May is National Bike Month
by Lorraine Wilde
Lorraine Wilde is a freelance journalist who recently published an article in Parent to Parent of Whatcom County. Until recently, Lorraine taught environmental science at WWU’s Huxley College of the Environment. She was the newsletter editor and feature writer for the Fourth Corner Exchange and spent four years as co-editor and writer for the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Her blog, Egg Mama, may be found at www.lorrainewilde.com.
Whether you ride your bike for exercise, fun, or as clean, inexpensive transportation, you can celebrate National Bike Month all through May at a variety of events scheduled throughout Whatcom County.
Bike to Work and School Day
With more than 8,500 participants in Whatcom County last year, National Bike to Work and School Day is by far the largest event of the month. This year, on Friday, May 21, you can walk or bike to one of more than 30 Celebration Stations located throughout the county.
Stations are organized by everybodyBIKE, the bicycle program for Whatcom Smart Trips, in cooperation with local schools, agencies, and businesses. Each location will offer gifts, refreshments, and a chance to enter free prize drawings. Ask your child’s school if they’ll be hosting a station or check the station map for one near you at http://www.everybodybike.com/events-rides.aspx.
But What If School or Work is Too Far to Bike?
“Sometimes what seems too far to bike becomes more feasible as you work up to it,” said Ellen Barton of everybodyBIKE. “The everybodyBIKE First Gear class helps beginning riders gain the confidence and comfort to ride on roads and trails.”
Ellen offered these suggestions, via e-mail, to help everyone get involved, no matter what their circumstances.
Take your bike(s) on the bus part way. Each of the Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) buses can carry three bikes on their racks. Need advice about how to use the racks? Request a “Bike Buddy” from everybodyBIKE to teach you how to load and unload your bike and also help you with the bus schedule for your specific route. Or stop by the WTA transit terminal and ask one of the WTA staff to give instructions. They are glad to help.
Ride the bus and walk part way: Bike to Work and School Day celebrates walking, too. Walking to and from the bus stop adds physical activity to your day.
Drive your bike(s) part way, park the car, and bike the rest of the way. A “Bike Buddy” can advise you on what’s the best bike route, or check the new Bike Map available at everybodyBIKE.com. Even if you haven’t biked in years, you can probably bike three miles easily where the terrain is flat.
Sometimes the trip to and from work or school is not the easiest to change. Try biking or walking for an errand during the day: walk to lunch, avoid the drive-through, or bike from work to the gym.
Eco-Benefits of Biking
According to the International Bicycle Fund, a four-mile car trip adds 15 pounds of pollutants to the air. So substituting bike trips in place of short car rides not only gets you fresh air and exercise, but it can also significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
A variety of other bicycling-related events are scheduled throughout the month of May. Since bicycling burns around 500 calories an hour, challenge yourself with Bike to Work Week, May 17–21, and you can skip the gym with a clean conscience.
For more National Bike Month activities and information, check out these websites:
Whatcom Smart Trips: https://www.whatcomsmarttrips.org/login.aspx
Mount Baker Bicycle Club: http://www.mtbakerbikeclub.org
Whatcom Transportation Authority: http://www.ridewta.com §