With the increasingly warmer weather and longer days, spring is in full bloom. New York City takes this annual season, in the month of May, to present Bike Month, a city wide campaign that encourages New Yorkers to spend time cycling around the city that never sleeps. Started in 1990, Bike Month originally began as only a one day celebration of all things cycling. Two decades ago, people were encouraged to ride their bikes to work for one day. The festivities have grown since then, and over the years has become a month long event. With the sole purpose of promoting the biking lifestyle, this New York City campaign is able to advocate for a healthier, greener lifestyle.
New York City has partnered up with government agencies and organizations to bring Bike Month to the public. New York City’s Department of Transportation has been a key player in creating and exposing New Yorkers to the May festivities. With the mission of showcasing an environmentally friendly alternative, the Department of Transportation hopes to encourage New Yorkers to bike to work and around town, while maintaining a healthy relationship with the environment. Another important team member of Bike Month is Transportation Alternatives, an organization that believes the people of New York can steer away from relying on cars as a means of transportation, and instead walk, take public transportation, and bicycle from place to place. The overall missions of these two partners are promoted throughout the month, with the hopes that their message will be carried on permanently in New Yorker’s lifestyles.
Other major contributors to Bike Month are New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and GreenNYC. GreenNYC is an organization that strives to educate people on the importance of how simple, daily actions, can reduce the overall amount of pollution in the environment, as well as decrease greenhouse gases. The combination of these organizations working together are positively aiming to make New York City a greener place to live and enjoy.
Bike Month hosts hundreds of cycling events throughout the five boroughs. There are plenty of different races, rides, and workshops happening throughout the city for adults and children to take part in. Bike Month has set up an event entitled, Three Beaches in Brooklyn. Cyclists are able to take to the waterfront of Brooklyn, in historical Coney Island towards Floyd Bennet Field. The event gives riders the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and a more tranquil side of New York City. Brooklyn will also be hosting a class for adults who want to learn how to ride a bike. Instructors will help adults learn the basics of bicycle riding and motivate them to continue practicing with their newly learned skills. A similar class for children will take place in Staten Island, the Bronx, and Queens.
Bike rides are taking place throughout Manhattan and the outer boroughs. There are chances for cyclists to ride in community parks in Manhattan, along the waterfront, and during a moonlight ride in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. The Lighthouse Hill bike ride, taking place in Staten Island, allows cyclists to ride down quiet streets while taking in some of the architectural and cultural sights of Staten Island. The route passes by an active light house, as well as museums and a private house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Another worthwhile bike tour goes through the Brooklyn Navy Yard, while the Bridges by Night tour brings cyclists over a number of bridges along the Harlem River at twilight. A quirky Brooklyn event with a bit of nostalgia is the Bike-in-Theater, a free movie screening similar to that of a drive in movie, where participants are encouraged to ride their bikes instead of taking cars.
Along with learning how to ride a bike and actually riding around the streets of New York City, Bike Month hosts events markets for bike enthusiasts. The Brooklyn Bike Jumble is the place to buy and sell both new and used bicycles. Buyers and vendors will be on hand with an array of bicycles, as well as other cycling merchandise and accessories. There is also a class available to the public, entitled Bike Maintenance 201, that discusses and teaches people how to properly repair their bicycles. New Yorkers can also learn about different styles of bikes, including the various models of folding bicycles.
Friday, May 20th, is designated as National Bike to Work Day. Participants will have the chance to join thousands of other cyclists during their daily commute. Transportation Alternatives will have stations set up all across New York City distributing Clif bars and iced coffee for the commute to work. There are an estimated 236,000 people who use bicycles in New York City daily, and organizations like Transportation Alternatives would like to see this number grow with their positive outreach and education on how to make the city greener and healthier by bicycling.
Photo credit: bikemonthnyc.org/event/3258