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Take a bike ride in May

friends on bicyclesWhen: May 1-31

What: Inexpensive to maintain and agile in dense traffic, people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds throughout the world rely on the simple bicycle to commute to work, ride to school, and run errands. In the U.S., the car has long ruled the road, while bicycling has been popular mainly as recreation. However, as traffic becomes a bigger issue, the health and environmental benefits of bicycling has attracted more new cyclists. The U.S. Department of Transportation has made better bicycling infrastructure a priority, while cities and counties have responded with wide, well-marked bike lanes and bike rental and sharing programs. This May, work to make bicycling safer and easier during National Bike Month.

Background: National Bike Month was started by the League of American Bicyclists in 1956. During this month, Bike-to-Work Day is celebrated as one of the biggest events and encourages drivers to try biking to their workplace instead of relying on their cars. Meanwhile, National Bike Month in general aims to promote bike safety, encourage biking as exercise and support the environmental benefits of biking.

Story Pitch: Bicycling is great for health and the environment, but bicyclists should also be aware of specific safety issues presented when riding the road. Health groups and healthcare providers can take this moment to share the benefits of biking as an excellent cardio workout and stress reliever. They can also educate bicyclists on how to choose and wear a helmet, and what kind of gear can make them more visible in traffic. Environmental groups have the opportunity to promote biking as a way to enjoy nature, while also reducing pollution. Local parks can also share how to mountain bike with minimal impact on trails. Bicycle shops have a great opportunity to promote their bikes and equipment, and can hold educational sessions to help beginners find the right bike and gear.

Story Hook: Recent studies found that American drivers spent 10 percent more time stuck in traffic in 2010 than they did in 2009. Traffic in the cities around the U.S. isn’t improving, and gridlock is in fact getting worse in many areas. How are local roadways alleviating traffic issues by becoming more bike-friendly? If commuting by bike is not a good option for a driver, how can one use bicycling for shorter trips and errands? How are local employers or businesses accommodating or encouraging bicycling? Keep the following in mind as you make your pitch:

  • What cities are best for bicyclists? What infrastructure changes have they put into place to make biking safe and easy?
  • What are the rules of the road that bicyclists need to follow? How can drivers help keep cyclists safe?
  • How does a better network of bike lanes make a community more livable?
  • Are there local bike groups or coalitions that can help beginners become active bicyclists?
  • What types of bikes are most useful for beginners? What are good for commuting or riding in traffic?

Tips: A state bicycle and pedestrian coordinator is a good contact who can share how states are making area roads and bike lanes safer and more efficient. A representative from a bike coalition can talk about issues bicyclists face in the area. A bicyclist who started commuting by bike for environmental or health reasons can also give good insight.

Resources:

Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals
info(at)apbp.org
www.apbp.org

Bicycle Information Center
(888) 823-3977
www.bicyclinginfo.org

Bicycle and Pedestrian Program
Federal Highway
Administration
(202) 366-8044
www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikeped

National Bike Month
League of American Bicyclists

(202) 822-1333
bikeleague(at)bikeleague.org
www.bikeleague.org/programs/bikemonth

–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
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