Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Is National Bike Month




Yep, it's the first week of a new month so you know what that means... 'May is ___ month' time. This time it's National Bike Month, fitting since I just got a new bicycle last weekend.

Per the League of American Bicyclists, the national sponsor of Bike Month: "National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride. Whether you bike to work or school; to save money or time; to preserve your health or the environment; to explore your community or get to your destination."



Though May is 'Bike Month', most activities are centered on Bike to Work Week which nationally is May 14-18 ending with Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 18.  In Milwaukee, the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin (Bike Fed) is organizing Milwaukee Bike To Work Week May 12-18. Check out the website for further details, such as commuter stations (like biking pit stops) or watch for a post closer to the days right here.

So, why should you bike to work  whether just for this week or more often? Same reason to take public transportation plus wellness benefits. There are really three main reasons, each with their own laundry list of benefits.
  • Save Money. Gas, parking, car maintenance, all can be a strain on your pocketbook. A bike requires no gas, far less maintenance, and zero parking costs.
  • Save The Environment. In riding a bike over driving a car you are doing more than the obvious reduction of gas usage and emissions. The less cars used the less parking needed. Parking lots and structures use up so much space that could be used for green space or even more buildings.
  • Save Yourself. Bicycling is obviously a physical activity - exercise - which means better health for you. Which brings us back to reason 1 - better health means less health care expenses.
If you commute to a city center, an interesting point is you can actually save time. Since everyone is going slow during rush hour bumper to bumper traffic and you can sneak past them on your bike, studies have shown you can go up to 50% faster on a bike than in a car during rush hour.

Milwaukee may not be as bike friendly as many cities, but we are getting there, after recently painting many miles of new bike lanes on streets across the City we now have a network of 65 miles of bike lanes and 75 miles of bike routes on which to ride, and they plan to make more. Milwaukee Department of Public Works has a plan to add new bike lanes as streets are repaved and as grant money allows. The on-street bikeway plan identifies 145 miles of high priority streets for bike lanes and over 250 miles of streets on which bike lanes fit in the City. If you aren't sure of the best route to take on bike, the City of Milwaukee has a Milwaukee by Bike section and provides free maps at all area bike shops, libraries, City Hall, and County Parks.

So far we have focused on Bike To Work Week since that is what the Fed focuses on, but May is a great time to bust out the bike in general and use it to get out and about in Milwaukee.

Things To Do On Your Bike

If you just want to take a ride there are the dedicated trails, Oak Leaf and Hank Aaron, in Milwaukee.

There are social clubs to join or meet ups to get out with as a group:

Finally there are always fundraising rides such as:

As you can see there are plenty of things to do on a bicycle that can get you out and about, get some exercise, be social, and possibly even be charitable. All while leaving your car at home and saving gas and with it money and the environment.