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Promoting cycling in York Region during COVID-19

Where

York Region

Mode of Transport

Cycling

Type of intervention

Community campaign, Scavenger hunt

The problem

Bike Month is an annual campaign celebrated by Smart Commute and coordinated by Cycle Toronto across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) to promote cycling. It typically kicks off with a Bike to Work Day followed by other events throughout the month. However, in 2020, the COVID-19 physical distancing health guidelines made it imperative to find alternatives to traditional Bike Month activities, such as in-person bike rides.

The opportunity

While the pandemic affected the traditional Bike Month campaign, the increased interest in cycling during the pandemic presented an opportunity for a reimagined, virtual campaign to reach a wider audience.


With more people working from home and fewer people commuting to work during the pandemic, 2020 was an opportunity to expand the reach of Bike Month from Smart Commute’s traditional audience of workplaces to a community audience too.
Bicycle in front of bike lane at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre
Participant photo submission: The bike lanes by Vaughan Metropolitan Centre

How pointA helped

In York Region, where pointA delivers the Smart Commute program in Vaughan, pointA partnered with other Smart Commute offices in the region to design and deliver a virtual scavenger hunt, titled “Ride & Seek” during Bike Month. By submitting photos of their bike at landmarks, participants were entered into a prize draw. The scavenger hunt was promoted to workplaces and the community with the help of the City of Vaughan and York Region.


Across York Region, 87 landmarks were selected, which participants could find and cycle to. pointA used the campaign to promote Vaughan’s sustainable transportation infrastructure, including the Highway 7 multi-use pathway, the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre subway station and the SmartVMC Bus Terminal.


pointA led a region-wide webinar to promote the Bike Month scavenger hunt , and was able to utilize its previously developed cycling webinars on topics such as cycling safety, maintenance and route planning through communications that were distributed by the City of Vaughan to its residents.
Bicycle in front of North Maple Reserve Park sign
Bike in front of conservation area sign
Bicycle in front of guard rail over looking forest
Person standing with bicycle in front of historic house

Participant photo submissions

Results

Bike Month was considered very successful, with levels of participation comparable to previous, more traditional campaigns, with a total of 649 scavenger hunt entries being submitted.

 

Because of Bike Month, participants reported a 77% increase in their time cycling. Bike Month also received positive feedback from participants:

  • “I didn’t realize there were so many bike lanes / trails available in York Region!”
  • “Nice places to stop for a quick look around. Great idea for a campaign – the kids loved it.”
  • “I loved exploring new sites outside of Vaughan, learned about new trails.”
  • “I never knew there are so many beautiful places in my own “backyard”. I am most impressed by all the trails, parks and natural reserves in York Region.”