May is one of the best months of the year – the weather gets warm, the days are long, and, more importantly, it’s National Bike to Work Month! As a company dedicated to the benefits of two wheeled transportation, you’d better believe that we are beyond excited. We decided to put together a brief history of National Bike Month and Bike to Work Day, so you can see how far this holiday has come and where it’s going!
Bike to Work Day’s Early Beginnings
National Bike Month was established in 1956 to highlight the many benefits of biking. Communities coast to coast adopted this amazing month of recognition for bikes and their ability to transform how citizens sustainably get around. Established the same year as National Bike Month, Bike to Work Day is one of the largest celebrations during the National Bike Month and is filled with a wide variety of bike-related activities. The actual date Bike to Work Day is celebrated varies from city to city, but it’s message is still the same: biking to work is a way to transform both where you live and how you live.
Advocating Adult Riding
Bike Month took on a distinctly different tone in the 1960s when Dr. Paul Dudley White, a world-renowned cardiologist, became its spokesperson. Dr. White’s work in cardiology gave him the insight to directly understand the immense impact that cycling can have on people’s health. It is this medical understanding that lead him, as Bike Month spokesperson, to staunchly advocate the health benefits biking has for adults, as well as children. His work as spokesperson also propelled him to work towards increase biking infrastructure so that more people could bike safely in their communities. With Dr. White at the helm of Bike Month, it’s mission crystallized and its focus grew to encompass not just biking, but the need for infrastructure, city involvement,and resources to be available to cyclists.
Following Dr. White’s early advocacy, the popularity of the holiday grew exponentially. By the early 1980s, Bike to Work Day and National Bike Month shifted their focus to the positive environmental impact biking has. Driven by studies showing that bikes are central to saving money and resources, the month of May was no longer just for having fun, it was about saving the world through bikes.
Bike to Work Day Today
Today, Bike to Work Day is a beautiful marriage of its earlier incantations and holds true to its mission of advocating the benefits of biking to work. Across America, cities celebrate this biketastic day by dedicating new bike lanes, hosting bike workshops and rides, and challenge their citizens to enjoy their bikes, and all the benefits they bring. Each city’s celebrations are just as unique as they are. In the Bay Area, Bike to Work Day is celebrated with bike lane ribbon cutting events, a city sponsored pancake party, and after work activities, including bike rodeos. Chicago celebrates the holiday with a two-week long Commuter Challenge, where cyclist compete to be the ultimate two-wheeled commuter. In Washington DC they celebrate with a massive after work bike party and offer a host of courses on safe biking practices.
We hope that everyone gets to make the most of National Bike Month and Bike to Work Day. We ourselves plan to hop on our e-Bikes and take to the streets, because after all, life really is better on two wheels! Happy riding everyone!