Bike to Work Day as an opportunity to assess the state of bicycle planning: Part 1, leveraging Bike Month
In the DC metropolitan area, Bike to Work Day is the third Friday of the month of May, May being National Bike Month.
So that means this Friday, May 17th, is BTWD in the Washington metropolitan area.
-- "D.C. region gears up for a record-breaking Bike to Work Day," MWCOG
A few years ago, I interviewed Nick Ramfos, the director of Commuter Connections, the area's transportation demand management program offered by the area's transportation-related "metropolitan planning organization."
The conversation made me realize that we should "use" BTWD/Bike Month as an opportunity to assess where we are, offer recommendations for change, etc.
-- "Bike to Work Day as an opportunity to assess the state of bicycle planning: Part 1," 2017
-- "Bike to Work Day as an opportunity to assess the state of bicycle planning: Part 2, building a network of bike facilities at the regional scale," 2017
In 2019 this is particularly apt given the recent call for changes to DC transportation planning and design in response to recent particularly tragic and gruesome traffic deaths involving bicyclists and pedestrians.
This year I am breaking this down into two posts, one focused specifically on Bike Month, and the other on "the state of bicycle planning."
1. From Bike to Work Day to Bike Month/Create a calendar of activities for the entire month. Here my concern is too much focus is on "the day" and not enough on creating a wide range of activities that promote biking as transportation throughout the month.
For example, Minneapolis Bike Week has events every day of the week, with Bike to Work Day as the premier event that it already is.
The basic idea is to make Bike Month, "a program".
2. Transit agencies should have a set of model practices for participating in Bike Month..
3. Bike Month should be used as the "launch month"/target date for the launch of new infrastructure and facilities, and bike map reprintings.
4. Sustainable mobility street closure events. Every major metropolitan area should have open streets events. In the US, CicLAvia in Los Angeles County is the most successful.
-- Open Streets Project
-- Open Streets Toolkit
Like how CicLAvia is held two to three times per year in locations throughout Los Angeles County, with the primary sponsor being LA Metro, the DC area should develop a similar program, with events held throughout the Metropolitan area.
(Although I argue a great place to start in DC would be on Massachusetts Avenue from 9th Street to Dupont Circle and beyond Dupont Circle, even as far as to Wisconsin Avenue).
The Spring event should be scheduled for Bike Month.
Transit/transportation agencies and the MWCOG should be the lead organizers and sponsors.
5. There should be a bike/sustainable mobility expo during National Bike Month.
6. In the DC area specifically, there needs to be greater focus on the opportunities to work with large employers, especially the federal government, using Bike Month as the launch event.
7. 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").
8. Bike to School Day should be shifted to the Fall. ("Bike to School Day is today, it should be in September or October").
9. Bike sharing programs should offer special promotions for National Bike Month and Bike Work Day. For example, the MoGo program in Detroit is offering free rides on May 23rd, the program's one year anniversary. But it's a key month for launching new membership campaigns, during group rides, etc.
10. Licensing for dockless bike share should include requirements for participating in transportation demand management programs, National Bike Month, Bike to Work Day, and other activities.
11. Membership for the League of American Bicyclists and local and state bike advocacy groups should have special pricing during Bike Month.
12. Special pricing for subscriptions to biking magazines like Bicycling, Momentum, Bicycle Times, etc. should be offered during Bike Month.
13. Work with bike shops to have special sales promotions during Bike Month. If we really want to promote reductions in car usage, let's get serious. For example, Paris is now providing incentives to buy bikes, cargo bikes, and e-bikes as a car reduction strategy ("Paris to offer subsidies to those who buy bikes, give up cars," Smart City Dive). Universities often have discount programs for bike purchases. At the very least, offer such promotions during Bike Month.