Written by Eiselle Omampo, Coordinator, Transportation Demand Management and Commuter Choices, Lower Mainland Integrated Protection Services - Parking, Access and Commuter Services

Hear how Bike to Work week inspired one executive to change his commute for good.

Meet Yoel Robens-Paradise, Providence Health Care's Vice President of Clinical and Systems Transformation and Lower Mainland Health Information Management. Yoel provides strategic direction for the CST project and oversees all of Health Information Management (HIM) operations at Fraser Health, Providence Health Care, Provincial Health Services Authority, and Vancouver Coastal Health.

With a Lower Mainland portfolio, Yoel needs to travel between sites. When the weather is nice, you are most likely to find him on his bike with his red satchel, happily moving past the cars that are sitting in traffic, on his way to work or to a meeting.

Q. When did you start cycling to work and how often did you ride?

The 2016 Spring Bike to Work Week was instrumental to my active commute. That’s when I began riding to work. I cycled four out of five days a week from May to October and absolutely enjoyed it. The extreme Vancouver winter season prevented me from cycling over the past few months. This week, I started cycling again; I’m happy to get back on my bike.

Q. What inspired you to leave your car at home and ride to work?

Cycling is good for the environment and for one’s health. I have more energy every time I cycle; hence, no morning coffee required. I often get to work faster than driving, too. I love the feeling of coming in to downtown off of Cambie Bridge and passing the traffic with drivers sitting in their car. My future goal as an active commuter is to just stick to what I’m currently doing.

Q. What sort of coordination is needed to cycle on your part?

Three things: 1) A nice satchel that clips easily and quickly on my rack; it looks professional enough to bring my things to a meeting. 2) A second side pannier that I leave on my bike rack. I use it to easily carry my loosely-folded suit jacket, dress shoes and nice work clothes for meetings. 3) I leave some clothes at my work area.

Q. Is there support for you at work?

Senior leaders commend me when I cycle to our meetings. I appreciate that our corporate culture is open to occasional less formal dressing in meetings to support cycling. Infrastructure wise, our bike parking facilities provide a great level of security to store our bicycles while working.

Q. Can anyone become a bike commuter? What are your top tips?

Anyone within a half hour ride could commute fairly easily. Wearing glove liners during cold season can keep my hands warm. Having front and rear fenders on my bike helps a lot, too; they prevent road dirt from getting on my clothes. Rain is a main concern for me to change into work clothing but I usually ride in t-shirt and runners on wet days. It makes it easier to change into work clothes and dress shoes.

Q. What advice would you give to your health care colleagues who want to change their commute?

Just try it. Don’t make a big deal out of it. It doesn’t need to be a big commitment. Don’t view it as your new lifestyle – just try it day by day.

Q. Have you had a "green realization" and if so, what was it?

The layout of the bike lanes is important. Some areas work really well, some not. Well-connected, designated and protected bike lanes give an increased feeling of comfort and safety for cyclists.

Q. Anything you would like to add?

Cycling to work is role modelling to be active for both my family and the people I work with so that it also feels like good leadership. It helps if you don’t get discouraged when logistics get in the way, for example with errands to run at the end of the day. Just try to do it the next day.

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