Tim Yzerman usually commutes by bike from his Newton home to Burnaby office, but the pandemic has put a wrench in that daily routine. These days, he typically cycles around Surrey after a day of work at his home office.
“I’ve been mostly going north and east, into the Fleetwood area and through Bear Creek Park and Green Timbers,” said Yzerman, an engineer and cycling advocate.
“One of my favourite loops is to ride to Surrey Lake Park, then up through Fleetwood and connect up with the Green Timbers greenway along the powerlines by 96th (Avenue), down through Bear Creek Park and back again. That’s about an hour, 22 kilometres or so.”
As volunteer co-chair of HUB Cycling’s Surrey/White Rock committee (with Colin O’Byrne), Yzerman’s work involves spreading word about Go By Bike Week (btww.ca), the organization’s springtime campaign to get more people pedaling bikes around the region.
For a week starting Monday (May 31), HUB encourages locals to log trips online for a chance to win prizes, track kilometres and “see how many greenhouse gas emissions you’ve saved.” It’s a “fully digital” campaign this year, due to gathering restrictions, with yoga, bike maintenance lessons, Q&A sessions and some other online events planned.
Yzerman says Surrey has made significant progress when it comes to cycling infrastructure, including protected lanes like the kind in Guildford on 154th Street at 102nd Avenue, and also in Newton at 146th Street and 72nd Avenue.
“There have been a lot of changes in Surrey, and a lot of it has gone under the radar for people who may not realize Surrey is building facilities,” said Yzerman, who routinely meets with city hall staff to help plan such projects. “This city can get a lot better as a cycling city, and it is getting better. It’s easier to ride than it was 10 years ago. There are some new facilities being built that make a difference, especially in the City Centre area.”
An upbeat promo video about Surrey-area cycling initiatives is posted to HUB’s Facebook page (facebook.com/wearehub).
“It’s important to get more people out of their vehicles, and it’s a lot healthier because there are some huge health benefits with cycling,” Yzerman emphasized. “And it’s obviously a lot cheaper as well. If you ride a bike instead of drive, you can save $9,000 or $10,000 a year, probably, by not owning a car. With my family, we’ve gone down to one vehicle and it’s been great for us.”
The City of Surrey’s website (surrey.ca) uses COSMOS to showcase a map of the city’s cycling network, or riders can download the MySurrey App. A bike map also shows Surrey’s entire cycling network of bike lanes, multi-use pathways (greenways) and neighbourhood cycling routes.
Yzerman, who would normally cycle-commute almost 10,000 kilometres a year, says he’s seen a shift in bike traffic patterns over the past pandemic year.
“The numbers ebb and flow during the wintertime, of course, but right now I’ve noticed a lot more people biking – maybe not as many commuters, because a lot of people are still working from home, but there are a lot recreational cyclists,” he said.
Getting bike repairs done is a bit of a problem at the moment.
“I mostly try to fix my own bike but it’s hard to get parts,” Yzerman noted. “The bike stores are busy and are going non-stop. There are supply-chain issues with the parts, and I’ve been pretty lucky to get some things in but have had to wait for some, a couple months.”
On the day the Now-Leader caught up with Yzerman, he brought his young son James along for the ride.
“James is actually really good at cycling,” replied the proud dad when asked. “He’s three-and-a-half, and he can ride a pedal bike, and now he can get air on his bike. I have a photo of him getting air at a skate park, both wheels off the ground, and he loves it. People are amazed by what he can do – you know, ‘Look at that kid! Did you see that?’ We hear it all the time while passing by other people.”