According to the League of American Bicyclists, over half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of their workplace, but very few take advantage of the opportunity to bike to work. As the official sponsor of National Bike Month every May, the League actively promotes cycling in general, but especially cycling to work. In fact, May 17 – 21, 2010 is National Bike to Work Week and May 21 is National Bike to Work Day.
The first National Bike Month was sponsored by the League of American Wheelmen (the precursor to the current League) in 1956 as a means to promote cycling and provide cycling education nationwide. Since its founding in 1880, the League has existed to defend the rights of cyclists; it was even responsible for promoting paved roads before there were automobiles. Currently, the League is actively involved in many education and advocacy programs, including the Safe Routes to School program, BikeEd program, the National Bike Summit every March, and the Share the Road campaign. A member-based non-profit organization, the League also publishes the bi-monthly magazine American Bicyclist. Information on these programs and other work being done by the League is available on the League’s website, www.bikeleague.org.
In addition to biking to work, organizations in many communities are sponsoring special events to promote cycling during National Bike Month. Events listed on the League’s website for most states are undoubtedly just the tip of the iceberg. Check with local bike shops and clubs for other events in your community. These resources will also have information on cycling events going on in your area beyond just the month of May.
So what does all of this mean to you? I hope it means you’re going to use National Bike Month impetus to get out there and get cycling. Take the opportunity to meet some new friends by joining in on one of the cycling events in your community. There are at least two group rides planned in my small town of less than 4,000 people, so undoubtedly something is happening in your area. If you’ve been in need of a cycling buddy (I think riding’s often more fun with a partner), this might be a great opportunity to find a new friend.
Besides just having fun in May or throughout the summer, I hope you will also take the opportunity to commute on your bicycle. We often think that biking takes too long or is too inconvenient to use consistently for commuting. One of the possible events the League suggests for National Bike to Work Week is a commuting race between a car, bus and bike. Each vehicle starts and ends at the same locations, but takes different, transportation appropriate, routes to the end point. Every time the bike wins.
All it takes is a bit of planning for cycling to be a viable commuting alternative. If you live in an area with busy roads, take the time to choose a route that will take you off of the main thoroughfares. Try to limit running errands that would require a car to once a week or less. Not only will you be healthier from more exercise, you’ll save time and stress by simplifying your life. Benefits to the environment are icing on the cake.
No matter what choices you make, get out there and enjoy National Bike Month. Do your part to promote cycling in your community and nation-wide. Don’t forget to have fun, too!