By Christina Motilall
“HAPPY BIKE TO WORK DAY!”
This could be heard all over Friday, May 18th near EPA headquarters as grinning faces greeted each other with well-wishes and high-fives for DC’s 56th annual Bike to Work Day. Bicycle commuters buzzed around getting free food, coffee, and knick-knacks as local community leaders spoke about the importance of biking to work as a habit. Yet this green event brings about a major question: Is biking to work a viable option in today’s car-dominated cities?
Personally, I think the answer is YES. My first exposure to Bike to Work Day (and Bike to Work Month) was in Bloomington, Indiana where I interned at the county Planning Department. The city and county are adamant about making cycling a popular mode of transportation and the push for alternative transportation is big. In helping to create promotional materials for the event, I stumbled upon page after page of local governments marketing their own Bike to Work Day. The more I learned about the event the more I realized employers and individuals everywhere from small-town southern Indiana to large cities like Oakland are jumping on the bike-wagon and growing the trend of biking to work to decrease pollution and congestion while promoting greener living and better health. Saving a couple extra bucks on gas is an added perk.
Being new to the DC area, I got a real taste for how much Bike to Work Day has grown in DC after talking to a few avid cyclists from the area. Ellen Jones, Director of Infrastructure and Sustainability at the Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID), was pleased with the turnout. “This day has gone from one event in one place with 400 riders to 60 pit stops with over 12,000 riders.” She also stated that BID believes in “promoting bicycling because if it is easier to get downtown, businesses benefit.” Some cyclists came from right down the street while others biked across the river to make the day a huge success.
The large crowd induced smiles as cyclists detailed how Bike to Work day creates a bond between cyclists in the greater DC area. Jacqueline Keller, a ‘Bike Ambassador’ for the Washington Area Bicycling Association shared that Bike to Work Day “makes you feel like there is a DC cycling community.”
So next year strap on that helmet, trade in your four wheels for two, and join in National Bike to Work Day to go green, make friends, and feel good.
About the author: Christina Motilall is an intern for the Office of Research and Development’s Science Communications Team.