Pennsylvania will join states across the nation in recognizing May as National Bike Month, as well as this week as Bike to Work Week, and Friday as Bike to Work Day.
“The increasing popularity of bicycle riding illustrates how important cycling is in a multi-modal transportation system,” PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. “We encourage people to learn how to safely travel or commute by bicycle, which helps promote healthy lifestyles, increases tourism and reduces congestion on our highways.”
To commemorate Bike to Work Day, executive staff from the state’s departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, Environmental Protection and Transportation, will be accompanied by local cycling experts Friday, during a five-mile community bicycle ride through Harrisburg.
Beginning at 9 a.m., the ride will start from PennDOT’s Riverfront Office Center, travel through parts of Harrisburg, City Island and the Capitol Complex; and end at the Rachel Carson State Office Building at 400 Market St., where the Spoke ’n Gear Bike Expo will be held from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The event is open to the public. Bicycling commuters in the Harrisburg area and those interested in learning more about bicycle commuting are especially encouraged to participate.
Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland) will kick off the expo, which will feature exhibitors and presenters addressing various bicycle commuting options and resources. Demonstrations, clinics and workshops will be offered throughout the day.
Attendees will be able to learn about the Recycle Bicycle program, including planning a bicycle community, bicycle trails, safe routes to school, Pennsylvania bicycle trips, and examples of bicycle gear and fashion.
During the expo, Capital Area Transit plans to offer a tutorial about using the bike racks on buses as well as proper bike maintenance. The Air Quality Partnership of the SusquehannaValley will give local businesses the opportunity to apply to become a bicycle-friendly workplace.
“Not only is biking a great recreational activity, but it also benefits the environment,” Acting DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said. “Using a bike for short errands or commuting to work is a great way for citizens to contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions and improved air quality.”
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the share of Americans commuting by bike has grown by 47 percent since 2000. Bicycle-friendly communities, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, have more than doubled their bike commuter share in that time.
“According to surveys we did for our most recent statewide outdoor recreation plan, bike lanes and paths top the list of the facilities citizens would most like to see improved or increased,” DCNR Secretary Richard J. Allan said.
“We know that bicycling is a popular outdoor activity, but we are seeing more communities requesting grants and technical assistance from DCNR on how to connect trails and complete networks of trails for transportation purposes. Our goal is to help them make that happen.”
On Wednesday, DCNR will host a brown-bag lunch program to discuss cycling in the city of Harrisburg. The Capital Area Greenbelt Association plans to share information about the greenbelt and the opportunities it provides for bicycling in a highly developed urban area. The program will be from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. in the RachelCarsonStateOfficeBuilding’s sixth floor conference room. The public is encouraged to attend.
The League of American Bicyclists started National Bike Month in 1956. Since then, it has grown to include National Bike to Work Week and Day.