By Steve Hubrecht

[email protected]

A crew of a few dozen residents gathered outside the Invermere hospital last week to celebrate a successful local version of the province-wide GoByBike Week (which was then still in progress) and to mark a donation that is helping build new bike racks at the hospital.

On Thursday, June 1 local cycling advocates, the Invermere District Hospital Environmental Sustainability Committee, Cycling Without Age, the East Kootenay Foundation for Health (EKFH), the Rotary Club of Invermere, and representatives from several local cycling stores were on hand (and on wheels) during the fourth day of GoByBike Week, talking passionately about the benefits of carbon free commuting and witnessing a $2,270 donation from the Rotary Club to the EKFH for the racks.

EKFH executive director Brenna Baker had come up from Cranbrook for the occasion, a signal of the growing importance of promoting healthy lifestyles as a part of medicine. Baker was perhaps the only person of the several dozen on site not to have commuted at least partly by bike (in her defence she faced a round trip commute of 266 kilometres from and back to Cranbrook — a great many miles longer than anyone else’s), but she did speak to the importance of encouraging cycling.

“(Bike racks) are not the sort of thing we typically fundraise for. It’s usually medical equipment . . . but it (bike racks) does promote a healthy lifestyle,” said Baker.

Rotary Club president Yvonne Redeker said the club is all about supporting the community. “It promotes outdoor activity and promotes physical and mental health.” 

In total, the funding will result in six new bike racks at the hospital — three already in place by the main public entrance and three more by the staff entrance.

The new racks are spaced a bit farther apart than typical bike racks and so can accommodate ebikes, explained sustainability committee member Andrea Haworth. 

“We are really hoping that we can build some momentum with GoByBike Week and have it be even bigger next year,” she added.

Sustainability committee member Nadine Hale said the Invermere District Hospital team had managed to collect more than 20 participants on its GoByBike Week team, and she’s delighted with how the week was turning out.

“More people are signing up each day,” said Hale. “It’s great. It’s about creating a shift in mindset, creating new habits. Hopefully this helps do that.”

Columbia Cycle and Ski’s John McQuaid has been participating in GoByBike for the past three years. In 2021 he was forced to join a team from Kimberley because there wasn’t one in Invermere. In 2022, “we did have some people (from the Columbia Valley) participate, but not many. Only four or five. This year we are up to 55 riders in the Columbia Valley,” he said. “It’s definitely getting bigger, and that’s great to see.”