Today was the 60th annual National Bike to Work Day. Originally begun in 1956 by The League of American Bicyclists, the day is part of National Bike Month, which is recognized annually during the month of May. Over the past sixty years, Bike to Work Day has grown into a widespread event with countless bike riders taking to the streets nationwide in an effort to get commuters to try bicycling to work as a healthy and safe alternative to driving a car.
Bike to Work Day in the metropolitan D.C. area has been held annually for the past decade and a half. It was originally started in 2001 by The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), of which I am a member. That first year consisted of a small group of only a few hundred, but has since grown significantly. There were a record 17,500+ officially registered participants in 2015. And hopefully this year, a new record will be set.
This year WABA, along with Commuter Connections, a regional network of transportation organizations coordinated by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, as well as a number of local bike shops and organizations, again sponsored pit stops along many of the commuter routes in the area. So I took a few hours of vacation time and spent the morning riding to some of this year’s 83 area pit stops that were set up in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. And I did a breakfast crawl at the pit stops set up at Freedom Plaza, Franklin Square and at the National Geographic Society, where they were handing out muffins and baked goods, Kind breakfast bars, fresh fruit, and all kinds of other items. They also had valet bike parking, and bike mechanics on site to help with problems and make adjustments for those who needed it. I also picked up a lot of free swag, because they were giving away free items like T-shirts, water bottles, sunglasses, tire repair kits, bike lights and bells, area maps, etc. I also was given coupons for a free bus ride for both my bike and I, which will come in useful if my bike breaks down on one of my rides. I’m also entered for a chance to win a new bike and other prizes in various drawings.
Bike to Work Day is a clean, fun and healthy way to get to work. But even if you’re unable to commute via bicycle, use can use the day as a spark to getting out there and riding a bike more. Or maybe riding again if it has been a while since you were on a bike. Whether it’s for recreation, exercise, running errands, or for any other reason, riding a bike not only has its benefits for both the rider and the environment, but it’s also just plain fun. As a former resident of D.C. named John F. Kennedy was once quoted as saying, “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”