The Peterborough Examiner
May 1, 2013
By: Sarah Deeth

Your daily drive to work is probably rooted in routine.

You take the same route. You stop at the same coffee shop. You park in the same lot.

Shifting Gears wants to change that. They’re asking employers and employees to step away from their vehicle and get on a bike, a sidewalk or on a city bus seat whenever possible from May 1 to May 31.

Sue Sauvé, transportation demand management planner with the city, was one of about a dozen people at B!KE on Rubidge St. Wednesday afternoon to launch the annual challenge. B!KE is a non-profit organization that teaches bike skills and maintenance.

Other municipalities promoting similar challenges usually run them for a week, Sauvé said, but that’s not enough time to get someone to really change their habits.

In a month people will see the benefits of riding or walking to work, she said. People will get in shape and get used to walking or cycling to the office, or realize how nice it is to be outside on a warm spring day, she said.

“We’re trying to lure people out for a little longer,” she said.

Mayor Daryl Bennett won’t be riding his bike to work, or walking.

Wearing a bit of a sheepish grin, he explained that there are no buses near his home. He also has a rather large hill to climb and meetings to get to bright and early in the morning.

But when he’s at work he walks when he can, he said, using his feet to get to meetings if they’re nearby and sauntering downtown to meet with people.

“It’s a great way to get out there,” he said.

Shifting Gears ambassador Brianna Salmon said about 1,200 residents have already signed up for the challenge. Last year there were 1,500 participants.

There are normally a few late registrants, she said.

Shifting Gears doesn’t set any explicit targets, Salmon said, preferring to concentrate on lowering the number of vehicle trips made each day.

Cycling, Salmon said, seems to be the preferred mode of transportation for many Shifting Gears participants.

Sauvé had a few tips for those who were going to be biking to work during the next four weeks.

A bike should be comfortable to ride, she said, and adjustments can be made to ensure that it is.

She also recommended cycling with a friend who’s had some experience riding in traffic.

Cycling in traffic isn’t much different from driving, she said, and it’s important to know where to ride, when to signal and what you need to do to stay visible to motorists.

B!KE is offering free cycling and maintenance courses throughout the month.

For more information on the courses or to sign up for Shifting Gears visit www.peterboroughmoves.com.

sarah.deeth@sunmedia.ca