Bike to Work Day, May 20th/May is Bike Month -- revised
I forgot a couple of important things, hence the revision. ... such as Friday bike car service on the Penn and Brunswick Lines.
M.P. King, Wisconsin State-Journal photo. Bicycle Counter Display on the Capital City Trail adjacent to John Nolen Drive in Madison, Wisconsin. The meter has counted more than 384,000 bicycle trips since it was installed in June 2014.
May is Bike Month and I have been remiss in not using it as a hook to write a summary piece, which I will do separately.
In the DC area, Bike to Work day is this Friday, and there are 83 pit stops either in major employment centers, on the way to work, and some now even in the evening on the way home--the first Bike to Work Day had 5 pit stops.
Washington Area Bicyclist Association, there are "convoys" where people can ride together to various end destinations, and a separate "Bike Buddy" program where people wanting to ride but needing some support to make the transition as part of BTWD.
As a critic pumping out critical analysis and constant recommendations for improvement, I can point to how in Minneapolis, they have made Bike Week a seven-day event with activities each day, from Bike to Work Day on Friday to Women's Day on Thursday and Sunday's Families Ride to Park Day, and a more formal Bike Buddy program--participants in the Bike Buddy program get lights and other goodies.
On "Nice Ride Day" tomorrow--Nice Ride is the bike share program in Minneapolis--people can get discounted memberships and free helmets from signing up, and according to the Bike Events page, there are a number of activities that people can participate in, including an Environmental Justice Ride.
In the San Francisco Bay area, the bike share program allowed free use of bikes on Bike to Work Day, for people who registered in advance. And San Mateo used BTWD to launch their bike share program ("San Mateo Launches a Bike Share System on Bike to Work Day," KQED).
BTWD: incremental and significant progress. But the reality is that the area's BTWD is a story of year-by-year progress that should be celebrated. More than 18,000 people sign up and more than that number will participate. There are 83 pit stops, from a start of 5, with many locations outside of DC, where the bulk of activities had occurred in the past.
While I prefer the Minneapolis example of spreading out a focus on biking beyond the single day of BTWD, based on various studies of participants, almost 20% of the people participating say they took up bicycling regularly for transportation by starting out with participating in BTWD.
Continued progress and growth with BTWD participation: focusing on increasing participation by women and people of color. This year, Commuter Connections, the transportation demand management program of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments/Transportation Planning Board, has done more focused outreach to women and to people of color, by working with organizations serving those populations, as a way to broaden participation beyond the typical participant demographics which tend to be male, under 35 years old, and white. There is a lot more that can be done, but this is a good step forward.
As part of this new emphasis, they have produced video interviews with some prominent elected officials in the area.
DC Bike Ride is on Sunday, May 22nd, and "extends" BTWD to more recreational ends. Registration closes tomorrow.
Image from DC Bike Ride.
Maryland adds bike car service to Penn Line and Brunswick Line railroad passenger services on Friday for BTWD. This is a big deal. Normally, MARC only has bike cars on the weekends, on the Penn Line between Baltimore ("Bike cars on weekend trains a 'big first step' for cyclists," Baltimore Sun).
Image from Pittsburgh Mainline blog.
This year, for BTWD they are extending to Friday May 20th and in a first, to the Brunswick Line between Martinsburg, WV and DC.
BikeMaryland lists the schedule for the bike cars here.
Future thoughts: linking Bike to Work Day with "Open Streets" initiatives. One of the things I spoke with Nick Ramfos, Director of Commuter Connections, was the idea of linking BTWD with "street closures"/Bike Expo/Open Streets type activities. He said that there have been some examples of street closures in association with BTWD, but not many, and it is tough since it's a work day.
Maybe, along the lines of how Minneapolis has extended "Bike to Work Day" to Bike Week, with a particular theme for each day, the DC area could extend BTWD by having Open Streets activities on the weekend following. The inaugural DC Bike Ride is one way to move this idea forward.
on the Southeast Cities CicLAvia.
Or it could be the weekend before as a lead in to "Bike Week." The CicLAvia in Los Angeles County brings out as many as 100,000 out on a weekend Sunday--they have days each Spring and Fall, and move the activity around to various places across the County--not just in LA proper.
Many groups and organizations and businesses along the route leverage the initiative for promotions and activities of their own.
Last Sunday was the most recent CicLAvia ("CicLAvia arrives in Southeast Los Angeles," Los Angeles Times) and for the LA area, this Thursday is BTWD. From the article:
CicLAvia's organizers are also trying to boost the event's economic impact, encouraging businesses to stay open even though streets are closed and coordinating special offers for CicLAvia riders and walkers. A 2013 UCLA study found that sales for businesses along CicLAvia routes increased by anywhere from 10 to 57%.Recommendations:
1. Make the Bike Buddy program more prominent and systematic. Use the Minneapolis program as a best practice model.
2. Consider developing a full "Bike Week" of events that support biking for transportation, using the Minneapolis Bike Week as a model, with Bike to Work Day as the premier Friday event that it already is.
3. Build on nascent efforts and develop more systematic programs for engaging traditionally underrepresented demographics, particularly women and people of color, in Bike Week/biking for transportation activities ("Urg: bad studies don't push the discourse or policy forward | biking in low income communities (in DC) edition").
4. Work to develop an Open Streets weekend event as a lead in or denouement to "Bike Week."
5. Develop a sponsorship arrangement with Capital Bike Share so that new riders can get free access to bikes on Bike to Work Day, as a membership promotion (models are special promotions for the Divvy program in Chicago, and San Francisco Bay Share's BTWD promotion).
6. Create a bike share promotion program for Bike Week comparable to "Nice Ride Day" to promote new memberships in the bike share system.
7. Work with the jurisdictions, including the National Park Service, to focus on launching-ribbon cutting of new bike infrastructure and facilities, during Bike Week, as a further leveraging of attention on biking for transportation during Bike Month.
This BTWD video features DC City Councilmember Elissa Silverman.
This video features Cathy Hudgins, who is a Fairfax County Supervisor and sits on the Transportation Planning Board.