Bike to Work Day was just the start.
If you commuted by bicycle Wednesday, don’t put your bike back in the garage just yet.
The Bike to Work Day event was expanded this year to Bike Month. In addition to Wednesday’s Bike to Work Day, the C-U Bike to Work organizers are supporting other biking events throughout May. They include Bike to the Market Days every Saturday in May, in which residents are encouraged to ride their bikes to the Urbana’s Market at the Square. A bike corral and a bike rodeo for kids will be available at the market.
The C-U Bike to Work Day organizers have produced an online calendar that highlights events such as Bike to Market Days; the Community Used Bicycle Sale at Champaign Cycle, a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity; the Tour de Champaign and Urbana Grand Prix bike races this weekend; a Tuesday night women’s bike group; and full moon rides to the Sidney Dairy Barn.
“We’re letting people know how big the bike community is and that there are different ways to join and participate,” said Jeff Yockey, president of Champaign County Bikes and one of the C-U Bike to Work Day organizers.
“Commuting isn’t an option for some people,” Yockey said. “We wanted to promote a whole lot of activities to reach people who are interested but don’t bike very often.”
He wants to encourage new people to ride and to meet the needs of those who aren’t regular riders.
“We’re really starting to focus not just on people who are riding, but people who are interested but aren’t riding or are riding only occasionally,” he said.
Yockey said more than a third of the riders who pre-registered for Bike to Work Day said it was their first time participating in the event. He said 687 people pre-registered for the event, and more than 100 people who were not pre-registered stopped at one of the bike stations Wednesday.
The Bike to Work Day event included a dozen bike stations in the area where cyclists could stop for coffee and breakfast snacks, get a t-shirt and meet other cyclists. Yockey visited seven of the stations on Wednesday morning and talked with a lot of people who were riding to work for the first time and were excited about it.
“The number of people riding to work is still a small percentage. People still can feel a little isolated if no one else in the office rides to work,” Yockey said. “That’s a great reason to continue doing (the event). It increases visibility and encourages people. That’s what we want to do, reach more and more people.”
The C-U Bike to Work Day organizers asked riders during the online registration if they would consider being “bike buddies” with another cyclist. Yockey hopes the suggestion will encourage more experienced cyclists to help others check their bikes over, find the best routes for riding and avoid dangerous intersections.
Yockey said several companies encouraged employees to ride. For example, Wolfram Research hosted a bike station and Volition had nearly a dozen riders on Wednesday.
The Champaign city building staff and the public works department had a friendly competition to see which could have the most riders. The city building had 22 riders and public works had 20 rides — which significantly increased the number of riders the city as a whole had from the 26 employees who rode last year.
The city also gave out several awards, including one to Norm Reinbold, the cyclist with the longest commute. He rode 17.8 miles from Monticello to the city’s public works facility.
For more information about bike commuting or to register for a Bike to Market Day, go to www.cubike.org.