May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to giving biking a try.
One only has to look at the streets in Great Bend or on the shoulders of highways around Barton County to see more local and area cyclists out and enjoying their bikes. In fact, the Barton County Commission and city councils in Claflin, Ellinwood, Great Bend and Hoisington have backed proposals to make this their county more bike friendly.
This effort, spearheaded by the Be Well Barton County leadership coalition, has been gaining momentum for several years. Now, we are starting to see tangible results.
With all of this, May is a time to observe this growing movement. Many of us have an old bike hanging in the garage. It has been there for years gathering dust.
Sure, the rubber on the tires is hard and the chain is difficult to turn. But, with a little effort, some new tires and a little lubrication, that two-wheeled beauty will be ready to roll.
Whether one bikes to work or school; rides to save money or time; pumps those pedals to preserve their health or the environment; or simply to explore our amazing communities, National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride.
It is reported that 40 percent of all trips in the U.S. are less than two miles, making bicycling a feasible and fun way to get to work. With increased interest in healthy, sustainable and economic transportation options, it’s not surprising that, from 2000 to 2013, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 62 percent.
By the way, the League was founded as the League of American Wheelmen in 1880. Bicyclists, known then as “wheelmen,” were challenged by rutted roads of gravel and dirt and faced antagonism from horsemen, wagon drivers, and pedestrians. Substitute cars and trucks for horses and buggies and times haven’t changed much.
In an effort to improve riding conditions so they might better enjoy their newly discovered sport, more than 100,000 cyclists from across the United States joined the League to advocate for paved roads. The success of the League in its first advocacy efforts ultimately led to our national highway system.
We all rode bikes as kids and now we can rekindle that passion. Remember, Bike to School Day is May 4 and Bike to Work Day is May 20. These are excellent opportunities to give riding a try.