Who likes to bike? Observance peddles benefits of pedaling

Katie Smith
Katie Smith

Don’t miss your opportunity to experience the fun and freedom of using a bicycle for transportation and recreation. Grand Valley Bike Month in May offers a chance to ride to work, to school, and on errands.

Bike month encourages bicycle riding as an alternative to driving. The observance offers activities for the entire family at all levels and abilities. From breakfast rides on Bike to Work Day to safety checks for children to business and commuter challenges, there’s a lot to get excited about.  Bike to Work Day remains the most popular event, but a new event this year will feature a screening of the mountain biking documentary “UnReal” at the Avalon Theater in Grand Junction on May 17.

Statewide, Bike to Work Day occurs in June. If you’ve lived in the Grand Valley more than a year, though, you know Bike to Work Day can be hot and make for a less-than-fun commute home. This year, the bike month committee voted to move Grand Valley Bike Month to May and Bike to Work Day to May 2. The change not only makes for a more comfortable day of cycling, but also allows for some of the largest employers in the Grand Valley — Mesa County School District 51 and Colorado Mesa University — to join in the observance.

Why should your organization join in the fun of Grand Valley Bike Month and Bike to Work Day? The business challenge offers a great way to build morale among employees while engaging in friendly competition with other businesses. The organization with the most participation takes home one of four trophies along with bragging rights for the year.

Keith Fife, natural resource liaison for Mesa County, touts other benefits. “I have been a bike commuter my entire career and participant in Bike to Work Day for well over a decade. I’d like to think bike month has inspired many others to make the same lifestyle change for their health, the environment and decreasing vehicular traffic on our roadways.”

Biking is good for the economy, too, in reducing maintenance and repairs for roadways and vehicles as well as fuel costs. Biking also has been associated with increased property values, retail activity, and tourism as well as workplace productivity.

By one estimate, 40 percent of all trips in the United States are less than 2 miles long, making bicycling a feasible option to get to work. According to the Partnership for Active Transportation, trips of less than 3 miles are faster by bike and commutes of five to seven miles take about the same amount of time by bike or motor vehicle. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates every mile biked reduces carbon dioxide emissions by a pound. If you still live too far away from work to bike, consider biking to the nearest Grand Valley Transit stop and riding the bus from there.

In a community concerned with climate change, pollution and traffic congestion, the question should be: Why not bike to work?

Our community has an active population of avid cyclists more than willing to guide you while you learn the rules of the road and etiquette while commuting on your favorite stretch of roadway. Maps available at www.healthymesacounty.org can help you find the safest routes for your commutes.

Cycling season is more than one month or day. With more than 300 days of sunlight, biking to work offers an option for most people most of the year. Use Grand Valley Bike Month to kick-start a new mode of active transportation and celebrate our diverse bike cultures and community pride.

Encourage your workplace to join hundreds of others making the change from driving to riding a bike to work. People have a unique opportunity to talk while commuting by bike, establish new relationships and gain fresh perspectives on the way to share the road. Consider riding one day a week every week and help reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and put a smile on your face.

For more information on how to sign up for challenges and stay up to date on Grand Valley Bike Month events, visit www.healthymesacounty.org/bikemonth.