Amid encouraging signs that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, more businesses are re-opening and workers are returning to the office.
If you’re returning to in-person work, if only a few days a week, now is a great time to consider incorporating a bike into your commute.
May is Bike Month, and the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) is encouraging residents to leave their vehicles at home and ride a bike instead.
During Bike Month, people who pledge to ride will have a chance to win one of six $250 gift cards. You can make the pledge at the VCTC website, goventura.org/pledge. Participants must be over the age of 18 and pledges must be made by May 31.
There are multiple opportunities to participate in Bike Month. During Bike to Work Week, May 16-20, and Bike to Work Day, May 20, consider riding a bike to work instead of driving.
About 1,700 or 0.4% of Ventura County commuters pedal to work, a percentage in line with other Southern California counties, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.
If your work commute is too far for bicycling, consider pairing a bike ride with a bus or train trip. Most Southern California transit operators offer on-board storage compartments for bicycles as well as bike racks and lockers at stops and stations. VCTC Intercity service allows electric bikes in bike racks if they do not have wet-cell batteries. Rules may vary, so it’s best to check with individual operators about bringing bikes on board.
Swapping a vehicle for a bike is a simple way to help the environment by reducing traffic congestion and cutting tailpipe pollution. Biking instead of driving also saves money. The price of regular unleaded gasoline is currently about $5.80 per gallon in Ventura County, according to the AAA motor club.
If you’re not returning to the workplace, consider biking instead of driving to run errands and meet appointments.
Riding a bike and enjoying the outdoors is also good for physical and mental health. May is also Mental Health Awareness Month, so the non-profit BikeVentura, or BikeVC,which helps people fix their own bicycles at Bike Hub shops in Ventura and Oxnard, partnered with local artists who will transform bicycles into works of art promoting mental health outreach.
“People most in need of Bike Hub assistance to keep bikes running are homeless or have mental health issues,” said Chris Barton, manager of Ventura Bike Hub Shop. “It is empowering for them to come to the Hub and learn how to keep a bicycle running.” Hubs charge on a sliding scale for spare parts and loan all the tools needed for repairs.
BikeVC’s “Healing Cycles” bicycle art exhibit runs May 15–31, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the new Oxnard Bike HUB, 154 E. 6th St.
Additionally, Sergio Garcia of BikeVC is leading three-week physical education programs on bikes at schools this month. Following lessons on bike safety, he leads rides through neighborhoods.
If you are an employer, consider incentivizing your employees to bike to work this month. Ventura County’s Sustainability Division is hosting “Cyclemania,” a series of events to promote cycling to county employees.
On four days at county facilities, “Welcome Stations” will encourage riders by providing them coffee, snacks and educational resources. A presentation on May 19 will explain commuter and health benefits available to county workers.
Cyclemania will conclude May 26 with the Public Works Agency and Ventura County Transportation Commission presenting the county’s Active Transportation Plan and VCTC’s Regional Bikeway Wayfinding Plan, including information on family-friendly bike routes.
If you’re a new cyclist, VCTC makes it easy to learn about places to ride. Visit goventura.org/getting-around/bike and discover bike routes in the county. The regional bike map highlights Class 1 paths, those separated from cars; Class 2, striped bike lanes on shared streets; and Class 3, on-street bike routes designated by signs.
Darrin Peschka, program manager for government and community relations at the Ventura County Transportation Commission, can be reached at [email protected]
David Goldstein, an environmental resource analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency, can be reached at [email protected] or (805) 658-4312.
This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Eco-tip: Pedaling on Bike Month comes with benefits