As warmer temperatures slowly make their way into Northern Arizona, the frozen roadsides of winter will finish melting away and cyclists will begin the spring ritual of dusting off their bikes and enjoying the roads and trails in and around Flagstaff. In an effort to encourage more citizens to embrace bicycles as transportation during the more temperate months of the year, the League of American Bicyclists has declared May as National Bike Month. During this month, Flagstaff Biking Organization will be presenting its tenth annual Bike to Work Week, May 15 through May 20, and is organizing a week full of activities that will appeal to riders of all ability levels and families. This annual celebration of bicycles – both nationwide and on the streets of Flagstaff – provides an opportune time to look at how cycling can impact a city or town beyond the well-publicized social and health benefits. A Marin County, Calif. study found that cycling has a wide-reaching positive economic impact on a local economy apart from the direct revenue streams offered by bicycle shops. Per this study, cyclists, like pedestrians, typically travel at a pace dubbed “human scale.” Human scale allows for cyclists to observe and interact with their environment and surroundings while in transit as opposed to vehicular traffic, which passes by at a much higher rate of speed and a much lower rate of interaction. A business that takes advantage of this reduction in speed and increase in awareness can market to bicycle traffic in the same manner as pedestrian traffic in order to secure additional sales. In today’s market of rising gas prices and increasing congestion, cycling is becoming a much more attractive mode of transportation for not only the recreational commuter but also for tourists and visitors to our community who prefer a more relaxed mode of travel.
Bike to Work Week will kick off on Sunday with the bike Bazaar in Heritage Square, featuring the ever-popular bike parts swap and parade. Monday is the official Bike to Work Week kick-off ride from the City Hall parking lot, with free breakfast snacks following. Tuesday evening will bring back a perennial favorite evening activity in Jack and Martin’s Flagstaff Urban Trail System Cruiser Ride. This ride will be both entertaining and informative as two of Flagstaff’s greatest bicycle-bound historians lead a group ride through the urban trail system while expounding on the historical and natural significance along the route. Wednesday is Bike to School Day followed by Thursday’s Bike to Work Day. Both of these days will allow schools and worksites to compete for fantastic prizes for the best participation percentages and Thursday will be capped off with a Bike-to-Picnic at Foxglenn Park open to all. Finally, Friday will be a close-out celebration of a great week of increased fitness, reduced traffic, increased economic activity, and general fun.
I hope to see you all on the roads and trails for Bike to Work Week and the upcoming summer. Most importantly, be safe and have fun. FBN
Sara Presler is Mayor of Flagstaff