It's time to hop on your bicycle and help support National Bike Month, National Bike to Work Week (May 13-19), and National Bike to Work Day (May 18). For the 45th consecutive year, the League of American Bicyclists is sponsoring these events and encouraging communities, businesses, and individuals to plan or participate in programs that help promote the use of bicycles.
Here are just a few of the bike-related activities happening around the West:
- The California Bicycle Coalition is sponsoring the annual California Bike Commute Week, May 14-18. On May 17, the City of Oakland, the East Bay Bike Coalition, and RIDES, a Bay Area ride share organization, will set up energizer stations—equipped with food, beverages, and goodies such as canvas bike bags—throughout the Bay Area for commuting riders. RIDES will also raffle off a bicycle tour for two of Tuscany. All riders who pledge to commute by bicycle once during Bike to Work Week will be eligible to win.
- Oakland is celebrating Bike to Work Day on May 17 with an auction and a pancake breakfast at City Hall.
- Davis, Calif., will host a handful of bike-related activities throughout May, among them Commute Day (May 17), which includes breakfast; a bike auction (May 5); a Double Century (a one-day, 200-mile ride) on May 19; and Cyclebration (May 20), a full day of food, music, bike stunts, unicycle races, and an antique bike display.
- Throughout May, San Francisco will offer free bike clinics, workshops, and cultural bike tours of the city.
- The Utah Transit Authority Rideshare will sponsor Salt Lake City's Bike Bonanza on May 12, featuring bike information booths, races, and gifts. On the Mayor's Bike to Work Day (May 15), Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson—along with other interested riders—will celebrate with a mass ride, food, and prizes.
Of course, you don't need to wait for National Bike to Work Week to start pedaling to work. If it's your first time, choose your route and take a trial ride before you actually have to get to the office on time. Find out what (if any) bike-friendly facilities your employer offers—secure storage? showers?—and gather all the equipment you'll need, such as a lock, bike gloves, backpack, rain gear, and a headlight (required by law in California if you are going to be riding after dark).
Before you take off on any bike ride, remember the rules: Travel on the righthand side of the road, never ride against traffic, always yield to pedestrians, and watch out for drivers swinging their car doors open. Always look before you change lanes, and signal before making a turn. And don't drink alcohol before taking a ride. The same rules that apply to drinking and driving apply to drinking and bicycling.
Finally, always wear your helmet. A helmet, properly worn, can reduce the risk of head injury in an accident by up to 85 percent.
When shopping for a helmet, look for a CPSC, ANSI, or Snell Foundation safety standard sticker; an outer polycarbonate or fiberglass shell; an energy-absorbing inner liner; comfort pads; and an adjustable strap. The best way to find a helmet that fits is to try it on. Then, once you've chosen a helmet, wear it level above your eyebrows—never pushed back on your forehead. When you buckle on the helmet, the strap should not be so tight that it hurts, nor so loose that you can slip your fingers between the strap and your chin. You want to customize the fit so that the helmet sits snugly but comfortably on your head.
Photography by Roberto Soncin Gerometta/Photo 20-20
This article was first published in May 2001. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.