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May is National Bike Month

May is National Bike Month
Congressman Blumenauer

It's the first day of May, and that signals the beginning of National Bike Month. Of course, when I was a kid, every month was bike month. Your bike was how you went everywhere. In those days, we didn't call ourselves bicyclists; we just rode our bikes. But somewhere along the way, things changed among kids as well as adults, and the percentage of Americans bicycling as a form of transportation declined. Today, I'm happy to be part of a DOT that recognizes the value of bicycling as a transportation option, and I'm proud of the people working hard to make sure that riding a bike is a safe and convenient way to get where you're going or just get some exercise.

Our Federal Highway Administration, for example, just released a report on its Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program, a four-year effort required by Congress to construct a network of sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian and bicycle trails connecting directly with schools, residences, businesses, recreation areas, transit centers, and other community activity centers. FHWA launched the program in four communities--Columbia, MO; Marin County, CA; Minneapolis, MN; and Sheboygan County, WI--and it has proven to be a great success:

Over four years, people in these four communities alone walked or bicycled an estimated 32 million miles they would have otherwise driven;

The communities saw an average increase of 49 percent in the number of bicyclists and a 22 percent increase in the number of pedestrians;

The number of trips taken by bike instead of car increased 36 percent, and those taken on foot increased 14 percent;

While each pilot community experienced increases in bicycling and walking, fatal bicycle and pedestrian crashes held steady or decreased in all of the communities; and

The pilot communities saved an estimated 7,701 tons of CO2 in 2010.

I want to thank the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, DOT's Volpe National Transportation Systems Center for their help with this eye-opening report on the value of investing in nonmotorized transportation. The pilot program demonstrates that education and engineering can work together to make bicycling more convenient and safer. And, particularly for shorter trips, that adds another great transportation option to the mix. One of the most important outcomes mentioned above is that as walking and biking increased, crashes did not. Safety education is making a key difference. Our National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is working year-round to increase safety for bicyclists and pedestrians through education, enforcement, and research. As part of National Bike Month, NHTSA and one of our safety partners, AAA, are launching their annual Be A "Roll Model" public awareness campaign. Being a good "Roll Model" means parents, grandparents, older siblings, and caregivers should demonstrate safe bicycling habits every time they ride. That means always wearing helmets; sharing the road respectfully with motorists, other bicyclists, and pedestrians; and following the rules of the road just like drivers of other vehicles.

But being a "Roll Model" also means operating your car safely so everyone on the road stays safe. Wearing a seat belt, sharing the road respectfully, and driving without distraction shows the kids in your back seat that safety is no accident.

And whether you ride for recreation or transportation, I wish you happy--and safe--cycling. 

Article from fastlane.dot.gov


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