CYCLE OF LIFE: A LOOK AT GRANFONDO AND CYCLING CULTURE

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We’re big fans of cycling at Fairware. As part of our commitment to healthy, active lifestyles and reducing our own daily environmental impact, we’ve tried to make our workplace cycling friendly. So, when RBC approached us to pitch on creating a product for the rider gift bags that are given to all riders participating in the RBC GranFondo KelownaRBC GranFondo Whistler, and some of the riders participating in the RBC GranFondo Banff – we were psyched.

As cyclists, we knew what we’d want to receive in our rider gift bags. In fact, our co-founder and CEO had already signed up for the 2012 RBC GranFondo Kelowna ride.  In collaboration with the RBC team we landed on a custom branded cycling multi-tool. It was functional, practical and on brand – a true ‘product with purpose’.

GranFondo—loosely translated from Italian means “big ride”—has been a major cycling event across Europe for decades. Participants of varying skill levels sign on for a 100 km-plus ride that tests their physical endurance and their love of the sport. This isn’t an everyday bicycle ride—the route is made up of steep hills, long distances and hordes of other bikers fueling a friendly competition. It is an epic showcase of the growing road biking trend in North America.

We have talked a lot over the past few months about the environmental impact of transporting goods. Making a switch to ocean shipping or local sourcing is one thing, but our obligation to the environment must run deeper than how we run our business. That is why we encourage our staff to implement our corporate mission in their everyday lives.

According to the WorldWatch Institute, a short six km bicycle ride keeps nearly fifteen pounds of pollutants out of the air we breathe. Greenhouse gas emissions from private motor vehicles have risen 35% over the last two decades in Canada. The population, meanwhile, has only grown 19%. Smaller cities such as Kingston, Ontario account for higher emissions than metropolitan cities like Montreal, which recorded the lowest per capita emissions of GHG.

This statistic may seem surprising, but Montreal has always been a trailblazer in encouraging its locals to keep their cars at home. It was one of the first cities to incorporate bicycle lanes in its downtown core. And to give everyone access to a bicycle, the fantastic BIXI Montreal —a bicycle rental service that runs like ZipCar with members being able to borrow a bike at their convenience—has dozens of stations across the city.

Vancouver, British Columbia—where our Fairware office is located—is also leading in its push towards a bicycle-friendly infrastructure. Bike lanes and a moderate climate make it easy for locals to ride to work instead of drive – and some workplaces are taking note. We have equipped our office with indoor bicycle storage and showers—additions that have further helped our staff make the smarter choice of how they get to work. Adding an ‘office lock’ for unexpected trips and a tire pump have helped as well (and there has been lobbying for an ‘office bike’).

Denise uses her RBC multi-tool to set her cleats on her fancy new bike shoes.

With the RBC GranFondo Whistler taking place on Saturday, September 8th, spots are still available if you want to ride! We hope to see these type of events grow (with more scheduled for 2013), and continue to show participants and observers alike that a commute by bike is not only better for your health and the environment—but also a quick, efficient and rewarding way to get to your destination.

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