By Nadia Barrera, PMP Bicycle/Pedestrian Project Coordinator
Currently, more than 6,000 Austinites wake up Monday-Friday, and instead of grabbing the keys, check their tires, brakes, chain, of their people-powered machines before hitting the road. The staff at the City of Austin’s Neighborhood Connectivity Division knows that encouraging more Austinites to ride a bicycle to work means appealing to as many different types of riders as possible. Our goal is to more than double the number of cyclists by the year 2015. To get people excited about sustainable, healthy, active transportation, we have put together a program of events for Bike Month that we hope will encourage and promote cycling for people of all ages and abilities.
To gear up for Bike Month, the Bicycle Program has partnered with the Austin Cycling Association’s Beyond Bike Lane Initiative to introduce new or beginning cyclists to the idea of riding, with the ultimate goal of pairing them with more experienced riders. (Find out more about the next event at www.austincycling.org). The Austin Cycling Association also offers courses in safe bicycling for any new or experienced rider who would like to sharpen their skills or learn more about the how to comfortably and legally ride a bicycle in traffic.
The newly developed Bicycle Ambassador Team (BAT) will also be available for outreach and educational activities prior to and during Bike Month. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a BAT to visit with your office, school, or other organization/group.
The Bicycle Program is also working closely with myCommuteSolutions. This tool helps riders across the city pair up with others from their area to try commuting by bicycle together. You can also meet a carpool, vanpool, or even transit buddy through mycommutesolutions.com.
Officially, Bike Month began with a Proclamation at the April 26th meeting of City Council. The Mayor proclaimed May Bike Month, May 18th as Bike to Work Day, and May 9th as Bike to School Day.
On May 5th, Bike Month will kick-off with our 3rd Annual Bike-in-Book-Swap at the Twin Oaks Library Branch (1800 S 5th St Austin, TX 78704) from noon to 4pm. This event will feature a free book swap (bring an old book and get a new one), as well as fun bicycle-related crafts for all ages (make your own saddle cover or get a cool reflective sticker for your helmet), a BMX demo, the Women of Yellow Bike Project’s “Lady Bike,” and other fun surprises. Yellow Bike Project’s Lady Bike is led by women, and focuses on women learning basic bicycle mechanic skills. To learn more, check out austinyellowbike.org.
On May 18th, Bike to Work Day, the Austin Cycling Association, along with multitudes of enthusiastic volunteers will be giving free breakfasts to cyclists as they ride their bikes to work from 7-9am. Look for more information on this event on their website and click here.
Last but not least, join the energetic fun at VIVA STREETS! — a free festival that invites you to bicycle, play, get fit, people watch, and celebrate good health. On Sunday, May 20, over two miles of Sixth Street will become a car-free playground for thousands of Austinites. This is a born-in-Austin take on the Ciclovía, which is becoming an international phenomenon.
Everyone is welcome – bring friends, bring the family or your whole team or neighborhood. Connect with the community and celebrate Austin. Enjoy the spectacle and be part of the show. Come equipped for your favorite activity – walking, biking, running, skateboarding, or inline skating – and then discover new ways to get your move on. This family-friendly event will take place on 6th Street from Brazos to Robert T. Martinez from 10am-3pm and will include activities, games, and healthy food options in an open-street atmosphere. Car traffic will be re-routed to allow for pedestrians, joggers, rollerblades, cyclists, skateboarders, and more to take over the street. For more information check out www.vivastreetsaustin.org