Bike to Work Week kicks off, drawing attention to cycling infrastructure across B.C.

Thousands of British Columbians are hitting the roads on two wheels as the annual Bike to Work Week kicked off on Monday.

Annual cycling event draws thousands of participants and runs until June 3

Dozens of communities and municipalities across the province are encouraging cyclists of all ages to take to the roads for Bike to Work Week.

Thousands of British Columbians are hitting the roads on two wheels as the annual Bike to Work Week kicked off on Monday.

More than 80 stations, with prizes, snacks and bike tune-up tutorials, have been set up across Metro Vancouver alone to encourage car commuters to turn to cycling throughout the week-long event from May 28 to June 3.

So far, roughly 12,000 cyclists have signed up, and many more are expected to be on the roads this week, said Alyshia Burak, a bike education program manager with HUB Cycling which helps co-ordinate the event in Vancouver.  

"It's just blossomed," Burak said. "People love riding their bikes, and we are seeing more and more people participate every year."

She says bike-friendly infrastructure is key to getting more people peddling and pointed to the newly redesigned intersection at Burrard and Pacific as an example of a protected intersection that works.

"Cyclists, drivers and pedestrians are all physically separated, and the lights are timed so that they are going through the intersection at different times," she said. "That really reduces the chances of collisions and crashes."

Separated bike lanes are plentiful in Vancouver, a city with one of the highest number of cyclists in North America. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Concerned cyclists

Judy and Malcolm Martin, a retired couple in Kamloops, are avid cyclists but say they wish the city would prioritize biker safety more.

"There aren't enough bike lanes," Judy said. "There is always a lot of gravel on the road and there aren't a lot of long runs."

Judy, who started street riding after a coworker invited her out in a previous Bike to Work Week event, said she often doesn't feel safe on the roads and is hesitant about taking her granddaughter out.

"If we had leaders that were interested in improving our road bike paths, it would be something that I would definitely vote for," she said.

Judy and Malcolm Martin say they wish the city would give cyclist safety higher priority. (Shelley Joyce/CBC)

New bike lanes

Sarah Webb, an active transportation project manager for the City of Victoria, said infrastructure like protected bicycle corridors will be key as cities densify.

A new protected lane opened on Fort Street in Victoria over the weekend, just over a year after the Pandora bike lanes were built.

"This is part of a goal of creating more transportation options but also giving people safe transportation choices in a place where we are expecting 10s of thousands of new people to be living in the coming years," Webb said.

With files from Margaret Gallagher, The Early Edition, Daybreak Kamloops and On The Island.