By Jonathan Maddison
This is the latest installment in our Signs of Sustainability series, organized by Sustainable Tompkins. Visit them online at www.sustainabletompkins.org.
May is National Bike Month, and residents of Tompkins County are invited to celebrate biking as an economical, healthy, convenient, and environmentally sound way to get around and an excellent tool for recreation and enjoyment of our region’s scenic beauty. People of all ages can get involved in Tompkins County’s growing bike movement.
Streets Alive!, on Sunday, May 1, in downtown Ithaca, will open 1.5 miles of streets for people walking, biking and rolling. The street is closed to cars and open to people. Streets Alive! sets the foundation for building a movement for better biking and walking every day.
The event route runs along Cayuga Street from Boynton Middle School all the way to Court Street and down to GIAC.
At GIAC you’ll have a chance to see programs like the GIAC Navigators, GIAC Jumpers and Beats Alive. CULTURA will be hosting Cinco de Mayo performances and food from diverse Latin American cultures. Other highlights that you can find along the route are Dancing in the Streets, Ryan Zawel & Haiti Horns (a brass marching band), and a youth Bike Rodeo and Helmet Giveaway hosted by Ithaca Youth Bureau. Margot Brinn, who’s come out to almost every Streets Alive! since the first one in 2012, says, “It is such a relief to have my grandchildren on the street and not feel afraid for them.”
National Bike to Work & School Day is on Friday, May 20. Join hundreds of others commuting to work by bike for a free breakfast at any of several Breakfast Stations from 7 to 10 a.m. in downtown Ithaca, Cornell University and around the county.
“Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council believes bicycling is an important mode of transportation that is under served and under-utilized in Tompkins County. Bike to Work Day offers a great opportunity to encourage people to try bicycling and discover a fun and healthy option to get to work and other destinations,” stated Fernando de Aragon, Staff Director for Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council.
For the entire month of May, you can keep track of your bike commute using zimride.com/tompkins and compete against other community members as part of the Tompkins County Commuter Challenge, powered by Cornell Transportation and Way2Go.
In May and throughout the warmer seasons, the Finger Lakes Cycling Club (FLCC) provides a variety of ways for people that bike to connect to each other, get exercise and have fun while exploring the Finger Lakes region by bike. FLCC hosts regular group bike rides. On Wednesday evenings, they host women’s rides that invite women of all biking abilities to ride along routes around back country roads in Ithaca.
Michelle Cillia, who organizes the rides, says, “In a word, these rides are awesome. To me, these rides are about building skills and confidence, pushing yourself on the bike in a supportive environment, making friends, relaxing after work, and accomplishing something meaningful.” FLCC also hosts a “slow” ride every Thursday for new cyclists or casual bicyclists.
If you need a bike, have a flat or rusty chain, or want to learn some bike repair skills there are a variety of local options. The FLCC’s website provides a directory of bike shops in the region.
Ithaca has two community bike repair programs that offer access to tools and skilled advice. Recycle Ithaca’s Bicycles (RIBS) is a community bike program of the Southside Community Center. Currently, a RIBS advisory group is identifying and planning for future RIBS programming and potential expansion.
The Friends Bike Clinic is a community bike gathering in Ithaca which shares tools, skills and advice about bike repair. This year the Friends Bike Clinic will have a presence at various community events including Streets Alive by providing a quick fix bike station with tools and advice.
As the number of people who bike in Tompkins County increases in May, it is important for motorists and people that bike to prioritize safety. Cyclists should wear a helmet, follow the rules of the road, be predictable, and be visible.
Motorists should stay alert, be respectful and give cyclist at least three feet of space when passing. For more safety tips check out the League of American Bicyclists. Stay safe and have fun this May.
For more information:
Bike to Work Day: ccetompkins.org/BTWD2016
Bike Walk Tompkins: bikewalktompkins.org
Friends Bike Clinic: friendsbikeclinic.org
Finger Lakes Cycling Club: flcycling.org
The League of American Bicyclists: www.bikeleague.org
Streets Alive (organized by Bike Walk Tompkins): streetsaliveithaca.com
Tompkins County Commuter Challenge, Way2Go: way2go.org
Jonathan Maddison is the Program Manager of Way2Go, a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. For more information contact Way2Go at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County at (607)-272-2292, or email Staff@Way2Go.org.
By Jonathan Maddison