Some happy bike commuters from the 2008 Bike to Work Day
Credit: Len Gilbert
On Thursday, May 14th, expect a jump in the number of bikes on the road in San Francisco. The reason for the inflation? Bike to Work Day. This will be the 15th Annual Bike to Work Day in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area, and this year nine Bay Area counties will participate in the festivities. The event seeks to promote a healthy way of commuting by featuring commute convoys, energizer stations, prizes for costumes and decorated bikes and downtown bike valet parking. Many organizations like the California Academy of Sciences have put together bike-commute teams to support the event.
The Bay Area is not the only city promoting bicycle advocacy. The best known community bike program was started in the 1960s in Amsterdam. Known as a bicycle sharing system, bicycles were available on a large scale, allowing people to have ready access to these public bikes rather than owning personal ones. This allowed people to shift from transit to bicycle and back again. These programs have not only been successful in Europe but the United States as well.
One of the first community bicycle projects in the United States started in Portland, Oregon in 1994 by several civic and environmental activists. A number of bicycles were available on the streets for use. Since then many other communities have set up similar projects. One was set up at Burning Man in 2007, following the example of the Portland Yellow Bike program.
150,000 commuters are expected to forgo their car commute and bike into work on May 14th. Nationally, many more will commute by bike during the entire month of May to support National Bike Month.
There are some great perks to commuting by bike to work: Bikes are much cheaper than cars. Typically, a bike will cost around $700 per year; compare that to the cost of a car (which includes insurance, repairs and gas), around $8000 per year (according to the American Automobile Association). Not only is it cheaper, the carbon footprint of commuting by bike is drastically lower as well. A gallon of gas releases about 20 lbs of CO2 into the air; a bicycle creates no CO2 emissions. Bicycling is also a great way to stay healthy and active without having to make a trip to the gym.
All in all, Bike to Work Day is an individually and environmentally healthy way to get to and from work. For more information on Bike to Work Day, bike routes, and services offered for bicyclists visit http://btwd.bayareabikes.org/.