Bike commute keeps professor hale, hearty

by Andy Poon
Staff writer

Every weekday for the past 15 years, Art Bomke has jumped on his bicycle for the 40-minute pedal from his home to UBC.

"It's a great way to stay healthy," says the 54-year-old associate professor. Bomke, who teaches in the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, admits that because he is "not a real disciplined person for going to the gym," the daily commute to and from campus serves as his primary exercise regime.

"This gives me a really good structure to get a workout for my heart and lungs," he says.

Bomke is the type of commuter that Gord Lovegrove would love to see as part of a growing trend at UBC.

"Forty-four per cent of the people who come to UBC now drive alone," says Lovegrove, director of Transportation Planning. "Our goal is to decrease single occupant vehicle use by 20 per cent by 2002."

According to Lovegrove, of the estimated 105,200 person trips to and from UBC each day, 2,700 are by bicycle, 19,000 by transit, 36,100 by carpools or vanpools, and 1,400 by foot.

As part of his office's mission to improve transportation choices, Lovegrove has been busy promoting sustainable alternatives to faculty, staff, students and campus visitors.

As of Aug. 30, University Boulevard was converted from four traffic lanes to two for vehicles and two for bikes.

But while he applauds the work on University Boulevard, Bomke says that the university needs to increase bicycle-friendly facilities. Showers, more bike stands and lockers for people to hang wet cycling gear would help.

Lovegrove says there are ongoing efforts to do just that. Meanwhile, he points out that the War Memorial Gym has 70 bike lockers available with showers, change rooms and a place to store gear for $20 a month.

"I am pushing for showers, change rooms, lockers and sheltered bike parking for all new buildings going up on campus," says Lovegrove.

He also wants to increase UBC transit use by 20 per cent by 2002.

"One of the major cornerstones of that is the U-Trek Card," he says.

The card would give holders access to transit, van and carpooling privileges, and bike facilities such as showers and lockers. An information meeting on the U-Trek card will be held on campus Oct. 30.

And for commuters who would gladly leave their vehicles at home if they had access to one on campus, a program allows students, staff and faculty to occasionally book the use of a vehicle for a fee. As well, the Jack Bell Foundation has minivans available for vanpooling. For more information call 827-RIDE or 341-RIDE.

A new 24-page UBC commuter guide is available at SUB, Koerner or Main Library, the TREK Office or at

For Bomke, who sold his GMC van in 1990 and hasn't owned a car since, there's an additional benefit to bike commuting.

"It is a congenial mode of transportation. You tend to wave and say hi to people you see frequently on your ride to UBC."