May is National Bike Month
By Kristen Wicker
Photo: Brock Anderson III has ridden his bike to work every day, even through this year’s brutal winter
Finding a $20 bill on the ground isn’t likely to happen if you’re driving to work – but that is just one of the things Brock Anderson III, CEO of Bonbright Distributors, has discovered during his commute this year, when he made a commitment to bike to work every day.
“It’s interesting what you see when you ride your bike,” Anderson said. “You see things you know you would just drive by without noticing if you were in your car.”
Anderson made his bike-to-work pledge when his company was courting New Belgium Brewing Company, which has a corporate focus on sustainability. Yet, what started as a business decision has become “the thing everyone asks about,” Anderson said. And he has kept his pledge, even during this year’s brutal winter.
“I think it slows down your day, which isn’t bad,” Anderson said of cycling to work. “I’ve enjoyed that and seeing the change of seasons – you appreciate a sunny day a lot more. I was worried about people honking at me and running me off the road, and I haven’t had one person do anything like that.”
May is National Bike Month, when communities throughout the nation showcase the many benefits of bicycling – and encourage more folks to give it a try for recreation and transportation. Five Rivers MetroParks will host the region’s largest cycling celebration on National Bike to Work Day from 7–9 a.m. Friday, May 16, at RiverScape MetroPark, 237 E. Monument Ave. Hundreds of cycling enthusiasts will gather at the park to enjoy a free pancake breakfast, live music, a photo booth, exhibitors and more at this celebration of cycling as a means of transportation. Visit metroparks.org/biketowork for more information.
“Bike to Work Day is a great opportunity to try transportation cycling for the first time,” Lucy Sánchez, outdoor recreation event specialist for Five Rivers MetroParks, said. “It’s also a great place to get tips and resources to turn this one day into a lifestyle.”
While National Bike to Work Day is the largest event held in May, it is by no means the only one. Events will be held throughout the Dayton area, including many hosted by Five Rivers MetroParks.
Ride your bike to the 2nd Street Market, 600 E. Second St., any Saturday in May and enter a drawing to win $50 in Market Money and have your picture taken with your bike. At 9 a.m. on Saturdays, join a Bike for the Health of It Ride, a series that continues throughout summer and fall. Visit metroparks.org/bikehealth for a schedule of rides.
“Give bicycle commuting a try,” Dan Sahli, Five Rivers MetroParks outdoor recreation cycling coordinator, said. You’ll quickly learn exchanging a short trip you normally take by car can be done just as easily on your bike. Plan your bike route while in your car and scan back roads for the best route. The route you normally drive might not be the best route to take when you go by bike.”
The League of American Bicyclists has designated Dayton a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community, and Dayton is home to the nation’s largest connected bikeway system, with more than 330 miles of paved bikeways to explore.
“Conservation, education and recreation comprise the foundation of Five Rivers MetroParks’ work in the community, and Bike to Work Day and other cycling events strengthen all those,” Five Rivers MetroParks Executive Director Rebecca Benná said. “Cycling rather than driving is not only an environmentally-friendly, healthy form of transportation, it’s an active way to experience the outdoors and connect with nature locally while helping protect our region’s natural heritage.”
Many people, including Anderson, find it easy to take up cycling.
“I hadn’t biked a lot in 20 years, but it wasn’t hard to get started,” he said. “Don’t be scared of it: Just map out your route and start peddling.
“I feel better,” Anderson added. “I made it through the entire winter without getting sick, and I think being outside and exercising had something to do with that. My mental health improved by taking a few minutes out of every day to be outside and experience what’s going on around me.”
Tips for Safe and Fun Bike Commuting
Think of a short trip you normally take in your car and go by bike instead. Trips less than two miles long are generally quicker if you take your bike instead of a car.
If you haven’t used your bike in a while, check it over, put air in the tires and take a quick ride around your neighborhood before you venture out longer distances. When in doubt, take your ride to a local bike shop for a tune up.
If you see a cyclist on the road, remember they have the same legal rights to the road, so be courteous if you have to pass a cyclist.
Take a class with Five Rivers MetroParks. Visit metroparks.org for a list of classes.
Plan your ride. If you don’t want to fully commit, consider getting dropped off at work in the morning and bring your bike so you just have to ride home.
Riding should be fun and comfortable. If it isn’t comfortable, take your bike to a shop and get a bike fit.
Reach DCP freelance writer Kristen Wicker at KristenWicker@DaytonCityPaper.com.