Grand Valley Bike-to-Work Month promotes bicycling for environment, health & cost savings
Steve Smith has vowed to ride his bike from his home in the Redlands to his job downtown for the entire month of June — and maybe longer.
June is “Colorado Bike to Work” month and a slew of events, incentives and resources are available to encourage people to park their cars and hop on their bikes.
Smith, 58, lives three miles from Grand Junction City Hall and it takes him 10 minutes to drive the distance. He can arrive by bicycle in 15 minutes.
“But then you have to park, so it still takes 15 minutes to get to work,” Smith said.
A pedestrian bridge above the railroad tracks, connecting the Riverside neighborhood to downtown, allows cyclists to come directly into town, avoiding the Hwy. 340/Broadway railroad viaduct.
Grand Valley Bike Month has a website (www.gvbikemonth.mesacounty.us) with a calendar of events and reasons for riding instead of driving. Consider, bicycling is cheaper than driving. Bike maintenance also costs nearly 30 times less than the cost of fueling and general upkeep of a car.
“If American drivers were to make just one four-mile round trip each week with a bicycle instead of a car, they would save nearly 2 billion gallons of gas,” according to the Sierra Club.
Also, from the website, since January 2012, bicyclists who commute to work at least three days a week can save more money by qualifying for a $20 per month tax-free reimbursement for bike-related expenses such as bike repairs and storage expenses, according to the National Center for Transit Research.
And, of course, bike riding is a good physical workout, without stressing out the joints or incurring the cost of a gym.
The Mesa County Health Department has joined several other entities including Grand Valley Bikes and Crossroads Fitness Center in sponsoring the month-long series of rides, bike repair classes and discussions about the future of trails in the valley.
The health department is collaborating with other government agencies as well as private businesses, because “bicycling is a good way to address the growing obesity issue in Mesa County,” county public health director Jeff Kuhr said.
Mesa County has a higher percentage of obesity than the rest of the state, and it’s trending upward, Kuhr said.
The health department’s health promotion specialist Heidi Hoffman said a recent state and local health needs assessment identified obesity as a preventable health problem — and one that bicycling could address.
Bike to Work Month is for “celebrating, and educating people so as not to be afraid to ride their bikes, and advocating for (connecting trails) and making the community as healthy as possible,” Hoffman said.
Grand Junction’s air quality could also improve significantly if more people simply rode instead of drove. Local air quality experts attribute vehicle emissions as a significant factor to the valley’s air pollution problem.
Kathy Portner and her husband, Keith Fife, have both been riding their bikes to work in all seasons for the past 30 years.
“It’s healthy, good for the environment, reduces traffic because there’s one less car on the road, it’s cheaper and it feels really good,” Portner said.
“It’s a great way to start the day,” Fife added.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Here are some of the activities scheduled for Colorado Ride Your Bike to Work month:
• On Tuesday, June 11, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., a bike ride suitable for families is scheduled along the Riverfront Trail, starting at Eagle Rim Park on Orchard Mesa.
• A free basic bicycle repair class is offered Wednesday, June 12, from 12:15-12:45 p.m. at the Colorado Mesa University center outdoor courtyard. Attendees will learn how to change tire tubes and adjust brakes. Lunch is included! People are asked to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• On Wednesday, June 19, at Crossroads Fitness Center, 2768 Crossroads Drive, the public is invited to participate in a discussion regarding current bicycle conditions in the Grand Valley. Organizers seek to create safe, efficient and enjoyable walking and bicycling opportunities. This event also includes lunch and requires an RSVP.
• A twilight bike ride is scheduled for Thursday, June 20, starting at the Downtown Farmers’ Market (Fourth and Main streets) in front of the “Chrome Buffalo” sculpture. Riders are asked to bring their lights.
• Wednesday, June 26, is Bike to Work Day. Those who commute to work by bike will be rewarded with a free breakfast — either in front of city hall (corner of Fifth and Rood) from 6:30-9:30 a.m., or in the Crossroads Fitness Center parking lot (2768 Compass Drive) from 6-9 a.m.
• The same day, an “After-Work-After-Glow and Awards Ceremony” will take place at Edgewater Tap and Grill from 5-6:30 p.m. Riders will meet at Eagle Rim Park and ride along the Riverfront Trail to the brewery at 905 Struthers Ave. Bikers will receive special prices on beverages and appetizers. There will also be prizes and raffle drawings.
“Colorado Bike Month inspires us to change a daily habit, to get out of the car and hop on a bicycle,” said Elizabeth Collins, Grand Valley Bikes Board Member & GJ Safe Routes to School coordinator. “Whether you set your goal for one work commute per week, every grocery store visit for the month of June, or to instill two-wheeling joy in your children on the Riverfront Trail, bicycling will turn on your senses and leave a smile on your face.”
At http://www.gvbikemonth.mesacounty.us, riders can download a tracking spreadsheet to keep track of the number of days that they commute to work via bicycle, walking or jogging. Then, turn in the form at one of the Bike to Work Day breakfasts for a chance to win “recognition and prizes.”
The website is also a source for cycling rules, maps and tips for biking to work.
More information can also be found at http://www.gjcyclists.blogspot.com.
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