Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Amy Sohner: May is Bike Month, and the weather’s perfect for riding to the office
It’s May, sunny skies and warm breezes are here, and it’s the perfect time to go for a bicycle ride. That’s convenient since May is Bike Month.
Bicycles are fun for health and recreation, and people who begin commuting by bicycle lose an average of 13 lbs in the first year. Bikes save time, money, and resources too… but there’s also something really satisfying about skipping the gym for a ride to work in the morning, then locking up at a bike rack and passing right by the parking meters. At the end of a busy day, a bike ride is the perfect way to clear your head and relax on the way home. If you haven’t started biking to work yet, here’s another reason to try: Bike Lexington’s 2012 Commuter Challenge presented by Pedal Power Bike Shop is offering prizes and recognition for riding your bike to work.
Whether you’re employed by a giant organization like UK or self-employed, you can register to compete against like-sized groups. Trips are recorded each week May 1 – 31, and four businesses with the highest bike ridership percentage will be featured in July’s edition of Business Lexington. Additionally, the cycling employees will be entered to win gift certificates from Pedal Power and all of the businesses that register will be featured on the Bike Lexington website. For individuals, the odds are even better, since the person with the most trips logged is certain to win a prize of their own.
One week into the month it’s not too late to register for the ultimate prize, the “Golden Cranks” trophy. Email your business name/division to email@example.com and include your name and the number of employees in your business. She’ll put you in the system and you can log your trips under your organization’s account. As an individual you can go right into the drop-down box on the Commuter Challenge webpage.
And while May only lasts a few weeks, businesses can encourage bike commuting all year by doing the following:
• Installing bike racks or allowing cyclists to bring bikes into storage areas is a big plus.
• Providing changing spaces or a place to hang a change of clothes will allow those who ride at an easy pace to switch shirts and not need a shower after the morning ride.
• Maps of bike lanes are a huge help in planning a safe route around town. Print out a few copies of this map or provide the link to employees. Updated hard copies of the city’s bike map will also be available later this month.
Making it easy for bike commuters can also help businesses get recognized as a Live Green Lexington Energy Partner through LFUCG and Bluegrass PRIDE.
Here’s one last argument for cycling: Trips of three miles or less usually take less time by bike than by car. Half of all car trips are less than three miles, and if we rode bikes for just half of those, we could save 24 billion gallons of gas each year. (At $4/ gallon, that’s a stimulus all its own!). Considering the construction on many of our streets and the traffic downtown, there couldn’t be a better month to leave the traffic behind and go ride a bike.
Amy Sohner is executive director of Bluegrass PRIDE and a graduate of the University of Kentucky in Natural Resource Conservation and Management. Sohner has worked with PRIDE since its inception in 2002 and is a Certified Environmental Educator. She is involved with the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Alliance, the Bluegrass Rain Garden Alliance, the Licking and Kentucky River Basin Teams, and serves as Vice-Chair of the Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission. Sohner lives near the Kentucky River palisades with her husband, 5-year-old daughter and a multitude of pets.