ride on a raised bike road with no cars. My mom says you can't put these bike roads everywhere because it would be too expensive.  
So I thought it would be cheaper to make a rule that cars can't pass bike riders on bike roads. That would make my ride to school a lot safer and safer for my friends too. Can you please make this a rule?  

I think a no passing law on bikeways would be a great addition to Vancouver's bylaws. Well put, Niobe.

If you'd like to see this change come into effect, or have any other ideas of your own to make biking safer in Vancouver, please contact the City of Vancouver via #311, writing a letter to the Mayor & Council as Niobe did, or using the VanConnect App.

*her name is pronounced [Nigh-oh-bee] in case you were wondering.

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Friday, May 31, 2019

Kerrisdale ABCs of Family Biking Workshop Resources

Welcome to my site, family bikers!

For those of you who attended the Kerrisdale ABCs of Family Biking Workshop, here are the resources mentioned in the presentation:

Join a supportive community of cycling parents: Vancouver Family Biking FB Group

Where to buy a cargo bike in Vancouver

Register your bike with Project 529

Check to see if a bike is stolen with the Canadian Police Information Centre

Factors to think about when choosing a family biking setup:
  • Temperament of child
  • Current bike/gear
  • Size, age, abilities of child (growth chart to predict next few years)
  • Your size & abilities
  • Storage space for your bike
  • Carrying other things
  • Weather
  • Budget

Register for a HUB Cycling Family Streetwise Course (just $10 per adult, free for kids)

Bike Sense Manual 
URBAN CYCLING: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike 

Road sign & pavement marking info & where you are allowed to bike, skate, walk on the City of Vancouver website 

Route Planning with CoV  or Google maps (click on the bike layer to show bike lanes, bikeways, etc) or Let's Go Biking
Translink cycling maps & information plus the Rider Guide on taking your bike on bus, Skytrain, & Seabus

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Learning About Research From the Inside Out

My little straphanger
I'm a big fan of research--it's so crucial to so many aspects of our lives. Designing safety standards for car seats, baby cribs, toys, our homes, our food. Creating safe & effective medications & vaccines, treatments for health conditions & injuries. A lot of us wouldn't be alive without it. Or our lives would be a lot worse.

While I'm not a researcher, I'm happy to have the opportunity to contribute to research & I think it's a great learning opportunity for my kids to do so as well. When I was still pregnant with Linny, I joined the CHILD Study, along with 3400 other families across Canada, to contribute to research on the prediction, prevention, & treatment of chronic diseases. The study was initially designed to go from prenatal to age five, but they extended it & we were happy to continue on, now going on nine years.

Linny & I have also participated in a few other studies at UBC & SFU, one of which he even got to wear an EEG cap. Bronte hadn't had the chance to be a part of research until recently, when I signed both kids up with the UBC Early Development Research Group.

A little tactile reading practice
We got the call that both Linny & Bronte could participate in two studies with the UBC Centre for Cognitive Development & scheduled in a visit on a weekday after school. We hopped on a bus , then walked through the campus with a little climbing here & there along the way, & arrived at the research lab in about 45 minutes. The kids both did two different computer "games" as part of the research, which related to kids' ability to estimate quantity. I relaxed in the waiting room, & they were all finished within about a half hour. Afterward, each child was presented with a "Bachelor of Arts" certificate for participating, as well as a choice of a toy, book or t-shirt. Unsurprisingly, they both picked the cute stuffies.

I've had some interesting conversations with the kids about why research is important & how it can be used to help people have better lives. Some of the things the Linny has been exposed to in the CHILD Study, for example, has been quite useful to help him be a little more comfortable with medical procedures, since the researchers there are so patient & strive to make the experience as positive as possible. The study we participated in at UBC was completely non-invasive--just sitting at a computer with the researcher & choosing one of two things shown on the screen--but I think it's still useful to teach the kids the value of contributing in a small way to something bigger than themselves that could help other people.

If you're interested in contributing to research like this with your children, you can sign up for the Early Development Research Group online. They are always looking for participants from birth right up to early teens. This research group is part of the Psychology department at UBC, so their research doesn't involve any invasive medical tests, generally just ordinary day to day activities like talking, playing, or watching video. Their website has more information on what a typical visit looks like

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Join #30DaysOfBiking & Jumpstart your Bike Commuting

Have you put away your bike for the winter & are dragging your feet about getting started riding again? Or maybe you haven't ever ridden that much but you'd like to start? Joining a month long challenge like 30 Days of Biking can be a great incentive to set a habit & launch yourself into active travel for the rest of the year.

