Monday, May 4, 2015

May is national Bike Month

By Ann Briggs

Whether you’re a hard-core, ride-in-any-weather cyclist or a novice rider just starting out, May is the perfect time to get those wheels a-rollin’. Gov. Inslee has proclaimed May as Bike Month in Washington and events are being held in communities across the state. Check with a bicycle club in your area to see what’s happening near you.

Before you head out on your first adventure, be sure your bicycle is properly tuned up, you’ve done everything to increase your personal safety and you know the rules of the road.

Bicycle tourism is becoming an important economic factor for many communities in Washington. A recent study (pdf 7.5 mb) found bicycle riding was number three in our state in terms of recreational spending, with a whopping $3.1 billion annual impact. That represents a lot of bicyclists shopping, lodging and eating at local businesses.

The challenge is to reduce the number of bicycle injuries and deaths as bicycle ridership increases. That’s why Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson is reminding everyone to share the road.

We want the number of people riding bicycles for transportation and recreation to continue to increase in our state, and we’re working with our partners to reverse the trend of bicycle injuries and fatalities. Here are a few of the things we’re doing to make that happen:
  • Washington Bike Summit – In March we sponsored the first-ever bike summit, an event that brought more than 200 people together for workshops and training on best practices in developing walking/bicycling/transit connections.
  • Safer People, Safer Streets – We’re starting work to put more of an emphasis on infrastructure safety, education, vehicle safety and data collection to help make it safer for people walking, bicycling, and taking public transportation.
  • Safe Routes to School education – Working with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington Bikes and Feet First, we’ve reached more than 56,000 students in 41 school districts since 2010, delivering bicycle and pedestrian safety education.
  • Separated Bike Lanes – We’re working with federal partners to produce a new guide for planning and developing protected bike lanes. Early observations show that separated bike lanes can increase bicycling by 20 to 170 percent.
  • Safe Routes to School improvements – Over the past two years, more than $18 million in Safe Routes to School project grants were awarded for 42 projects to improve conditions for children walking and biking to school. As an example, a project at Dearborn Park Elementary School in Seattle that added sidewalks and other safety measures resulted in a 33 percent increase in walking and biking among students.
Whether you bike, walk or drive, if each of us does our part to know and follow the rules of the road, we’ll all get there safely.