Area cycling enthusiasts and volunteers will try to make it easy for people to ride their bikes to work during Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 16, with moral support, refreshments and prizes.
In 1956, the League of American Bicyclists named May as Bike Month and kicked off Bike to Work Day as part of the celebration, according to the Bike to Work Day website.
Rick Holt, President of the Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition, said people in the Metropolitan D.C. area started getting in on the action in the early 2000s with a few hundred cyclists who recognized the day and pedaled to work. “Over time, it’s picked up speed quite a bit. Last year, there were over 14,000 riders in the Metro D.C. area actually biking to work.”
Last year, 190 Prince William County cyclists rode their bikes to work on Bike to Work Day. Holt expects the number to rise in coming years as cycling across the county becomes easier with the construction of new trails and sidewalks that parallel many county roads.
George Phillips, a Prince William County Transportation Planner, said that Prince William County requires that all new roads have parallel trails and sidewalks. “The idea is we want them to connect to schools. We want them to connect to retail centers and residential areas. It provides an alternative for people just to hop in their cars.
Phillips said easier riding holds benefits for county residents. “Biking reduces congestion on the roads and improves air quality by taking cars off the road. It also has health benefits.”
There are eight pit stops along various commuter routes throughout Prince William County, and the rest of the region, where riders can get refreshments and giveaways. There are stops at George Mason University, Manassas Virginia Railway Express (VRE) station, Chinn Center, Kelly Leadership Center, Woodbridge VRE station, Rippon Landing VRE station and the Town of Dumfries Town Hall and Haymarket Bicycles in Haymarket.
The event is open to the public, but Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclists Association invite people to get detailed information and to register early at www.biketoworkmetrodc.org
, since early registrants will receive a free T-shirt.
Holt said the idea behind Bike to Work Day is to introduce people to the possibility of biking to work. “It’s designated Bike to Work Day, but really the focus is to get people out to try a bicycle which is a different mode of transportation. The idea is to get people to try something different, to get outside, get on a bike, take in the sights, get a little fitness in at the same time, and save a little money because you’re not spending money on gas. It’s also good for the environment at the same time.”