Mike Dickey has commuted to work on his bike for the past 12 years. The 48-year-old dosimetrist at the Cross Cancer Institute has traveled along 83 Avenue long before talk of the current bike lane existed. But since the lane was built he’s seen a significant change.
“I’m amazed in the increase in ridership, including in winter, over the last three years as it’s slowly been installed,” Dickey says. “I’m impressed that the city is removing the barriers for new commuters to feel safer and have a healthier and happier way to get to work.”
If there is a person who flies the flag of the benefits of bicycle commuting, it’s Dickey. It makes you happier, healthier and fit, he says. And since research shows the overwhelming majority of car commuters do not want to car commute, but feel forced to, creating infrastructure that makes more people feel safe enough to bike is profound, he says.
“I’ve never heard a person try commuting by bike and regret it and want to get back into their car. So, the accessibility and safety [of the bike lanes] of course open up a big opportunity to encourage people to continue to do it.”
For this reason, Dickey is quick to shoot back to any anti bike-lane sentiment. “It’s unreasonable for the city to continue to provide driving as a commuting option in these areas that are getting more dense by the year,” he says. “There are no health benefits provided to the driver by commuting, to him or the environment around them. And so, in my mind, people in Edmonton have options on the way they get to work. Commute by car, through heavy traffic, you’re sedentary. And then you think, before or after work, I have to fit in my fitness program.
“Another option is to take your fitness and commuting and combine them to one and ride to work. It’s an efficient way to get fit. I don’t think a person who prefers to drive has much of a defense in terms of their health and wellbeing of the city.”