By Mimi Shaftoe, Program Assistant at EnviroCentre
June is here, and Ottawa is settling into the second summer since the start of the pandemic. As the latest stay-at-home order lifts, more people are turning to biking as a way of getting active and getting around — just in time for Let’s Bike Month, EnviroCentre’s annual celebration of cycling!
The Covid-19 pandemic has really shifted the way we have been getting around this year, and one of its side effects has been a surge of interest in cycling. Cities around the globe, including Ottawa, have seen a huge boom in bike sales over the last year. Here in Ottawa, the City has responded by focusing efforts on accommodating and encouraging greater numbers of cyclists taking to the streets by extending its bike lane networks, improving bike parking, and expanding the NCC’s Weekend Bike Days to block off parkways for active transportation every Saturday and Sunday.
Biking Is Low Carbon Travel At It’s Best!
As life begins to return to normal, we have a wonderful opportunity to make these changes permanent and build back from the pandemic in a way that centres on low carbon travel. Let’s Bike Month builds on that momentum by empowering more people to choose cycling as a fun, convenient and environmentally friendly way to get around! The annual cycling campaign run by EnviroCentre in partnership with the City of Ottawa seeks to encourage, celebrate and support cyclists of all levels across the city to hop on their bikes whenever they have somewhere to go.
Cycling has a significant environmental impact not only on individuals but also on the community at large. It’s a great way for people to reduce their carbon footprint, with 0.5 kilograms averted for every 2 kilometres pedalled instead of driven. About 44% of the City of Ottawa’s GHG emissions come from transportation. If everyone who chose to travel by bike more often this year continues to do so, together we will make a big dent in our community’s carbon emissions. Biking can make a big difference, and that’s exactly what Let’s Bike month aims to highlight.
The Let’s Bike App
Through the Let’s Bike app, participants can track the number of times they ride their bikes, the distance they travel, and the amount of GHG emissions they have averted. Anyone can register as either an individual or as part of a team, and participants are automatically entered in a daily prize draw when they log their rides (all prizes are generously donated by local business partners!). Over the years, 2,063,694 kilometres have been logged, and last year 30 tonnes of GHG emissions were averted – the equivalent of the energy use of 13 homes for an entire year!
The campaign also includes upwards of 20 free public online workshops. There is something for everyone, new and seasoned cyclists alike! The workshops cover topics like urban cycling, bike maintenance, route planning, and extending your cycling season, with the hope of providing resources that encourage and support people to choose cycling not only during Let’s Bike month but throughout the whole year. You can find all of the workshops and resources offered this year right here!
Whether you want to track the GHG emissions averted by choosing to cycle instead of driving, save on gas money, brush up on your urban cycling skills, discover new local destinations to visit by bike, or you’re simply in it for the prizes and the friendly team competition— there are endless reasons to participate in Let’s Bike Month. Summer is in the air, and the streets and bike paths around Ottawa are filling up with cyclists – so hop on your bike and join us!