“What do bikes mean to you?” from the Alliance for Biking & Walking

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by Brighid O’Keane, interim executive director

Bikes bring people together. Riding a bicycle is an affordable, healthy, and fun way to engage with the people and places in your community. The Alliance for Biking & Walking is a coalition of more than 200 state and local bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations across North America. For each organization, each staff and board, each member and volunteer, there is a unique and personal reason why bicycles are important.

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And May is an exciting month when a spotlight is cast on the work we do in our communities all year long. For each new person who jumps on his or her bike, or feels a new sense of pride in riding, our movement is growing and connecting our transportation choice to our work, family, home, opportunities, and all the other things we care about.

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How are some advocates maximizing National Bike Month? How can you ensure your organization gets the most out of a month with so many opportunities to bolster the visibility of the important work you do in your community? Here are some tips from advocates in Long Beach, Seattle, and Washington DC:

  • Work with community partners – major employers, bike shops, local non-profits, or places of worship – to enhance the reach, impact, and success of your event or programming
  • Find new audiences and activate supporters with social media
  • Don’t start with the bike – think about the things that inspire people’s passions and connect bicycling to that activity in a fun and effective way
  • Be clear about what you can offer, whether it’s safety training, educational materials, or free schwag
  • Make participation easy
  • Make it about more than biking to work; encourage people to bike to all of their destinations

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For more ideas for maximizing Bike Month and keep the momentum going beyond May, read and listen to the Alliance’s recent webinar. You’ll learn more about the work of the Alliance for Biking & Walking as well as becoming involved with your local advocacy organization.

“What do bikes mean to you?” from People for Bikes

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PeopleForBikes has more than a million individual supporters, which means that when you ask what bikes mean to us, you’re actually asking what they mean to each one of those people. With a million individuals you might get a million different answers, and we think that’s just fine. And just like there isn’t one kind of PeopleForBikes supporter, there isn’t one answer to what bikes mean to those who ride. Here are a few ways we could answer that question.

Bikes mean a sense of adventure, on roads or on mountain trails.

For lots of our supporters, biking is how they explore their world. Some of them might do it by riding 100 miles on nearby roads, while others prefer to pedal over rocks and roots on mountain biking trails. Some people travel the world, others find adventure right out their front door. To us, bikes mean discovery, no matter where and how you ride.

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Ride on Chicago – Photo by Jamie Kripke

Bikes mean bonding for friends and families who bike together.

PeopleForBikes sees bicycling as a perfect way to unite people. Parents and children, neighbors and teammates, to us bikes mean fun for everyone. Our goal is to make every bike ride better, so you can enjoy it whether you’re a beginning rider out for the first time or an experienced bicyclist who goes out every week rain or shine.

Bikes mean affordable and convenient transportation for commuters.

Whether you own your own bike, or you use a bike share, biking for transportation is a big part of what bikes mean to us. We support and fund ways to integrate bikes and cycling into the community, like bike lanes, because biking for transportation is what motivates many PeopleForBikes supporters to ride each day.

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Bikes mean victory for competitive bike riders.

The same routes that people take to work Monday through Friday often become part of a racecourse on the weekend. For those riders who get suited up in head-to-toe spandex and ride like the wind, bikes are more than just a tool for getting from point A to point B. PeopleForBikes is for these people too. From downhill mountain biking, to cyclocross, to road racing, bikes are a great way to get the competitive juices going.

What all these different people have in common is that they love biking because of the way it makes them feel. Commuters, recreational riders and racers alike can all agree that when you ride a bike, you feel better. Some call it meditation, others say it’s a form of therapy. We call it shedding the monster. The anger and frustration melts away and you turn from a growling beast into the best version of yourself. Our latest video, Shed the Monster, is our way of saying that when you ride a bike, good things happen. This is what bikes really mean to us, no matter how you ride.

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“What do bikes mean to you?”: Guest Post from the League of American Bicyclists

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The League of American Bicyclists is the oldest bicycle advocacy organization in the country. Founded in 1880, the League believes bikes bring people together.

