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Cyclists dominate Nanaimo Commuter Challenge

Ralph Nilson, Vancouver Island University president, left, and Doug Routley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan NDP MLA, bask in the glow of the sun and victory at the Commuter Challenge event Tuesday. Both men cycled their respective routes to Diana Krall Plaza faster than their car-driving competitors to win the challenge, a kickoff for Bike to Work Week May 28 to June 3. - Photo contributed
Ralph Nilson, Vancouver Island University president, left, and Doug Routley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan NDP MLA, bask in the glow of the sun and victory at the Commuter Challenge event Tuesday. Both men cycled their respective routes to Diana Krall Plaza faster than their car-driving competitors to win the challenge, a kickoff for Bike to Work Week May 28 to June 3.
— image credit: Photo contributed

Competitors timed in at Diana Krall Plaza Tuesday in friendly bike-versus-car races across town to see which form of commuter transport could get downtown the quickest.

The Commuter Challenge pitted drivers against cyclists on two courses to downtown, starting from Brooks Landing and Vancouver Island University.

Each route wound through neighbourhoods and past elementary schools to drum up awareness with kids about the event and Bike to Work Week (May 28 to June 3).

Doug Routley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan NDP MLA, led the pack, cycling downtown in 14 minutes 30 seconds from Brooks Landing.

Kurt Fischer, who drove from Brooks Landing in the Nanaimo Car Share car, timed in at 18 minutes, 40 seconds.

Nanaimo Car Share was nearly knocked out of the competition by a flat tire prior to the event, which was fixed by Kal-Tire in time for the start.

Ralph Nilson, Vancouver Island University president, cruised in on his old Raleigh hybrid bike 24 minutes, 38 seconds after leaving the Nanaimo campus.

His rival, Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan, ran into a snag at Fairview Elementary School where RCMP Cpl. Norm Smith was lurking, radar gun in hand, to issue Ruttan a warning ticket for allegedly speeding in a school zone and further delayed his progress with a thorough vehicle safety inspection.

Ruttan jogged into the plaza, ticket in hand, almost 36 minutes after starting.

"Well after he finished checking everything over, we were finally able to get back on the road," Ruttan said. "Fortunately I have my own private parking spot nearby, so I didn't have to run too far."

Bike to Work Week is held each year to promote awareness about alternate commuter transportation, especially cycling, and features cycling related events and prize giveaways to participants throughout the week.

For more details or to register, please visit the Bike to Work Week website at www.biketowork.ca/nanaimo.

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