With increasing societal concerns about the possibility of carbon-based fuels contributing to climate change and the price of gas reaching ever-higher levels, cycling is becoming a far more popular method of transportation.
Since 1995 cycling has been promoted and celebrated through Bike to Work Week from May 26 to June 1 but, for one local commuter, every week is Bike to Work Week, and has been since the early 80’s.
“The only time I don’t ride is when the roads are really icy, it’s too dangerous going across the bridge then,” said Jos Sharp, a career facilitator with the Skills Centre in Trail. “The roads aren’t great in December and January but if it’s dry I’ll ride it, it doesn’t matter how cold it is.”
Sharp began commuting by bike when he lived in Vancouver and cycled from False Creek to Metrotown, on the border of Burnaby. His current route, about a 10-minute ride from Sunningdale to downtown Trail and back, is a breeze by comparison.
“It wasn’t as cold there but I did run into snowstorms and once it got so deep the chain barely stayed on the sprocket with the snow building up,” he said.
Now that he lives in the Kootenays he remains dedicated to his cycling, though he feels there is room for improvement for cyclists in Trail.
“Bike parking is pretty sad in Trail, I think there are only two businesses, Kootenay Savings and the physiotherapy office, with any kind of rack,” Sharp said. “I can sometimes bring my bike into the shop but if I can’t I have to chain it up to a lamp standard.”
Sharp is also concerned about the lack of accommodation for cyclists on any of the streets around Trail as well and hopes they will be taken into account in whatever second crossing across the Columbia is eventually built.
“It’s disappointing they didn’t include bike lanes when they went into the downtown revitalization,” he said. “They had the opportunity when they were paving but it seems like it didn’t even figure into their plans. If they had more lanes you might see more people commuting and cut down on parking issues and pollution.”
He says he finds most drivers courteous in Trail but even so, tries to stay out of the way of vehicles.
He attributes his dedication to cycling to numerous reasons; it’s healthier, good exercise, fresh air, and cutting the cost of fuel, insurance, and parking.
“It’s a really nice ride along the river from Sunningdale,” Sharp said. “It’s a nice transition from home to work. It gives you a little time to mentally shift gears.”