Bike to Work Day ranks high on my list of best days of the year.
Stations all over the city handing out free breakfast items and coffee to people who pedal to work? Not much better than that.
This year’s event is set for May 19, and more than 40 official locations will participate, along with a smattering of rogue stations that tend to pop up around town.
Bike Austin organizes the event as a way to thank regular commuters – but also as a way to get new bicyclists on the road. Cyclists who ride to work that day might find that it’s not as daunting as they thought, and continue to do it. And because more cyclists on the road means more motorists expect to see them there, it makes things safer for everyone.
“When someone’s new at doing something, if we can get them out of that comfort zone for one day to experience it in a fun environment … that and free food all over the city for one day might entice them to try it to get them over that fear that they can’t do this,” says Mercedes Feris, executive director of Bike Austin, a non-profit organization that works to promote cycling.
Last year, about 2,500 cyclists checked in at Bike to Work Day stations around the city, but Feris estimates than another 1,000 or so rode. That’s more cyclists than commute on a typical day here, but with more cycling infrastructure going in (a bike and pedestrian bridge over Barton Creek and a bypass
underneath 24th Street at Lamar Boulevard, for example), Feris expects those higher numbers to become the norm.
But back to that free breakfast …
More than 40 locations, including Bicycle Sport Shop, 517 South Lamar Boulevard; Hops and Grain Brewing, 507 Calles Street; Livestrong, 2201 East Sixth Street; and a roadside stand at Shoal Creek Boulevard near Treadwell Street, will offer up free food and coffee from 7-9 a.m. City Hall, 301 West Second Street, will host the biggest station, with booths from local bike businesses, breakfast tacos from Taco Deli, High Brew Coffee and Organic Lone Star from Texas Coffee Traders. To see a full list of locations, go here. http://biketoworkaustin.org/fuelingstations/
Cyclists can pick up a passport and collect stamps from each fueling station they visit, which will enter them into a raffle for door prize drawings at an after-party that starts at 5 p.m. at the Google Fiber Space, 201 Colorado Street.
This year organizers are asking cyclists to sign a pledge form before Bike to Work Day. That will allow officials to gather more data about where commuters are riding. Everyone who fills out the pledge form will be entered into a drawing to win a bicycle. Find the form here. http://biketoworkaustin.org/pledge-to-ride/
Don’t have a bike? Austin B-Cycle will provide free 24-hour memberships on Bike to Work Day. (Use code 519 at any B-Cycle kiosk.)