One caveat, it's not a contest--nobody is keeping track of kilometres travelled, personal best speeds, or hours spent in the saddle. & your rides don't have to be long or even go anywhere--if, at 10pm on a Thursday in April, you discover that you haven't biked anywhere yet, you could just hop on your bike & ride around the block.

If you really want to ride every single day in a place like Vancouver, that means that you're likely to end up riding in the rain at least a few days in April. This could be a great opportunity to try out wet weather biking if you've previously been a "fairweather" cyclist in the past. If you're looking for rainy day gear advice, check out my review of the People's Poncho.

Even if you, like me, ride most days already, & the challenge won't make a huge difference to your biking habit, it's also a nice little reminder to share our rides with other people. I've gotten so used to just heading out the door on my bike & I feel like I could probably take a few more photos & share a little more, just to show people how we live car-free with kids. I come across people all the time who just can't envision what bringing two kids to school in the morning looks like on a bike, or how in the world you'd carry groceries for a family of four, or what winter or rainy day biking looks like. Let's get the word out, shall we?

Head over to the 30 Days of Biking website, join me & the 1400+ other riders who've pledged to ride every day in the month of April, & start Instagramming/Tweeting/Facebooking your rides with #30daysofbiking!

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Sunday, March 3, 2019

3 Reasons I Love Modo (speech from the HUB Cycling Bike Awards)

Modo gave me the opportunity to speak again as one of their Blogger Ambassadors at the annual HUB Bike Awards on February 28. It's always funny to go on stage to talk about driving at a cycling event, but stay with me here--cycling is actually relevant to Modo in my experience. Here's the text of my speech at the event, plus the images from my slides, in case you missed it.

I've got just three minutes, so I made a quick listicle for you. 

Three things I love about Modo:

In January, I decided to total up our transportation costs for last year, including travel. Our biggest category, unsurprisingly, was biking: repairs, then Modo car sharing, a few Ferries, some Poparide ride sharing, plus a little Transit. The total came to: $3520

(note: if you read my post on the costs of living as a #carfreefamily a while back, I included the cost of a new bike for Linnaeus in the total of $3820, but I decided to remove that, since we'd likely have bought him a bike even if we mainly used two cars to get around)

For comparison sake, if we'd done the majority of that by car, we'd have needed to own two. Based on the average in BC, that would have cost us about $19,000 last year. !! Since we spend well under $4000 on getting around, that's a savings of over $15,000!

I know a lot of Modo's messaging is about how fun it is, how much money we save, how we have access to all different types of vehicles, & how easy it is to book... This is all true. But part of what I love about Modo is the *inconvenience* of carsharing. Because, let's face it, I am a little lazy. I want to get there in the fastest, easiest way possible. Which, if I had a car sitting out front of my home, would often be driving. Because I *don't* own a car, I have to take a few extra steps to book a car, then walk a couple blocks to go get it. Plus, if you have children, installing the car seats. Compared to this, riding my cargo bike out of the garage is more convenient. So my driving is a lot more intentional. Using Modo & not owning a car makes me less likely to drive & much more likely to bike.

The latest new thing for Modo members is here: Open Return! Open Return is a new booking option that allows you to reserve a car for a full 24 hours, & return it whenever you want within that time. Once you park the car & fob out, you go to the Modo app & end your booking manually, paying for just the time that you used, plus a $3 fee.

As I mentioned, we mainly bike to get around, but when we do drive, now we book with Open Return. It's hard to predict in advance how the day is going to go when we're out & about with the kids. Using Open Return means if they get tired we can come home early & save a bit on our booking. Then the car is available for another member to use. Or we can stay out later & not have to worry about rushing home because someone else has the car booked right after us. No need to worry about getting stuck in traffic. & we can squeeze in one more errand on the way home.

IF you haven't joined Modo yet, use the code HUBAWARDS2019 to save $50 on drive time when you join! For more about open return, check out Modo's website. Members, if you haven't already, try Open Return on your next booking! 

If you'd like to see how we live as a #carfreefamily, you can follow me on instagram, my handle is SPOKESMAMA. Thank you.

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