When more people ride bikes, life is better for everyone; communities are safer, stronger and better connected; our nation is healthier, economically stronger, environmentally cleaner and more energy independent.

So, “what do bikes mean to you?” To us, bikes provide the path to that better life for everyone.

Our mission is to lead that movement to create a bicycle-friendly America for everyone. As leaders, our commitment is to listen and learn, define standards and share best practices to engage diverse communities and build a powerful, unified voice for change. Our vision is of a nation where everyone recognizes and enjoys the many benefits and opportunities of bicycling.

The League has sponsored National Bike Month since 1956, and we look forward to celebrating bikes with local communities near and far every May. But National Bike Month is so much more than 31 days in May.  It’s a celebration of bikes; an impetus to get rolling again; a gateway to riding more often; a time to evangelize the beauty of bikes; and much, much more.

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Jim Oberstar Memorial Ride at 2015 National Bike Summit – Photo by Brian Palmer – Courtesy of League of American Bicyclists

National Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day are often cited as the month’s flagship events, occurring the third week and third Friday of May, respectively. Indeed, bike commuting has grown by 62% from 2000 to 2014 — but Bike Month is about so much more than just getting to and from the office.

Everyone can take a leading role in organizing events for Bike Month, whether you’re part of a city government, advocacy group, local business, bike shop, school or any other group interested in making your community better.

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Thousands of organizations, many in the more than 325 League-designated Bicycle Friendly Communities, organize, plan and host events throughout the month of May, introducing bicycling to new riders, cultivating local bike culture and  helping build momentum among the already converted.

The momentum is building: With growing cultural awareness around health and wellness, sustainability and economic savings, bicycling is being seen by new and broader audiences as a simple solution to many complex problems, from reducing obesity rates to increasing mobility options.

And with the help of folks like you, we’ll be able to carry that momentum from Bike Month forward throughout the year. Learn more about all the things the League does throughout the year — from helping businesses, communities and universities become more bike-friendly to uniting the voices of bicyclists on Capitol Hill and amplifying the voices of women, people of color and youth in the bike movement – at bikeleague.org.

Ride Inspiration

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A few weeks ago we gave our Facebook fans the chance to win a great Bike to Work Day package by telling us what inspired them to ride.

While the winners have already been notified, we were overwhelmed by the responses we got. Everyone gave us some great reasons for riding, but a few of our favorites really inspired us to get out and ride ourselves. From a wish to be healthier, to the freedom of the ride, to rediscovering your inner child, we hope you find your fellow cyclist’s thoughts as great as we do.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and if you haven’t already, go ahead and like us on Facebook to keep up on the latest at Performance, and the chance to enter for more great give-aways.

Check out some of our favorite comments…

Karen H.

I ride my bike to work every day. I am a much happier person when I ride… Burn of stress, have a little quiet time. I feel like I know a secret that other people are completely missing out on!

Matt B.

I love the freedom of a bike and being to get away from the world for a few hours.  Everything looks different from a bike.

Mike P.

It’s just me, the bike, my thoughts and the road.

Jackie V.

For exercise and fresh air. It’s a fun way to switch things up

Kevin P.

Built in triathlon training. .outdoors. .save gas..wind in my face..destress time..justify bike cost..health..exciting roads alongside deer..

Bill J.

My 3 year old yelling “go daddy go” from the Burley behind me.

Scott W.

Freedom and peace of mind on the open road!

Bob K.

Because it makes me feel like I’m still 12.

Steven T.

Peter Sagan inspires me to ride; ripped calves inspire me to ride; the feeling of fresh air rushing in my lungs; the feeling of flying when I’m on a mountain descent; and reducing my carbon footprint on bike to work day. Biking = Inspiration!

Darren D.

My wife, kids, and career as a firefighter.  Riding keeps me fit so I can do my job and make it home to my family.

John B.

Joy of being under my own power,  and for my health.

Jane B.

Adventure!  You never know what is around the corner!

Terry K.

The burn

Raymond J.

My kids get a chance to see their dad workings towards living healthier….plus there isn’t much better then riding a trail you’ve never been on what an adventure

Jennifer B.

