Why I Love Biking to Work
Tim Purcer is a CAD technician from our Kelowna office and he recently described what it is like to ride his bike to work. This piece was prepared for the SmartTrips website
As I pack my things to get ready for work this morning, I can’t help but think of how lucky I am to get to ride my bike into the office each day. I live about 8k away from my office and the ride to work each morning feels like the best possible way to start the day.
Bike to Work and School Week is just around the corner, taking place May 30th to June 5th. Urban Systems has been involved in this event for many years. I’ve loved participating—we get a team of about ten people or so together, we meet at the station in the morning and have a great ride in to work together. Even when it isn’t Bike to Work Week, my colleagues and I are avid cyclists, and we’ve loved watching the cycling culture in the Okanagan grow and evolve with each passing year.
This morning I pack my backpack with my lunch and some extra clothes, slip on my helmet, and I’m off. Whizzing past cars backed up by traffic I feel free and light. Soon I’m able to maneuver to some off road trails; about 6k of my commute is through nature. The wind that blows in my face smells of the coming summer – buds are starting to open, and I can feel the early morning sun shining down on me.
During my ride I see birds and deer, I cross creeks, and I feel calm and invigorated. It feels great to get out there in the morning—to get all that fresh air on the way in to work.
I make it into the office in record time and park my bike in our dedicated bike parking. Then it’s off to the showers for a quick wash up before I grab my morning coffee and some breakfast. I quickly remind myself that I need to book a vehicle through OGO Car Share since I have a meeting in Penticton later in the day.
Around the coffee machine, some of my colleagues are discussing the interesting charity work being done by Urban in Edmonton—we’ve been helping out a group called You Can Ride Too, which helps retrofit bikes for kids with disabilities.
I’m always struck by the amount of interesting projects the folks at Urban are part of. Throughout Western Canada, you’ll find our team members hard at work on cycling related projects and causes.
Whether we are hosting winter cycling workshops, doing studies to measure the economic impact of cycling, researching and preparing bicycle safety reports, or planning, designing and building cycling infrastructure from Winnipeg to Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria, Kamloops, Penticton and more, we’re involved in so many exciting projects that promote and celebrate cycling culture.
While we specialize in planning and building cycling infrastructure, biking is more than something that’s just part of our work—it is something that is part of who we are.
We’re all particularly excited about a current project in the Okanagan—the Okanagan Rail Trail project where we are helping local communities with the trail development plan. Another local project we’re excited to be a bronze sponsor for is upcoming 10th Annual Kelowna Bike + Braai – Sunday June 7th, 2015, a non-competitive cycle around the Mission/South East Kelowna area followed by a Braai (Afrikaans for BBQ), with funds raised benefiting the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation.
The End of Bikes Vs. Cars
At Urban we are also interested in deepening community discussion around what it means to be a city that promotes active transportation. Recently we lost a beloved team member, Patricia Keenan, to a tragic cycling accident, which occurred on Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. On the day of the accident she was cycling to a yoga class. Suddenly, someone opened the driver’s side door of a parked car. Despite wearing a helmet, Patricia sustained serious head injuries and died in hospital two days later. Her loss affected us deeply. We want to carry on Patricia’s legacy, and one of the ways we started down that path was to host a community event all about sharing the road.
After Patricia’s accident, we partnered with the Kelowna Cycling Coalition to host a public event to talk to each other about cycling in our community. It was an evening of where everyone was welcome, and where a big crowd assembled to talk about how they want to share the road. Speakers included Urban Systems CEO Martin Bell, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, and Chris Bruntlett, co-founder of Modacity, and everyone from the community was welcome to participate and share.
Cycling into the Future
Cycling is in our future; as passionate transportation planners, as parents, employees and community members. We hope to continue partnering with great local organizations, building modern cycling facilities, engaging with the community in meaningful conversation, and of course—biking to work. See you on the trails!