Bike to Work Week B.C. gained more and more traction in the days leading up to the event and the final numbers blew organizers out of the water.
“We wanted to reach 10 [cyclists] and we checked the website and we could already see the numbers going up,” said Juliane Mark.
“We finished with 54.”
That total is an astounding number for Prince Rupert’s first time in a few years putting on the healthy showcase, said Mark, and it trounced neighbouring community Kitimat by 46 riders. Terrace totalled 91 riders.
“We saw a lot of bicycles on the road [last week], especially families and kids. It was amazing to see this,” said Mark.
In addition to the 54 riders, seven teams were formed, 506 total kilometres were cycled with 15,180 calories burned and 110 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions saved.
“We didn’t really expect so many and to have such a positive impact,” said Mark.
In total across B.C., 16,043 riders took part, with 311,614 total kilometres cycled and 67,558 greenhouse kilograms of gas emissions saved.
Mark and fellow organizer Kerem Har-Paz held a closing party at the Salmonberry Farmers’ Market on Saturday and awarded prizes from numerous sponsors including Overwaitea, Tim Hortons’, Farwest Sports, Java Cafe and the Prince Rupert Recreation Department. The Prince Rupert Special Events Society, Stuck on Designs and Advantage Print and Design helped the week’s cause as well.
“The winning team was Northern Savings, followed by the Prince Rupert Port Authority and then Friendship House,” Mark added.
But will the Bike to Work initiative spark a change in attitude in Prince Rupert citizens’ willingness to be more environmentally conscious with their transportation habits?
“It’s a start,” said Har-Paz.
“I think a lot of people may have bought a bike for this event and they’ll keep biking and maybe people who take the car [often] will think about it because it’s quite a small place, so it’s easy to get everywhere. Twenty minutes and you’re basically everywhere,” she added.
Mark and Har-Paz would also like to see bike lanes on the roads of Prince Rupert.
“Especially with more cars coming through and big trucks,” said Mark, noting a perceived lack of safety is a large barrier to entry for new cyclists.