Military commuters score victory with pedal power

The newly created Bike To Work Week Trophy on display before a trophy presentation at the Naden Athletic Centre. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout Newspaper

The newly created Bike To Work Week Trophy on display before a trophy presentation at the Naden Athletic Centre. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout Newspaper

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

CFB Esquimalt has received official recognition from the federal government for its ridership numbers in last spring’s province-wide Bike to Work Week competition.

Base Commander Captain (Navy) Jason Boyd capped off the formation’s participation in the Greater Victoria Bike to Work Week Society event by accepting the trophy for being the B.C. Federal Council Bike to Work Week Challenge Champions. The trophy commemorates the high participation numbers in the Department of National Defence (DND) during the week-long June event.

Director General, Pacific Regional Public Services Procurement Canada, Annie Desgagné was on hand at the Naden Athletic Centre on Oct. 4 to present the newly-created trophy to Capt(N) Boyd on behalf of the formation.

“I am so pleased to see the DND engaged and encouraging everyone to be a part of Bike to Work Week and it is my pleasure to award this prestigious trophy to Captain Boyd,” said Desgagné.

DND is the first organization to have its name engraved on the trophy, which Desgagné said was donated by  federal employees. Capt(N) Boyd also praised military and civilian cyclists at the base who chose to leave their cars at home last week during the fall Bike To Work Week event held at the base.

“It’s outstanding to hear that our membership contributed to roughly half the amount of the total kilometres travelled by federal government employees for this competition,” said Capt(N) Boyd upon accepting the trophy. “It shows that DND employees take cycling, fitness and our Health and Wellness Strategy very seriously.”

Capt(N) Boyd noted he cycles a round-trip distance of 30 kilometres to and from work and can see firsthand that he isn’t the only employee at the base who cycles to work.

Data collected from the spring revealed that DND employees accounted for 407—44 per cent—of the 915 federal employees who registered in the spring Bike to Work Week. That’s up from 267 participants in 2016.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada took second spot in the competition with 70 participants, ahead of Canada Revenue Agency with 54.

Though DND made up 44 per cent of total cyclists, Canada’s Environment Assessment Agency took top spot for the highest percentage of participants from within, as 35 percent of its employees participated in Bike to Work Week. Natural Resources Canada was second with 14 percent. The data was collected on behalf of Vancouver-based non-profits Bike to Work Week BC and HUB Cycling.

Federal employees collectively cycled a combined distance of 47,339 kilometres this year, a distance greater than than the circumference of the earth.

Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC) Health and Wellness Strategy’s Active Living Working Group helps promote Bike to Work Week events as part of its overall health and wellness strategy. Claire Grant, Health Promotion Program Assistant Personnel Support Programs (PSP) Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) branch, believes the message about the benefits of cycling is starting to sink in.

“It falls within our mandate to promote a healthy and active lifestyle for our members in their day-to-day activities that extend outside of work,” said Grant. “The reception has been very good this year.”

With less daylight in fall and winter comes attention to safety and visibility, noted Grant. She and her staff were on hand on the morning of Oct. 4 in the parking lot next to the Military Police building in Naden, offering snacks and beverages along with some free battery powered lights in an effort to encourage cyclists to think about ways to improve their visibility to motorists. Members of the GVBTWS also provided staff to make small bike repairs.

Although there was no competition between Federal Departments for last week’s edition of Bike To Work Week, Personnel Support Programs (PSP) staff said approximately 230 cyclists showed up at their Oct. 4 Bike To Work Week celebration station.

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