Mayor George Peary: thoughts on my car-free week

Post by George Peary in

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Mayors George Peary and Mission Mayor Atebe at a recent bike event
Mayors George Peary and Mission Mayor Atebe at a bike event last Spring

Last month promoted the Civic Leaders Car-Free Week. Of the city councils around Metro Vancouver we contacted, only four brave souls were the first to stop driving their cars for a week. We're very pleased to have this account of the experiences of George Peary, Mayor of Abbotsford, BC.

The round trip from home to work is approximately 25 Km. I live up on Sumas Mountain in a sub-division called Auguston while my office is located close to Clearbrook on the west side of town. There is quite a change of elevation down and up through the center of town so it is a good cardio work-out, especially coming home.

My ride to work starts with a trip down Clayburn Creek Trail and through Clayburn Village. This is the best part of the commute because it is a beautiful creek-side mountain trail with no vehicular traffic – just lots of birds, rabbits and an occasional deer. The remainder of my ride through town is largely on the roads and sidewalks. The city is just completing some country-side bike lanes that will actually make the commute safer but they are not quite ready.

The joy of the ride is one of communing with nature. Even on the Mission Highway with the traffic rushing by, there is a sense of exhilaration. My twenty-four speed mountain bike offers me a great range of gears so I never have to dismount, although I did make a couple of involuntary deposits of skin when I accidentally tumbled off my bike a couple of times. I did not break any bones but I did bruise my ego.

We have a great set-up a work for storing bikes and a spacious shower/change room for freshening up before work. I managed to take a change of clothes. I actually enjoyed “dressing down” for a week by wearing more casual duds than my usual shirt, tie and jacket. The Abbotsford News did a flattering article on my week of cycling and I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who commended me for my efforts.

Now that I have met the challenge, I will likely seek opportunities to use my bike when I do not have a series of off-site meetings. I usually jog in the mornings but a bike ride generally eliminates the need for my normal morning aerobic routine.

My wife and I try to cycle ever Sunday as a cross-training exercise. We do enjoy it and I am sure that we will do it more often once I “retire” again.

I'm glad that are promoting the "car-free" cause. It is a most noble one!

1 Comment

Auguston is exactly the kind of housing development we don't want, and can't afford sustainably. Residential with no opportunity for commercial or other activity, but located remotely away from core transit and other services effectively forces people to commute in cars to get "to the city".

Such "urban sprawl" planning along with no related urban road additions results in increased congestion and more time spent alone in a car on the road. to say nothing of the pristine forest that was sacrificed so people could live out there "in the woods". Wake up city planners. Once these beautiful spaces are sacrificed to "the developers" they are gone forever. The cost of preserving green space around and within our city is much less than the future cost of buying back developed properties raising the buildings and re-growing the trees :-) (not likely eh?)

Auguston was pegged as a somewhat "self-sufficient" community, but this seems to have mostly been marketing since little beyond a school and a library exists in that "suburb"/"housing development".

Kudos to George Peary for riding his bike that far on roads that have only started to consider the bicycle as valid. (careful on Mckee Road George!)

George if your experience biking on the hills is anything like mine, I'm guessing riding to work in the fall-winter-spring is simply not going to happen when a warm dry car is available. I encourage you to work with the Abbotsford Official Community Plan to proceed with increased density along the Marshall corridor and other areas located close to core services. (This may save our local mountain green spaces.)


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