Pedal power: Employees use CIUSSS bikes to get the job done

Auxiliary Nurse Mohammed Noucair (left) and Occupational Therapist Christine Magnan (right), rely on the CIUSSS bike-share program to do homecare visits with seniors out of CLSC Metro
Auxiliary Nurse Mohammed Noucair (left) and Occupational Therapist Christine Magnan (right), rely on the CIUSSS bike-share program to do homecare visits with seniors out of CLSC Metro

Cycling boosts fitness and efficiency at work, plus it’s fun, users say

When Christine Magnan pays a homecare visit to a senior, she doesn’t get there by calling a cab, waiting for a bus, or driving through traffic and looking for parking.

Instead, she pedals over on a CIUSSS-owned bike. And the Occupational Therapist says it’s the most enjoyable and efficient way to get her work done.

Ms. Magnan benefits from an innovative bike-share program offered by CIUSSS West-Central Montreal. Operating out of four sites, the service lets employees use free bikes on the job. It’s not only healthy and practical, users say, but it’s a green way to move around town.

Last year, CIUSSS employees used the communal bikes for 327 rides, a 13-per-cent increase over the previous year.

“It’s fast and gives me more autonomy, and there’s a fun side to it, too,” says Ms. Magnan, a rehab professional who works at CLSC Metro and mainly visits seniors in Westmount. “To set out on the job by bike, with the wind in my hair, is a lot more positive than being stuck in a car and looking for parking.”

She says the program contributes to her desire to keep working at CIUSSS West-Central Montreal. “I love my job, and it’s a big plus to have the chance to do it on a bike. It’s a beautiful combination.”

The Accès-vélo bike program, which has operated for several years, is mostly used by staff who do home visits for the Support Program for the Autonomy of Seniors, better known as SAPA. It was especially appreciated this past spring, when employees preferred to avoid using public transit during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The program has a fleet of 14 bikes. Employees simply sign one out and borrow a lock; helmets are available for riders who don’t have their own. Since the coronavirus crisis began, users have been required to disinfect the handlebars and seat with a wipe before and after their ride.

For some, a bike allows them to accomplish more during their workday. Before setting off to visit seniors, Mohammed Noucair, an Auxiliary Nurse at CLSC Metro, packs bandages, blood-test kits and other equipment into his bike’s saddlebags. He mainly covers Westmount, as well, and can get to many of his clients by cycling along bike paths.

He’s able to visit up to eight seniors a day with the heavily loaded bags. It’s easier than carrying the equipment in a backpack on the bus or Metro, he says. “These bikes save me a lot of time. And they reduce stress.”

Frédérique Binette, who oversees sustainable development initiatives in our CIUSSS, says the bike-sharing program is cost-effective: The CIUSSS avoids costs associated with using transportation methods like taxis or buses. And the budget of the program is limited to annual bike maintenance, which amounted to just over $1,300 last year.

“It contributes to employees’ health, and it benefits the environment,” she adds.

This year, the program is operating out of CLSC Metro, CLSC de Parc-Extension, the Plaza site (in Plaza Côte-des-Neiges) and La Maison bleue de Parc-Extension. It generally runs from early spring until the first snowfall.

The Technical Services Directorate of our CIUSSS has taken other bike-friendly initiatives. It replaced the bike racks outside several Jewish General Hospital pavilions in 2018—with 150 parking spots currently available—and it plans to upgrade racks at several CIUSSS sites this summer. The CIUSSS also offers employees a 15-per-cent rebate on their annual BIXI bike-share memberships.