US Bike Month – Celebration or political battle?
National Bike Month started Tuesday in the United States, with more than 450 events planned around to country to celebrate all the benefits of riding a bike. The League of American Bicyclists is hoping to leverage the events for political gain in the US Congress, which will be deciding soon on funding for bicycling as part of the federal transportation bill.
“It’s definitely a celebratory month,” said LAB’s Director of Communications Carolyn Szczepanski. “We’ve seen growth in the number of events, and all signs point to communities and states getting more proactive about getting out and getting riding. Clearly there is a lot of positive energy, but the backdrop is the need to put the message in front of Congress that cycling is more important than ever.”
In addition to many local and regional events, Bike Month this year also includes the first-ever National Bike to School Day, May 9. Walkbiketoschool.org has a new GPS mapping tool for finding safe routes to school.
Bike to Work Week is May 14-18.
Celebrating women on bikes this month, there are more than 80 Cyclo Femme rides schedules around the country on May 13.
LAB is encouraging cyclists to invite their members of Congress to attend their local events.
Bikes are smart transport
On the political front, about 2 percent of the U.S. transportation budget has gone to cycling and walking facilities. In recent months, some legislators have voted to eliminate that spending. In April, the federal transportation bill that was set to expire was extended by 90 days. LAB says now is the time to convince U.S. Congress to support cyclists.
“It’s time for Congress to recognize the many benefits and rising popularity of cycling and stop shortchanging Americans who choose to travel by bike because it’s good for their health, saves them money and improves their community,” said Andy Clarke, LAB President.
“Bike Month is about smart investments in transportation options,” says Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, which is also sponsoring Bike Month. “More and more Americans are getting on their bike to get where they are going. They are saving money, getting exercise and making what might be the most radical act in America today — passing on the pump.”
On a related note, the National Bike Challenge is seeking to get 50,000 people to collectively ride 10 million miles — and create a healthier world in the process. Cyclists can sign up as individuals, teams or as part of their company. Trek Bicycles is currently leading the company competition — measured in pounds of C02 saved by riding instead of driving — ahead of Kimberly-Clark and Texas Instruments.