MITCH BARLOGA: Be a 'spokesperson' for National Bike Month

2013-05-02T00:00:00Z 2013-08-14T17:57:07Z MITCH BARLOGA: Be a 'spokesperson' for National Bike MonthBy Mitch Barloga nwitimes.com
May 02, 2013 12:00 am  • 

We have finally crossed into the warmer months in our region, which offer excellent opportunities to enjoy our communities by bicycle. Fitting, then, that May would be deemed National Bike Month, as it has been since its inception in 1956.

Today, the League of American Bicyclists serves as the primary sponsor to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride.

Did you know the bicycle still remains the most popular transportation mode in the world? There are more than 1.4 billion bikes in use and only 400 million cars. In the United States, however, up to 90 percent of all trips are done by automobile and trucks.

National Bike Month seeks to shift our ingrained perceptions about travel to the numerous benefits of bicycling. The goal is truly not as difficult as you might think, since nearly 40 percent of all trips are within two miles – perfect distance for bicycles. Even so, for many Americans, the thought of traveling any distance on a bike is daunting because of our lack of adequate infrastructure and insufficient bicycle parking at our destinations.

To help educate people on establishing bicycle-safe communities, a number of events have been planned during Bike Month.

One of the most popular is Bike to Work Day. Since a vast majority use cars to access jobs, a low-hanging fruit approach for increased bicycle travel are programs that encourage employees to change their commuting habits. Incentives for such events include prizes and relaxed work hours, and have proven very popular.

Another event includes the worldwide Ride of Silence, which honors the memory of bicyclists hit or injured by motor vehicles. In our region, South Shore Trails will be sponsoring the event in Chesterton on the evening of May 15. For more information, visit www.southshoretrails.org.

An event to encourage children to establish a lifelong healthy habit and to reduce auto congestion at our schools is the National Bike to School Day on May 8. Bike pools or bike-train programs can be organized to engage the next generation of bicyclists. Visit www.walkbiketoschool.org for more details.

Since space is short here, I have only addressed the tip of an iceberg of numerous opportunities to promote bicycling in your community. I encourage you, as either a resident or public official, to visit the League of American Bicyclists Bike Month website at www.bikeleague.org/programs/bikemonth to learn more about ideas to increase bicycle travel in your neighborhood.

As always, you can contact me at mbarloga@nirpc.org or (219) 763-6060 ext. 133. Happy Bike Month!

Mitch Barloga is non-motorized transportation and greenways planner for the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. The opinions are the writer's.

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