May has long been a month dedicated to bicycles. Fifty-five years ago, the Cycle Trade Association declared the month to be American Bike Month. Several decades ago, May became known as National Bike Month when the League of American Bicyclists took over the cause, and the emphasis shifted more towards cycling advocacy and away from bicycle retail (although the latter group clearly still benefits from Bike Month). The third week of May is Bike to Work Week, and hundreds of activities are taking place across the nation in celebration, culminating on Friday, May 20th, with Bike to Work Day.
In many of the well-established bicycle-friendly cities around the United States, Bike to Work events have grown exponentially over the past several years. In the DC Metro area, local advocacy associations will organize nearly fifty pit stops on Bike to Work Day in 2011, adding more than a dozen pit stops within the region since only last year. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association set a goal of registering 10,000 cyclists for this years event, and with a week to go, there are currently 8,000 registered participants. At stops in Maryland, DC and Virginia, commuters can grab a bite to eat, enjoy music and entertainment and even take advantage of tune-up services being provided by local shops at some locations.In New York City, Transportation Alternatives Bike Month NYC hosts an entire months worth of events, including Traffic Skills 101 classes through Bike New York and bicycle repair workshops through Times Up bike co-op. On Bike to Work Day, Clif Bar sponsors seven different commuter stations at busy locations such as the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, and cyclists are treated to iced coffee and, of course, Clif Bars.Even places that are slightly less bicycle-wonky by reputation are getting in on the Bike Month action. Iowa is celebrating its ninth annual Bike to Work Week with more than 2,200 participants. Iowas Bike Month organizer, the Des Moines Bicycle Collective, encourages riders new and old to register for the event as a way to demonstrate to local decision-makers that Iowans are in support of more bicycle amenities.Thanks to the League of American Bicyclists, there is plenty of information available to assist community organizers in planning Bike Month events, and there are an incredible number of educational activities leading up to 2011s Bike to Work Day. Through the diverse and increasing amounts of activity surrounding Bike to Work Week, veteran commuters can be rewarded and new cyclists can be encouraged. And, importantly, as cyclists continue to ride in greater and greater numbers, decision-makers in Iowa, New York, DC and around the country will be reminded that cycling can be a viable, enjoyable and sustainable form of transportation.