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National Bike To Work Day Promotes Pedal Power On May 17th

Want to get some exercise, fresh air and sunshine while helping to ease the environmental burden on our fair planet? Here’s an idea:  pump up your tires, leave the car in the driveway and hit the road on your trusty two-wheeler on Friday, May 17.  It’s National Bike to Work Day, and people will be shunning their cars and using leg power to get to work in record numbers.

The annual event punctuates National Bike to Work Week, May 13 – 17. The League of American Bicyclists started the tradition (along with National Bike to Work Month) in 1956.  Since then, increasing numbers of Americans are hopping on their trusty two-wheeled steeds and pedaling their way to their place of employment.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the nation’s bicyclists have burgeoned in numbers by 47% since 2000.  Pedaling to work has seen a rise of 50% in the same period.

The nation’s municipalities are supporting Bike to Work Day in a variety of ways.  In San Francisco, 26 official ‘Energizer Stations’ will be strategically positioned to supply bicyclists with free snacks, beverages and tote bags filled with goodies. Bike mechanics will be available to assist riders with issues like flat tires or broken chains. In the Washington, D.C. metro area, organizers expect over 10,000 commuters to pedal to work on the designated day.  To support newcomers unaccustomed to bicycle commuting, convoys of riders will be led by people who bike to work on regular basis.  A support network of 70 pit stops will provide them with refreshments and free t-shirts. Participants can also register to win a bike.

In Colorado, the traffic-easing advocacy group 36 Commuting Solutions reports that last year’s Bike to Work Day saw more than 27,000 Denver residents pedal to work.  During the event, 452,000 miles were pedaled, eliminating 252,000 single occupant vehicle trips and 312,330 miles of travel from clogged roads. That one day of bike riding made a whopping impact on air quality in the area, by sparing 270,708 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere.  This year, Bike to Work Day organizers will have 36 stations set up along the U.S. 36 corridor, fueling pedaling commuters with free breakfast and other goodies.

In New Mexico, Albuquerque bicycle enthusiasts anticipate that bike commuters will hit the road on May 17 in record numbers, urged on by eight Breakfast Stops serving granola bars, bananas, Starbucks coffee and giving away t-shirts, reflective leg bands, tire patch kits and other freebies.

The League of American Bicyclists promotes pedal power through their Bicycle Friendly America. They rank cities and states according to their level of bike friendliness using criteria such as protected bike lanes, bike trails and ‘share the road’ campaigns.  San Francisco, Boulder, Minneapolis, Missoula, Tucson, Seattle, and Portland are rated highest among cities, having been awarded Gold Bicycle Friendly Community status.

The benefits of becoming a Bicycle Friendly community include reduced road congestion, community health improvement, increased property values, higher tourism rates and more money spent in local economies.