This Sunday, for the first time ever, the United States is holding a cross-country National Ride a Bike Day. Organizers are encouraging everyone, whether already a "daily rider or "just biking curious" to get on a bike and go for a ride, "any ride," they say, because whether you go to the coffee shop or to pick up some supplies, anytime a person replaces a car trip with a bike trip they reduce their carbon emission from transportation by 67 percent, they point out.
The day kicks off National Bike Month, and while May 2 marks the country's inaugural National Ride a Bike Day, one of the groups behind the event, the League of American Bicyclists, has been organizing events and activities for the month since 1956.
But while the event itself goes back decades, will it take on particular significance this year? After nearly 18 months of living through a pandemic, shifts in our living habits have helped make cycling not just a rising trend but a key part of daily life for many.
Shortages of bikes and bike equipment in many areas testify to this. And the boom in bike purchases doesn't appear to be over, nor do the shortages. The question remains, how many more bikes would have been sold if they had been available? Given the lack of supplies, it's hard to know. And reports suggest that shops are still struggling to meet consumer demand.
Whether new bike owners decided to buy their two-wheeler in order to get some fresh air and exercise with gyms closed due to pandemic lockdowns or in order to have a more ‘socially distanced' means to commute to work than the subway or bus, in many communities biking has emerged as a visible part of the cityscape and in some places municipalities have encouraged it with the addition of cycling lanes and routes.
New York's "Open Streets" initiative during lockdown saw 67 miles of streets open exclusively though temporarily to cyclists and pedestrians last June as well as temporary cycle lanes. While the city had committed to adding 250 miles of new cycle lanes even before the pandemic, it has not yet outlined plans for a "comprehensive network," as noted by The Conversation .
During the US National Bike Month there are other opportunities to show one's support for this mode of transportation such as Bike to Work Week, May 17-23 and Bike to Work Day, May 21. Participants can share their biking experiences on social media with #BikeDay on May 2 and #BikeThere for Bike to Work.
Meanwhile in the UK Bike Week takes place May 30- June 5, while the United Nations has deemed World Bicycle Day June 3.