The Los Osos Library supporting Bike to Work Day in 2019. The Rideshare event is now lasts a week with other activities throughout the month of May. Photo submitted
May is National Bike Month. More than a celebration of the two-wheeled conduit of fun and freedom as a child, it’s an opportunity to ditch the car and reinvent the commute to work.
Since 1956, National Bike Month offers a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to giving biking a try. Locally, Rideshare, a division of the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) started its Bike Month in 2000 and would have celebrated 20 years in 2020 but it was canceled for two years due to the pandemic.
“Bike Month is about the joy of riding a bicycle for fun, fitness, commuting and recreation, said Catalina Foster, Rideshare program coordinator and Los Osos resident.
The benefits to riders are multiple including saving money on gas, reducing your carbon footprint, increasing exercise and a chance to slow down and look around and take in your surroundings.
“Also, studies have shown that biking to work cuts your risk of cancer and heart disease almost in half,” Foster said.
Riders are not the only people encouraged to get involved, Rideshare is looking for community groups and businesses to support those who pedal to work during Bike to Work Week on May 16-20 by hosting a breakfast for commuters or holding a themed event anytime during the month.
“Bike to Work Week is in replacement of Bike to Work Day this year because so many people are working hybrid schedules,” said Foster. “We wanted businesses to be able to choose any day that week that most staff would be coming into the office.”
Commonly, a business hosts a bike breakfast (7 a.m. to 9 a.m.) or a bike happy hour (4 p.m.to 6 p.m.) and gives a small discount or giveaways to anyone who brings a helmet to the counter, or bikes in.
Rideshare has giveaways (water bottles, stickers and bike lights) for businesses looking to give out extra stuff. They are also giving $200 mini-grants to cover some of the costs of hosting an event. That money can be used to purchase food, drinks, except alcohol, marketing material, improvements to a bike rack, and more.
Participating businesses get their name on the Bike Month calendar, which gets thousands of website views. Their business name will also be advertised across all Rideshare channels and in the Rideshare newsletter that goes out to more than 14,000 subscribers. Anyone looking for information or who has questions can email Foster at email@example.com.
For readers looking for some encouragement or who like a challenge, Foster said she once met a commuter that didn’t own a vehicle because he lived on a boat in the Morro Bay Harbor. He got in his dingy every morning with his bike, boated to the waterfront, then biked into SLO, and did the reverse at the end of the day. A few commuters also bike up and down the grade every day.
When all is said and done, the event, which has about 1000 participants across the county, is a fun way to engage with the people you work and play with.
“When we do surveys after the event the number one thing people love about bike month is the camaraderie and opportunity to connect to their community,” Foster said.
As for Foster, she walks the walk, or in this case, pedals the pedals, if you will, so she is aware of both the fun and the challenges involved in biking.
“I ride recreationally around Los Osos,” she said. “My husband and I love to ride our bikes to dinner, the local breweries, or just for a sunset roll. SLOCOG has a bike share at our office so I’m able to ride to any meetings I have in SLO. I almost always opt for the bike, if it’s doable and not raining. I would love to ride into SLO for work but I am pretty intimidated by Los Osos Valley Road. I had a goal in 2020 of riding in to SLO for Bike to Work Day, but when the event was canceled, I lost the motivation. Maybe this year!”
Bike to School Day, post-press time, kicked off the event and community celebrations are held throughout the month with some cool prizes up for grabs. One lucky person will win an e-bike donated by Trinity Cyclery in Grover Beach. Start now and log your biking and/or walking trips at iRideshare.org between May 1-31 and get entered to win a class 3 Serfac Edart with a 20 mph throttle or pedal assist and can go up to 28 mph.
For more information or to see the calendar of events and list of prizes for the month, go to rideshare.org/program/bike-month.