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Most Exciting Bike Month in 50 Years?

Well, OK, I can’t honestly say I’ve even been in the country for more than 25 National Bike Months, and I’ve certainly gotten excited about Bike Month before… but this year it feels different. This year, it seems like National Bike Month is really coming into its own, and the League’s blog and website are your resource to find, post and promote events all this month.

Andy Clarke (center)

We kick off in style with a brand new event: the National Bike Challenge. The challenge goes for four months but is tailor-made for Bike Month and starts May 1 (tomorrow!). Sign up for the challenge, take advantage of all the Bike Month events to get you back into riding, and you’ll be amazed at how many miles you’ve covered a month from now.

May 5 sees the national launch of Pedal America – a new 30-minute PBS series on bicycling that you won’t want to miss. Part travelogue, and fully a celebration of bicycling, follow host Ira David Levy (yes, you might have seen him and a preview at the National Bike Summit this year) to Austin, Chicago, Napa Valley and other great destinations to sample the cycling culture.

The second week of the month sees another new feature: Bike to School Day. Brought to you by the same people as host International Walk to School Day in the fall, Bike to School Day on May 9th is the ideal excuse to organize that bike train for your kids, deliver a bike safety class, or engage your elected officials in doing want it take to get more kids riding. The weather is going to be perfect, I promise.

Also new this year, the organizers of CycloFemme on May 13th invite you to “come ride with us: women, children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends. Celebrate the bike and the possibilities it brings.” Tattoos welcome.

The latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community designations will be revealed on May 14th – a record number of more than 70 applicants are waiting with bated breath for the outcome. All we can say right now is that there will be lots of cheers, maybe a few tears, and clear evidence that momentum for creating a more bicycle-friendly America is stronger than ever at the local level.

It’s hard to believe, but May 16th sees the 10th annual Ride of Silence. Sadly there are some 6,000 cyclists who have lost their lives since that first commemorative event in Dallas – a shocking number and a sobering reminder that even as healthy and fun of an activity as cycling isn’t without risk.

The rock upon which Bike Month has always been founded: Bike to Work Day, May 18th. For those who still struggle to figure this one out (California, I’m looking at you) BTWD is always the third Friday of May. Always has been. And while we get that May is already too hot in Arizona and maybe not warm enough in Colorado…the rest of the country will be out in force, showing just how great it is to ride to work. We’ll be part of celebrations in D.C., as usual.

After that excitement, we get back down to earth with the announcement of the latest round of Bicycle Friendly States – we’ve tightened up the survey, listened to tons of feedback on how to make the information more useful to advocates as well as agency participants, and we’re wondering if Washington can stay atop the rankings for another year.

As with last year, more and more non-bike people are getting hold of National Bike Month. AAA will launch resources to their Share the Road website; WalMart has a ton of rodeos going on at their stores across the country; the Sierra Club is helping us push out some great new numbers on the benefits of biking; and even the Operation Lifesaver program is cross-promoting safety tips for bicyclists.

When May winds down, I have one fervent hope: that we can look back on the month and see dozens of stories about Members of Congress participating in Bike Month events. National Bike Month is such a glorious celebration of bicycling – in all its forms – that it would be a shame, especially this year, not to take maximum advantage of all the hard work that goes into the rides, classes, rodeos, ribbon-cuttings, etc. Take that extra step and invite your members of Congress along for the ride. Show them what this cycling thing is all about and show them how much people care about being able to enjoy the simple pleasure of a bike ride.


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