A commuter story from Amy, a relatively new commuter.

“My experience with active and sustainable transportation is a relatively new one. It began in 2011 during the Commuter Challenge when I challenged myself to walk to work every day and to car pool to my sporting events. I quickly realized how much more energy I had and that I was much happier outside than in my car. My walk to work quickly became the favorite part of my day.

This year I decided to invest the money I would have spent on driving (parking and gas) and buy a new bike. I started riding to my downtown office daily and again quickly found that it was the best part of my day. A change of employment however now meant that I would have to travel all the way to the Victoria General Hospital from my West End home. I was again faced with a decision, 30 minute drive, traffic, and parking or find another way. I decided that I would again take the challenge and use my bike.

The thought of the longer journey and busier streets was a bit intimidating so I decided to take a commuter cycling course and learn how best to navigate the busier portions of my route. With this knowledge I then started with some short trips to gain more confidence, improve my skills and my endurance. I decided once again to take my first ride to the hospital during Commuter Challenge week. It was the perfect motivation. My only trouble was figuring out my route.

Even in my short time cycling around Winnipeg, I have learned that thinking like a driver and following the most direct route is not the best on a bike, so I pulled out my bike map and enlisted the help of some cycling friends for their advice. It turns out that I have a scenic route through Wolseley, Omand’s Park and River Heights which gets me half way there. For the second half I can connect onto some trails and residential areas and almost completely avoid heavier traffic.

Knowing that my route was a bit convoluted compared to driving, I allotted myself a full hour to get there. I was pleasantly surprised and excited to find that it took me only 50 minutes. It wasn’t my fastest ride, so I expect to shave a few minutes off my ride as I become more familiar with my route and I get used to riding the longer distance.

Based on the numbers, you may be thinking that I have almost doubled my commuting time once you factor in getting ready for work, but the way I see it is that I have actually saved time. By adding 40 minutes to my daily commute, I don’t have to spend an hour in the evening going to the gym and I am getting well over the recommended 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week. I’m improving my health, saving time and that is a win-win situation in my books.”

Join the fun! You can register for the 2012 Commuter Challenge here!