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National Bike Month: For Healthier Transportation

Every May, the United States observes National Bike Month. This celebration aims to promote biking as a sustainable and enjoyable mode of transportation that can contribute positively to our health, environment, and communities. 

Events like Bike to Work Week and Bike to School Day are organized throughout May to advocate biking as an eco-friendly transport option. Read on to learn more.

Featured in: May - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

History and Background of National Bike Month

national bike month
Photo Credit: League of American Bicyclists.

The League of American Bicyclists is a non-profit organization that aims to encourage more people to ride bikes. So, in 1956, they established National Bike Month.

Taking place in May, the initiative has grown over the years into a nationwide celebration. They introduced Bike to Work Week in 1955 and Bike to School Day in 2012, both aimed at promoting cycling as a regular mode of transportation. 

The Bicycle Friendly America program, launched in 2010, recognizes states, communities, businesses, and universities that support cycling. 

Notable figures like Andy Clarke and Bill Nesper have promoted National Bike Month and encouraged a cycling culture across the country.

Moreover, this monthlong celebration includes events like National Ride a Bike Day every first Sunday, encouraging everyone to take any bicycle ride. There’s also the Bike to Work Day and Week every third Friday and week that recommends bicycle commuting.

The Cause and Its Challenges

bike to shop
Photo Credit: League of American Bicyclists.

National Bike Month draws attention to the pollution from motor vehicles and the sedentary lifestyle that has become commonplace. Bicycles are a sustainable, pollution-free, and healthy alternative. However, the widespread adoption of cycling faces several challenges. 

Safety concerns are a significant issue as the number of cyclist fatalities in traffic accidents is high. Another challenge is proper biking infrastructure, including bike lanes, secure parking facilities, and safe routes. 

The perception of biking as a leisure activity rather than a legitimate way to commute also poses a challenge. 

Only a few get enough aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. Cycling can increase one’s overall fitness and lessen the risk of cardiovascular diseases2.

Furthermore, the transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. So, it is only reasonable to think that cycling, which is also cheaper, is the most environmentally and economically sustainable mode of transportation1.

Replacing even a fraction of car journeys with bike rides could have a significant impact not only on our health but also on the planet.

Related Read: Zero Emissions Day.

Efforts and Initiatives Around The Globe

In support of biking advocacy, the European Cyclists' Federation (ECF) has also promoted cycling through its "Bike2Work" initiative.

Governments worldwide have also noticed the growing popularity of cycling and are implementing measures to encourage it. For example, the UK's 'Fix Your Bike' program encourages people to switch from buses and trains to bicycles. 

Similarly, the "Ciclovia" program in Bogota, Colombia, promotes cycling by transforming busy streets into car-free zones every Sunday.

In addition to large organizations, grassroots movements have promoted cycling and its benefits. For instance, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) launched the "Ride Don't Hide" campaign, which links cycling with mental health awareness.

How to Get Involved and Support National Bike Month

bike possible
Photo Credit: League of American Bicyclists.
  1. Plan or attend a bike ride event to gather community members of different levels. Aside from riding together, we offer bike safety clinics.
  2. Set and achieve increasing distance goals with friends for a month.
  3. Lobby policymakers to improve cycling infrastructure in your city. 
  4. Encourage schools and workplaces to have a bike-to-school or bike-to-work event, promoting healthier commuting.
  5. Showcase the many benefits of regular cycling by posting credible sources and information on social media. Also, encourage people to try biking by sharing what you love about it.
  6. Support local businesses by promoting your nearest bike shops.
  7. Facilitate the use of bike-sharing programs in your neighborhood.

Conclusion

May is National Bike Month, and it aims to highlight the various impacts of a humble bike ride. If you are already riding for fun or health or taking essential trips to a store, you are already contributing to the cause. 

By advocating for this humble transportation, we can make connected communities use safer streets while contributing to a healthier planet. Encourage more folks by spreading the word about this awareness month. 

National Bike Month FAQs

1. Why is National Bike Month celebrated?

Every May, this event raises awareness about the benefits of biking, promotes cycling as a sustainable mode of transportation, and encourages people to adopt a healthier and more active lifestyle.

2. How do I celebrate Bike Month?

You can organize or join local biking events, commute by bike, advocate for better biking infrastructure, or simply encourage more folks to try cycling. If you haven’t learned to ride one, spend the month giving biking a try by taking lessons or practicing daily.

3. What are the benefits of biking?

Biking offers numerous benefits, including improving cardiovascular health, reducing traffic congestion, decreasing air pollution, saving money on transportation costs, and promoting mental well-being.

4. Is this event only for avid cyclists?

Whether you are an avid cyclist or a beginner, this event encourages people of all ages and skill levels to experience the joy of biking and discover its many benefits.

1

Pucher, J., & Buehler, R. (2017). Cycling towards a more sustainable transport future. Transport Reviews, 37(6), 689–694. 

2

Oja, P., Titze, S., Bauman, A., De Geus, B., Krenn, P. J., Reger-Nash, B., & Kohlberger, T. (2011). Health benefits of cycling: a systematic review. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 21(4), 496–509.

By Mike Gomez, BA.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash.
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