My Husband!  I started riding for Bike MS as he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis

Carl S.

My 9 year old son wants to ride every day with me and its great for inspiration.

Jason R.

To be healthier after beating cancer twice.

Read all the entries here

 

 

National Bike Month: Meet the League of American Bicyclists

May is National Bike Month, a celebration of all things cycling, so it seemed like the perfect time to chat with our great cycling advocacy partners who work hard to make riding bikes better. Every week this month we will introduce you to a different group that is making a difference here in the US. First up is Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists.

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What’s the goal of your organization?

The mission of the League is to lead the movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. We believe that bicycling brings people together, and that as more people ride life is better for everyone; communities are safer, stronger and better connected; and our nation is healthier, economically stronger, environmentally cleaner and more energy independent. We want everyone to enjoy the benefits and opportunities of bicycling. I’ve been with the organization for more than ten years, and I feel like our mission is more relevant and valuable now than ever. ( I can’t speak for the entire time since we were founded in 1880!)

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Advocating for cycling on the steps of the US Capitol

What projects are you working on currently?

Today, we aim to achieve those goals through advocacy, education, and promotion. We have a national advocacy presence in Washington DC where we work with Congress and the Federal agencies to ensure funding, policies and programs are in place to build a more bicycle-friendly America. We run the Bicycle Friendly Community (and Business, University and States) program that recognizes cities for their work but more importantly provides a roadmap or blueprint for becoming much more bike-friendly. On the education side, we run the only national certification program (with curricula and materials) for bike education experts — we currently have around 2,000 active League Cycling Instructors sharing their passion and knowledge for safe cycling with anyone that will listen!

National Bike Challenge

Events like National Bike Month, Bike to Work Day, and the National Bike Challenge fall into the promotion category along with the extraordinary volume and variety of rides that our 900+ affiliated local clubs and advocacy groups put on year-round. The National Bike Challenge has to be the most inspiring way of getting more people riding. Every year we are blown away by the stories of lives transformed by participation in the Challenge. We love it and hope you are signed up and part of the Challenge. And as if that weren’t enough, we are also actively engaged in promoting greater participation by women in bicycling, the bike movement, and the bike industry.

May is Bike Month

What actions can I take locally to make the experience of cycling better in my community?

In each of those areas, there are ways for individual cyclists and local organizations to plug in and take action. You can sign up for action alerts — both national and local “calls to action” when we need the voice of cyclists to be heard — or attend the National Bike Summit each March to be part of the advocacy team. We have scorecards you can use to do a quick analysis of your community or business to determine how bike-friendly they are; every BFC  and BFB application generates specific feedback — we encourage you to join your local advocacy group to get plugged in there. If you can’t stop talking about bikes and bike riding and safety…maybe you need to share that passion with others by becoming an instructor. If you aren’t quite ready for that, the classes those LCIs teach are full of great advice whatever your level of experience.

Having said all that, there are TWO really simple things you can do to make your community more bike friendly. Number one: ride your bike. Number two, write to your Mayor, County Executive or Council member and tell them you care about bicycling and want bicycling to be better. Throw in a couple of specific examples of improvements, and you are on the way!

Real Advice: Commuting by Bike

Today we continue with our Real Advice series – hard-earned practical knowledge from real riders here at our home office. This week we asked Aaron, one of our copywriters and a regular commuter (the guy rides over 20 miles each way), to share some of his thoughts about commuting by bike.

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Aaron at his locker at our home office with his Osprey Momentum 24 commuter bag

This morning, like every morning, I crept around the house smiling in at sleeping kids and trying not to get the dogs all worked up. I skip the top step because it creaks really badly. I do the morning ritual…French press, whatever piece of fruit or bread is lying around, trying to resist picking at the pie on the counter…and failing. I pack my bag for work and walk out to the garage.

I open the garage door and there’s my ride—like every day I fall in love all over again. My ride is an old race bike and although it’s already 84° and the humidity is 95%, I can’t wait to hit it. I check the quick releases, top off the tires, clip in, and go.

