In June, we asked the University of Waterloo community to participate in our Bike Month campaign, a four-week contest that encourages individuals to snap a photo of themselves on a bike ride or share their favourite cycling story. Although the Sustainability Office normally hosts its Bike Month activities in-person, Bike Month 2021 was designed to be entirely virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, this post briefly summarizes how active and passionate the community is for cycling in their day-to-day lives.
We received a grand total of 67 photo and story submissions for Bike Month 2021 showcasing biking experiences across the community, despite a virtual environment. Submissions varied from mountain biking on the west coast to a leisurely stroll in a suburban city. This campaign demonstrated that participants enjoyed cycling and engaged in the contest even if operations were entirely online.
Celebrating our accomplishments
Each day, we had wonderful submissions filling our social media and email as participants were encouraged to submit as many times as they liked. The campaign saw a wide variety of participation across different countries to reflect the interest of cycling in the UW community. Moreover, the Sustainability Office hosted an Instagram Live featuring the Bike Centre, the University’s Do-It-Yourself bike repair shop run by undergraduate students, on June 24th, 2021. The Sustainability Office connected with one of the representatives from the Bike Centre to discuss various topics, such as services offered by the Bike Centre, cycling safety tips, favourite Kitchener-Waterloo trails, and many more.
Along with every successful event comes challenges. Although the overall participation was excellent, numbers in staff participation were significantly higher than student numbers. Multiple channels were used to promote the campaign, but social media is the main way the Sustainability Office reaches students. However, it did not appear as successful at attracting student participation. This is likely due to the COVID restrictions, ongoing co-op and study term of students during June, and accessibility to bikes. It could also be due to an overwhelming number of social media posts during the pandemic, in which other university and non-university accounts are promoting similar campaigns.
Summary and next steps
Although in-person activities may resume by the Bike Month 2022 campaign, preparation for a blend of in-person and virtual campaign will be considered. If the virtual environment prolongs, running a complete in-person campaign may not be accessible to students who choose or are required to remain home, such as international students impacted by border closures. In this case, a virtual activity, such as this year’s online contest submission may continue.
All in all, Bike Month 2021 was a big success thanks to the active participants in our UW community! We hope that everyone enjoyed the fresh air and time spent doing the activity they love: biking!