|May 29, 2008 - Walk and bike with us|
Guest Opinion: Walk and bike with us
Boulder launched its first Bike to Work Day in 1983. Through the mid-80s, the event grew to Bike Week. Participation was around 1,100 people--an astounding number given that bikes in most places were considered toys. There were less bike lanes and fewer miles of paths in Boulder, yet the city was regarded as a very bike-friendly place and Boulder's Bike to Work Day was the largest in the country.
Bike Week in Boulder eventually became Walk and Bike Week, as the city continued to build more safe places to ride -- including over 300 miles of paths and bike lanes -- and worked hard to promote walking and biking. Bike to Work Day has grown into an institution with over 5,000 people in Boulder participating each year.
This year, with support from the city of Boulder, local businesses, community groups and citizens, Walk and Bike Week has grown four-fold to Walk and Bike Month (June). GO Boulder and City Council deserve tremendous recognition for the many years they have supported this event. They understand that people need encouragement to get out of their cars and try something new. As Walk and Bike Month director, each year I get comments from people telling me they tried biking because of Bike to Work Day and now they bike regularly. I get stories such as the woman last year who told me her 6-year-old daughter asked her if they could give up their car for Walk and Bike Week. Mom obliged, saw how easy it was to get around Boulder without a car, and now they hardly ever drive. As the city tries to meet its goals of reducing traffic and carbon emissions, it is increasingly important to encourage people to walk and bike.
Sponsorship and participation of Walk and Bike Month by local businesses has risen dramatically over the years also. The Boulder business community understands a bike-friendly city means a better quality of life for all and a sustainable future. Many sponsors tell us that the exposure they get from Walk and Bike Month is the best sponsorship deal around. That has helped us keep our sponsors for many years and add new ones each year.
What is exciting about Walk and Bike Month 2008? We have a diverse calendar of rides, walks and events all month long--the YMCA ride for beginners, the Boulder Pride Cruiser Ride, the Intercambio Ride, the GO Boulder Celebrity Commuter Challenge, the Great 55th Street Egg-less Relay, the B360 ride, rides for seniors, mountain bike clinics, kids' bike rodeos, free bike service days and maintenance classes at Full Cycle Bikes.
Crispin Porter + Bogusky, along with the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance, are sponsoring bio-diesel bus rides to Heil Ranch. Local merchants are offering all sorts of discounts and prizes to people who play Walk and Bike Month BINGO! On Park(ing) Spaces Day (June 13), businesses around town will "take over" a parking spot in front of their business and transforming it into a park. Community Cycles will be hosting their second annual Bike Shorts Film Fest at the Boulder Theater. And there is much more. Details on all events are at CommunityCycles.com.
And of course on June 25, Bike to Work Day, more than 40 breakfast stations throughout town will be serving up free breakfast to those on bike and foot. Be sure to register at DRCOG.org for Bike to Work Day and be eligible to win a cruiser or Yeti bike, concert tickets, Rockies tickets and tons of other awesome prizes.
You say you work at home and can't bike to work? No matter, just trade in a car trip for a bike trip and register anyway. It counts. And the more cyclists Boulder can count on Bike to Work Day, the better for our city.
Walk and Bike Month is not just about biking to work because some people just can't do that. It is about choosing the best way to get around each time you leave the house. If you have to go to Erie, maybe you can only drive. But if you live a half a mile from the gym, try biking there next time.
When I spoke to Steve Clark, the city's bike coordinator, about those first Bike Weeks in the '80s, he remarked that back then there was a real competition between college towns of a certain size -- such as Madison, Wis., Ann Arbor, Mich., and Gainesville, Fla. -- to make cities livable and bike friendly by building their bike networks. Clark believes Boulder has surpassed them all in its long-term commitment to walking and biking.
Prant is director of Boulder's 2008 Walk and Bike Month. She is also advocacy director for Community Cycles.