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Bike Month is a Great Month

May 8, 2012

May is a great month for Bike Month. The weather is fairly consistently nice in Austin and people seem open to the idea of getting outside for some good exercise and having fun. Bike Month also means that many folks take on riding for transportation as well. Some recommit themselves to going by bike, while others undertake it for the first time, or for the first time in a long time.

Bike Month focuses on riding as part of your daily life. Cycling as a legitimate means of daily transportation is not generally accepted in the states as it is in some European countries. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done and that there aren’t efforts under way to make going by bike more practical here in the capital city.

Take for example this recent message we recently received:

Based on community feedback, Capital Metro is building a new bike shelter at the Kramer MetroRail station. The MetroBike Shelter will make it more convenient for cyclists to securely store their bikes and avoid lugging them onto our often-full trains.

To commemorate the future MetroBike Shelter, a local artist is creating an original sculpture out of used bicycle parts to be displayed at Kramer station. We are calling upon the entire Central Texas cycling community to contribute your used bicycle parts so that this sculpture is not only for the community, but also from the community.

Contributing your used parts is easy. Simply stop by the offices of Hahn, Texas Communications, centrally located at 1105 N. Lamar Blvd., between 9 AM and 5 PM 
Monday through Friday until May 18th, and we will take it from there. Any unused parts will be donated to organizations that refurbish bicycles.

Bike Month is a good time to try biking part way. Promotion of multimodal transportation—going part way by bike and the rest of the way by train, for example—is one way that brings going by bike to more folks. Facilities such as bike lockers at train stations or office buildings support going by bike by removing a barrier for folks that might like to ride. It also shows that it’s not about riding your bike the full commute to or from work necessarily. It’s about getting out of the car and getting on the bike for some of your trips or parts of your trips. This has been a tactic in my household for some time. My wife and I mix up our transportation by riding, running, and going by bus for some of our commutes.

Bike Month is about sharing good cycling tips. Folks that want to make the change to go by bike for even some or parts of their regular trips often wonder about how to do it. The Austin Cycling Association produced a fun little video showing folks going about by bike. The video features riders using tools and techniques—kid trailers, u-locks, hand signals for turns, pannier (saddle) bags, etc—that show the fun and practicality of going by bike.

Bike Month is a great time to think about bike safety. Staying safe on the bike is of paramount concern for many riders. To help get the message out about helmets and lights, BikeTexas recently put together their “Safety Bling” video—a fun and informative short. Letting folks know how best to stay safe encourages not only safe behavior, but also helps break down another potential barrier to someone on the fence about riding for transportation.

Bike Month is a great time to try new cycling facilities. Better infrastructure, as mentioned recently by our Director of Advocacy, would make for greater numbers of dedicated cyclists, which in turn brings cycling to the forefront of other road users.  Of course, infrastructure often means money and that doesn’t grow on trees. There is federal funding for improving going by bike, but it is on the chopping block as we recently learned from the League of American Bicyclists. As a result, Bike Month is the perfect time to let elected officials know that those dollars are needed to improve our communities and to remind our representatives about the social, economic, and health benefits that “alternative” transportation provides.

Bike Month also means fun of course. After all, riding for fun and fitness is a huge gateway for people to become transportation riders. Luckily Bike Month offers a host of fun bike-related events. Whether it is the Real Ale Ride, the national bike challenge, Viva Streets Austin, Bike to Eat Week, or any one of the myriad Bike Month events, there’s surely something that will put a smile on your face while pedaling.

Bike Month means riding bikes. But also means changing lifestyles, rededicating ourselves to going by bike, having fun, and spreading the good word about riding in general. It’s time to ride!

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