October’s Health Hero: Setting the Wheels in Motion

Posted by: | October 5, 2010

Nicci Bartley (left) and Melody Monro (right) show off the School of Population and Public Health's new bikes.

By Nicci Bartley

I work in cancer prevention research at the School of Population and Public Health, which means that I spend my days researching ways to encourage people to be healthier. The Healthy Workplace Initiatives Program funding offered through the Department of Health, Safety and Environment provided me with a great opportunity to practice what I preach – implement a healthy initiative in my own workplace.

So I got together with a co-worker to brainstorm ideas and we came up with the idea of a bike share program. We wanted something that would engage both staff and faculty. It would not only contribute to personal health, but also to the environment’s health. We spend the majority of our day sitting behind a desk so we wanted a way to be more physically active during the work day. We also noticed that because campus is so large a lot of employees use their cars to commute on campus, even though campus is pretty bike friendly.

Working in research, we know the importance of making sure the initiative you are hoping to implement is what your population actually wants or needs. So we surveyed our staff and faculty about whether they liked the idea of a bike share program, whether they would use it, and what kinds of things they would use the bikes for. We received positive responses from 22 staff and faculty, that a bike share program would be useful.

We purchased 4 folding bikes and the associated safety equipment with our $4,028 grant. The program has been running for a few months now, and we have 12 members (staff and faculty). Members have been using the bikes to go home for lunch (those who live on campus), to ride to lunch time yoga classes, meetings, and dropping off documents around campus.

To create some excitement and interest in the program we held a launch lunch in July. We had 25 people attend. We gave an overview of the program and demonstrations on how to fold the bikes. We also held a bike naming competition as a fun way to generate interest in the program. SPPH’s bikes are now known as ‘George’, ‘Mustang Sally’, ‘Origami’ and ‘Mather’.

One of our challenges so far has been finding a long-term storage space for the bikes that ‘s secure and protected from the rain.  We have a short-term storage space in the office but we’re looking for ideas for the long-term.

Personally I like to take the bike out for a half hour ride at lunch time, get some fresh air, some exercise and it’s a great way to explore campus! Even more fun when I can get some co-workers along for the ride too…

So far I’ve explored the Rose Garden, the south campus Tapestry development area, and the hill on South West Marine Drive…. Do you have any tips on parts of campus to explore with a bike?

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3 Responses to “October’s Health Hero: Setting the Wheels in Motion”

  1. Rhonda says:

    I will ride with you on our lunch break!

  2. Sarah says:

    I’d definitely recommend a ride down to the UBC Farm. The ride there is smooth sailing, but it’s a bit more of a challenge coming back.

  3. sjolly says:

    When I used to have my bike on campus, if I felt really stressed out, I would take a really slow loop around the campus, before pulling back into the office (I liked, in particular, cruising down the East Mall to the end by the Rose Garden, then up to the corner of Nitobe gardens, then to Totem Park). It was good people watching by bike! 🙂

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