Saturday, May 9, 2015

National Bike Month and Go By Bike Week

Heraldic shield divided into four quadrants, with the words 'Bike Month' superimposed across the upper portion of the shield. In the upper left quadrant, partial view of black bicycle against a green background. In the lower right, a black bicycle gear with the word 'May' against a green background. Black and white diagonal striping occupy the upper right and lower left quadrants and the entire shield image is outlined around its edge by a green bike-chain design.
Source of image: Rogue Valley Transportation District
I work at four part-time jobs and commute via bicycle for all of them. In that sense, National Bike Month is something that I observe every month, every day. But each year May offers a chance to showcase biking’s benefits.

From the League of American Bicyclists, comes an encouraging statistic: that commuting by bicycle increased by 62 percent from 2000 to 2013. But the league points out that National Bike Month is about “so much more than just getting to and from the office.”

“The momentum is building: With growing cultural awareness around health and wellness, sustainability and economic savings, bicycling is being seen by new and broader audiences as a simple solution to many complex problems, from reducing obesity rates to increasing mobility options.”

In Oregon’s Rogue Valley, Go By Bike Week is being observed from May 11 to 16. But even in Oregon, ranked No. 1 among U.S. states for its percentage of bicycle commuters, the number of people commuting by bicycle is still only 2.5 percent.

Even in Ashland, which earned gold status as a bicycle-friendly community, I receive daily reminders that, as a bicyclist, I am among the minority and, moreover, my existence as a cyclist is outside the majority’s consciousness. At “Market of Choice,” shoppers treat bike hitching posts as a place for shopping cart returns.

On Ashland streets, I must regularly watch out for motorists cutting in front of cyclists, of treating bike lanes like parking spaces or right-hand turn lanes for cars. I also have to safely navigate road segments where the dedicated bike lane disappears.

Clearly, work remains to be done to raise awareness of bicycling’s benefits and to eliminate real and imagined barriers to being able to commute by bicycle. I deeply appreciate the added visibility of a national designated month, even while hoping we can maintain this visibility every other month of the year.

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