The VA/VC Medical Staff Planetary Health Committee encourages everyone to take part in Go By Bike Weeks from October 16 to 29, 2023. VCH is planning a celebration station on October 20. We will feature a number of physicians who regularly opt to cycle rather than drive. Here’s what cardiologist Dr. Matthew Bennett had to say….

I pretty much ride to work every day unless it’s frosty or there’s been a snowfall. But normally—rain or shine—you’ll find me cycling the 18 kilometres from home on the North Shore to VGH every workday. I’ve been doing this intermittently since I moved to North Van in 2011 and pretty much consistently over the past four to five years.

I like that cycling separates my day and I can leave work at work. I feel fresher at work and coming home than if I’d driven. I’m able to be out in nature, look at the views, and it gives me time to think. And, everyone seems so angry and aggressive in their cars. I bypass them on the causeway where they’re lined up for the bridge… I ride past them smiling to myself.

I am the chair of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society’s Climate Change Working Group. There is a lot of evidence about the impact that air pollution poses for our lifespan. That’s why it’s important to reduce how much we use cars. The Lancet Global Burden of Disease Study showed that the attributable deaths from air pollution are similar to hypertension and diabetes. This risk has been shown even countries like Canada. So, it’s important to me not to just talk the talk if I want my patients to change their habits.

I don’t just cycle to work and back. I also enjoy biking on the roads and the mountain trails on weekends and after work. If you’re thinking about getting into cycling, spring is a great time to start as the days are longer. Choose a bike you would like to ride (consider renting an electric bike for a week) and find a route that is safe and enjoyable. Ask your friends who ride for tips.  If you prepare well (equipment and clothing), it’s easy for riding to become a habit. And once it’s a habit, it’s easy to continue.