Although this spring has looked nothing like a typical Minnesota spring in regards to plans, events, and life in general, May is still National Bike Month! Seriously, what better time than the present to pull out those bikes out from their winter hibernation resting spots and get them ready to go for the summer biking season? Before hitting the trails, take a second to catch up on some biking resources and practices to ensure a safe and smooth ride.
The League of American Bicyclists established National Bike Month in 1956 to encourage Americans coast-to-coast to hop on their wheels for both health benefits and environmental benefits. Billed as a family-friendly form of physical activity, biking is an outdoor activity that all ages can enjoy and can have significant physical and mental health benefits. Keeping social distance measures in mind, the League of American Bicyclists is still promoting Americans of all ages to use the tag #BikesUnite and snap a selfie of you and/or your family members on your biking adventures to participate in the country’s biggest online bike group throughout the month. The League of American Bicyclists website is a thorough one-stop site that offers tutorials, a national biking challenge, and a variety of other ideas to help get you feeling motivated and confident in your biking skills. Be sure to check out their website at www.bikeleague.org for all their resources and activities. Another great biking resource is the Minnesota Bike Alliance website; the website features state-specific biking guidelines, resources, and events for both biking rookies and enthusiasts. You can find the Bike Alliance website at www.bikemn.org or connect with them through social media.
On a local level, our hospital has been fortunate to work with community organizations in Windom and Mountain Lake to offer bike rodeo events where families can come and ensure their bikes are in good working order and practice safe biking skills on obstacle courses. In Windom, we were also able to offer free upcycled bikes to those who need a safe set of wheels for the summer along with free helmets to promote safer riding practices. These events would NOT be possible without the help of organizations such as the Windom Police Department, Kiwanis Club, and Mountain Lake Active Living Committee. While these bike rodeo events have been indefinitely cancelled for this year, Windom School Resource Officer and League Cycling Instructor Dana Wallace, has graciously volunteered her time to put together a virtual bike rodeo experience that will be hitting social media soon. The abbreviated tutorial includes pre-ride steps including proper helmet fitting and the ABC quick check before hitting the road and showing basic bicycling skills.
At this time, more than ever, it really is all about community. With warmer temps on the horizon and extra time in your day, why not get your bike into shape and boost your mental health by taking your wheels out for a cruise around town (or maybe on the Be Well Path)? Before you get wheeling, check out the fun biking facts and familiarize yourself with the ABC pre-ride quick check process to ensure a safe ride. Happy trails!
Biking Fun Facts
- In Minneapolis from 2000-2013, the rate of bike commuters (those who regularly use their bike for transportation to work) increased 130%.
- According to the Star, Tribune, the number of walkers and bikers have increased 72% since the beginning of April 2020.
- According to the League of American Bicyclists, Minnesota ranks #3 for being the most bike-friendly state across the nation. Our state boasts 31 bicycle friendly communities, 95 bicycle friendly businesses, and 6 bicycle friendly university campuses. The #1 bike-friendly state is Washington.
- Jackson, Greater Mankato, and New Ulm have been awarded the bronze designation for their efforts as a bike-friendly community.
- According to Explore Minnesota, there are 4,000+ miles of paved trails throughout Minnesota along with several mountain biking locations.
ABC Pre-Ride Quick Check Tutorial
Bike Friendly State Ranking Map (League of American Bicyclists)
League of American Bicyclists: www.bikeleague.org
MN Bike Alliance: www.bikemn.org
By Amber Hughes