Third time's the charm!
Don't give up on biking to work after just one try
BY DEANNA BETTERIDGE
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, July / August 2012
Two years ago, I wrote a column in this magazine praising the benefits of active transportation. At
the time, I made the argument that walking, biking
and busing to work were great alternatives to the
automobile, and challenged everyone to give it a
try, just once.
Well, guess what? I was wrong about
trying it just once.
The truth, as I have discovered, is that
once is not enough. In fact, I believe you
need to try it at least three times before
deciding whether biking to work is the
answer to your transportation needs.
How did I come to this conclusion?
It all started when I returned to work
last month from a year's maternity leave.
During my absence, two things happened:
first, I didn't do any cycling; second, my
office relocated from Wolseley to the
You can see the problem. Upon my
return to work, I not only had to get back
into the habit of biking to the office, I
also had to identify a new route to get
there - through some of the busiest streets
in Winnipeg. And that's when things got
a little complicated - or at least I made
My first ride to work felt like I was
going to the moon on the space shuttle. I
felt uncomfortable with my route and less
than confident in my ability to ride my
bike (despite the cliché, "It's like riding a
bike"). And then there was the weather. I
was caught off guard by the sudden rain
showers. Needless to say, all I could think
about that first day was how much easier
it would have been had I driven my car
Then I realized my mistake. I had
neglected to follow the basic steps for
successful active commuting, which I
had shared in my previous column - plan
your route, be prepared for a variety
of weather conditions, and try out new
routes when streets are quieter, like on
This is what I learned from my first day
back riding to work:
This is the key
to success, as I learned after my first
uncomfortable ride to work. As a result,
I did two things: I checked out the
new City of Winnipeg cycling map to
find a direct route that included a bike
boulevard (Warsaw Ave), a bike lane
(Harrow St.), a cycle track (Assiniboine
Ave.), and a bike lane/sharrow (Hargrave).
I also asked people who also cycle into
the downtown for tips on the best routes.
Check out the City of Winnipeg's website for the cycling map and Green Action Centre for a
description of the new cycling infrastructure.
Never leave home without my rain jacket. Our weather
has been very unpredictable lately (even for me, a girl from British
Columbia) and you just never know - so be prepared. Dress in
bright, bold colours and have front and back lights on the bike to be
more visible on the roads.
A practice ride (or two) would have helped me
feel more confident during rush hour traffic. I also signed up for
an adult cycling course to help me navigate the new cycling
infrastructure. To find other great city cycling courses offered in your
neighbourhood, check out:
The third time was the charm - I worked out the kinks
in my route, I now feel more confident and prepared, and
enjoy arriving to work happy and energized after a safe
and comfortable ride into the office! I've also noticed that
cyclists and pedestrians greet each other with a smile -
when was the last time another motorist smiled at you!?
Give active transportation a try, actually three tries!
Deanna Betteridge is a co-ordinator with Winnipeg in motion.
Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.
Read the July / August 2012 issue of Wave