There are lots of resources and activities being put on by Western and Smart Trips to help people participate in bike month
Whatcom Smart Trips and Western Washington University are incentivizing people to get out and ride this May during bike month, with scavenger hunts, raffles and events.
Throughout May, Smart Trips is running a scavenger hunt, explained Kirsten Wert, Smart Trips program coordinator. People submit pictures at designated places to Smart Trips, and they get entered into prize drawings, Wert said.
There are drawings every Tuesday in May, and the prize is a $50 “Think Local First” gift card, which can be used at locations in Bellingham such as AB Crepes, Earl’s Bike Shop and more.
Smart Trips also runs something called Ride Anywhere Day, originally called Ride to School or Work. Wert said that because a lot of people aren’t traveling to school or work it made sense to change it to riding anywhere.
“Instead of focusing on commute trips, which are only 20% of any traffic on the road and the hardest trips to change, opening it up to any trip really expands those options,” Wert said.
Ride Anywhere day is on May 21 and also advertised by the AS Outdoor Center.
Jillian Trinkaus, commute options and transportation planning manager for Western, said that in years past, Transportation Services and the Outdoor Center would have celebration stations handing out food and swag. This was unable to happen with the pandemic, so instead Western is encouraging students to ride anywhere on May 21.
May is designated as bike month because, “It’s a good time to get the bike out after the winter, when the weather is fair and people are more likely to continue riding through summer,” Wert said.
Bike month gives Western students the opportunity to celebrate riding bicycles, said Trinkaus.
“It can serve as a nudge for people who have been thinking about riding a bicycle to actually do it,” Trinkaus said.
Biking is sustainable and can be done year round.
“Biking is a durable behavior change, meaning that it’s easy to continue riding once you start,” Wert said. “The more we can normalize riding, the more people will start.”
Simon Patamia is a third year Western student who frequently rides to work.
“I enjoy the exercise, and it’s nice to not have to worry about parking downtown,” Patamia said.
Wert also said bike month provides exposure for the cycling community.
“It’s about having enough riders out on the streets so that we have a community that notices, from drivers to potential cyclists,” Wert said.
Riding a bike can be used for fun or for a mode of transportation.
“I use bikes for recreation, so using them as my mode of transportation for my commute is a natural extension of that,” Patamia said.
Both Smart Trips and Western are giving incentives for people to get out and ride this May.
There are also lots of resources for anyone who needs help participating in bike month.
“The Outdoor Center rents bicycles and offers bicycle classes and rides,” Trinkaus said. “Their basic bike service is currently free, so make an appointment for a bike tune-up today.”
Smart Trips is also offering free bike classes this month.
“You can show up and learn about how to ride a bike safely,” Wert said. “We teach you all the rules of the road you may not know about and give pointers on how to make riding your bike feel more safe.”
And for anyone who doesn’t have a bike but wants to get involved, Trinkaus said that The Hub Community Bike shop and Craigslist are good places to look for affordable and used bikes.
“Bike month is super important for the community,” Wert said. “It also has positive benefits for health, pollution and automobile infrastructure. It all adds up!”
Talus Lantz is a sports reporter for The Front and a second-year environmental journalism major at Western. His work focuses on recreational sports and local environmental issues. He enjoys mountain biking and skiing in his free time. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.