Friday, 28 December 2012

It has been quite a year getting from Pt A to Pt B

When I started the Bike2Work Challenge back in June, I never expected it to have the impact that it did.

This is a catch-up for the last 6 months:
  • in the middle of July, the clutch went on my car of 17 years ... my old faithful Toyota Corolla.  I was between a rock and a hard place, financially (at that precise time) so I decided it was time to "let go" and so I had it towed away to the car graveyard.
  • I continued my easy commute (5 minutes) of 1K one-way on a regular basis to City Hall and my every other day commute (8K one-way) to the Kitchener Operations Facility throughout the summer.
  • I cycled to Sobey's and Central Market for groceries, Swanson's for hardware, and followed the Iron Horse Trail to church most Sundays up in Waterloo.  It was 4K to my fiance's place across town.
  • I didn't need to "work out" - commuting everywhere was giving me all the exercise I needed!  Cycling in 0-10C weather was actually more efficient. As the weather cooled off, it became easier to get from point A to point B without having to enlist the services of a shower  ;-) 
  • In September, I joined CarShare and opened a corporate and personal account.  With the onset of more back-to-back meetings at City Hall and the Kitchener Operations Facility, I found it more timely to use the CarShare to zip back and forth.
  • I have continued to cycle most days through balmy September through December but with the road conditions, I'm going to hold off on buying the winter treads and just walk to work for now and use CarShare for the trips to the KOF and running personal errands.
  • Can't wait to hop back on the bike as winter thaws permit.
  • I send a big thank you to Ziggy's for being so generous at the onset and for continually "being there" for tune-ups and keeping the tires at the right pressure ever since!  You guys rock!
  • Finally, a big thank you to Josh for helping us all explore new ways of getting from point A to point B.
Greg Kay
Business Systems Project Manager,
City of Kitchener.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Sticking with it

I wondered if I would truly keep with cycling like I said I would... and so far so good.  I just eclipsed 550 km of total commuting by bike this summer, including 250 km in July (post-challenge).  I think I can now say that its part of my daily routine.

Thanks again to Ziggy's.  I was having a 'clicking' sound near my handlebars and they were able to fix it up with a little grease.

- Alan P, Google

Thursday, 5 July 2012

May the Cycle be Unbroken

Unless something very surprising happens, tomorrow will be my 23rd and final (for now) business day in a row biking to work. I am on vacation next week, and only that can break my streak. When I get back, I will continue cycling to and from work, but the streak is broken and the counter resets. I am taking a few days off at the end of July, but perhaps I will try for every day in August?

Yesterday, the heat hit me as a miserable wall on the way out of the Tannery. Even with my short commute, I will likely have to alter my current commute strategy if the heat continues like this. So far, I have been able to avoid all of this business of a bringing a change of clothes and showering when I get here. That will change pretty quickly if there is a morning as hot as yesterday afternoon. You could feel the heat in your teeth as you inhaled, and the pavement seemed to be rising up underneath me.

One thing I am realizing is that if I continue to bike to work, I need to add a calendar reminder each week or so to start up my car and drive it around the block a few times. Mostly to discourage the squirrels from filling my muffler with walnuts. I don't think I have turned over the engine since June 9th.

- Eric M

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The end? or just the beginning?

It's been a great month of cycling and none of it would have been possible without the generous support of Ziggy's Cycle - thank you for the bikes, the advice and for helping to grow the cycling community in Kitchener.

Also a big thank you to Josh for organizing the challenge - I can't imagine how much time he put in setting up the blog and making the video.

I ended the month on a high, having cycled every work day for the past 15 days.  In June I spent over 15 hours commuting by bike, and cycled over 300 km in the process.

I feel great and am looking forward to continuing to ride through the rest of the summer and fall.  This past week I've started getting more comfortable riding on busier roads like King and Weber, which has helped me to take a more direct route.  I am also excited to tackle the big hill near my house, which I had shied away from earlier in the month.

Lastly, to all the people that have supported me and all 12 of us through this challenge - thank you!  It's been great that so many people have been interested in how we are doing and if you've been thinking about cycling but haven't done it in a while, just go for it, you'll be glad you did.

- Alan P, Google

Bike2Work Challenge Video & Lessons Learned!

Hello all,

I'm very pleased to announce that all 12 participants have met the requirements of the challenge, and are therefore eligible to keep their bicycles as a prize! In total, the 12 participants have cycled nearly 2000 kilometres from home to work!

Numerous participants have expressed an interest in maintaining this blog throughout the year. I'm pleased to announce that this blog will remain active and participants will continue to blog about their cycling experiences. Be sure to subscribe via email (see box to the right) to be kept up to date. For your information, this blog has been visited over 4000 times!

On another note, I have made some interesting observations in regards to this challenge that I believe are worth sharing:

1)      People will adjust their transportation habits when they are provided with the proper incentives and support: Offering a new bicycle, valued at over $700, proved to be an incentive that worked extremely well in engaging people who might not ever have considered cycling. For example, 10 of the 12 participants in this challenge have never cycled to work before. The incentive is what drew them to participate, but their month long experience is what will adjust their transportation habits in the long term. 100% of participants have stated that they will continue cycling to work after the challenge is over.

2)      When people are willing to share their transportation experiences, others take notice: Participants in this challenge were required to blog about their bicycle commuting experiences online at In just one month, the blog has been visited over 4000 times, and many participants have stated that their friends, family, and co-workers have been inspired to try commuting to work by bicycle as well. People trust their friends and family, so the lesson learned here is to motivate people to spread the messaging themselves.

