The Benefits of Bicycling
by Jillian Dickens, Tofino
For a town of our size, it’s a crying shame so many drive oversized
cars and trucks, rather than peddle perfectly sized two-wheeled wonders,
also known as bicycles. It doesn’t take long to bike from the
furthest point to the furthest point in Tofino, yet so many choose
to drive, even on sunny days.
But some factors do cause me to clean up my act. One is knowing that
cycling will stress me out less than driving, especially in the Tofino
summers. (At the busiest points in the summer I’ve found it takes
almost the same time to drive to the beach as it does to cycle, especially
since there’s a multi-use path taking you directly there.) Also,
what motivates me to jump from the confines of my car to the open air
is lack of funds to pay for insurance and gas, sure, a growing concern
with the size of my mid-section, okay, but most of all it’s finding
out that if we all keep driving our frickin’ cars we will no
longer have any frickin’ clean air to breathe.
So to help get that motivation up for both you and me, I will report
certain facts that should relay how blissful bike riding can be, and
more importantly, how important bike riding is.
And what better time to report such facts? The month of June plays
host to Bike to Work Week (May 30 to June 5) and Clean Air Day (June
5) btww is a provincial campaign for individuals and groups to try
cycling to and from work. Some group incentives (fun events, prizes,
peer and employer support) convert many participants into regular cycle
commuters. The campaign is pro- cycling, not anti-car, and promotes
pedal power as a double activity – a way to get around and get
in shape. Unfortunately by the time you read this article it will be
too late to register to officially take part in the campaign, but you
can still participate on an unofficial level by simply cycling to work
during the week, and maybe beyond.
As BTWW comes to an end, Clean Air Day — a day set
aside to increase public awareness on two key environmental priorities,
clean air and climate change — begins. Clean Air Day is also
geared to promote activities that nurture our nature and protect our
environment. And one such activity is the one I have been flapping
my lips to you about — cycling.
As a way to celebrate both BTWW and Clean Air Day, there
will be a bike workshop in the Village Green gazebo on June 4th at
10 am. Here, “Bike
Mechanic Marc Vezina” will explain all about bikes. He has info
on bike buying, bike safety, bike maintenance, and more bike related
issues you surely cannot miss. Marc has been, and I quote, “loving
and repairing bikes since 1975.” He’s made a career for
himself out of bikes, and can be seen at all hours perfecting them
in his carport. Aside from that gig, he’s taken up shop at Fiber
Options Clothing and Bike Rentals as the bike mechanic for their rental
According to Environment Canada, transportation is one of the largest
sources of air pollution and results in 25 per cent of greenhouse gas
emissions. A direct, immediate way to reduce your imprint on the earth
is to use alternatives to fuel-powered, single occupant vehicles. Walking,
running, cycling, carpooling, taking the bus (The Tofino Bus and The
Beach Bus are even 25 per cent fuelled by Bio-diesel) are all sustainable
forms of transportation. Cycling seems the most likely choice in that
list for it can be relatively fast, effortless, and free to boot. I
know that sometimes it seems like a pain in the backside to saddle
up and ride, especially when the rain is pouring down, you’re
tired and late, and your bike isn’t running smoothly. However,
if you are prepared, biking can be entirely painless. Plus, it’s
better than breathing in smog, that even us Toficians, in our biosphere
reserve, are not immune to. After all, the atmosphere connects us all.
Just think of acid rain. Acid rain is caused by two common air pollutants — sulphur
dioxide and nitrogen oxides — that are produced by the burning
of fossil fuels mainly through motor vehicles. According to Environment
Canada, these pollutants can travel thousands of kilometres in the
atmosphere, mix with water vapour, form a solution of sulphuric and
nitric acid, and be washed down to the earth through rain, snow, hail
and fog. And acid rain can affect anything it touches. For example,
if it gets into a lake and lowers it’s acid level, the lake’s
diverse species will dwindle. The same goes for forests. Acid rain
can even corrode buildings and roads. And if this stuff can cause a
side of a building to crumble, think what it can do to human health.
Parts of acid rain can react with other chemicals in the air to form
tiny sulphate particles that can lodge in the lungs, causing respiratory
problems, to say the least.
But again, cycling can be a drag if you aren’t prepared.
Below are some tips to making bike commuting
Thanks for listening.