By Melody Stone, Journal staff writer
5/3/2010 - www.auburnjournal.com
Some people might shy away from biking 20 miles to and from work each day and some gladly take on the challenge in rain or shine.
During the month of May Placer County commuters will get a chance to keep track of their miles, tackle regional, team and personal mileage goals and earn prizes and incentives for cycling. Across the nation people will celebrate May is Bike Month.
Casey Ford commutes to the Western Placer Waste Management Authority from his home in Auburn almost every workday and has done so for years.
“It is fun and that’s probably why I still do it,” Ford said. “There are many other benefits too.”
Ford said he saves about $100 to $120 in gas money every month and he doesn’t need a gym membership.
Ford has participated in May is Bike Month since its inception in 2005. The event is part of a national bicycle advocacy campaign to encourage people to start minding bicycles more.
“For me it’s just something to keep me motivated, some way I can gauge my progress — it gets me out the door,” Ford said. “I think it’s a good awareness for cycling. I try to support any organization or program that supports cycling and tries to get it identified in the media a little bit.”
The 55 year-old cyclists said he’s been cycling his whole life.
“I was bike commuting before bike commuting was cool,” Ford said.
He said the biggest challenge with his daily commute is motorists not understanding what he’s doing and why.
For example, there’s a three-lane intersection along his commute. Ford said one of the lanes gets on the freeway so he takes the middle lane. It’s the safest most visible place for him to be, but drivers don’t realize this and honk at him.
“I don’t agree that cyclists ride two by two and congest traffic, but there are times when you have to stay visible,” Ford said. “I wish there was more information for drivers and for cyclists to understand both positions and why they’re doing what they’re doing.”
Monte Barnard, 22, lives in Downtown Auburn and works at Hapa Sushi on Bell Road and Highway 49. He just got a bike a few weeks ago and hasn’t had a chance to use it because of the weather. He said setting and working toward goals through May is Bike Month will motivate him to bike to work.
“May is supposed to be nice and (May is Bike Month) on top of the nice weather is even more of a push to go do it,” Barnard said.
Barnard considers himself a novice cyclist, but likes biking because it’s good exercise and it saves money.
“It’s more fun than driving a car,” he said.
People like Barnard are exactly who the organizers of May is Bike Month are hoping to reach, said Rebecca Sloan, director of external affairs and members service for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.
“The point is to get people to try something new and to think about ways to use their bicycle to replace trips they would normally take by car,” Sloan said. “If they can ride their bike once, twice, three times during the month of May, they may find there are a lot of trips they can use their bike for through the summer.”
Solvi Sabol, with the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency, has been working hard to get Placer County residents signed up for the month long cycling event. She said they currently have 414 cyclists signed up from Placer County, but they want more. The entire Sacramento region is committed to one million miles, a goal that was met last year. The region has 3,435 cyclist registers as of Friday afternoon, and 841,162 miles pledged.
“We’re trying to get more awareness to cycling in the region,” Sabol said.
Sabol said the biggest misconception about the event is it’s just for commuters.
“It’s also recreation and training miles,” Sabol said.
Cyclists can register online and track all the miles ridden on a bicycle for the month of May.
Oliver Bell, Victory Velo general manager, is also planning on commuting 20 miles each way from his Granite Bay home to the Auburn bike shop. Last year Bell rode 800 miles during May.
Bell said the main goal of May is Bike Month is to really be seen and heard as cyclists.
“(May is Bike Month) is to demonstrate we all love to ride our bikes and we’re out there and a force to be reckoned with,” Bell said.
Bell encourages cyclists who come into his shop to sign up and participate in the event.
Melody Stone can be reached at email@example.com
Check out www.mayisbikemonth.com