Jeff Mitchell

Photo By Brad Bynum

May 11 to 17 is Bike to Work Week. Jeff Mitchell is the program director of the Reno Bike Project. When I first tried to call him, he said, “Can I call you back in an hour? I'm teaching a kid to ride a bike.”

Why Bike to Work Week?

Well, Bike to Work Week is part of a national Bike to Work Week movement supported by the League of American Cyclists. That’s why we’re focusing specifically on May 11 to 17. But just to give you some printable reasons to bike to work: I find that biking to work makes you more energetic. It connects you with your community more. It give you much needed exercise for those folks that work in office jobs that wouldn’t normally be getting it. Also, of course, there’s the air quality and the environmental impact that you have just by biking to work every day. If you visit the website, there is a litany of reasons to ride your bike to work every day.

Why does it need a week? And why in the middle of May?

Because often folks need a little bit of encouragement and a special reason to break a habit. May 11-17 typically has a really good weather pattern so that eliminates the barrier of entry that is poor weather. It’s also a time when people are still at work. Teachers that get off in the summer are still at work. And we give it a week specifically to be kind of like a challenge to yourself. If you can do it for one week, chances are you can keep doing it.

In the past, you guys have done pancake breakfasts …

We have more events this year than ever. … The official kickoff event is bike valet at the Aces Baseball Stadium on Sunday, May 12. It’s Mother’s Day. It’s a day game. The weather’s supposed to be beautiful, and it’s going to be a really easy way for folks to show up, ride bikes somewhere and get out there for the first time. We’ll park your bike for free, you can go in and enjoy the game and then ride home with your family. While there you can sign up for Bike to Work Week. You can visit all the tables for all the groups that help put Bike to Work Week, and it’ll be a really easy way to start the week off. Friday the 17th is the Reno Bike Project’s annual pancake feed, where from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. we’ll be shelling out flapjacks, bacon, fruit and coffee for free to anyone riding a bike. Also, there are a list of coffee shops on the website … any of those coffee shops that are listed, you can stop in and get a free cup of coffee if you have a bike helmet as proof that you’re riding your bike. … There’s the commuter challenge. The commuter challenge is a challenge between businesses. We’re going to be giving out prizes from RTC through a random drawing. It’s a really great way to get your business recognized as a bicycle-friendly business and that means a happier workforce and a healthier workforce.

What else is going on?

Today [May 2] was the first day of the Major Taylor program, and we’re insanely excited about it. … Major Taylor was the first ever African-American world champion of any sport, and he was a cyclist. So we’ve named our program after him. It’s an after-school ride club for at-risk high school-age kids to give them access to riding bikes that otherwise they wouldn’t have access to riding. So, for the last nine months, and today was the launch, and we had 11 kids riding 11 brand new bikes at the Evelyn Mount Community Center, and it worked out awesome.

When I tried to call you earlier, you were teaching a kid to a ride a bike. How old was he?

He was 17. And the other girl who was learning to ride a bike I think was 15. They had both never ridden bikes before, and we got to put them both on $800 Specialized Allezs and teach them how to ride bikes. It was totally awesome.