By Candice Marshall

Gold Coast City Council is encouraging residents to get involved in their year’s Bike Week.

Bike Week 2012 kicked off on Saturday, running until Sunday 18 March, with public activities scattered throughout the week.

Gold Coast Acting Mayor Daphne McDonald says there are many benefits of cycling.

“Cycling is a great way to exercise and travel at the same time. It’s cheaper than driving, causes less pollution and can be quicker for short trips, especially during peak hour,” says Cr McDonald.   “Of course, cycling is also good for our health. It’s a good way to help lose excess weight, develop better cardiovascular fitness and increase muscle tone.”

Cr McDonald adds that with more than 600 kilometres of bikeways, the Gold Coast is a great place to cycle.

“Not only is the scenery stunning, but the weather is great all year round. The city landscape is relatively flat, but for cyclists who like to get their adrenalin pumping, the hinterland offers a variety of more challenging terrain,” she says.

On Saturday the week’s activities began with a skills session conducted by Olympic Gold Medallist, Sara Carrigan.   Sara used the opportunity to promote commuting to work by bike.

“It provides that opportunity for people to get out on their bikes, and if they don’t already commute to work it’s an excuse to get out there and have a feel of what it is and to see that sometimes the trip on the bike is actually either the same amount of time or less than what it takes in the car,” Sara says.

“And you feel like you’re so much more alert and productive and the adrenalin and endorphins have been pumping, so you just feel that much better for the day.”

Bike Week activities include:   *Ride to Work Day on Wednesday 14 March – ride to work and drop into Evandale at 135 Bundall Road between 7-8.30am for a free community breakfast.   *Free bike education workshops are available across the Gold Coast – learn bicycle skills provided by an accredited instructor. Workshops are three hours and suited for people aged 15 years and over. Bookings are essential, please phone (07) 5582 8245.   *National Ride2School day on Friday 23 March – this is a great opportunity for students to get active on the way to school by safely riding, walking, skating or scooting