Since 1956, May has been recognized as National Bike Month. The third week in May is designated Bike to Work Week, and the third Friday of May (this year, May 16) is Bike to Work Day.
Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to giving biking a try.
Whether you bike to work or school, ride to save money or time, pump those pedals to preserve your health or the environment, or simply love to explore your community, National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons people ride. If you've been missing in action for a while, this month is also a great opportunity to get back out for a ride and remember all the positive things that can come from bicycling, including:
• Bicycle commuting is a great way to squeeze regular exercise into a hectic schedule. For a 180-pound man, a 10-mile round trip bike commute burns 400 calories. For a 130-pound woman, this same commute burns 300 calories.
• A study found that those who biked to work were fitter, leaner, less likely to be obese, and had better triglyceride levels, blood pressure and insulin levels than those who didn't active commute to work.
• More than 80 percent of bicycle commuters believe their health has improved since they started bicycle commuting. Plus, bike commuters report lower stress and greater feelings of freedom, relaxation, and excitement than car commuters.
• Employers in the community benefit from a healthy, active workforce, as well. Cyclists on average take 15 percent fewer days off from work for illness than noncyclists, and generally accomplish more work.
• Bicyclists are less likely to be affected by traffic congestion, too. Whether they ride on bike paths or roads, bicycles are much more maneuverable than automobiles.
• Bicycle commuting saves on parking fees, parking tickets, fuel costs, auto maintenance costs and transit fares. According to analysis by the League, Americans saved more than $4.6 billion by bicycling instead of driving in 2012 alone.
• The average annual operating expense of a bicycle is just $308, versus more than $8,000 for a car.
• Investing in bicycle infrastructure is cost effective, too. For $60 million — the cost of a single mile of urban highway — Portland, Ore., built a full citywide bicycle network.
• And biking is good for business, too. Research in multiple cities has shown that patrons arriving by bike visit more often and spend more money.
• Since the costs of employee parking sites are growing, many companies are looking for cheaper alternatives. It costs the same to build parking for 75 bikes as it does for just four cars!
• More bicycle use means a smaller carbon footprint. During the 2012 National Bike Challenge, Americans kept more than 13 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere by riding their bikes instead of driving their cars.
• Beyond carbon dioxide, cars are the single-largest source of U.S. air pollution. Short trips are up to three times more polluting per mile than long trips. When bicycling is substituted for short auto trips, 3.6 pounds of pollutants per mile are not emitted into the atmosphere.
• There are 800 million car parking spaces in the U.S., totaling 160 billion square feet of concrete and asphalt. Ten bikes can park in the space used by a single motor vehicle!
Ride of Silence
|Ghost bike on Sanibel Causeway|
But Bike Month also has a somber side: On May 21, at 7 p.m., the Ride of Silence will roll across the globe as cyclists will take to the roads in a silent procession to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways.
The ride aims to raise the awareness of motorists, police and local officials that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways. The motoring public often isn't aware of these rights, and sometimes not aware of the cyclists themselves.
The origin of the Ride of Silence dates from 2003 when Larry Schwartz, a U.S. nationally ranked endurance cyclist, was hit and killed by a passing bus. His close friend, Chris Phelan, organized the first ride in Dallas and thought the ride would be a one-time event. There was no registration, no fees, no T-shirt — yet this ride drew 1,000 cyclists through word of mouth and emails over a period of 10 days.
Other cycling clubs expressed their interests to do the same in their communities and it has continually grown since the first ride. Last year, rides took place in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 26 foreign countries.
The local Ride of Silence takes place 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, starting from Centennial Park on West First Street, traveling eight miles. The complete route will be announced at the start of the ride.
There's also a Ride of Silence on Sanibel, starting from the Sanibel Community Park at 2173 Periwinkle Way (next to the Community House); it will ride over two of the three Sanibel Causeway bridges, taking the loop under the high bridge to head back to Sanibel. This ride also convenes at 6:45 p.m. for a 7 p.m. start.
All that's needed to participate is a bike and a helmet (no headphones, please). Helmets are required and lights are recommended, but not required. Riders are requested to wear black arm bands or red if they have been injured in a cycling versus motor vehicle accident — and this ride is silent, so be ready to be quiet.
The ride is free of charge and no registration is necessary. Riders are asked to arrive 15 minutes prior to the 7 p.m. start. For information, go to caloosariders.org/rosfm or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|The third week in May is designated Bike to Work Week.(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)|
• Saturday, May 17: Cape Cops 5K, Cape Coral Yacht Club Community Park, 5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral, 7:30 a.m. $25 in advance, $35 day of. (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
• Monday, May 26: Memorial Day 5K Run on the Green, Eastwood Golf Course, Fort Myers, 7:30 a.m. $20 in advance, $30 day of. (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
Cycling and other events
• Wednesday, May 21: Ride of Silence, 7 p.m. Centennial Park, 2000 West First Street, Fort Myers (under the Bridge at Heitman and Bay Streets). Cyclists will ride in a silent funeral-style procession at 10-12 mph for eight miles to honor those who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways. Riders are requested to wear black arm bands or red if they have been injured in a cycling versus motor vehicle accident. More details caloosariders.org/rosfm. Everyone welcome. Free of charge. No registration necessary.
• Sunday, July 6: Wheels and Wings V Bicycle Ride. 62/32/15 mile rides and a 10-mile gentlemen's mass start race within the 62-mile route. Speed Trap Alley -- break the speed limit and receive a written warning from Punta Gorda Police, suitable for framing. Mystery Ride for the 15 milers. Beef O'Bradys 1105 Taylor Road, Punta Gorda. $30 includes ride, SAG stops, T-shirt, 10 Wings and two drinks (peaceriverridersbicycleclub.com)
• Sunday, May 18: Lake Avalon Reverse Dualathon and Triathlon. Sugden Regional Park, Naples. Run/bike/swim or run/bike. $79 in advance, $99 day of, $119 teams (eliteevents.org/lake-avalon-reverse-duathlon-and-triathlon.html)
• Sunday, June 1: 28th annual Fitness Challenge Reverse Triathlon. Run/bike/swim, sprint distance. The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, 851 Gulf Shore Blvd., Naples. $95 individuals, $180 teams. (thefitnesschallengetriathlon.com)
• Sept. 13-14: Registration is now open for the fourth annual Galloway Captiva Tri weekend. Saturday is the kids' day with three age groups (6-8, 9-10 and 11-13) enjoying the fun of multisports. Sunday, the adults take to the water and roadways in a sprint triathlon (swim/bike/run) covering all of Captiva Island. Spaces are limited for all events, so register now – no waiting lists this year. Information at captivatri.org.
Note: Top two photos not included in News-Press article.