Cyclists reign supreme in battle for the rush hour commute

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Cyclists reign supreme in battle for the rush hour commute

Cyclists in Vancouver have a leg up on other commuters when it comes to getting to work in the morning.

HUB Cycling pitted cyclists against drivers and public transit riders in a race to downtown Vancouver as part of their Rush Hour Challenge.

Teams raced to the corner of Granville and Georgia streets from different locations across the city. Team members left at the same time, from the same location, using different modes of transportation: bikes, cars and public transit.

"All traffic rules apply — everybody coming downtown must park legally, follow all the rules of the road, and see what is the most efficient commute," said Tom Skinner, the Bike to Work Week manager for HUB Cycling.

Distances ranged from a 1.7-kilometre commute from the West End to a 9.5-kilometre trip from Victoria-Fraserview.

Overall, cyclists emerged with the fastest times and cheapest commutes — a consistent trend since the challenge began in 2009.

"It tends to be the people on bikes who win most often, just over 70 per cent [of the time]," said Skinner. "A lot of people know that cycling can be really cost-effective and you get some exercise, but a lot of people don't know how convenient it can be."

Lengthy commutes

For driver Steve Vanderward, a 3.5-kilometre commute in a car turned into a lengthy trip, followed by a stressful hunt for parking.

"It took me almost 25 minutes," he said. "Two people on bikes beat me ... given how I only had one turn to make, I was amazed at how long it took me."

However, according to HUB Cycling, longer-distance commutes tend to be a lot more competitive. Previous races held by the organization saw cyclists, drivers, and public transit riders coming in at similar times when faced with a 20-kilometre commute.

A dangerous ride

Cycling to work is not without its risks. On Wednesday morning, a cyclist was struck by a vehicle on the Adanac bike route near Clark Drive. The cyclist was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

"For cyclists, [it's important to] slow down a little bit, and obey traffic laws," said Skinner. "The majority of incidents that happen out there are speed related, when people are just going a bit too fast and not paying attention, so it also comes down to some distracted driving as well."

According to ICBC, six cyclists are injured on the road every day in B.C. In total, 760 cyclists are injured and seven are killed in car crashes from June to September every year.

Drivers are urged to be cautious as Bike to Work Week approaches. It runs from May 28 to June 3.