In April we celebrated “Take Your Daughter or Son to Work Day.”  In June we will do the same for our bicycles. The state legislature declared June as Colorado Bike Month, with the fourth Wednesday “Bike to Work Day.”

This annual event encourages people to try their bikes as an alternative to commuting by car. If done on a consistent basis, riding bikes to work will reduce congestion and improve air quality.

Bicycling to work in Colorado is a tradition. The City of Boulder first celebrated Bike to Work Day more than 25 years ago. Colorado Department of Transportation then promoted it statewide, and in 1995 the Denver Regional Council of Governments – known as DRCOG – began helping the area’s cities and counties link their individual events together.

Bike to Work Day is celebrated in Longmont and in many communities along the Front Range and in the mountains. Our region’s event is the largest in the state.

“The City of Longmont is very interested in continuing to beef up the biking experience in Longmont,” says Cindy McIntosh, administrative assistant in the Department of Public Works. “We develop new routes and fine-tune old routes. Our bike map is being updated and we will have the updated map on Bicycle to Work Day. The thrust behind Bike to Work Day is to get people confident about riding their bike to work, to do it safely, and take their car off the road even one day a week. We want to get people excited about doing this.”

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Benefits of biking to work

Besides giving the environment a break, biking to work brings personal benefits – staying fit, reducing your carbon footprint, saving money, and avoiding traffic delays, for starters.

For the last two years Jared Dean of Longmont has commuted by bicycle to his job as general manager at Acme Bicycles at 1817 Main Street in Longmont. “I sold my car two years ago and moved to Longmont from near Berthoud,” he says. “The commute from home to work is 2 ½ to 3 miles. It is much more affordable not having to pay for insurance and maintenance and gas; it puts a lot less stress on my budget.”

He feels safe commuting by bike. “Generally, people in Colorado are aware of cyclists. The way society is set up now we really can ride a bike to something local.”

Get involved on Wednesday, June 25

Join about 30,000 commuters taking the challenge on Bike to Work Day throughout the Denver metro area. If you want to register to participate, be an organizer or company coordinator, sign up at the DRCOG website: biketowork2014.org

Besides all of the altruistic reasons for biking to work on June 25, you may win great prizes! Last year’s winners enjoyed such goodies as gift cards to popular stores, fitness class passes, t-shirts and baseball caps, tickets to college basketball, hockey and football games, and more. The top prize was a Diamondback hybrid bike.

“I think Bike to Work Day has definitely had an impact,” says Steve Erickson, Division Director of Communications and Marketing at DRCOG. “We organize the second largest Bike to Work Day in the country. We expect to go above 30,000 participants this year. It’s a fun way to introduce people to biking to work, and they see the benefits, like not being stuck in traffic.”

Stations

There is a demand for stations offering free food and beverages for the bikers. This is a great way for businesses and other organizations to show their commitment to the community’s health and wellbeing.

Businesses organize, fund and staff their stations. Many have been participating for years, but new stations are welcome. Registration is easy and free. Set up an account and register your station at biketowork2014.org.

Stations may sign up until the last minute. If you know of any businesses that might be interested, refer them to DRCOG, specifically Catherine Sanders at 303.480.6757 or csanders@drcog.org.

As Longmont Magazine goes to press, the following local businesses and organizations have signed up to host stations:

  • Chick-fil-A Longmont, 215 Ken Pratt Blvd. Breakfast 6:30-9 a.m., and Bike Home 4:30-6 p.m.
  • Flight Deck Grill, 229 Airport Road. Breakfast 6:30-9 a.m.
  • Johnston Chiropractic, 2255 Mountain View Ave. Breakfast 6:30-9 a.m.
  • Longmont United Hospital, 1950 Mountain View Ave. Breakfast 6:30-9 a.m.
  • Summit Rehab at Life Care Center of Longmont, 2451 Pratt St., corner of Pratt and Highway 66, one block west of Main St. Breakfast 6:30-9 a.m.

Check back on the DRCOG website, biketowork2014.org for additional stations.

Johnson Chiropractic of Longmont has hosted a breakfast station for three years. They usually see 60 to 100 people from all over town and even Boulder and Lyons. “The turnout is great, and it helps that we offer a variety of breakfast items like breakfast burritos, pastries, coffee and tea, orange juice, water, and more. This year we will also have an amazing massage therapist, who works a lot with athletes, available for chair massages.”

Drs. Derek Johnston and Donald Johnston bike to work on Bike to Work Day. The staff has participated in the past, as have some patients. Dr. Derek Johnston bikes to work frequently through the summer. “It’s a great way to stay in shape and helps cut down on emissions, and it promotes healthy living and a clear mind,” he says.

“One of the main reasons we promote Bike to Work is the health benefits gained from the exercise and fresh air. The second of course, are the benefits to the environment. We promote it heavily in our office with our staff and patients and to anyone else who will listen …We are proud to be a part of such a great community and look forward to interacting with everyone on Bike to Work Day!”

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These statistics are provided by the Denver Regional Council of Governments:

On average how many people bike to work each day in our region?

According to the American Community Survey’s one-year estimate for 2012, which includes areas with populations of 65,000 or more, the number of bicycle commuters in the six largest counties in the Denver region is 21,932, about 1.5% of the 1,435,188 workers age 16 or older in the region’s six largest counties. This number includes commuters from the counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson.   

 

Can we demonstrate that this is growing, let’s say over the past 10 years?

According to the American Community Survey’s one-year estimates, bicycle commuting has grown tremendously from 2005 to 2012 in the six largest counties in the Denver region (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson). The number of bicycle commuters has grown from 11,327 in 2005 to 21,932 in 2012, or from 0.9% of 1,270,229 workers in 2005 to 1.5% of 1,435,188 workers in 2012.

 

Lasting change

About 39% of registered Bike to Work Day participants were new participants in 2013. Among these new participants, 21% said they were motivated to commute to work more often by bicycle and an additional 36% of them were motivated to use a bicycle more frequently for all types of trips, not just commuting to work. Among all participants, new and repeat, 19% said they were motivated to commute to work more often by bicycle and an additional 34% of them were motivated to use a bicycle more frequently for all types of trips.

Among new registered participants, the average number of bicycle commute days per month increased from 7.0 before Bike to Work Day to 7.9 per month in the three months following Bike to Work Day.

Among all registered participants, the average number of bicycle commute days per month increased from 8.2 before Bike to Work Day to 9.0 per month in the three months following Bike to Work Day.