Bike to Work Day keeps 'spirit of cycling alive' in Winnipeg

Cyclists streaming through downtown Winnipeg early Monday morning were treated to warm coffee and prize packs full of reusable straws and other environmentally friendly swag as the 5th annual Bike Week Winnipeg gets underway.

Annual event encourages cyclists to help fight climate change, stay fit by parking car, pledging to peddle

Bike to Work Week takes place June 18-24 in Winnipeg. (CBC)

Cyclists streaming through downtown Winnipeg early Monday morning were treated to warm coffee and prize packs full of reusable straws and other environmentally friendly swag as the 5th annual Bike Week Winnipeg gets underway.

The week got started with Bike to Work Day, one of several calls to leave the car at home and get peddling as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stay healthy.

"I want to be young, young in the body," Barry Kopulos, 60, said while standing at the corner of Portage Avenue and Memorial Boulevard, where local non-profit Green Action Centre was pouring coffee for cyclists on their morning commutes. 

"Keep fit, exercise, bike, talk to people — it's a social thing — that's why I love to ride. Good for the body."

Barry Kopulos says Bike to Work Week is a great opportunity to get active and socialize with other Winnipeggers. (CBC)

Cycling and using other forms of active transportation to get to work are among the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said Jaret Olford.

"Cycling is extremely important," said Olford, commuter challenge co-ordinator at Green Action Centre.

"We're celebrating the bicycle, but it could be walking, it could be taking transit, it could be carpooling or telecommuting.… We're keeping the spirit of cycling alive with Bike to Work Day."

Olford and others handed cyclists prize packs full of reusable alternatives to conventional plastics, including reusable straws, sandwich bags, cutlery and more.

The Canadian Automobile Association Manitoba branch hosted its own pit stops with snacks and swag Monday — one at the south end of the Assiniboine Park footbridge and another on the legislature grounds near the Osborne Bridge. 

Cyclists who get a flat tire or run into other mechanical issues Monday can call CAA at 204-262-6000 before 7 p.m. to get free repairs.

Bike to Work Day participants rewarded:

Cyclists streamed through downtown Winnipeg as the 5th annual Bike Week Winnipeg got underway. 1:09

"No rider should be stranded if they encounter mechanical issues on their route," CAA spokesperson Erika Miller said in a statement.

Bike to Work Week wraps up Sunday with the ninth annual Ciclovia. The event sees droves of cyclists zigzag their way down closed streets — Wellington Crescent, Wolseley Avenue, Scotia Street and North East Pioneers Greenway — en route to The Forks, where a day of family-friendly activities is scheduled to take place.