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Improved cycling options help staff take to their bikes for commuting

This story is adapted from an article by Gary Carr, originally published in PHSA news on May 25, 2021. Article link here.

As a mother of two, BC Cancer Radiation Therapist Corinne Thompson has come up against her fair share of challenges in life. Ferrying kids to and from school and activities made it tough for her to use her bike as much as she would have liked to for local trips around Kelowna.

But it wasn’t until Corinne became a Green+Leader close to a year ago that she got a clear look into some of the other challenges that PHSA staff wanting to commute to work by bike faced.

“I noticed people carrying their bikes upstairs, putting them on patios during the workday, that sort of thing,” she says. “So I decided to do a survey locally to find out if the issues were bigger than I expected.”

“I soon found out that there were multiple people who had had their bikes stolen or vandalized, to the point that they weren’t willing to ride to work any more.”

Taking the initiative at five different sites

Thankfully for Corinne and her BC Cancer colleagues, she was able to jumpstart a project for a secure bike storage cage near the Kelowna facility, a project that completed a few months ago.

This project was one of five recent ones undertaken by PHSA teams, and supported by the PHSA Health Promotion Initiative Fund, to make cycling to work safer, more accessible, and more enjoyable.

The five projects were designed to overcome the challenges facing a significant number of staff wanting to commute via bike; 8.4 percent of PHSA staff responded in the 2021 GreenCare Survey that, due to inadequate showering facilities and secure storage, cycling isn’t an accessible or practical commuting option. Combined, the projects will support 170 staff in the short-term and an indefinite number of staff in the long-term.

These projects were designed to increase the impressive number of PHSA staff who already cycle to work, which accounted for almost 10 per cent of commutes in 2020. The projects are a partnership between the EES (Energy & Environmental Sustainability) team’s Green + Leaders Program, in partnership with PHSA’s Health Promotion Initiative Fund to support energy and environmental sustainability projects within the organization.

Kudos go out to each of the project teams at:
• BC Ambulance Service Station 290 at YVR airport in Richmond
• BC Ambulance Service Station 329 in Penticton
• BC Ambulance Service Station 132 in Sointula, Vancouver Island
• BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver
• BC Cancer Agency in Kelowna

PHSA staff take to their bikes in numbers

That these five projects have occurred at PHSA facilities shouldn’t be a surprise, as our staff have created a strong cycling culture over the years. PHSA was the Lower Mainland winner of the spring and fall 2019 Bike-to-Work week awards for best health workplace, showing the strong interest that exists.

While each project team had common goals to increase cycling, for the benefit of staff and environmental health, each also uniquely addressed the challenges specific to their site. Staff on site often know most intimately the issues at hand and have key insight into the best available solutions.

Want to know more about cycling, or other active and clean transportation modes throughout the health authorities? Get in touch with Emily Lomax, Sustainability Consultant at emily.lomax@vch.ca