Get on your bikes and ride!
May is National Bike Month. It’s a time when the days are longer and the weather is warmer – and a perfect time to start riding bikes or to resume riding after a long winter. Or, to just enjoy riding without bundling up.
Every day this month, at least 11 million Americans will bicycle. Some will ride on pavement, others on dirt. A few will pedal 100 miles, while others will roll maybe three blocks. Some rides will be unforgettable: particularly childrens’ wonderful first adventures in the park when a parent lets go and they enjoy a first taste of two-wheel freedom.
If you're looking for ways to celebrate National Bike Month, our friends over at the League of American Bicyclists have some great resources, including an interactive event database where you can post or find events happening in your area.
Here at PFB, we're thinking that 2011 could very well become The Year of the Bike. A bunch of factors are lining up in our favor that may mean National Bike Month lasts all year:
- Federal, state and local governments have been steadily making cost-effective investments in new bike lanes, paths and trails. Last year, federal funding for bicycling and walking totaled $1 billion—just 1.5 percent of surface transportation spending--and supported more than 3,000 significant bike projects in all 50 states. If all this money had been allocated to new roads, it would pay for roughly eight miles of multi-lane highway in a single city. But thanks to this nationwide investment in bicycling, you and your family have a better chance today of finding safe, convenient and appealing places near home to ride.
- Mayors of cities, big and small, are now trumpeting the advantages of bicycling. They appreciate how bike riding helps their cities save money on road repairs and parking construction costs. They’ve learned that making a city bike-friendly doesn’t cost much. And they know from experience that bicycle infrastructure improvements creates results. In many U.S. cities from Boston to North Little Rock to Long Beach, bike riding has nearly doubled in the last decade.
- New innovations in bikes and bike equipment make it easier to carry groceries, sports gear, and even children. Fifty percent of all trips Americans make are less than three miles. More of these trips can be made by bike and the bike industry is helping to make it possible and practical.
- High gas prices are a painful development for the millions of American who have little choice but to drive to work every day. The average U.S. work commute is 14 miles, and doesn’t yet offer a parallel bike route of any kind. But most Americans do have the option of riding, at least some of the time, for other short trips, and high gas costs may inspire them to do it more often. Every two miles you pedal instead of drive will save you at least a buck. No wonder more Americans are starting to bike.
We know that many more Americans will bike if safe, handy bikeway networks become widely available. We are determined to help make this happen, and that's why we created peopleforbikes.org. You and 220,000 other Americans who have signed the PFB pledge are giving bicycling a new, unified voice and greater political clout.
One of the best things about bicycling is it’s something you can do today that will make a difference. Bicycling to work or the store means taking personal responsibility for improving your health and saving money, but also helping your community and your nation. Americans will continue to debate how we pay for health care, but if more of us ride bicycles, we’ll need less of it. The same is true for imported petroleum.
But we must confess that when we ride, we're not thinking about skyrocketing obesity rates, high gas prices or the federal deficit. We are just happy pedaling-- watching the passing landscape and smiling at the people we see. That’s the simple appeal of bicycling.
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