bikers pose in front of the University Computer CentreIT Services staff racked up more than 3,600 km in commutes during the Bike to Work program this summer.

IT Services staff prove to be big wheels on campus

Working on computers all day can be dangerous to one’s health, says Eyob Woldemichael. That’s why the application programmer in Information Technology Services decided to challenge his co-workers to get more active.

“Working in IT is very sedentary; you’re just sitting all the time,” Woldemichael says. “I wanted to think of a way to promote more exercise.”

His solution: issuing a challenge for IT Service staff to bicycle to work this summer, with a total goal of 3,000 km. Once they got pedalling, they blew right past that goal, topping out at 3,600 km Wednesday.

“Bicycling is better for the environment and saves money, too,” Wolemichael says. “But the main motivation is health. Every time you bike in to work, it’s the start of a good day.”

Michael Kenney, with a 13-km commute each way, led the pack with a total of more than 700 km.

“I enjoy riding my bike when I can,” he says, especially after a record long, cold winter. “It’s a lot less stressful than fighting car traffic.”

He plans to continue riding to work, and now has an added boost as the winner of a $100 gift certificate from Ambassador Bicycles in a draw celebrating the conclusion of the ITS Bike to Work program.

Other winners included:

  • Kevin Macnaughton, who won another $100 Ambassador Bicycles gift certificate sponsored by CUPE Local 1393, which represents most IT Services staff, and
  • Armand Gaudette, who won two $50 gift certificates to Best Buy, courtesy of IT Services.

In addition to providing a prize, the department’s executive director Bala Kathiresan allowed participants to store their bikes in the University Computer Centre basement lab.

“Supporting staff members’ health and well-being will have a positive impact on their morale,” he said. “I fundamentally believe that staff who bike to work will improve their health, be productive and help improve our environment.”

He said he will be glad to allow other campus employees to park their bikes in the lab when it closes each summer.

Another key support came from the Lancer Green Fund administered by Paul Henshaw, the Univeristy’s environmental advocate. The fund paid for juice, water and cereal bars for riders each Wednesday.