League of American Bicyclists Guest Post: National Bike Month

It’s National Bike to Work Week, so we’re turning our blog over to our friends from the the League of American Bicyclists, the driving force behind National Bike Month.  Read on below to find out more about what they’re doing to build a Bicycle Friendly America, and also find out what communities have been recognized as Bicycle Friendly Communities this year.

Whether you’re a daily bike commuter or just curious about the benefits of bicycling, May is your time to shine.

For the past 50 years, the League of American Bicyclists has hosted and organized National Bike Month to celebrate cycling and encourage new and longtime riders to get back in the saddle. For decades, we’ve designated and promoted Bike to Work Week — this week! — and Bike to Work Day, and the number of bicycle commuters has continued to rise.

How are you celebrating Bike Month this year? Check our website or contact your local advocacy organization to find an event in your area! And, no matter how you’re celebrating, don’t forget to sign up for the National Bike Challenge, a new friendly competition that kicked off May 1, aiming to unite 50,000 Americans to ride 10 million miles this summer!

But, while we’re all fired up about Bike Month, that’s just the beginning of the League’s efforts to make bicycling safe, accessible and enjoyable for all.  All year long, we’re working to protect your rights and make your ride better, wherever you’re going.

Just this morning, for instance, we announced the largest round of Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) in the program’s history. By evaluating and recognizing investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies, the BFC program is revolutionizing the way communities evaluate their quality of life. With this impressive round, there are now 214 BFCs in 47 states — and the program works. While bike commuting rose 40 percent nationwide between 2000 and 2010, it jumped a staggering 77 percent in the largest BFCs.

The BFA program goes beyond cities and counties, too. The League also provides guidance and technical support through our Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly University programs, making workplaces and higher education more accommodating and accessible for cyclists. And we work with states, too: On May 22, we’ll release our latest Bicycle Friendly State Rankings, which showcases progress in areas like infrastructure, policies and education.

Beyond the Bicycle Friendly America program, we work with League members and organizations across the country to deliver our Smart Cycling education courses. From the basics of Traffic Skills 101 to targeted training, like Group Riding, the League curricula remains the gold standard for bicycle safety and skills for riders of all ages.

Based in Washington, D.C., the League is also your advocate on Capitol Hill. Each year, we convene the National Bike Summit, drawing hundreds of advocates, enthusiasts, retailers and policymakers to learn about federal transportation issues and lobby their members of Congress for funding and policies that meet the needs and rights of the growing number of bicyclists nationwide. This year we had a record crowd of more than 800 attendees. Mark your calendar now for the 2013 Summit, so you can tell your members of Congress that Bicycling Means Business.

And, of course, the League is committed to building the movement by connecting you to clubs and rides in your community, and sharing stories and innovations on our daily blog. Join the conversation by subscribing to our blog, becoming a fan on Facebook or following us on Twitter. We welcome your energy and ideas — with your help we’ll build a Bicycle Friendly America where every month is National Bike Month!

The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. The League represents the interests of America’s 57 million bicyclists, including its 300,000 members and affiliates. For more information or to support the League, visit www.bikeleague.org.

Rails to Trails Guest Post: National Bike Month

Throughout National Bike Month we are highlighting the efforts of some of our advocacy partners who are making a difference for cyclists throughout the US. Last week we turned our blog over to our friends from People for Bikes, and this week we’re letting the good folks at the Rails to Trails Conservancy lead the train. Read on below to find out what they’re doing to make cycling safer and more accessible, and how you can help.

I bet most of you have a good trail or bike path close by, right? Yeah, I do – the Capital Crescent Trail between Maryland and Washington, D.C. I ride it each day to work, and sometimes on the weekend to meet buddies in the city.

For those of us fortunate enough to have access to a trail, bike lanes or just some wide-open space, riding a bike to get around is a pretty simple, visceral pleasure. The wind in your face, the adrenaline pumping… you save time, save money and generally feel good about things. Simple.

