Pedal for the planet
May’s Bike Commute Month inspires sustainable transportation
If you haven’t hopped on your bike lately, here’s your challenge. Dust off your helmet, stretch your muscles and fill up your water bottle. You’ve got a million miles to bike. You and me, that is. May is Bike Commute Month and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments has partnered with local organizations to inspire thousands of bicyclists to pedal 1 million miles in May, reducing more than 5,000 pounds of smog-forming nitrogen oxides from Sacramento’s air.
The goal of Bike Commute Month, with its events organized around getting people out of their cars, is to inspire us to think about sustainable modes of transportation. New bikers are introduced to the established biking community. Advocates raise legislative awareness of policies that promote biking and biker safety on the roadways.
SACOG also is enlisting participation through its online Commuter Club. “The first step is to establish communication with our commuters. For the first time ever, we are now collecting daily commute information,” said Rebecca Garrison, who manages SACOG’s Commuter Club database (www.sacregioncommuterclub.org).
Two-thousand of the 11,000 members keep a daily commute diary regardless of their mode of transportation, establishing a baseline of information, which can be used in conjunction with miles pedaled during Bike Commute month, to help fund and support biking projects along Sacramento corridors. For example, Commuter Club members along the Highway 50 corridor received up to $300 for their commitment to become a bicycle commuter, explained Garrison.
“We go out of our way to support commuters who use alternative transportation,” said Garrison. The Commuter Club features a popular Emergency Ride Home program, which pays for a taxi or rental vehicle for those who commute by bike at least three times a week, in the event of an emergency. The club also offers information on how to coordinate your bike commute with public transportation, maps of local bike trails and suggestions for employers to encourage their employees to bike to work.
“We also understand that not all commuters can carpool, take transit or ride a bike,” said Garrison. “So, we work with those solo drivers on other strategies. Maybe they can adjust their hours and avoid peak commute times. Maybe some days they can work from home.”
Whatever your method of transportation, Bike Commute Month organizers are ready to help you take steps toward sustainable transportation.
I’ve never rode my bike to work, but I will for the first time this May. I’m excited, a little nervous, but feel empowered to make a difference.