Bike to work week in Regina…
This past week we challenged all the staff at our Prairie Summit Regina store to bike to work. A few of us have biked to work fairly regularly in the past, but the challenge was created so everyone would commute to work every day, all week, no matter the weather conditions or the pre or post work activities. In a perfect work scenario, someone could just ride to work in the morning, and ride home afterwards. But in reality there are lots of things to juggle during the day, such as grocery pickups, childcare drop offs, fitness workouts, and online sales shipment drop offs.
The motive behind the challenge was not environmental even though it’s an obvious benefit, but rather to draw attention to the clothing choices, pack choices, and even the route choices that one needs to make in order for a bike commute to work for them.
When heading out for an outdoor adventure it is pretty easy to dress up in some quick-dry shorts, put on a Smartwool merino top, grab your rain jacket (just in case) and hit the trail. It is an entirely different scenario to dress for a commute and then work a full day without a shower and/or complete change of clothing. There is also the big question about what the weather conditions will be 8 hours later when it’s time to head home. Breathable, lightweight, and packable clothing items are definitely the key to a great clothing system. Depending on the length of your commute, weather conditions, and the effort you put into riding will all determine your choice of clothing fabrics. Our staff had many great conversations about this all week.
The type of daypack you choose to commute in is another important factor. It has to be comfortable to wear, hold all the stuff you need, and be weather proof in case you need to ride in the rain. Some more serious bike commuters skip the daypack and use a bike pannier system (saddle bags on your bike). When biking during the warmer summer days, a backpack can get pretty hot on your back, if it’s not constructed with breathable materials designed with comfort in mind.
The best discussions we had in Regina after our biking commuter challenge revolved around the choice in route that the staff used to get here. For myself, I can bike to work faster than I can drive here, but when I factor in the prep time and arrival time to get ready for biking, the drive actually saves time. Choosing straight roads that have the least amount of traffic and the fewest number of parked cars is pretty important. A good tip is avoiding busy intersections when/if possible but to still make sure that if you need to cross a busy street there is a walk light option, (dismounting and walking across the street of course!) Of our staff, Neil, has the largest distance to travel but also has the luxury of travelling through Wascana Park for a large portion of his trip, which makes his journey less of a commute and more of a casual ride because of the scenic beauty. The variety of different bikes that all the staff own also lead to great conversations about how well they work for commuting. Deidra has a pretty sweet commuter set-up with a hybrid bike with lights, bells, bags, and fenders. The other bikes ranged from fat bikes to cyclo-cross bikes and mountain bikes, which will all do the trick. Whatever bike you use the more important factor would be the skill level of the rider. I would recommend anyone riding in traffic to be quite confident on their bike because even though you may know all the rules of the road on your bike, there is no guarantee that the other drivers out there do.
Overall, it was a great challenge to the staff and we all had a lot of fun. The biggest takeaway was that commuting by bike was a great option when our schedules in life allow for it.