by Vanessa McCracken
May is Bike Month! Sure, for people who live and breathe bicycles like I do, every month is Bike Month. But May is special! May is when there’s an extra electricity around the topic of cycling, when the volume gets turned up a bit on bicycle safety and advocacy, and when our voice as cyclists is a little more likely to be heard by our elected leaders.
My husband, John, and I have devoted the last 15 1/2 years of our lives to getting more people to discover the absolute joy and freedom that we feel when we ride bikes. It’s the same feeling we felt when we were all little kids zipping around our neighborhood on bikes: joy, adrenaline, excitement, adventure. Do you remember that feeling? So many of us lose touch with it somewhere between childhood and adulthood, and we want to help people reconnect to it. It’s why we’ve been in business and worked long hours six-seven days a week all these years, it’s why we lead so many rides every single week all year long (not just Bike Month!), it’s why we took the time to become League of American Bicyclists-certified Cycling Instructors, it’s why we volunteer our time with so many different bicycle advocacy efforts, and it’s why the Central Valley Bike Month is such a huge deal to us!
The Central Valley Bike Month is a campaign designed to encourage residents in Fresno, Merced, Madera, Tulare, and Kings Counties to get out and ride their bikes every year in May. The website makes it super fun by allowing you to form teams, challenge your friends and co-workers, and keep track of all the different kinds of riding you do during the month (e.g., commuting, recreation, errand miles, etc.). You can even earn badges for all kinds of different things, and if you’re part of a team, it shows how many badges you’ve earned versus everyone else on the team. All of these features are just a playful way to inspire people to hop on their bikes when they might not have before, and a way to use bicycles as a way to bring the entire Central Valley region together!
The awesome part of the campaign is that as people are encouraged to get out and ride, they become more comfortable and confident on their bikes and opt to replace a car trip with a bicycle trip more and more. The more we ride to the gym or to the store or to work instead of drive, the less traffic congestion there is and the cleaner the air is. Obviously, cleaner air is a fantastic goal, and it makes me super excited to see all the trip replacement and commute miles add up in the leaderboards as the month goes on. Read more about bicycles and air congestion in an article I wrote for Kings River Life in April 2016.
The reason I personally love this campaign so much, though, is because of the impact it can have on the Valley’s cycling infrastructure. Think about it: If all of us in Fresno, Merced, Madera, Tulare, and Kings Counties took a couple seconds to log our cycling miles at cvbikemonth.com, no leader could ever use “Nobody rides bikes” as an excuse not to approve a project aimed to improve bicycle infrastructure! How many cities are in all those counties? How many residents? Um, I don’t really want to look all that up, so let’s just agree on A LOT! A lot, a lot. If all of us logged our miles, whether it’s a mile around the neighborhood just having fun or whether it’s pedaling 100 miles in a big charity ride, we could really make a statement. Our voices are much more impactful collectively, and that’s exactly what Central Valley Bike Month helps us do. It helps amplify our voices as people who ride bikes for fun, for fitness, and/or for function.
So if you like to ride your bike, or if you would like more bike lanes and bike trails and other bike infrastructure and facilities, please, please, please register at cvbikemonth.com and log your miles this month. You’re more than welcome to join Team Sunnyside Bicycles! I know it’s a couple weeks into the month, but you can still register, and you can still add your miles from earlier this month! And it’s totally fine if you’re not sure how many miles you’ve ridden because you don’t have a cycling computer with an odometer; an estimate is just fine. Have fun with it! Challenge your friends and challenge yourself to see how many different badges you can earn!
And if nothing else inspires you to do it, then maybe winning a free bicycle will! Sunnyside Bicycles has donated a new Trek FX bicycle to one lucky rider who logs their miles during the month of May! All you have to do is go have fun on your bike and remember to log your miles!
6105 E. Kings Canyon Rd.
(559) 255-7433 (RIDE)
Watch for Sunnyside Bicycles column every month here at KRL! And learn more on their website.