But as basic as this joy seems to those of us who ride regularly, in many parts of America there are significant barriers to this simple activity. In a landscape often designed for cars to the exclusion of walking or biking, millions of Americans lack a safe and convenient place to ride at all, let alone a network of trails, bike lanes and paths that enable others to ride to work, to school, to visit friends or go shopping.

Riding the new Windsor/Ash bicycle boulevard in Columbia, Mo.

That’s what drives us at Rails to Trails Conservancy. We have an ambitious target—referred to here in our office as the Big Hairy Audacious Goal—to put 90 percent of Americans within three miles of a trail system by 2020.

We are working toward that goal by helping communities develop rail-trail projects, by supporting trail-based business and residential development, by working hard on Capitol Hill and with state and local governments for policies and funding that recognize the importance of biking to our transportation system, and by building a movement of people who love their trails and want to spread that love!

Opening day of the Windsor/Ash bicycle boulevard in Columbia, Mo.

National Bike Month this year is a particularly significant one for us, as it marks the release of a report on active transportation we have been eagerly anticipating. Launched by Congress in 2005—and with management support from RTC—the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP) dedicated $25 million to each of four communities to invest in biking and walking infrastructure. The idea was to see what this kind of unprecedented, targeted investment could do to change and grow a culture of biking and walking in these communities.

Essentially, it was an experiment into whether Americans were interested in non-motorized transportation – whether, to borrow loosely from a famous baseball movie about a guy in a cornfield, “If we build it, will they come?”

The results came in last week, and just three years into the pilot the change in transportation behavior tells a truly compelling story.

Across the four communities, counts revealed a 49 percent increase in biking. Compared to a national increase of 15 percent from 2001 to 2009, that spike is astounding. In just three years, the pilot communities achieved triple the expansion in biking activity the rest of America took eight years to realize.

Building the Cal Park-Hill Tunnel path to San Francisco in Marin County, Calif.

Although the pilot program did involve education and safety programs, a huge part of this increase was directly tied to infrastructure – physically providing safe, convenient and direct pathways that actually take people where they need to go.

In Columbia, Mo., the new Windsor/Ash bicycle boulevard completed in 2010 resulted in a 124 percent increase in bicycle traffic. In Marin County, Calif., the new Cal Park-Hill Tunnel path to San Francisco—constructed through a hillside and alongside active rail tracks—resulted in a 400 percent increase in weekday bicyclists. Nearby, the new Alameda Del Prado bicycle lanes increased weekday bicycle traffic by 366 percent and weekend bicycle traffic by 540 percent.

No question, if we build it, they will come. Big time.

Heading into the Cal Park-Hill Tunnel path in Marin County, Calif.

So what does this mean for you? Well, right now the U.S. Congress is debating whether to dedicate any transportation funding to biking and walking infrastructure, as part of a new federal transportation bill. Many of our Congressional representatives believe that money spent on enabling biking and walking is “frivolous,” and a waste of taxpayer dollars that should be spent exclusively on roads.

Rails to Trails Conservancy is doing everything we can to make sure our transportation system provides a better balance and gives people the healthier, cheaper, cleaner and greener option to bike and walk. If you have a moment, tell your representative that a car-only landscape isn’t the way you want to roll, and that being able to bike is an important part of your transportation future.

It’s a critical time – every voice and every vote counts.

Happy National Bike Month, everyone!

People for Bikes Guest Post: National Bike Month

Our friends at People for Bikes are always hard at work to improve the future of cycling and are big supporters of National Bike Month. They love events like Bike to Work Week (May 14-18), Bike to Work Day (May 18), and the first Bike to School Day (May 9). So we asked them to put together a few ideas that you could try to make National Bike Month a success in your community.

As many of you already know, May is National Bike Month. With longer, milder days, May is a perfect time to recognize bicycling for the multitude of benefits it provides – improving America’s health, economy, and environment. Here are four ways to make the most of this year’s National Bike Month:

1) Go for a type of bike ride that you normally wouldn’t: If you’re a road rider, try a mountain bike ride. If you’ve never ridden your bike to work, give bike commuting a shot.  If the ride to work isn’t something you can tackle, ride your bike to run an errand you would normally do by car, even if it’s just a trip to the coffee shop or ice cream parlor. Remember—forty percent of trips Americans take are two miles or less, an easy bicycling distance.