I spin out across the lake whose fingers span for miles between my home and my office and contemplate the steely reflection of haze on the water. I lock into the tightrope that is the edge of the road and let my mind wander. This is my commute and I love it. No news radio, no pressure to make the next light. I mentally prepare for the giant hill that leaves me winded every time, but I am fully into it.

But why would someone want to ride a bike 10 miles each way on a little pinstripe-sized shoulder, smelling road kill, and being passed by cars and big diesel trucks when he has a perfectly good car at home? Why indeed.

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View from Aaron’s commute

Remember those commercials for the US Army that proudly touted the mantra, We do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day? It produced this awe-inspiring vision of people who accept any challenge, tackle any obstacle, and aren’t afraid of getting a little icky.

This is why I commute. Because it makes me feel empowered—like I’m treating my mind and body to the reverie and exertion that they need to function best. When I get to work, I feel lucid, fit, and guiltless—it’s amazing.

It occurs to me…I just burned 900 calories and could totally eat that doughnut if I wanted to. Wow.

To be sure, my reasons aren’t the only reasons to commute. I also save a bunch of money which is good. I’m not contributing to the sickening amount of pollution jettisoned into oblivion every morning by droves of gridlocked drivers. Plus, I really love the joy of gliding on a bike—it’s fun.

So whatever there is between your home and your work, chances are that the possibility of a rewarding bike commute exists. If you work right in the neighborhood, you could enjoy a quick jaunt on your beach cruiser. If you live in the city, you can jet across town on a city bike and get there in half the time it would take you sitting in traffic, marinating in your own impatience. If you live in the suburbs, swap out the highway for a greenway on your hybrid bike. You’ll find what’s waiting for you at work has somehow gotten smaller, more manageable…better.

The jump from driving to riding can seem fraught with barriers. Finding the right bike, taking the right safety precautions, dealing with weather, knowing how to deal with bike trouble, these are all issues worthy of consideration.

Since we’re a cycling community with a wealth of insight and knowledge, let’s try to spread the commuting bug with our tips, advice, experiences, and most importantly, our stories and images that illustrate the rewards and joys of getting empowered, ditching that car, and being awesome.

Bike to Work Day: Portraits from our Home Office

We love to ride, so we’re pretty serious about National Bike to Work Day. Check out the collage below for just a few of the folks who pedaled in to work today at our home office here in North Carolina!

Gaynor’s Bike To Work Week Wisdom

Our Head Spin Doctor (and all-around motivator) Gaynor has been busy reminding, encouraging and cajoling everyone here at our home office to participate in National Bike to Work Week, and especially on National Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 18th). His big goal is fulfilling our “Empty Parking Lot Challenge” on Friday – an ambitious target, but we’re certainly going to give it a try! Since Gaynor is so effective at rallying the bike commuting efforts here at our home office, we thought we’d share some of the bike to work wisdom he’s used to motivate us. Hopefully you can use some of Gaynor’s wise counsel to encourage friends or coworkers to give bike commuting a try!

Reason #1: According to the Mayo Clinic, “Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.”

Most of us know this but how do we find the time to exercise? It’s easy – commute by bike! By cycling to work, you are scheduling 2 exercise periods each day you ride. The ride in provides a quiet time to plan your day before the confusing onslaught of details and demands. The ride home gives you time to reflect, decompress and let the tension go. You’ll be healthier, happier and more productive.

But don’t trust me! Here again from the Mayo Clinic: “Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike [or a bike ride] can contribute to this same feeling.

Reason #2: Biking to work saves bucks. The average American commutes 33 miles each day. The average American car gets 22 miles per gallon. Regular gas costs $3.85/gallon. Average Joe spends $29/week, $115/month and $1500/year for gas.

If you only live an easy 5 mile commute to work, you’ll still save $8.75/week (the cost a six pack of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale), $35/month and $455/year.

Reason #3: Add some adventure to your day. Shake up your routine, try something different, spice up your life. Why settle for the same-old, same-old? Become the hardy, intrepid person you really are.  Commute to work!

