May Is National Bike Month

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Bicycles parked at MOTHER EARTH NEWS headquarters.Perhaps this will be the year you'll stop thinking about bike commuting and will ride your bicycle to work during National Bike Month in May. Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, this month-long event encourages velo-commuting across the United States through local activities scheduled during Bike to Work Week from May 12 to 16, and Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 16, 2014.

Bike commuting has taken off in this country, with many thousands of people reporting that they pedal to work at least occasionally, if not frequently. The population of U.S. bike commuters grew by more than 47 percent from 2000 to 2011, and the number of trips made by bicycle more than doubled during the same time period, according to the National Household Travel Survey conducted by the Federal Highway Administration. Biking to work is perceived as practical and efficient by people who live within a few miles of their workplace — which is about half of us.

The rise in bike commuting is helping to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution in North American cities, as well as saving riders money on transportation costs. And bicyclists typically enjoy better physical and mental health than drivers. As Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists, explains, “Biking to work is an efficient and fun way to get the exercise you need, without having to find extra time to work out.”

Held every year since 1956, the Bike to Work celebration focuses on attracting and encouraging new riders to the activity. More riders on the streets helps to increase motorists' awareness of bicyclists. And cycling with others reduces the anxiety felt by new riders, who become more willing to bike to work on their own. The League's research shows that many people who participate in Bike to Work Day for the first time begin biking to work regularly thereafter.

Communities across the country sponsor Bike to Work events tailored to meet the needs and interests of their local bike commuters. You can find everything from cycling classes to commuter convoys listed in the League's Bike to Work database. Find ideas for planning activities in your own community by consulting these League publications: Getting Started: National Bike Month Guide (pdf) and Plan a Bike Month Event.

The MOTHER EARTH NEWS bicycle rack — next to the EV plug-in station — is already being used by our staff commuters in anticipation of Bike to Work Week. Won't you join us in commemorating National Bike Month by pedaling to your own workplace in May?

Rebecca Martin is an Associate Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, where her beats include DIY and Green Transportation. She's an avid cyclist and has never met a vegetable she didn't like. You can find her on Google+ and Twitter.