If you haven’t even squeezed those skinny, dusty tires yet this spring, your excuses will soon expire. May is Bike Everywhere Month in Spokane, and there are events sure to inspire even the most committed couch potatoes to abandon their cars, improve their health, and reconnect with all the reasons we love to ride.
“May is the perfect month for biking,” touts Sally Phillips, organizer of Bike Everywhere Month events, longtime bike commuter, and treasurer of the Spokane Bicycle Club. With obvious goals of increasing ridership and reducing air pollution, Phillips also wants to help people “think of the bike as not just a way to recreate with your friends, but also as a transportation tool.”
Phillips and past organizers were initially inspired by the League of American Bicyclists, a bicycle advocacy organization formed in 1880, which deemed May National Bike Month in 1956. Spokane started celebrating eight years ago with Bike to Work Week events, but Phillips and others felt this format was insufficiently inclusive, and she spearheaded a monthlong observance that would accommodate non-commuting cyclists.
“We’re trying to catch the people who can’t make it downtown for big events,” Phillips explains. To accomplish this, she is coordinating “some short rides around town that focus on some of the amenities the city has developed.” Rides will be led by Spokane Bicycle Club members and take you to attractions readily accessible on two wheels. These “How to get there” rides may take you to the Ben Burr Trail, along Latah Creek, meandering through Peaceful Valley, or to see bike trails currently being developed. A tour of local wetlands is slated for the 19th, and a Mother’s Day ride will depart at 2 p.m. from Comstock Park’s south end and showcase South Hill parks, complete with tea and cookies, and little ones can join a Kidical Mass ride leaving Chief Garry Park at 1 p.m. on May 11.
To help riders of all ages overcome some of the perceived obstacles to bike commuting, like fear of mechanical failure or inability to find safe routes, REI will offer a flat-fixing clinic on the 9th following a scenic Centennial Trail ride beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Olmstead Green Park. A secure bike corral will be provided for Bloomsday runners in the vicinity of the Riverside Park clock tower from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Kara Odegard, recipient of a grant from Denmark’s Scan Design, is leading several presentations on incorporating Danish innovations in cycling infrastructure improvements. Dubbed Spokane in Motion, these include a presentation geared towards college students on the 16th at 3 p.m., a public presentation for anyone with an interest in cycling at 5:30, and on May 17, a charette will convene stakeholders with an interest in infrastructure improvements to provide repeatable pilot design ideas to the city.
The entire month of May is replete with citywide cycling options, but a focus on Bike to Work Week means occasions to celebrate the beauty of biking accelerate between the 13th through the 17th. A kick-off pancake breakfast will be held on the 13th from 7-9 a.m. at the ice-skating rink plaza in Riverfront Park. Energizer stations with coffee and snacks sponsored by local merchants, non-profits, and cycling clubs will grace the more popular commuting routes on the 14th. A Ride of Silence to remember local victims of vehicle collisions will be held on the 15th. The cycling-centric week culminates on Bike to Work Day, May 17, with a pizza party at a TBD location. Visit the Spokane Bicycle Club website for schedule updates.
Engrossed as you will be in two-wheeled, people-powered fun, don’t forget to track your accomplishments on Love to Ride, a website that sponsors individual and team competitions. Prizes include a trip to New Zealand and high-quality touring and commuting gear. Register for the May Bike Month Challenge through the Spokane Bicycle Club’s website (Spokane Bikes.org/SpokaneBikes).
If you just dust off your wheels for one day in May to squeeze into some spandex or throw on a t-shirt and cut-offs, don’t miss a chance to chat with fellow riding enthusiasts over some tasty pies and pints on National Bike to Work Day. You might find the inspiration to keep riding and extend your perfect Bike Everywhere day or month to the whole summer. // (Justin Skay)
Justin Skay wants more butts on more bikes more often, and hopes this column helps. He wrote about winter bike commuting in the January issue.