Reason #4: Show the doubters. Think of all the times that someone told you that you could not do it. That you were too old, too young; too big, too small; too dumb, too smart; too thin, too stout; too loud, too quiet; too brash, too timid. You’re a girl; you’re a boy! It’s too long, it’s too steep; it’s high, it’s too deep; it’s too fast. It’s too slow. Ride to work! Show ‘em you won’t be stopped!

Reason #5: Join a gang. By riding to work you are joining a select group of mostly well-adjusted, fun, happy and pleasant bike commuters.

Reason #6: Save the planet. Each year, the average passenger car on an average commute of 33 miles produces 77.1 lbs of hydrocarbons, 575 lbs of carbon monoxide, and 11,450 lbs of carbon dioxide. Aside from a little methane from too much roughage, commuting by bike produces zero pollution!

Reason #7: If you ride to work you won’t get pulled over for speeding. Ride a bike = no tickets. Drive a car = tickets.

Reason #8: Beer Pressure. Cycling dramatically improves the taste of beer, especially good beer. Ride for beer but drink responsibly.

Reason #9: Peer Pressure. Your coworkers and friends will be cycling to work. What’s your excuse when others less fit but spunkier are riding? Ride and have no excuses!

And finally…

Reason #10: Because it’s fun! When you commute by bike you have another reason to ride your bike, and what’s not to like about that?

Product Profile – Burley Travoy Urban Bike Trailer

Since today is National Bike to Work Day, the culmination of Bike to Work Week, we thought it was the perfect opportunity for a product profile of the new Burley Travoy Urban Bike Trailer.  If you’ve been commuting by bike this month, you have probably already tried hauling your gear with a set of panniers, or in a backpack or a classic messenger bag. While those are all good commuting options, the Travoy bike trailer is a great alternative to transport just about anything – from a week’s worth of groceries, to a change of clothes for the office, or up to 60lbs of cargo!

Here David demonstrates how the Travoy Trailer hitches effortlessly to your seatpost and travels at a 45° angle, redistributing the load’s weight for easier riding and offering better stability than standard panniers or backpacks.

Setup is quick and easy, as all you need to do to get up and running is to clamp the trailer quick release bracket to your seatpost, and then mount or remove the trailer itself by pulling a little spring-loaded arm out of the way of the hitch pin.

And did we mention that the Travoy trailer can carry up to 60lbs! You can carry some serious loads in the included tote bag:

The tote bag has a nice wide opening and sturdy construction, but you can also upgrade to a waterproof Burley Dry Bag if the forecast calls for heavy downpours.

And when you’re done with your commute, just twist the 2 grips and fold the Travoy down into a convenient size for storage (you can even store the folded Travoy in its own tote bag). The whole setup weighs less than 10lbs, so you can easily just bring it inside with you when you get where you’re going.

Check out the Travoy in action in this video by Burley:

If you’re serious about commuting by bike, take a look at the Burley Travoy Urban Bike Trailer – it’s a great option to haul your gear in comfort and style.

Bike to Work Week Employee Profile: Tony DeRubeis

Here’s our last Bike to Work Week Employee Profile about one of the many commuters who ride to work here at Performance HQ. They ride different bikes and different routes, but they’ve all got great advice on how to make your commute easier and more fun!

What’s your name?

Tony DeRubeis .

What do you do at Performance?

Spin Doctor Pro Bike Build Coordinator.

How often do you ride to work?

1-2 times per week.

How far do you ride?

42 miles round trip.

What bike do you ride?

I ride a Scattante XRL cross frame with a Frankenbike parts kit.

Why do you commute by bike/what’s your favorite part of commuting by bike?

It’s a good workout, plus it’s more enjoyable than driving, it saves money and it’s better for the environment!

Any advice for someone who’s thinking about commuting by bike?

Any distance commuting by bike is better than driving – driving half of your commute and biking half is better than driving the whole thing.  And commuting by bike is like stealing time – if your 30 minute drive takes 60 minutes to ride, you get a 60 minute workout while only taking 30 minutes out of your day.

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