2) Sign up for the National Bike Challenge and ride with thousands of Americans from around the country.  This first of its kind challenge is being promoted by the Kimberly Clark Corporation, Bikes Belong, and the League of American Bicyclists to encourage healthier lifestyles and will run from May through August.

3) Introduce one other person to bicycling. Whether it’s your partner, a coworker, a family member, or just a friend, help someone find a bike and go for a fun ride. Bicycling is a pretty amazing thing, right? Why not encourage someone else to discover the activity that brings you so much happiness.

4) Sign the PeopleforBikes.org pledge. PeopleForBikes.org is the movement dedicated to improving the future of bicycling. Already, half a million people have signed the pledge. It is free and only takes a quick minute to sign. Joining PeopleForBikes.org is a way for bicyclists in this country to speak with one powerful, united voice to ask for more safe places to ride a bike. By signing the pledge at www.PeopleForBikes.org, Americans can raise public awareness and demonstrate a commitment to our leaders in Congress and in cities and states throughout the country that bicycling is important and should be protected.

This May and this summer should be an amazing time for bicycling in America. An increasing percentage of our national leaders recognize bicycling as a simple solution for transportation challenges, jobs and economic development, and health and obesity issues. Communities are investing in bike lanes and paths more than ever, helping bicycling to become safer and stress-free. PeopleForBikes.org encourages Americans to take advantage of these new places to ride and to not only participate in National Bike Month, but to also incorporate bicycle trips into their daily routines.

To join 500,000 other Americans in signing the PeopleForBikes.org pledge, visit http://www.peopleforbikes.org/pages/pledge.

To learn more about National Bike Month and find events in your community, check out http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bikemonth/.

To register for the National Bike Challenge, visit http://www.nationalbikechallenge.org .

National Bike Summit 2012

Last week, like many other cyclists and cycling advocates from all corners of the country, Carol Wentworth, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Performance Bicycle, headed up to Washington, DC, to take part in the 2012 National Bike Summit. Organized by the League of American Bicyclists, this annual, and growing, event serves as a forum and meeting place for a wide variety of cycling advocates and industry leaders. Summit attendees got to meet with fellow advocates and organizers, and to learn more about both the challenges and opportunities to improve cycling safety and awareness. Breakout sessions at the summit covered topics as varied as calculating the value of bicycle tourism, mountain biking access to national parks, and even a session about pro cycling advocacy featuring cyclocross star Tim Johnson (fresh off of his Ride on Washington, an awareness and fundraising ride from Boston to DC).

Of course one of the main reasons for the summit was to take this pro-cycling message to the decision makers in government. As a board member of Bikes Belong, a leading cycling advocacy group made up of members from the U.S. cycling industry, Performance was there to not only participate in the National Bike Summit discussions, but also to advocate for dedicated federal funding for cycling projects. In addition to scheduled group sessions that included members of the Congressional Bike Caucus (which is led by cyclist and advocate Rep. Earl Blumenauer, whom we met earlier this year during his visit to North Carolina), Carol directly met with representatives from our home state of North Carolina. In these meetings we pushed for continued support of dedicated federal funding for bicycling and walking, especially in the upcoming federal transportation budget. This dedicated funding is a tiny portion of the overall transportation budget, only 1.5%, even though 12% of trips are made by foot and bike. The message we brought was that public investment and pro-cycling policies are good for business and the community, and also essential for the continued success of programs such as transportation enhancements, safe routes to school and recreational trails.

The National Bike Summit brought together passionate cycling advocates from across the country, giving each of us a sense of the power and influence cyclists can exert when we rally together to support a common cause. Events such as the National Bike Summit help spread the word that policies and projects that support cycling are good not just for cyclists, but for an entire spectrum of stakeholders.

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