3)      Cycling is truly for people from all age groups and walks of life: The demographics of participants in this challenge was quite diverse, and included younger and older professionals, parents, and both urban and suburban residents. Despite the differences between participants, all were committed to cycling to work, and all shared a common positive experience. This reinforces the fact that cycling is so much more than just a sport in which you wear spandex. It is a sustainable mode of transportation that resonates with a significant majority of people.

4)      Building partnerships with private and public stakeholders plays an important role in changing people’s transportation habits: Without the generous sponsorship of Ziggy’s Cycle, 12 people would have never been exposed to the many benefits of bicycle commuting. Countless other opportunities exist with the many businesses in Downtown Kitchener, and I believe their involvement will be critical in encouraging people to travel more sustainably.

The following quote was included in the video above: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I… I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” In this context, cycling is the less travelled by option, and yet it has made all the difference in the lives of the 12 participants. Will the City of Kitchener be transformed into a world-class bicycle friendly city? With more initiatives like this one, I do believe it will.

If you have any questions or comments related to the Bike2Work Challenge, please do not hesitate to contact me. Have a great weekend and safe cycling!


Josh Joseph             
Transportation Demand Management Coordinator
City of Kitchener, Transportation Services
200 King Street West, Kitchener, ON
P.O. Box 1118  |  N2G 4G7

P: 519-741-3400 ext. 3167
F: 519-741-2747
TTY: 1-866-969-9994

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

One Month Down!

I cannot believe that we having been biking for one month. The time really has gone by so quickly and after a conversation yesterday with Alan, a fellow Bike2Work participant, I wish we were doing this all over again. Alan and I ran into one another as we were picking up our bikes to ride home. We were discussing how the challenge has been going and he made mention to a challenge he set for himself that made my ride home and back to work this morning so much fun!
He told me that each day he times himself to see how quickly he can make it to and from work. His goal has been to beat his own time each day and to find new routes to take that have less lights or stop signs to make sure his time keeps improving.
I thought this was such a great idea that I tried it myself. It was such a simple personal challenge and I had so much more fun on my ride home. I actually did not time myself, partly because I had to make a few stops on the ride home, but I felt like I was flying! (Thanks Alan)
At this point it seems appropriate to tell you a few things that I have learnt from riding my bike to work these past few weeks:

1.      Reinvesting in your body feels great;

2.      Not having enough time is an excuse (at least for me);

3.      Gas is expensive…;

4.      You can still go to the LCBO after work to grab a bottle of wine (or three :$);

5.      Biking in the rain is as much fun now as it was when you were a kid;

6.      Biking in lightening is beautiful and incredibly scary;

7.      Bikers scare drivers as much as drivers scare bikers;

Finally, there is a huge need for more bike lanes in KW. I am so excited to continue biking to work, but there are simply some areas that are not safe. As I ride down Ottawa Street or Homer Watson I am constantly reminded of this. Twice now, including this morning, I have been forced by motor vehicles to ride so close to the sidewalk that my bike petal has gotten stuck on the curb. This is the worst feeling I have had so far on my ride to work; not knowing if I am going to get my petal unstuck in time or fall off of my bike into traffic.

I would also like to thank the City of Kitchener and Ziggy’s Cycle for putting on this challenge. This has been a life changing experience…one I will keep up with. Thank You!

Laura (Desire2Learn)

Finally feeling local

Downtown Kitchener has a lot of great residential areas, and I have lived in one for over five years. But only very recently have I started to "feel local".

I worked in a Waterloo tech area, seldom went downtown, except walking to the library now and then.

Over the last year, I have realized how great my area is. We started going (and walking) to the symphony, regularly going (again, walking) to the KW|AG1, and I have just generally walked much, much more. I have discovered parks all over, hidden lane-ways, interesting houses, buildings and gardens.

Part of this was just slowly becoming aware of our surroundings. Part of this was having a baby that finds walking calming. Part of this was switching to a job downtown. And part of this was biking.

Biking puts you right on the streets, exposed to the noises and smells2 of downtown. In the car, I would have the radio on; when I walk, I often listen to podcasts. When I am cycling it is just me, the bike and the city. I expected to get bored taking the same short route every day, but there is something new to notice all the time. This morning I was thinking about what I will see if I keep biking this same route until the snow comes.

In late summer, the grasses along the tracks will turn yellow and seedy. In fall the huge maples on Louisa and Wellington will turn yellow and red. The small multiplex at Wellington and Duke is already almost done replacing all the balconies. The redevelopment of industrial spaces seems to be continuing along the tracks towards Krug, I am curious to see what the The Breithaupt Block will look like, and what companies will locate there. The industrial and commercial areas are in the midst of an exciting transition; only blocks away the residential areas seem so green and full of life.

I am excited about the rest of the summer and the fall. I am certainly a much bigger fan of downtown than I was before. Be it resolved that now when someone asks me where I live, I will say "Downtown Kitchener", rather than "Near Uptown Waterloo".
- Eric M

  1. I remembered the KW Art Gallery from public school as sort of a dusty shrine to Homer Watson. Maybe it was never really like that, but it definitely isn't now. Great contemporary shows, both local and touring.
  2. Why can't I smell cakes being baked at the new cake place at Victoria and Duke? I am sure I wouldn't be able to resist if I could smell that on the way home. Or is it the wind direction?