by Rob Penfold, PhD, Group Health Research Institute associate investigator and Bike Everywhere team captain
I’m gearing up for bicycling in May and I hope you’ll join me. I ride all year, but May is special. It’s Bike Month across the country. You’ll see more people out and about on bicycles, enjoying spring, and celebrating Bike Everywhere events—like the Group Health Bike Everywhere Breakfast on April 20 to support the Cascade Bicycle Club. If you’re new to cycling or haven’t done it for a while, I can give you some tips to get started. If you’re already a dedicated cyclist, look at my list of favorite resources. Maybe you’ll find ones you didn’t know about.
I never really lost the feeling of freedom that I had as a child riding my bike. I rode to the beach, to the park, to camp, and to school. I love the feeling of climbing on my bike and feeling the wind and sun on my face and hearing the birds. Just last weekend I rented a bike in San Francisco and rode from the fish market to the Golden Gate Bridge, and to Sausalito for ice cream. I loaded my bike on the ferry back to San Francisco and got a close-up look at Alcatraz.
Once a year, when I’m attending a conference, I buy a cheap bike (~$90) and ride it around town. You see so much more of a city on a bike. Before I leave, I find someone on the street who looks like they could use a bike and give it to them. The look on their face is quite a reward. Invariably, they get on right away and ride around smiling.
I work for Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) so I know the health benefits of everyday activity like walking or cycling. But I mainly ride for other reasons.
“A bike ride is like writing a love letter to your city,” says Seattle Bike Blog writer Tom Fucoloro. If you live around Seattle or will be here this summer, here are three terrific recreational rides.
A 15-mile tour with that starts with a rockin' bike train and ends with a party with a food truck and local craft brews.
Worried about safety? “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” said Mark Twain. People are constantly telling me, “I’d like to ride more but I’m afraid of getting killed by a car!” Cycling can be safe if you stick to some common sense rules: Follow traffic laws, wear a helmet (especially for kids), and wear bright-colored clothing. When you’re ready to try bicycle commuting, a network of people of all ages and interests are ready to help. Call me or the Cascade Bicycle Club for advice. I admit that cycling on city streets can be nerve-racking if you haven’t done it before. I’d suggest starting with multi-use trails and roads with separated bike lanes. To find local streets with bike lanes and paths, Google maps is terrific—just use the cycling icon in the directions panel. I use the iPhone/Android app mapmyride. In Seattle, here’s information about bike maps.
I’ll be leading a 2016 Bike Everywhere team in Washington state. Everyone is welcome and all bike trips count. We’ll be tracking our mileage, encouraging each other, and participating in the friendly challenge to ride as much as we can during May. Contact me if you’d like to join our team. Even if you don’t want to be on a team, celebrate with us by taking a ride just for fun in May.