Walk & Bike Month: Use a new set of wheels this month

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If you think there’s an increase in bike and foot traffic on Boulder bike paths and streets, you’re probably right. June is Boulder’s 34th Annual Walk & Bike Month and with more than 8,000 participants expected for Bike to Work Day alone, these bicyclists and pedestrians aren’t stopping traffic; they are traffic.

This year’s Walk & Bike Month includes more than 90 events and activities for families, seniors, children and women.  Sponsored and hosted by local organizations like Community Cycles, Seniors on Bikes, Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance, Walk Boulder and many others, events happen with frequency on a daily basis throughout the month of June.

Sue Prant, director of Walk & Bike Month, says the number of participants increases each year as more people register for the month’s activities online. She says won’t have exact participation figures until after Bike to Work Day on Wednesday, June 23, when she can double check at breakfast stations around town. Between 7 and 9 a.m. on Bike to Work Day, pedestrians and bicyclists can choose among 45 local businesses that will offer refreshments and food for registered participants at their breakfast stations.

“It’s a collaborative community event that we could not put it on without the sponsors. A whole lot of companies contribute to the month activities by donating cash and prizes,” says Prant.

Prant says the Walk & Bike Month booth at the Farmers’ Market in Boulder on Wednesday afternoons has been encouraging participants to register online.

“Since we’ve been outing our message, it’s helped to register more people. We want to know how many people are using the system,” says Prant. “It’s super important to register.”

Boulder’s Walk & Bike Month, which is already among the largest in the nation, may become even bigger this year with the addition of new events to the month’s activity calendar. Indoor cycling, walking tours and bike repair clinics are a few of the new events scheduled to appear at various locations around town throughout June.

Prant says the appearance of new events is reflective of what the community says is important.

“Merchants, walkers and runners became more involved in Walk & Bike Month because it took a big jump from a city to community event,” says Prant. “Specific requests like mountain bike skills and more walking and running activities are reflected in this year’s calendar events.”

Originally a week of six or seven bicycling events in 1977, Walk & Bike Month has since grown to a month-long affair. Prant says the best events are scheduled for the last week of June, beginning on Saturday, June 19, with the Vintage Bike Swap at Boulder High School. Other trophy activities include the YMCA Open House on Sunday, June 20, the Boulder Beer Bicycle Benefit at Boulder Beer on Tuesday, June 22, and of course, Bike to Work Day on Wednesday, June 23.

The advocacy director for the local nonprofit Community Cycles, Prant says the organization is all about getting more people on bikes and repairing bikes for sale. The Rolling Bike Clinic on Sundays of Walk & Bike Month goes to various neighborhoods around Boulder and does bike rodeos.

“We repair bikes and practice safety skills before taking adults and kids on a ride around town. We show them how to get to specific destinations like Safeway or school without driving,” says Prant.

Community Cycles provides the tools to inform people about the benefits of bikes by making it an education process and message that bikes can be fun and affordable, she says.

“People have more pressing concerns to think about than their carbon footprint, but it’s amazing how many people don’t know about the Boulder bike trails,” Prant says.

Wanda Pelegrina Caldas, a founding member of Community Cycles and Boulder resident says she has been participating in Walk & Bike Month since she moved to Boulder 10 years ago, first as a participant and then as a volunteer. Caldas, who has never had a valid driver’s license, says bikes are her main source of transportation and recreation.

“I firmly believe that bikes are as viable as cars and buses for transportation and am doing my part to encourage biking to be considered regular transportation, not just alternative,” says Caldas.

Caldas says 2007 was the most significant Walk & Bike Month for her because the City of Boulder gave Community Cycles the contract to organize Bike to Work Day efforts and upgraded the weeklong series of events to a month.

“The wider scope allows for many more events targeted at walkers and bikers of all age groups,” she says. “For me, walk and bike to work day is every day, but I feel that this month-long celebration is a great way for those moving toward spending less time in their cars or car-independence altogether to gain confidence and learn about the wonderful bike facilities in Boulder.”

For more information about Walk & Bike Month and a schedule of calendar events, visit www.CommunityCylces.org.

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